Chronic stress can have several negative consequences on health and can ruin one’s life. A recent study indicates that persistent stress sustained over long period damages our DNA and can thereby increase the chances of cancer and cause premature aging.
Stress: Essential in the Short Term…
Stress is an absolutely essential phenomenon for our survival: detecting danger with our sensory organs (the smell of smoke, the sight of a menacing figure, the sound of a gunshot) puts the brain on high alert, which triggers a series of extremely complex processes together called the ‘fight-or-flight response.
By activating the adrenal glands, your brain orders the release of action hormones into the blood, such as adrenaline, in order to accelerate your breathing, your heart beat, the flow of oxygen to tissue as well as your alertness and attention levels. What we commonly call the survival instinct is therefore essentially a stress reaction, a biologically programmed response which aims to mobilize our resources for combat, or a quick escape, when faced with a potentially fatal danger.
… But Detrimental in the Long Term
Stress is generally short-lived, as the many physiological effects associated with it are extreme, and could have negative effects on the organism if they were to last. In fact, when it persists and becomes chronic, stress is known to foster the development of several disorders, including, among others, gastrointestinal disorders, such as stomach ulcers, certain cardiovascular diseases, and immune system impairment, which makes infections, depression and sleep disorders more likely.