Only On 6: Stress Test

Only on 6: Stress Test

We all have stress in our lives, but letting stress build day after day without seeking some sort of relief, could make you physically sick.

According to Dr. David Sabine, a clinical psychologist at Rose Street Mental Health Care, stress weakens the immune system and allows underlying problems to present themselves.

"If they have a history of cholesterol problems and they have a history of high blood pressure, then it might be a stroke," said Dr. Sabine. "Somebody else might pass through with pre-diabetic conditions to full-blown diabetes, another person might become profoundly depressed, another person might have panic attacks."

Stress can also impact health indirectly, by causing people to try to cope with such things as overeating. "That leads to complications related to diabetes or obesity or other things, and it's stress driven, but the indirect effect is a lowering of our health," said Sabine.

Sleep is often negatively impacted by stress. "A lot of people are stressed and cannot sleep, and a lot of people are stressed because they can't sleep," said Marketing Representative for Texoma Sleep DIagnostics Caroline Gellner.

A new study from researchers at Penn State University found that a lack of sleep can cause people to overeat by affecting a hormone that stimulates hunger. In the study, men said their appetite was increased when they had little sleep, and women said they felt less full.

Gellner said a lack of motivation due to being tired, can also cause people to gain weight when they don't get enough sleep. "Especially after you've gone through a full day's work, you have families, by the end of the day you're spent and you don't want to work out," said Gellner.

Finding a way to cope with stress is different for everyone, but Dr. Sabine said it is important to balance a healthy diet, exercise and mental coping.

"Come to some radical acceptance that those things are happening and that they're here, we can't wish them away or procrastinate or whatever," said Dr. Sabine. "But that we can have some choices about how we're going to approach it and how we're going to feel about it."

There is a quick "Stress Test" you can take here. It was developed by two psychologists and is widely used. Check the box next to any stressors that you have experienced in the past year. At the end, the web site will tabulate your total and give you your results. It is supposed to predict how likely it is that you will get sick in the near future.