For some, a
stressful job is easy with no problems asked, but for others, it can lead to job burnout and other health implications. Stress
can lead to serious long-term health implications like, cancer, heart disease,
diabetes, anxiety, depression and can ultimately lead to chronic stress if it
is not properly managed and treated.
to the American Psychological Association, stress is defined as “any
uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical,
physiological and behavioral changes.” Some stress can be beneficial at
times, also known as “good stress”, by producing a boost that provides the
drive and energy to help people get through situations like exams or work
deadlines. However, an excessive amount of stress can have serious health
implications that affect the immune,
cardiovascular, neuroendocrine and central nervous systems. Stress is the
body’s way of reacting to dangerous situations- whether they are real or made
Types of Stress and their effects
There are two types of stress. The
first type, known as “Acute Stress”, is the physical response to a danger or
threat, or when your body enters “flight or fight” mode. “Flight or fight” mode
is when the body releases hormones and other chemicals including, adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine. During the flight
or fight stress response, there are many
reactions happening all at once. Increased heart rate, quicker breathing, tight
muscles, and a rise in blood pressure is your body’s way of being ready to act
and protect yourself. But what happens to your body and brain exactly?
All these chemical mixes in the body
cause many reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down
unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion. The adrenaline land
norepinephrine is stress hormones
produced on an “as needed” basis and
leave your body just as quickly as it entered it. Cortisol, however, stays in
your body all day long and that’s why it is dangerous. When there is too much
cortisol in the body it can lead to problems including weight gain,
osteoporosis, digestive problems, hormone imbalances, cancer, heart disease,
Cortisol also takes a toll on your
brain. Cortisol causes free radicals that kill brain cells. Free radical cells
punch holes in the brain’s cell walls, this causes the cell to rupture and die.
When you’re stressed, the electrical signals in the brain associated with
factual memories weaken whereas parts of the brain that are associated with
emotions strengthen, this makes a person more forgetful and emotional. Stress
can also cause a buildup of the amygdala,
the body’s center of fear. Having a high amount amygdala in the body can cause
a vicious cycle of fear and anxiety.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is the protein that creates new
healthy brain cells and stimulating new brain cell formation. BDNF offsets
negative effects that stress has on the brain, delaying new brain cells from
being made. Lower levels of BDNF have been linked to serious brain-related disorders
including depression, OCD, schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The second type of stress, Chronic
stress, comes when a person never sees a way out of a miserable situation, with
no light at the end of the tunnel they cannot find their way out of. It is the
stress of always being broke, of dysfunctional families that fight constantly,
of being stuck in a workplace that you resent going to, and of unrelenting
demands and pressures for long periods of time. Chronic stress is extremely dangerous
because it kills through suicide,
violence, heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Chronic stress wears people down to
a final, and sometimes, fatal breakdown.
Chronic stress is the body’s way of
keeping up. The body releases the same hormones that it released during acute
stress; however, the body and mind can’t remain on
high alert for long periods of time. Over the course of weeks and even months,
the exact same hormones that gave you extra strength to keep focused and alive in
a dangerous situation will start working against you.
Stress in the Information
All workplaces come with long hours,
crabby co-workers, and deadlines but no other
workplace knows this intense pressure like the Information Technology Industry.
The IT Industry is notorious for 50-hour weeks, quick-paced environments,
overworking, being on call 24/7, and getting scolded when the printer is not
functioning correctly. This high demand that comes with being in IT causes
employees to experience never-ending
periods of stress, frustration, and tears.