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Can stress make you sick?

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Quick Answer

According to Barrie Gillies Drummy from Parents Magazine, excessive stress can manifest itself in the body as various afflictions, including back pain, headaches, indigestion, bacterial and viral infections and insomnia. It can also lead to weight gain, eczema, psoriasis, acne, memory loss, difficulty focusing, infertility and an inability to bounce back quickly from illness and injuries. Stress compromises the body's immune system and makes it more susceptible to health disturbances.

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WebMD explains that in the short-term, elevated stress levels can negatively affect a person's mind, body, emotions and behavior. Physically, a person may begin to suffer with chest pains, loss of libido, clammy hands and feet, ringing in the ears, rapid heartbeat, jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Stress can also cause a person to become withdrawn and irritable and suffer from damage to self-esteem.

Stress is known to create patterns of helplessness, constant worrying, loss of control and negative thinking, which can spiral into true depression. It may also cause a person to rely on the use of unhealthy substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs to calm the body's nerves and find relief from pain and mental anguish. According to WebMD, prolonged elevated stress levels can wreak havoc on the body and lead to personality disorders, sexual dysfunction, permanent hair loss, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

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