Stress: Causes and Effects Stress is an ongoing dilemma that occurs in each and everyone's life. It is a factor that is undoubtedly apart of daily living. Due to the trivial problems that occur in people's daily lives massive amounts of stress can arise. People perceive and manage stress in many different ways.
The causes and effects of stress are numerous and one's ability to manage stress is vital in maintaining healthy living. First, stress is defined as an unpleasant state of emotional and physiological arousal that people experience in situations that they perceive as dangerous or threatening to their well being (Patel, 14). Stress is a universal feeling to everyone but the word stress means different things to different people. Some people define stress as events or situations that cause them to feel tension, pressure or negative emotions such as anxiety or anger (Patel, 15). Other people may view stress as a process involving a person's interpretation and response to a threatening event. In any case, stress has many facets of how one perceives and responds to the certain predicament that is ailing them.
Stressors are anything that causes stress. Any event, thought, or situation that cause stress is called a stressor (Feldman, 10). Modern life exposes people to many stressor's. Some physical stressor's may include natural disasters, illnesses, and noise. More emotional stressor's can include certain life experiences, such as death of a loved one or a divorce. Day-to-day problems such as taking tests, feeling rushed, and writing papers can also be stressful situations to people.
Stress affects the body in many different ways. Many doctors estimate that stress is involved in more than half of all illnesses (Sapolsky, 21). Stress may cause or prolong an illness or increase its severity. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are hormones that are released during a stress reaction that affect organs throughout the body. As a result from the hormones being secreted, the heart begins to beat more rapidly, muscle tension increases, blood pressure raises, and heavy breathing may occur. This reaction is known as the fight-or-flight response.
The fight-or-flight response energizes the body to either confront or flee from a threat. Heredity, learning, and injuries all play a role in determining where or when a stress related illness may occur in a particular individual (Sapolsky, 22). Stress has been linked to many diseases or malady conditions. Stress hormones that act on the heart, blood vessels, and lungs may contribute to heart disease, high blood pressure, and asthma (Feldman, 17).
Diseases of the stomach and intestines are often associated to stress because blood leaves these organs and moves to muscles used in running and fighting. Another difficulty is the prolonging increase of blood sugar can influence the development of diabetes. Stress also appears to influence the development of cancer. Chronic stress can also interfere with the body's immune system directly through hormonal changes.
Glucocorticoids-a hormone that is secreted during the stress response-actively suppresses the body's immune system (Sapolsky, 24). When the immune system is not active, it leaves people more susceptible to infectious diseases. Stress influences mental health as well as physical health. People who experience a high level of stress for a long time-and who cope poorly with this stress-may become irritable, socially withdrawn, and emotionally unstable (Feldman, 18). People who are "stressed-out" may have difficulty in concentrating and solving problems.
When the stress becomes lengthened more serious problems can occur. People under intense and prolonged stress may start to suffer from extreme anxiety, depression, or other severe emotional problems (Feldman, 18). Managing stress is essential to maintain a healthy life. Through understanding how one reacts to stress it can enable people to control or reduce some of their stress reactions. Healthy lifestyle choices increase the body's ability to cope with stress.
People can manage stress by exercising regularly, eating nutritious foods, avoiding nicotine, and reducing use of caffeine and alcohol (Patel, 21). Friendships and other social connections aid greatly in the management of stress. Talking with others helps people to sort through problems and explore possible solutions. Relaxation techniques are another positive way to manage stress. Some relaxation techniques include meditation, hypnosis, and biofeedback training. In conclusion, stress greatly affects the human body both emotionally and physically.
Too much stress can cause many problems in a person's health. Learning to manage stress is fundamental in staying healthy. If one can learn to manage stress effectively, one's life will be healthier and happier! Works Cities Feldman, Robert S. Understanding Stress.
Watts, 1992. Pgs. 15-30 Patel, Chandra. The Complete Guide to Stress Management.
Plenum, 1991. Pgs. 13-25 Sapolsky, Robert M. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers: A Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Disease, and Coping.
W. H. Freeman, 1993. Pgs. 21-54.
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Cause and Effects of Stress in Children
Stress is a response to a factor or situation that negatively affects the physical, emotional, or psychological existence of a person. Stress is good in small quantities as it motivates a person making him/her more productive. However, too much stress is detrimental to a person. Stress can interfere with the general life of a person. Most people assume that stress only affects adults. However, statistics indicate that stress also affects children.
Children face intense pressure from their environment. Continuous stress in children is harmful to their activities, health, and development. There are a number of causes and effects of toxic stress in children. Stress can be caused by both negative and positive situations. Children living in abusive environments, both physical and emotional, experience stress. Arnold wrote that children who are bullied are in continuous state of depression. They, therefore, alienate themselves from their colleagues. Parents who constantly beat their children are also causes of stress. The fear that is manifested in children disorients them. They will not be able to talk about what they feel to anybody but rather keep to themselves. Events such as accidents, loss of loved ones, and rejection are also causes of stress in children.
Social change patterns in children cause many stressful situations. Children at puberty yearn for freedom. This creates tension between them and the parents, who are constantly monitoring and regulating their activities. In the same stage, children will constantly be in need of money. Lack of money causes stress in children as they are not always able to buy whatever they may need. They will compare themselves with other children who are in comfortable financial positions. Such children are always anxious and worried of where and how they will get money. Stress in children is not only caused by what happens in their own lives but also by what happens in their parents’ lives.
The greatest effects of stress are experienced by the brain. The brain controls all the stress mechanism in the body making it the primary stress organ. Johnson stated that the vulnerability of children’s brain is caused by the fact that they are constantly growing and developing. Constant stress in children disrupts brain development and compromises its normal function. Research has indicated that children experiencing stress have smaller brains. Toxic stress impairs the connection of brain circuits resulting in development of a smaller brain. Prolonged period of stress in children affects their nervous and immune system. Stress hormones are released when a child is exposed to stress. Cortisol hormones, which are released as a result of stress, suppress the body immune system. This leaves a person vulnerable to diseases and infections.
Depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and chronic diseases are also linked to childhood stress. Psychological effects of stress include changes in personality, aggressiveness, and irritability. Children under stress are likely to experience frustrations and isolation from friends and family. They spend more time on their own and lack motivation. Children may also have difficulty in concentration thereby affecting their academic performance.
Children under extreme stress exhibit change in behavior. They may be more disobedient, fight often, stutter, and cry often.
In conclusion, stress in children has many causes and effects. The notion that stress only affects adults is wrong. Too much stress, often referred to as toxic stress, is detrimental to the life of a child. Toxic stress affects the physical, emotional, psychological, and social aspects of a child. Even though every child reacts differently under stress, it is clear that stress affects the neural system and the health of a child. Children under stress tend to develop negative characteristics like irritability and disobedience. Research has indicated that there are number of causes of childhood stress which are interrelated. Social change patterns, abusive environment, and stress in parents are just some of the cause of childhood stress.