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Why is long-term stress bad for my body?

A stressed woman sitting at her desk needs help with her mental health

During the beginning stages of stress, your body goes into fight or flight mode.

Your body breaks down glycogen to glucose (sugar).

Glucose gives your body energy to fight or escape danger.

If a stressful situation is not resolved before the glycogen is gone, your body begins to use alternative sources for energy.

That’s when cortisol kicks in.

Cortisol is a hormone made in the adrenal glands (the glands that sit on top of your kidneys).

Cortisol causes fat and protein to break down into glycerol, fatty acids, and amino acids.

Then the liver uses those products to make more glucose.

More glucose = more energy to survive the stressful situation.

But, there's a problem.

Long term stress → long term cortisol production.

Too much cortisol can lead to

  • An immune system that is less active → fewer antibodies (which are needed to fight infection)

  • Lymph tissue atrophies → decreased antibodies, leukocytes and inflammatory cells → poor wound healing → more susceptible to infections and some forms of cancer

  • Too much gastric secretion → more stomach ulcers

  • Decreased sex hormones → disturbances in fertility and sexual function

We all experience stress.

But, if we don't learn how to manage our stress, it damages our physical and mental health.

Do you need help managing your stress?

Have you tried medications but they aren't working?

Let's talk.

Book a call and learn how I can help you.


SOURCE: Saladin, K. S., & Miller, L. (2004). Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function (3rd ed., pp. 662-664). McGraw Hill.

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