Physical Effects of Stress

Physical effects of stress occurs mainly through the neuro-endocrino-immunological pathways.

Whatever be the nature of the stressor, the basic responses of the body to these are similar.

Following are some of the physical effects of stress on our body

  • Palpitation : increased heart beat

  • Increased, shallow breathing

  • Tremors

  • Cold, clammy extremities

  • Moist eyebrows

  • Tightening of muscles, showing tightening of abdominal muscles, tense arms and legs, clenched jaw causing gritting of teeth.

  • Sweating

  • Constipation

  • Diarrhea

  • Dyspepsia

  • Increased frequency of urine

  • Irritability

  • Hyperacidity

  • Weakness

  • Hair loss

  • Loss of appetite


How stress affects so many organs in the body and causes these physical stress effects can be understood from the following diagram of the major physical effects of stress on the body:

stress response

            Physical effects of stress starts when a stressor sends signals from the higher centres of brain to the hypothalamus which secretes hormones which in turn stimulates pituitary gland, the maestro of the endocrinal orchestra, which sends signals to all other endocrinal glands like adrenal medulla, adrenal cortex, thyroid, etc.

            The immediate effect mediated through the autonomic system  and adrenal medulla is to release adrenaline, which is the fight or flight hormone. The body is readied to meet the immediate threat by activating the essential fighting organs like heart, respiratory system and muscles.



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