5 Unexpected Symptoms of Stress and What to Do About Them


Today we welcome guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket

The human body is an intricate machine, and if something goes awry it can impact a variety of subsystems. Rarely is there an issue with “just” one specific part of the body—and it’s also important to remember that holistic wellness includes physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, and social health. Stress is a big wrench thrown into the human system, and in Western countries it’s often hefted with a sense of pride. However, stress can really do a number on the body, and some symptoms can take weeks, months, or even years to manifest.

You likely know about the obvious signs of stress, such as headaches and fatigue, but stress can play out in the body in a number of tricky ways. Here are five unexpected stress symptoms that you might not see coming, and what to do about them:

  1. Hair loss. There are many causes for hair loss and issues that exacerbate them, and genetics is just part of it. Stress can cause men’s hair loss, and even women’s hair loss. The hair is one of the last places the body routes nutrients towards because it’s not nearly as necessary for survival, unlike many other body parts (such as organs, muscles, and bones). Hair goes through natural shedding cycles, but if you’re constantly exposed to stress it might seem like your hair is in non-stop shedding mode. Stress-related hair loss usually presents as exaggerated thinning and not the classic “male pattern baldness” or patches of baldness.

What can you do about it? The first step is doing something  to reduce stress. There are also a variety of hair loss reversal tactics, such as using topical minoxidil (Rogaine’s active ingredient) to stimulate hair growth and stop stress-related shedding. Only shampooing every two or three days with a paraben-free shampoo designed to stimulate the scalp can also help. Laser combs and helmets with stimulating diodes have also shown great promise.

  1. Skin breakouts. Your skin is the largest organ on your body, but preventing breakouts is at the bottom of your body’s to-do list. Both stress and hormone shifts can cause acne, breakouts, and flare-ups. Acne can be painful, but if it’s stress-related it’s likely more embarrassing and a confidence killer than anything else. Fortunately, there are many ways to address it.

Again, reduce stress. Try over the counter topical treatments first, as well as acne-specific facial cleansers and astringents. Moving to prescription-based topicals is the next step. In severe cases, medications may be prescribed or a dermatologist might suggest dermabrasion or chemical peels to correct acne scarring.

  1. Low libido. Few people feel “in the mood” when they’re highly stressed, which is perfectly normal. However, if you’re chronically stressed, your libido may chronically suffer. This can cause big problems in relationships, preventing you from bonding.

Lower your stress, and you’ll raise your libido. Other approaches include prioritizing intimacy with partners, scheduling romantic dates, and making an effort to feel and look your best. Remember that intimacy is paramount for many to bond.

  1. Thin, peeling nails. Not only can stress cause nails to be fragile, you might also be inclined to bite and chew them from stress. Your hands operate as a quick, easy sign of overall health. In professional and personal relationships, you might be judged by your hands.

 Stress reduction is still the number one route to healthier nails. Regular manicures for both men and women can also work wonders. Opt for a paraffin dip, keep nails short and trimmed if they’re prone to breaking, and keep your hands moisturized throughout the day to prevent cracking and hangnails. A biotin supplement can also aid in hair, skin, and nail health.

  1. Almost every disease imaginable. Stress has been linked to almost every disease there is including heart disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and much more. Some of these diseases are curable, but many are not. Many can also be life-threatening.

If you needed another reason to reduce stress, this is it. Stress management is core to overall health and well-being. Preventative care, including stress reduction, is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable way to manage or avoid deadly and painful diseases and disorders.

Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic whose been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources and addiction awareness. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

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