I read once an article on a Norwegian web site about how chronic stress can give us diseases. It was actually an interview of Rune Jonassen from 2014-12.25, a psychologist and scientist at the University of Oslo.
What is normal stress response?
Jonassen explains stress as the condition in which we experience demands exceeding or approaching the level of what we are capable to handle. We all know that stress reactions are normal physical responses, and that some people handle stress better than other.
When we get stressed the heart rate increases and we breathe faster. The stress hormone cortisol release glucose into our muscles and liver, and in this way the body gets extra energy. The immune system is triggered, but when the stress becomes chronic, the system is weakened instead.
Can stress make us ill?
Scientists say that a high level of cortisol is associated with a variety of diseases, because the cells of the immune system stop responding to the inflammation in the body. The consequences are that stress can make us ill.
Stress that last over a long period of time can trigger various autoimmune diseases. The immune system stars to attack its own tissues and cells, because the body perceives it to be foreign components. It is the same response as if it was a bacteria or a virus. This response can cause diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and lupus.
During stress the blood supply to the skin and gastrointestinal tracts may become insufficient. The metabolic process may slow down, and the food can be digested more slowly. Chronic stress may therefore cause diseases like gastritis, ulcerative colitis and ulcer.
When it comes to the skin you may experience pimples and itching.The constriction of blood vessels may also be the reason why the skin lose elasticity and cause early aging. Hair loss are also common, because the body loses zinc. If you got a low value of zinc it may cause burnout, headache, mental disorders and heart problems.
Stress over time can give you a depression. One hypothesis is that depression can have a function to protect the you from the stress.
My chronic stress and disease
I am actually a living proof how chronic stress can have such a bad influence on the body. In 2012 I got ulcerative colitis. I recognize many of the symptoms I read about in the article. Every bone and muscles in the body was painful, and it felts like a non-stop flue. I struggled with sleeping problems for a long time and could not find any rest. The hair loss was massive and always commented by my hair dresser.
To sleep at night I listen to Spotify and sounds from the nature. That really calms me down. Hobbies like knitting , Audiobooks, mindfulness and a long walk each day are important in my recovery program.