Stress Awareness - April 2022

Illnesses Caused By Stress

You may think that health problems are the result of bacteria or viruses. What many people do not realize is that stress can also disable the body’s immune system to make you more susceptible to germs in the environment. Many kinds of illnesses result from your immune system’s inability to function properly. Stress, especially the unrelenting kind for which there is no relief, can play havoc with your body’s ability to fight off microscopic invaders or to operate the way it is supposed to.

There are many kinds of illnesses caused by stress involving both the body and the mind. Here are some of the health problems and diseases that may be related to your body’s battle with stress.


Stress keeps people awake at night due to worry, anxiety, or uncertainty about the future. Some people worry about their jobs, while others are concerned over family issues or health problems. Many things in life can be stressful and stress, if left unmanaged, can interrupt or delay sleep. To combat sleeplessness caused by stress, try drinking a glass of milk before bedtime, avoid caffeine, do not exercise at least four hours before going to bed and keep your bedroom cool, dimly lit and comfortable.

Do not think about stress-related problems when you get ready for bed. Instead, fill your mind with peaceful or happy thoughts to prepare for a good night’s rest. Keep the television in the family room, since many violent or dramatic programs can increase stress.

Eating disorders

Have you ever reached for something sweet and tasty when you felt overwhelmed by stress? You are not alone. Thousands of people react to stress by feeding an eating pattern that typically reaches for sweets or carbohydrate-laden foods for a quick sugar rush. While your blood sugar may skyrocket briefly, it is sure to plummet afterward, often leaving you feeling worse than before. If you must nibble when stress has you in its clasp, stick to crisp veggies or light butter popcorn. Fiber will make you feel full and keep you healthy, too. Don’t let stress drive you to the cookie jar or candy counter. Eat a balanced diet to calm your nerves and stay on top of stressful situations.


Unresolved stress can make a person feel angry or hopeless, both of which can lead to depression. If you feel chronically sad, have trouble thinking clearly, feel alone or unloved, struggle with guilt or shame, chances are you are battling a serious case of depression related to stress. Illnesses caused by stress may appear unrelated, but when doctors, counselors, or the patients themselves take a closer look, often there is a cause-and-effect relationship between stress and conditions like depression. A doctor should be able to diagnose the source of the stress-related depression and prescribe appropriate treatment.

Anxiety and panic attacks

Like depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks frequently have a stress-related connection. People who struggle with ongoing situations that make them feel uneasy may experience high levels of stress that can manifest in nervousness and fear, seemingly for an unknown cause. Through careful analysis, it can be discerned whether a stressful situation may be the cause for one of these disorders. If the disorders continue to occur or increase in frequency, it is a good idea to meet with a counselor or psychologist to deal with root issues.

Colds and viruses

Physical illnesses caused by stress may be as common as the garden variety cold or a seasonal virus. People who are stressed often have immune systems that are not functioning properly. Consequently, they can get sick faster and easier than they otherwise might. To alleviate stress that may be contributing to a prolonged cold or sickness, be sure to get plenty of rest, eat healthily and avoid worrying. Take care of your physical needs to keep your body resistant to germs, especially during the winter months.

Circulatory problems

Stress can make your body’s arteries and veins tighten up in response to the fight-or-flight complex. This compression can reduce blood flow throughout the body and create problems like blood clots, poor circulation, or even strokes. In addition to dealing with the causes of stress with your doctor or a counselor, temporary relief may be found in a warm bath or shower, hot tea consumption, or mental relaxation therapy, such as daydreaming or positive imaging.

Do not let this advice substitute for a thorough medical examination and professional diagnosis, however.

Systemic or local infections

Ironically, mental or emotional stress can even delay physical healing of local infections, like a bug bite, or systemic infections, like food poisoning. Stress drains the body of positive energy as it strives to cope with the demanding worry of the stress-related issues. This leaves inadequate energy to sustain bodily immune functions that heal infectious illnesses and injuries. It is important to get plenty of rest when you have an infection and try to put stress out of your mind until you are well again. Learn how to delegate tasks at work and at home so that you do not have to worry about them while trying to get well



One of the common illnesses caused by stress is out-of-control blood sugar for diabetes patients. People with diabetes have to follow a lifestyle that keeps their blood sugar within acceptable limits. Stress can throw off the body, sending sugar levels skyrocketing or plummeting. Those with diabetes who are experiencing significant stress need to check their blood sugar routinely and take their medication consistently.

Heart problems

Stress can make anyone’s heart palpitate wildly and increase pulse rate as well as blood pressure. Over time, serious stress can damage the heart with increased wear and tear for the reasons just mentioned.