Stress and Health

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How often do you hear or say the words, “I’m stressed out”? It’s probably many times and with good reason. We don’t always take the time to relax or “de-stress.” Dealing with stress is something we feel we can put off. But we shouldn’t.

“Stress is a danger to both mental and physical health,” says Bruce Rabin, MD, PhD, professor of pathology and of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He’s a well-recognized expert in the effects of stress on health.

Stress makes people feel tense in their bodies and minds, but that’s not all. Our bodies use stress to help us escape from danger. When the danger is over, we can relax. However, many events in life cause us stress, and they don’t readily go away. Worrying about the health and education of young children is an example. Continued, or chronic, stress is what causes disease.

“When people experience chronic stress, parts of the brain become activated,” says Dr. Rabin. “When these stress-reactive brain areas are activated, the concentration of several hormones in the blood increases. The increased concentration of the stress hormones is what affects mental and physical health.”

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