How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

Cramming for a test? Trying to get more done
than you have time to do? Stress is a feeling we all experience
when we are challenged or overwhelmed. But more than just an emotion, stress is a hardwired physical response
that travels throughout your entire body. In the short term,
stress can be advantageous, but when activated too often or too long, your primitive fight or flight
stress response not only changes your brain but also damages many of the other
organs and cells throughout your body. Your adrenal gland releases
the stress hormones cortisol, epinephrine,
also known as adrenaline, and norepinephrine. As these hormones
travel through your blood stream, they easily reach
your blood vessels and heart. Adrenaline causes
your heart to beat faster and raises your blood pressure,
over time causing hypertension. Cortisol can also cause the endothelium,
or inner lining of blood vessels, to not function normally. Scientists now know
that this is an early step in triggering the process
of atherosclerosis or cholesterol plaque
build up in your arteries. Together, these changes increase
your chances of a heart attack or stroke. When your brain senses stress, it activates your
autonomic nervous system. Through this network
of nerve connections, your big brain communicates
stress to your enteric, or intestinal nervous system. Besides causing butterflies
in your stomach, this brain-gut connection can disturb
the natural rhythmic contractions that move food through your gut, leading to irritable bowel syndrome, and can increase your
gut sensitivity to acid, making you more likely to feel heartburn. Via the gut’s nervous system, stress can also change the composition
and function of your gut bacteria, which may affect your digestive
and overall health. Speaking of digestion, does chronic
stress affect your waistline? Well, yes. Cortisol can increase your appetite. It tells your body to replenish
your energy stores with energy dense foods and carbs,
causing you to crave comfort foods. High levels of cortisol can also cause you
to put on those extra calories as visceral or deep belly fat. This type of fat doesn’t just make
it harder to button your pants. It is an organ
that actively releases hormones and immune system chemicals
called cytokines that can increase your risk
of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease
and insulin resistance. Meanwhile, stress hormones
affect immune cells in a variety of ways. Initially, they help prepare
to fight invaders and heal after injury, but chronic stress can dampen function
of some immune cells, make you more susceptible to infections,
and slow the rate you heal. Want to live a long life? You may have to curb your chronic stress. That’s because it has even been
associated with shortened telomeres, the shoelace tip ends of chromosomes
that measure a cell’s age. Telomeres cap chromosomes to allow DNA to get copied
every time a cell divides without damaging
the cell’s genetic code, and they shorten with each cell division. When telomeres become too short,
a cell can no longer divide and it dies. As if all that weren’t enough, chronic stress has even more ways
it can sabotage your health, including acne, hair loss, sexual dysfunction, headaches, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and irritability. So, what does all this mean for you? Your life will always be filled
with stressful situations. But what matters to your brain
and entire body is how you respond to that stress. If you can view those situations
as challenges you can control and master, rather than as threats
that are insurmountable, you will perform better in the short run
and stay healthy in the long run.


  1. When I'm stressed I get depressed…. i cannot eat, I start loosing weight, I sometimes I faint…… I'm going through a lot right now….. I'm 35 and I'm scared something might happen to me if I keep dealing with this amount of stress…. how can I be strong and ignore some things…. I just started therapy….. hopefully it will help. Any advice anyone? Thanks!

  2. I’ve been having a really tough year and a half. I really don’t know how I developed anxiety but that’s where it started, then it was some sort of depression and all of that was accompanied with stress. My stress levels where really really high, every muscle in my body twitches (literally every single one), headaches, I gained a lil weight cause I was craving sweet foods a lot, my colesterol went up a bit and I was in a non ending cycle of feeling ill, going to the doctor, running blood tests to see if everything was okay, not eating well cause my stomach hurt, more tests, etc. All I have is stress and it was killing me slowly, I even planned on taking my life cause I was fed up. Stress is horrible. I’m getting better slowly, the twitches are still there

  3. I'm currently stress daily and I constantly have cough and flu this past 2 weeks 😔 my stress and anxiety and depression seem to be chronic.

  4. I've question

    …When I'm watching this video and before watching it.. So I felt a cold surge that is expanding itself over in the back right side of my head…. It's like someone just poured ice cold water on my brain..

