Can Stress Kill Me?

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Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

You can live without anything but stress in today’s world. With a honking car on the road or the death of a loved one, we encounter many stressors. Stress is our body’s response to a worrisome situation. Everyone faces stress, but the degree of stress may vary. It depends on how well a person can cope with stress. It may sometimes lead to certain unpleasant and adverse impacts on our health. In this article, we explore whether stress is capable of killing us.

What happens during stress?

When the body faces an actual or perceived threat, it undergoes three stages of the stress response:

Alarm stage

The first stage of the stress response is the alarm stage. In this stage, the body prepares to fight the stressor or escape it. It releases stress hormones, which include cortisol, noradrenaline and adrenaline. 

Cortisol increases the blood glucose level. It allows the brain to take up more glucose. It reduces bodily functions, like digestion, that are unimportant in fighting the stressor. Adrenaline increases the heartbeat and blood pressure. It makes the blood rush to muscles, the heart and vital organs. It promotes rapid breathing. Noradrenaline releases glucose from fat stores in the body.

In short, these hormones increase the body’s energy so that it can deal with the threat. 

Adaptation stage

The second stage of the stress response is called the adaption stage. If the stressor is gone, the body returns to normal functioning. However, if it continues to face the stressor, in the adaption stage, the body uses all its resources to adapt to the threat. For example, there is a continuous release of stress hormones. In this state of facing chronic stress, physical, mental, emotional, or behavioural problems arise. 

Exhaustion or recovery stage

The third stage of the stress response is the exhaustion or recovery stage. If the body is successful in overcoming the stressor, it enters recovery mode. But if it cannot overcome the stressor and has used its resources, it enters the exhaustion stage. During this, the body is unable to maintain normal functioning. Serious health illnesses such as depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease become common at this stage. 

What are the signs of stress?

When we face a stressful situation, our body reacts in a specific manner. Signs that the body is experiencing stress are:

  • Difficulty to relax, reduced concentration
  • Varied emotions like anxiety, irritability, anger, and sadness
  • Body aches like headaches 
  • Disturbed sleep pattern
  • Chest pain, increased heartbeat and blood pressure
  • Breathlessness and choking sensation
  • Stomach troubles like diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting

Can stress cause death?

Stress may be a contributor to health conditions, but there is no possibility of stress killing you. Different studies point to this fact.

Researchers studied whether stress can lead to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). They found that stress can impact the ion channels in the heart disrupting the heart rhythm. Irregular heart rhythms can cause sudden heart attacks. However, there is a need for more specific studies to establish a direct linkage. 

Another study in 2021 suggests that chronic stress increases the risk of SCA in healthy individuals. However, it still requires more research to understand the exact role of stress in SCA. Chronic stress may also cause angina. A 2021 study done in Finland states that higher stress can reduce life expectancy by 2.8 years. Nonetheless, there is no established link as to whether stress causes death.

How does chronic stress impact our health?

Stress cannot kill you. However, long-lasting stress can impact the body in many ways. The body remains stuck in the alarm stage and continually tries to cope. Eventually, it enters the exhaustion stage and develops diseases. 

One study (2022) found that lifelong stress can change the brain structure. Changes in brain structure impair thinking capability. They also increase the chances of mental health issues. Long-term stress may cause depression in certain individuals.

There is evidence that lifelong stress exposure causes changes at the DNA level. As a result, there is consistent inflammation in the body. In addition, DNA changes reduce the virus-fighting capacity of the body.

During the stress response, cortisol reduces the immune function of the body. In the case of persistent stress, cortisol levels remain high. Thus, over some time, the body can become incapable of initiating an immune response. Chronic stress also reduces the size of the immune system’s organ, the thymus. The whole purpose of the stress response is to increase the body’s energy level. As a result, stress hormones increase glucose concentration in the blood. However, when stress persists, high glucose levels cause insulin resistance. Thus, chronic stress can lead to diabetes.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

More in

Questions
Fact Check
Interviews
Stories
Videos
Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Will I die because of stress?
No. There is no direct link between stress and death. Stress is the body’s response to threats. There is an increase in stress hormones – cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. Chronic stress can cause diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and changes in the brain structure. It can also lead to mental health disorders, weak immunity, and chronic inflammation.

Last Updated on February 20, 2024 by Shabnam Sengupta

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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