It is very common for an individual to experience bouts of stress throughout their lives. Many instances can be instigators for stress, worry and anxiety, all of which cause hormonal changes within the body that can lead to physiological and psychological changes or complications. So, can stress make people sick? Continue reading to gain an answer to this question, as well as learn other ways stress may affect the body, and how you can work to minimize your stress levels.

Can Stress Make You Sick?

The simple answer to this question is yes, stress can make you feel physically sick. This is because when we become stressed, our body responds by entering what is known as ‘fight or flight’ mode, wherein the body undergoes physical and psychological changes to prepare oneself to deal with any stressful occurrences that have arisen. Whilst this is an extremely useful thing in times of true danger, and the body will have no problem reverting to normal once such danger has passed, being consistently stressed or anxious can cause the body to remain in this heightened state of preparedness and make it hard to recover from, meaning that an individual may experience emotional and physiological symptoms, including feeling sick.

When we become stressed, the glands of the body secrete stress hormones as part of the fight or flight response. When ascertaining an answer to the question – can stress make you sick? Such physical symptoms are often a result of the secretion of stress hormones. The glands, organs, and key systems of the body (such as the nervous system) are all affected by the secretion of stress hormones, meaning that if an individual is consistently stressed, it is easy for them to become considerably unwell both psychologically and physiologically.

Other Discomforts that Stress Can Lead To

Along with feelings of sickness and nausea stemming from stress or stressful occurrences, there are numerous other effects on an individual that can arise from instances of stress, these include:

  • Pain in the chest

  • Muscle pain/tension

  • Headache

  • Feelings of fatigue

  • Difficulty sleeping/insomnia

  • Changes in libido (sex drive)

  • Anger/irritability

  • Depression

  • Loss of motivation

  • Restlessness

Stress also affects one’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems, causing one to breathe quickly to increase intake of oxygen. This can cause complications in those who have pre-existing respiratory problems (such as asthma), causing such conditions to exacerbate. Stress also makes the heart pump faster, which can increase one’s chances of experiencing heart disease or stroke due to overworking the heart too frequently (as a result of chronic stress).

When asking – can stress make you sick? It is important to know that along with those mentioned above, stress also affects one’s digestive system (leading to an increase in blood sugar), increasing the likelihood of developing type-2 diabetes in those who experience stress frequently as the body may become unable to absorb all of the excess blood sugar.

The muscular system is affected in that muscles become tense to protect one’s body, leading to muscle pain and soreness in instances of prolonged stress. The reproductive system can also be affected (causing a lowering in sex drive), a lowering of testosterone levels in men, and lead to irregular menstrual cycles in women.

Tips for Dealing with Stress

The best way to gain relief from stress-related symptoms is to take steps to reduce your level of stress. Whilst stressful occurrences in day-to-day life are unavoidable at times, you can deal with how you manage such instances.

Time Management

If you have numerous tasks to do throughout the day, it is easy to become stressed by the overload of work or activities you need to carry out. Try to manage your time effectively and work in a constructive and organized way to avoid becoming stressed from such an occurrence.



Meditation is an ancient practice that has profoundly positive effects on one’s level of stress. It gives the body and mind a certain amount of peace when done correctly and can help significantly in reducing stress levels.


Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a great way to instantly calm one’s body, working to lower one’s blood pressure and heart rate. Simply close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose, then exhale for slightly longer. Do this for around five minutes and see your stress dwindle fast.


Physical Exercise

You don't have to perform arduous physical exercise to achieve the stress-relieving benefits. Doing simple yoga, Qi gong, walking or any other physical exercise can help to relieve stress by releasing things like endorphins within the brain, know as ‘feel good chemicals’.


Listen to Music

Listening to calming and relaxing music can have wonderful effects on one’s stress levels, causing a lowering in blood pressure and heart rate.


Talk it Out

Find someone whom you trust and allow yourself to unload your thoughts. This gives you an opportunity to gain fresh perspective on your stress and also receive advice. Sometimes just talking about it can help significantly.


Now that the answer has been ascertained to the question – can stress make you sick? And you also understand other psychological and physiological effects stress can have in the body, as well as how to deal with and reduce stress, you are in the perfect position to manage your stress levels and return to a happy, peaceful life.


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