  5. Love how I'm only 11 and I'm literally stressed about school that I have to stay up to 1am to finish home work , lol….imma die of a heart attack 😰

  6. You know you are stressed when you encounter a familiar term in the video you know will be tested in your exam but you forgot its function thus you pause and search for the answer immediately

  7. 4:02 – The last couple sentences demonstrate why I wish more people would seek psychiatric help.

    My girlfriend doesn’t handle stress well. When her plate is full, she tends to react by shutting down, because – in her brain – the stressors become insurmountable obstacles, rather than challenges to meet and overcome. I’ve tried gently encouraging her to consider seeing a psychiatrist, because this kind of reaction doesn’t do her health any favors. She struggles with weight and she has gut problems. When I bring up the subject, she insists that her anxiety is purely “situational.” Yet it seems to strike on a weekly basis. And life is really just a series of situations.

    I think there’s a strong stigma in her unwillingness to consider specialist treatment, against psychiatric medications, and against mental health in general. Lots of people seem to adopt the mentality, “sure, it’s a thing, but it’s not a thing with ME.” The reality is that it’s just a minor chemical imbalance in the brain, probably due to a simple genetic quirk, like one that would cause a large birthmark or poor eyesight. When faced with those other conditions, we treat them without a second thought – “we’ll just go in and get that mole taken off, and that’ll be that,” or, “we’ll just get you a prescription for glasses, and that’ll be that.”

    At the end of the day, I can’t force her to do anything. We’ve only been together a few months, but I’m hopeful she’ll gradually open up to the possibility. It’s really not a big deal, tons of people have similar struggles, and treatment can be life-changing. 🙂

  8. I'm going to keep watching this until my brain understands that I should be sick right now now as I can be a stressed as a elastic band and I still feel ok

  9. I have something called cyclic vomiting syndrome which is uncontrollable vomiting for 3-5 days. It's caused by stress and its terrible! I puke like every 10 minutes non stop. Idk where it all comes from because I can't eat for days and I thought you could only produce so much bile but I was wrong lol Each time this happens I have to be admitted in the hospital for dehydration and my potassium plummets. It takes me almost a week to recover and each time this happens I lose up to 20 lbs from throwing up. To bad I gain that all back once I get rehydrated again. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy

  10. Me:
    stresses out
    gets sick
    misses school
    * stresses out about getting sick from being stressed*
    Misses more school
    gets sicker
    * the cycle continues until I die*

    Public school system: Yeah we're good. Everything's fine

    Anyone agree?

  11. I knew stress caused Hyper tension, lol this is why most dictators died of stokes they were killing them selves didn’t even know.

  12. I'm stress and this video doesn't make me (more) stress anyway. If i am meant to die young from stress, I hope it strikes fast and not painful. That's fine for me.

  13. Yesterday I had a really stressful day . Today my stomach hurts , I didn't sleep well , I cant breathe properly, i lost my appetite and I am exhausted. I am only 15teen and this happens because of school. I also lost 1 kilo in two days [which is not really normal since I eat normally and my weight is normal ( 56 kg and 170 cm height)]. Also my life in home isnt exactly easy since my father has multiple sclerosis so I get stress from there too. I dont know what to do . I am sorry for having you to hear my problems but I had to tell someone (i am also dont feel comfortable with telling these to my friends )

  14. I used to hear hip hop preacher saying "you've got to give it 100% and if you don't you aren't motivated enough. DON'T GO TO SLEEP!" But that isn't healthy. This video is the opposite from all the motivational videos you see on YouTube. I think more people should hear that it is important to relax and it's ok to take it easy.

  15. That’s the part I was waiting on, my theory being confirmed that stress compromises the immune system; making you more vulnerable to a viral (common cold or flu) or bacteria infection.

  16. I've been in and out of emergency rooms since 2014 from chronic nausea I only seem to get in the morning…I've always felt it was something contributing to anxiety or fear/depression..I still dont know why I havent gotten the treatment I deserve after i have seeked help. What do I do. It's preventing me from the quality my life used to bring and worrying sick everyone around me. Sometimes only a hott shower is what reliefs the pain, but when I am in pain it comes in the form of an attack..I feel helpless

  17. I got stressed when I ran back and forth to check for every room in our school that had functional printer to print out our script that was overdue for 2 hours. That night, I had a sleep paralysis and a fever that lasted for a week.

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