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Effects of Stress on Your Mental Health

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Stress is extremely dangerous, as it affects you on both physical and psychological level. Your mental health will be greatly affected by stress, and this can trigger some serious physical problems.


Mental Stress

Mental Stress

People often disregard symptoms of mental disorders, and sometimes, they are completely impossible for the patient to notice. If left untreated, these problems can deteriorate and deal some irreversible damage to your body and mind. According to some researchers that presented their works at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in New Orleans, stress can cause changes in brain circuits that will directly affect a patient's mental health.

Mental Problems Caused by Stress

The most common problem that can be either caused or exacerbated by stress is depression. You must understand that this is a serious health issue that goes far beyond bad mood and lack of optimism.

Changes caused by stress may disrupt the natural flow of the so-called reward system. This chain of reactions in your brain causes you to feel pleasure. Thus, should it be distorted in any way, you will be physically unable to feel satisfaction. This will literally take the fun out of your life and force you into severe depression.

In this case, positive thinking and a bit of relaxation won't be enough to restore your mental health, because you will require specialized treatment that will restore the activity of brain cells responsible for the feelings of pleasure.

Another problem caused by acute stress is activation of our fight-or-flight instincts. This happens because your brain recognizes a severe stress (regardless of its cause) as a situation that is potentially dangerous to your survival. Thus, it releases the chemicals that block the prefrontal cortex function (the part of your brain responsible for higher level thinking). In short, this means that your body starts relying on survival instincts instead of logical thinking and produces high levels of adrenaline to help you cope with the situation and get to safety. The problem here is that you won't be able to use these chemicals when stuck in an office.

When the survival chemicals remain in your system for long periods of time, you will start suffering from increased heartbeat, indigestion and increased blood pressure. In terms of your mental health this will cause the feelings of anxiety, anger and depression.

Rather often, these mental conditions will manifest through physical symptoms, such as:

These symptoms can be so severe that you will start worrying that they are caused by some serious physical problems, like cancer or heart diseases. This will only serve as an additional source of stress and will make the situation even worse.

Cognitive and Behavioral Changes Caused by Stress

Mental disorders caused by stress will result in some cognitive and behavioral changes that will affect your life greatly.

  • Indecisiveness
  • Mental retardation
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Poor performance at work
  • Poor social relations
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Becoming reclusive and withdrawn

These things will have strong negative effect on your life as a whole, and sometimes, the problems that occur under their influence will be impossible to fix. For example, you can lose your job or make some poor decisions regarding investments. Your relationships with family and friends will also be affected, and not all people will be understanding enough to forgive you should you say something offensive to them.

This is how greatly stress can affect your life. Therefore, you must take this problem seriously.

Take regular vacations and days off and use them to actually relax and forget about your worries. Never ignore the symptoms of stress and consult a health professional if you start noticing some negative changes in your mental state.