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Stress and Its Negative Influence on Health

The rapid pace of modern life and the variety of complicated situations people should cope with provoke a high level of stress. Even though it is a natural reaction of the human body to adverse psychological and physical conditions, stress negatively influences health and causes dangerous illnesses and disorders. Even though sometimes stress can be used for healthcare purposes to increase the production of helpful hormones, such treatment can be addressed only in short-time stress. Nowadays, stress surrounds people everywhere, from home and family affairs to the constant need to be efficient at work to stay in demand. Being in a state of stress, people witness constant anxiety, which can cause neurological processes deterioration and immune system failures. Current research explores the negative influences of stress on health, accenting neurological, cardiovascular, and immune systems dangers.

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Stressful situations can affect the neurophysiological aspects of human health. Considering neurological influences, it is essential to mention that prefrontal cortical executive functions usually are disturbed the most (Adler et al., 2018). Adler et al. (2018) address the quality and the volume of memory, attention, response inhibition, and cognitive flexibility as the executive functions of the prefrontal cortex. As far as essential brain functions can be damaged by stress disruption, it is potentially dangerous for human health.

As was mentioned earlier, stress is a normal reaction of an organism to a threat. In order to minimize risks and respond to the threats rapidly, the body starts to produce the hormones enhancing the metabolic resources activation, which can sometimes be even helpful. Stress does not harm the neurological system only in the case of acute occurrence (Adler et al., 2018). However, if the acute stress responses are repeated too often or the person is in a state of continuous anxiety or chronic stress, the body fails to respond correctly due to the deterioration of the homeostasis acute activation functioning (Adler et al., 2018). The adverse effects of such a failure can cause severe disruptions in the work of the neurological system and lead to life-threatening pathologies.

Thus, the neurological dysfunction is caused mainly by repeated stress, while the acute responses sometimes can be helpful in healthcare. The empirical research and outstanding physiologist experiments results reviewed by Adler et al. (2018) proved that chronic stress negatively influences memory and attention, decision making, and other neurological functions. Thus, to preserve the prefrontal cortex executive processes from deterioration and avoid life-threatening conditions, clinicians should observe patients and try to find individually appropriate treatment and stress-reducing practices.

Sometimes even acute stress can be dangerous for people at particular group risks. For example, physiologists estimated that increased cholesterol activity could cause hypertension and coronary artery calcification by exploring acute stress responses (Connor et al., 2021). Thus, people genetically inclined to heart diseases are at a high risk of developing adverse consequences of stress. From a long-time perspective, stress leads to increased or decreased systolic and diastolic BP (blood pressure) during nighttime (Connor et al., 2021). Such rapid BP changes can lead to the lack of or overabundance of oxygen and other problems that can damage vital organs. For example, ventricular hypotony, heart stroke, or myocardial infarction may result from the continuous stress influence (Connor et al., 2021). Therefore, the cardiovascular system is affected by both acute and chronic stress. As a result, stress can lead people to life-threatening diseases, which may be lethal in a prevalent number of cases.

Continuous stress may also affect the immune system, especially in aging people. The immune system becomes weaker with age due to the affected adaptive and innate immune compartment (Fali et al., 2018). This process is called immunosenescence and causes the dysregulation of immune cells (Fali et al., 2018). Thus, aging itself deprives the immune system of the opportunity to protect the body correctly. Stress, acute and chronic, causes the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can cause dangerous illnesses (Fali et al., 2018). For example, osteoporosis, bone frailty, and various cardiovascular diseases are caused by stress reactions in people after 75 years old in around 30% of cases (Fali et al., 2018). A combination of the harmful impact of stress and natural body deterioration influences the immune system responding, leading to the increased risk for aging people to fall ill with dangerous viruses. Moreover, the weakened immune system cannot produce enough hormones to maintain healthy organ functioning. Thus, the aging people’s immune system is highly affected by stress. The stress-reduction practices can significantly increase the life expectancy of senior people.

Stress has adverse impacts on people’s health and can cause life-threatening problems. The cardiovascular and neurological systems are affected the most by stress. It can severely damage the essential processes and systems, thereby causing the dysfunction of the body. In general, despite the rare cases of using acute stress in treatment, chronic stress and anxiety are harmful to the human body. Disrupting the work of the body systems, stress causes dangerous illnesses and lowers life expectancy. Therefore, stress-reduction practices are essential to perform in order to preserve the body functioning from deterioration.

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Adler, S., Bullin, S., Fucich, E., Girotti, M., Morilak, D., & Paredes, D. (2014). Prefrontal cortex executive processes affected by stress in health and disease. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, 85, 161–179. Web.

Connor, D., Thayer, J., & Vedhara, K. (2021). Stress and health: A review of psychobiological processes. Annual Review of Psychology, 72, 663–668. Web.

Fali, T., Sauce, D., & Vallet, H. (2018). Impact of stress on aged immune system compartments: Overview from fundamental to clinical data. Experimental Gerontology, 105, 19–26. Web.

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