A recent survey found that 74% of Brits experienced stress that left them feeling unable to cope over the last year. As such a common problem, many of us recognise when we feel stressed. While stress symptoms such as worry, anxiety, headaches and sleeplessness are well-known, there are many other unusual or surprising symptoms related to this condition. Here are some of them.
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We naturally lose about 100 hairs per day, but when stress levels are high, hormones called androgens prompt hair follicles to shed more hair than usual. Because hair growth and loss follows cycles of several months, stress-induced hair loss might not become apparent until around three to six months after a worrisome event. You might not even feel stressed anymore by the time the hair loss occurs! The good news is that the hair loss is usually temporary, and the cycles will readjust as stress levels subside.
Many people tense their mouth and jaw when they feel stressed, which can result in teeth clenching or grinding. This often happens when we’re asleep, without us even being aware of it. Over time, this can lead to pain in the mouth, jaw, teeth and tongue, radiating up towards the head. Tension in the facial area may even cause ringing in the ears, or tinnitus. A visit to a dentist should be able to identify if stress is the cause of mouth problems, and a dental guard may be prescribed to prevent teeth clenching or grinding.
If you experience muscle twitching, especially around the eye, then stress is likely to blame. Experts aren’t sure why stress causes eyelid twitching, but in most cases it resolves itself after a while. Relaxation techniques that involve breathing and exerting gentle pressure on the eyelid can help to calm the twitching down.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the indigestion, gas or pain in your tummy is down to something you’ve eaten, but the real culprit might be stress. The nervous system in the brain is inextricably linked to the digestive system, and when the brain’s nerves are out of kilter due to stress, it has a direct impact on the tummy. This is why people with digestive disorders such as IBS, Crohn’s and colitis often experience flare-ups when they’re feeling anxious or worried.
If you feel dizzy, light-headed or woozy, it is worth keeping a check on your stress levels. Anxiety or stress can disrupt the proper functioning of the nerves in the vestibular system that includes the inner ears. Since the ears influence balance and motion, when these nerves become jangled, it can result in dizziness. However, since dizziness can be caused by many other things, it’s always worth getting it checked out by your doctor.
There is a recognised link between stress levels and the development or worsening of skin rashes and other skin-related conditions. This is because stress causes the immune system to go into overdrive, making the skin more sensitive than normal. In particular, people who suffer from eczema or psoriasis may often experience flare-ups during anxious times, so finding ways to relax and lower stress levels can prove helpful.