7 Scary Ways Stress Affects Your Body

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We all know stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Too much of the “fight or flight” kind of stress is known to have adverse effects on people’s lives. But do you know exactly how stress affects your body?

It Reduces Your Ability to Sleep

Insomnia. I bet you know the scenario pretty well: it’s two hours past your bedtime and you’re lying awake contemplating all the things happening in your busy life. Your brain won’t stop racing from one thought to another, yet you’re so tired! Money, relationship problems, work deadlines, you name it – it’s going through your mind in a never-ending loop.

Well guess what? Sleep is an essential body function. According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, sleep deprivation, “can affect judgment, mood, ability to learn and retain information, and may increase the risk of serious accidents and injury.” While not all insomnia is stress-related, it can still cause some pretty scary side effects.

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It Causes You to Eat More Than You Should

According to the American Psychological Association, “millennials are most likely to report eating to manage stress.” I bet you’ve done this too. I mean, who doesn’t like to quiet their mind with a giant slice of pizza?

But why do we do it? Why do we crave the carb-rich and fatty foods when we’re stressed? Well, apparently stress makes the body secrete a hormone called cortisol, which increases appetite. And when you’re stressed out, you’re basically secreting it all the time. Stop it! Then – it’s not quite clear why – stress makes the body crave foods high in sugar (carbohydrates) and fat. It could be related to high insulin levels or to another hormone called ghrelin which controls hunger. It could also be a mix of both.

Either way, it’s pretty bad, because stress messes with your hormone levels to a point where you just can’t seem to stop eating!

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Stress Can Cause Rapid Weight Gain

So if you combine the last two points, what do you get? A high risk of weight gain and obesity. It’s easy to see how reduced sleep and overeating due to stress can cause a person to gain weight pretty fast. According to a study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, the tired brain can actually cause junk food cravings and binge eating. In other words, stress is basically a one-way ticket to Obesityville.

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