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    5 Signs Your Stress is Chronic

      |  Dec 07, 2023

    When was the last time you felt stressed out? If you work a full time job, have a family, or are just trying to navigate the everyday ups and downs of being alive, it’s likely that you don’t have to think back far to remember a stressful time. 

    While it’s easy to imagine stress as just a feeling, it’s actually a bodily response to life’s changes and challenges. When we’re stressed, our brain’s hypothalamus prompts the adrenal glands to release additional hormone cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones, which our body produces naturally on a steady basis, cause a “fight or flight” response when produced in excess. 

    This reaction is designed to protect us from danger: adrenaline gives you more energy, and cortisol represses much of the body’s natural processes (like the immune and digestive system) to better focus on the stressful challenge at hand. In modern life, we don’t have to experience a physical threat to feel stress: anything that is a perceived danger, including a change in routine, challenges at work, or interpersonal drama can lead to a stress response.

    Stressful moments are bound to happen, but if you’re chronically stressed you might start feeling the effects physically and mentally, even after a stressful moment has passed. Chronic stress, and the continued exposure to adrenaline and cortisol, can cause life-disrupting symptoms. If left untreated, it can also lead to more serious illnesses like cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety.

    What are the symptoms of chronic stress?


    Anxiety and adrenaline from stress can lead to insomnia and low quality sleep, reducing the amount of rest you get and benefit from on a daily basis. While you might think it’s normal to feel tired every day if you work long hours or have a busy schedule, sleep is important to your body’s healthy functioning.

    Brain fog

    If you’re having trouble concentrating, remembering things, or using your brain to the level you’re used to, you could be experiencing brain fog. Caused by high levels of inflammation and reduced blood flow to the brain, brain fog can disrupt your everyday life and can lead to more serious neuroinflammatory diseases in the future, like Alzheimers. 

    Weight gain

    Unexpected weight gain is a common symptom of chronic stress, as cortisol reduces processes that the body doesn’t deem necessary during stressful periods, including metabolism. Cortisol also increases your blood pressure and insulin levels, making you crave sugary and fatty foods. That’s why “comfort food” is usually a big bowl of mac n cheese, not a salad with lean protein. 

    Changes to your menstrual cycle

    Chronic stress also interrupts the reproductive process. If you’re seeing changes to your menstrual cycle — whether you’re experiencing heavy periods or missing periods entirely — it might be a symptom of chronic stress


    You may not be surprised to hear that the “headaches” of everyday life can also cause physical headaches. Tension headaches, which feel like a tight band of pressure around your head, are commonly caused by stress and its associated symptoms, including poor sleep, muscle tension, and dehydration. If you regularly have tension headaches — one a day for 15 days out of the month for 3 months — it’s likely a symptom of chronic stress.

    How do you reduce chronic stress?

    Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely eliminate stress from daily life, and that’s okay. Stress is a natural part of the human experience, and it’s not all negative — you might even experience stress in response to a positive event, like getting married or moving to a new city. However, you can reduce the mental and physical effects of stress by giving your body the proper tools to handle it.

    Meditation is a popular way to reduce the effects of stress. Practices like mindfulness meditation improve our ability to witness stressful situations and actively respond, rather than react, to them. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can also improve your body’s response to stress by reducing overall levels of inflammation in the body. Antioxidant rich foods, like blueberries, kale, and sweet potatoes, give your body the tools to fight excess free radicals caused by stress, and reduce the symptoms associated with them. Over the counter medication is also available. NAC anti-inflammatory supplements reduce inflammation associated with chronic stress by increasing glutathione levels.

    Are your symptoms the result of chronic stress?

    Along with being generally unpleasant in everyday life, the symptoms of chronic stress can have long term effects, including a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, and neuroinflammatory disorders. If you want to take control of your chronic stress, try Modern Age’s Aging Wellness Assessment. Our signature assessment uses a series of tests, including a blood draw of 55 key biomarkers, to give you a holistic picture of your body’s health, and a clinically created plan to address symptoms associated with aging, including poor stress response. You’ll work 1:1 with a licensed clinician to understand your results and find treatments that improve your health now and in the future.