Stress results in physiological, physical and psychological reactions.
1/ Physiological disorders
Stress related disorders are numerous and various. The following highlight in particular the harmful effects of stress on:
- The hormonal system: stress can unsettle for instance the regularity of menstrual cycles in women, or else diminish fecundity in men.
- Immunity: the state of stress is most often accompanied by a fall of immune reactions. Glucocorticoids – of which production is speeded up by stress – can be found in the nervous and immune systems.
- Premature ageing: generally due to numerous consequences on the organism, an extended and extreme stress contributes to speed up the process of ageing.
The figure below highlights the main consequences of an extended stress.
2/ Physical reactions
Stress also acts on our mental state leading to:
- sleep disorders: stress creates agitation making the falling asleep phase difficult;
- indigestion: stomach cramps, slowing down or even blockage of digestion, etc.
- problems of hypertension,
- loss of appetite or attack of bulimia resulting in weight loss or gain.
3/ Emotional and psychological disorders
- concentration difficulties, loss of memory, lack of effectiveness in the job often driving to a depreciation of oneself;
- impatience, hyperactivity, irritable, aggressiveness or passiveness;
- guilt feelings, general malaise, possible depression. "Under pressure of stress, the neuro-psychiatrists believe that approximately one person of five will experience a depressive episode at least once in their life" (Les Echos, February 13th, 2007).