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Physical Effects of Stress:
The Fight or Flight Response 

The physical effects of stress are initially the normal response to a threatening or dangerous situation.

This means that your body is trying to protect you from something dangerous. Without this response, the human race may have disappeared a long time ago.

However if your body is continually under stress and responding in this way it soon takes it's toll and can lead on to more harmful health issues.

Fight or Flight Response

We've all heard of the fight or flight response, right? But do we really know what it means and what is going on in our bodies? I must admit when I first heard the term I wasn't entirely sure, so I spent some time finding out and having this information allowed me to understand why the physical effects of stress were both helpful and harmful.

Fight or Flight

When you are under stresses which your body perceives as being harmful to you, your body prepares to fight. It releases chemicals into your body which will enable it to work better, be faster, stronger etc.

Now this response is fine in short occasional bursts, but what happens if you are stressed all the time and your body responds in the same way? Chemicals released during this response such as Adrenaline and Cortisol are left unused in the blood supply and start to build up and begin to play an adverse effect on your health over time.


  • weakened immune system
  • Increased risks of heart disease and possibly some cancers

Physical Effects of Stress

Here is a list of some of the signs of physical stress:

  • sweaty Palms
  • Insomnia or other sleep problems
  • cramps
  • headaches
  • muscle tension and spasms
  • dry mouth
  • palpitations
  • dizziness
  • hyperventilation
  • chest pain
  • diarrhea
  • restless leg syndrome

These are just a few physical symptoms that could be caused by stress. Experiencing three or more of these symptoms at once indicates that you are suffering from quite a high amount of stress.

Finding coping strategies to reduce the physical symptoms of stress is more important that many realize. stress is just the starting point, it not only puts you through the distress of the above symptoms but can contribute to future more serious physical health condition, some even life threatening.

It should be mentioned here at any physical changes in health or symptoms displayed need to be checked by a doctor in the first instance. Other medical conditions need to be ruled out or treated first before you can tackle the long term effects of stress on your life and physical well being.

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