Diseases caused By Stress

What are the diseases caused by stress and how are these diseases caused by stress? The effect of stress on the body can have far reaching effects on each and every system of the body.

       The translation of emotional distress to physiological change, and thence to a physical symptom is known as 'transduction'. In transduction, a situation is perceived, a meaning is assigned to it, an emotional response is elicited and a physiological reaction results. A complex autoimmune, humoral and neuromuscular mechanisms mediate this reaction, and may itself affect the environment, generating in turn a social response that may yield either a positive or negative feedback.

      See the diagram to understand the basic effects of stress on various systems and organs of our body:

stress diseases

      Somatization, or conversion of psychological distress into physical illness, is a very important concept that recognizes that an emotionally distressed patient more often presents with physical symptoms than psychological complaints.

        Nemiah et al believe that people who somatize are alexythymic. Meaning, they simply cannot express feelings in words and must, therefore, resort to  expressing them in physical symptoms.

              A few diseases either induced, sustained or exacerbated by stress are listed in table .The list is by no means complete. While in some of these diseases stress is only one among the factors responsible for the aetio- pathogenesis, in others stress is the main perpetuator. Thus stress diseases are as varied as there are organs in the body.



  1. Acid Peptic Disease

  2. Alcoholism

  3. Asthma

  4. Fatigue

  5. Tension Headache

  6. Hypertension

  7. Insomnia

  8. Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  9. Ischemic Heart Disease

  10. Psychoneuroses

  11. Sexual Dysfunction

  12. Skin diseases like Psoriasis,Lichen planus,Urticaria,Pruritus,Neurodermatitis etc

The list is not complete.

       Many of the effects of stress on mind and body are due to increased sympathetic nervous system activity and an outpouring of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related hormones. 
      Certain types of chronic and more insidious stress due to loneliness, poverty, bereavement, depression and frustration due to discrimination are associated with impaired immune system resistance to viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and cancer. 
    Stress can have effects on other hormones, brain neurotransmitters, additional small chemical messengers elsewhere, prostaglandins, as well as crucial enzyme systems, and metabolic activities that are still unknown. 
        Research in these areas may help to explain how stress can contribute to depression, anxiety and its diverse effects on the gastrointestinal tract, skin and other organs.

         Understanding the above concepts are very important in understanding the diseases caused by stress and to create a plan of action for the management of stress and stress induced diseases.



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