Stressed Out!



Are you stressed? Worried about paying your taxes as the deadline approaches? Are you working in a high-stress job? Are you juggling two jobs at once just to pay the bills?

Stress can affect your health and health officials want to raise awareness of this issue. Stress Awareness Month has been observed every April since 1992, according to During the month of April, health care professionals and health promotion experts across the country will join forces to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for our modern stress epidemic. Sponsored by The Health Resource Network (HRN), a nonprofit health education organization, Stress Awareness Month is a national cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society.

Stress Awareness Day is Tuesday, April 16 (the day after Tax Day) – a day to slow down, take a break and in other words: “Chill out!” On this day, Americans are encouraged to be aware of just how stressed they may have become.

How does stress affect your health?

Studies have shown that severe stress has a direct connection to heart disease, depression and a general lowering of the immune system which, in turn opens the body up to many other diseases. According to, symptoms of stress can include: tightening of the muscles, increased blood pressure, headaches, dizziness and dry mouth.

The Mayo Clinic reports that you may not realize how much stress is affecting your health. It could be causing that nagging headache, frequent insomnia or decreased productivity at work. Stress, left unchecked, can contribute to many diseases, such as obesity and diabetes.

Common Effects of Stress

Stress can not only impact your physical health, it can also affect mood and behavior. According to the Mayo Clinic, common effects of stress on physical health include: headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, stomach upset and sleep problems. Common effects of stress on mood include: anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus and feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, and sadness or depression. Behavioral effects include: overeating or undereating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal and exercising less often.

How Stress Affects Women

According to, some of the health effects of stress are the same for men and women, but there are particular ways that stress affects women – some are listed below.

Headaches and Migraines

When a person is stressed, their muscles become tensed. Long-term tension can lead to headache, migraine, and general body aches and pains. Tension-type headaches are common in women.

Depression and Anxiety

In a recent study, women were almost twice as likely as men to have symptoms of depression. Women are more likely than men to have an anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Research suggests that women may feel the symptoms of stress more or exhibit more of the symptoms of stress than men, which can raise their risk of depression and anxiety.

Studies have shown that severe stress has a direct connection to
heart disease, depression and a general lowering of the immune
system which, in turn opens the body up to many other diseases.

Heart Problems

High stress levels can raise blood pressure and heart rate. Over time, high blood pressure can cause serious health problems, such as stroke and heart attacks. Younger women with a history of heart problems may be at increased risk of experiencing the negative effects of stress on the heart.

Upset Stomach

Short-term stress can cause stomach issues such as diarrhea or vomiting. Long-term stress can lead to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition twice as common in women as in men. Stress can worsen IBS symptoms such as gas and bloating.


The link between stress and weight gain is stronger for women than for men. Stress increases the amount of a hormone in the body called cortisol, which can lead to overeating and cause your body to store fat.


Women with higher levels of stress are more likely to have fertility issues than those with less stress. Also, inability to conceive when you want to can be a source of stress.

Menstrual Cycle Issues

Women who experience chronic or long-term stress may have more severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms or irregular periods. Some studies link past abuse or trauma to more severe PMS.

Decreased Libido

Women with long-term stress may take longer to become aroused and have a weaker sex drive than those with less stress. At least one study found that women with higher stress levels were more distracted during sex.

When to Seek Help

If you’re not sure whether stress is the cause of your symptoms or if you’ve taken steps to control your stress but symptoms continue, consult a physician to rule out other potential causes. Or, consider seeing a professional counselor or therapist, who can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.

Also, if you have chest pain, especially if it occurs during physical activity or is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, nausea, or pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, get emergency help immediately. These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress-related.


Top 10 Causes of Stress

  • Not having enough time
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Taking on too much
  • Conflicts in the workplace or at home
  • Inability to accept things as they are
  • Failure to take time out to relax
  • Family issues (illness, bereavement, debt)
  • Failure to see the humor in a situation
  • Stressful situations (stuck in traffic, workload)
  • Major life changes (changing jobs, moving)



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