Does stress affect the body physically?

Stress is a term that people normally use to describe how they are feeling mentally or emotionally. For example, you may hear people say, “I feel overwhelmed, I’m drained, or I’m totally exhausted.”  One of the definitions of stress is “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Sound familiar? Induvidual with hands on head feeling stress

Many people know stress all too well. But what some may not understand is how stress affects us physically—not just mentally or emotionally. When people feel “stressed” there is a reaction that goes on inside your body, more specifically in your adrenal glands, which sit on top of your kidneys. When that stressful type of feeling occurs, the adrenal glands get to work by pumping out two hormones called epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) and norepinephrine. Both hormones are released during a stressful incident and your body goes into “fight or flight” mode. These two hormones increase your heart rate, a rush of blood is sent to your muscles and brain, and your blood sugar spikes to help convert glycogen to glucose for more energy. While all of these reactions are occurring, your muscle tissue also gets very tight, creating a temporary period of tension.

Believe it or not it’s actually a wonderful thing that your body responds to stress in this way; For hundreds of years this physical chemistry actually kept us alive, when we needed to react in fight or flight mode to survive. You see, when your body responds to stress every once in a while, it’s able to recover. But, today’s constant stressors are a different story.  Unrelenting stress can create more of a incessant “fight or flight” buzz in the body.  This kind of stress takes a toll on your body and, without treating it properly, there is a domino effect.

The physical repercussions of stress are many, but often include very tight muscles, which people refer to as having a lot of tension. Here is just one example of stress’s domino effect: When your muscles get tight, they pull and put excess pressure or strain on your joints, which in turn puts pressure on your nerves, which can lead to a multitude of symptoms of pain. So stress affects us mentally and emotionally first. This is the initial trigger.  But if you don’t heed the signs, it can also become a huge physical problem.

If you’re concerned about stress, call us at (267) 614-3725 or go to to set up your free consult with Dr. Rittenhouse today!