Stress is your body’s response to the daily events that occur in your life. Stress can be a motivator and a positive force in our lives. But experiencing chronic stress in a variety of forms can influence mental and physiological function via actions of your neuroendocrine stress system (also known as the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis).
Health problems that women can experience due to stress over a long period include:
- Depression and anxiety. Women have higher rates of these conditions and other psychological disorders including panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder than men.
- Heart problems. Stress increases blood pressure and heart rate.
- Headaches and migraines. Tension headaches are more common in women than men.
- Obesity or anorexia. Women are more prone to stress-related weight gain or loss than men.
- Bowel problems. Stress can lead to such bowel problems as irritable bowel syndrome.
- Pregnancy issues. Women with higher stress levels have a more difficult time becoming pregnant than women with lower stress levels.
- Menstrual problems. Premenstrual syndrome is more severe with increasing stress levels.
- Substance use. Unchecked stress, anxiety, and depression could lead to excessive use of alcohol, cannabis, or other substances to modulate stress.