How Stress Affects Your Health

Stress can have far-ranging negative effects on your health. Learn what happens when you live with long-term stress.

By Susan G. Warner, Contributing Writer

Stress is your body’s natural defense mechanism. The stress response can be good, helping you get to safety or face a threat. But being under stress for too long can have a serious negative effect on your health.

Stress is a response to either a physical or an emotional threat. Stress may be short-lived or last a long time. Facing multiple, long-term stressful situations puts extra strain on your body. Over time, the stress may even start to feel normal. Some people feel they should always be demonstrating their worth and live a life filled with stress — many times self-induced.

The physical and mental health effects of stress
People respond in different ways to the same stressor. What is stressful for one person may not be stressful to someone else. Stress can lead to:

Regain your balance
If stress has taken over your life, here are some ideas to take back control:

If you try some of these tips but still struggle with stress, talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend a counselor who can help you find other ways to reduce or manage the stress in your life.

If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others, call your health care professional, 911 or a suicide hotline such as 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or have someone drive you to your nearest emergency department. If your thoughts about hurting yourself or others is more serious to the point where you have a plan and the method to carry out your plan, call 911 immediately.