Stress As An Illness Or Disease

Dr. Purushothaman
January 17, 2014


Stress is a state of mental, physical, or emotional tension that is caused by pressures, better known as stressors. These stressors differ in their origin and nature. Some of them could be internal. A good example of internal stressor could be a lack of confidence to do a particular bit of work. At times, it could be external in nature. A student feeling 'tensed' due to his exams is an example of external pressure.
These stressors can affect a person in varying proportions and for varied duration of time. Stress is inevitable and what is scary is that it can affect each person in different ways. There is no uniform definition of symptoms for stress. Stress may be a major factor in causing illnesses that could be fatal at times. Researchers are of the opinion that stress disrupts the body's homeostasis or the state of equilibrium, thus resulting in the weakening of the immune system.
Constant degradation of the body's defense mechanism can lead to serious illnesses. Thus, stress itself is recognized a medical condition. A common example of stress as a result of trauma is seen in soldiers post war conditions. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was known as shell shock during the First World War I and battle fatigue after World War II. Patients of PTSD complained depression, nightmares, feelings of guilt for having survived, and flashbacks of the horrific events. Some of them became sensitive to noise and some even became violent.
Stress is thus, known to affect the normal functioning of the body. As a result, it can cause severe illnesses. Some of the known physical signs are a dry mouth and throat, tightening of the neck and back muscles, chronic neck and back pain, indigestion, headaches, muscle tics, tremors, insomnia, and fatigue. A wear down of the emotional functioning is also a result of stress. During stress, patients experience a quickening of heartbeats, an increase in blood pressure and the body releases adrenaline, which fastens the body's rate of metabolism. If this situation continues for prolonged periods, it results in a weakening of the immune system.
Thus, stress has been recognized as a form of illness to be regarded with due seriousness. Though stress itself does not signify a particular disease with perfectly known symptoms, it can trigger the onset of a variety of diseases. Different people will be affected differently by stress.

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