Almost everyone experiences stress every day due to various reasons. Many people can endure it steadily, but the impact on the human body and on his life, work is very great. It affects people of any age, gender, and social status. Stress is a defense mechanism against unusual physical and mental pressure and strong emotions. Being in a non-standard situation that requires an important decision results in anxiety, increased heart rate, weakness, and sometimes even dizziness. If the influence of stress on the human body has reached its peak, then complete moral and physical exhaustion sets in.
There are two major reasons for the occurrence of a stressful state: external and internal. Firstly, these are changes in the usual course of life: increased workload; discord in personal life; misunderstanding on the part of loved ones; an acute shortage of money and others (Bhargava & Trivedi, 2018). Secondly, these are internal problems that are generated by imagination: pessimistic attitude; low self-esteem; overestimation of requirements not only to yourself but also to those around you; the inner struggles of the individual. But negative emotions are not the only stressors since positive emotions, such as a wedding or a meteoric career, also influence human health. Stress directly affects the healthy performance of the human body. For example, the work of internal organs and systems is suppressed, and a feeling of depression takes place.
The main physical manifestations of stress on a person are headaches that do not have a characteristic localization; chronic lack of sleep and insomnia; functional disorders of the cardiovascular system: bradycardia, arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction. Also, impaired concentration, increased fatigue, decreased performance are the negative consequences of stress (Khansari et al. 1990). Disorders of the gastrointestinal tract such as gastritis, ulcers, dyspepsia of neurotic genesis might potentially be caused by constant stress. As a result of decreased immunity the body can undergo a viral infection, is another dangerous impact of stress on the human body (Hawkley & Cacioppo, 2004). Moreover, violation of neuroendocrine regulation, an irregular production of hormones caused by stress, leads to the development of osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus, or other metabolic diseases. In addition, dystrophy of brain tissue, muscle rigidity or atony, alcohol or drug addiction may appear as well.
The suppression of the immune system functioning under stress is regarded as the suppression of the operation of the adaptive immune response, a change in the quantity of recirculating T-cells in connection to B-cells and macrophages (Yaribeygi et al., 2017). The mechanism of changes in immunoreactivity under stress is associated with the activation of stress system mediators – a corticotropin-releasing hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, glucocorticoids, and catecholamines. With a moderate increase in the secretion of mediators, the blood system is mobilized, and the immune response is activated. With increased secretion of these mediators, immunoreactivity is suppressed. Immunosuppression under stress is associated with an increase in the concentration of glucocorticoid hormones in the blood serum, redistribution of erythrocytes, and activation of T-suppressors.
There are three types of stressors: acute stressors, short-term stressors, and long-term stressors. The immune response depends on the duration of exposure to the stressor. In acute stress, there is a rise in the amount of circulating suppressor / cytotoxic T cells, but long-term stress factors reduce their number. Stimulation of immunity in the form of mobilization of lymphocytes, interaction with hematopoietic stem cells of the bone marrow is an adaptive reaction, because of which a recovery period occurs, or with prolonged exposure to a stressor, a state of secondary immunological insufficiency develops.
The cumulative result of stress hormones on the immune system are likely to lead to a fairly pronounced secondary immunodeficiency, especially on the background of prolonged stress. As Selye (1991) suggests, chronic stress should be regarded as an oncological risk factor (p. 27). Catecholamines promote the production of erythropoietin, and through it – the activation of erythropoiesis. Erythropoiesis and platelet formation are also enhanced under the influence of glucocorticoids and androgens secreted in some individuals during stress. A number of stressors strongly stimulate vasopressinogenesis. Vasopressin in high concentrations enhances the production and thrombogenic functions of platelets since this inhibits the synthesis of plasminogen activators and the production of coagulation factors in the liver, in which glucocorticoids are involved. As a result, stress leads to an increase in blood clotting and thrombogenic potential, erythropoiesis, and thrombocytopoiesis (Yang & Glaser, 2000). In a state of acute immobilization stress, changes in the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, and thyroid gland are noted as well.
To conclude, stress causes a significant restructuring of metabolism and physiological functioning raising the body’s resistance to acute death. In this way, the physiological importance of a stress response is to urgently mobilize the body’s energy and structural resources and create a positive background for the enactment of actions sustaining homeostasis in extreme conditions. According to the literature review, the influenec of stress on the human body is enormous. Even though stress is a natural reaction of the body, its constant occurrence can negatively affect human health. The impact of stress on the physical health of people is well studied, and appropriate scientific explanations are already done. However, the impact of stress on the human body based on the exposure duration is a gap in the field of study.
Bhargava, D., & Trivedi, H. (2018). A study of causes of stress and stress management among youth. IRA-International Journal of Management & Social Sciences, 11(03), 108-117.
Hawkley, L. C., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2004). Stress and the aging immune system. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 18(2), 114-119.
Khansari, D. N., Murgo, A. J., & Faith, R. E. (1990). Effects of stress on the immune system. Immunology today, 11, 170-175.
Selye, H. (1991). 1. History and present status of the stress concept. In stress and coping: An anthology (pp. 21-35). Columbia University Press.
Yang, E. V., & Glaser, R. (2000). Stress-induced immunomodulation: Impact on immune defenses against infectious disease. Biomedicine & pharmacotherapy, 54(5), 245-250.
Yaribeygi, H., Panahi, Y., Sahraei, H., Johnston, T. P., & Sahebkar, A. (2017). The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI journal, 16, 1057.