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Can You Be Stressed And Not Know It?

Posted in: General Health 19 Oct, 2015

Stress is a big influence on our health. It's no longer the scorned 'yuppie disease', quite the opposite in fact because we now know that stress contributes to a whole heap of health issues.

Most of us know about the common symptoms such as high blood pressure, headaches and loss of sex drive. But is it possible to be stressed and not know it? Well, yes. This kind of stress is called 'Silent' or 'Iceberg' stress and you may have it if you've noticed any of the following problems.


  • Weekend headaches: a drop in adrenaline hormones can lead to migraines or headaches.

  • Period pains: May be twice as bad. A study from Harvard found stress imbalances hormones. It's thought exercise helps (that's just typical).

  • Hair loss: Or greying hair. Once again, hormones are to blame for the effects of stress on our follicles.

  • Jaw ache: Grinding your teeth is a sign you are stressed. You'll probably notice if you're doing it in the daytime, and if you grind in your sleep you'll get an aching neck and jaw.

  • Nightmares: Stressed folk don't sleep well and may experience bad dreams as their minds process the stress. Try to limit alcohol and caffeine before bedtime and try some relaxation techniques.

  • Low immunity: When you are stressed you are more likely to pick up colds. Stress suppresses your immune system.

  • Skin breakouts: Stress can lead to your skin quality taking a nosedive. An imbalance of hormones is to blame. These hormones look like the root problem here, don't they?

  • Stomach ache: 'Exam belly' aside, a study of 1953 people found those with the highest stress levels were three times more likely to experience stomach pains. Researchers theorise that the intestines and brain share nerve pathways, so your tummy is infiltrated by mental stress.

  • Flare ups of existing conditions: Chronic conditions likes psoriasis, eczema and IBS may worsen when you are stressed.


How Can You Be Stressed And Not Know?

Research indicates that up to a third of us are suffering from stress, and we don't even know it. Or rather, perhaps we choose not to call it stress.

Researchers looked at the physiological symptoms of those who declared themselves 'unstressed'. Participants kept a five day stress diary and produced four saliva samples a day which were tested for stress hormones. They discovered that high levels of two hormones secreted by the adrenal glands were present in those thought to be unstressed. This may indicate that they either simply didn't notice their stress level, or they choose to deny that something stressed them.

Why Is This A Problem?

It's a problem because stress leads to an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, cancer and depression, so it's important to realise when we are stressed and not just bury our heads.

It's not always a major event that stresses us out. It can be a row with your friend, a trying shopping trip or viewing a particularly heated Prime Minister's Questions. There are relaxation and coping techniques that can help. Perhaps it's time to start using these techniques each day just in case.

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