Can Stress Actually Kill You?

In a busy world, with unending work and responsibilities piling up, stress can get to the best of us. But how bad is it for you really? Can stress actually kill you? From a biological perspective, stress makes perfect sense. If you’re about to get chomped on by a bear, your stress hormones better kick your but into gear. But it turns out that your mortgage, unemployment, and looming exam all trigger the same stress response in your body. and, unlike most animals, which experience a major decrease in these hormones, humans cant seem to find the “off switch”! Even though it’s not life and death, our psychological blows consistently bathe our bodies in these hormones, making our heart pound, muscles tense, and stomach turn. In Japan, they have the term Karoshi, which literally translates to “death from overwork”. What is now deemed an overworking epidemic, these individuals who are seemingly healthy and in their prime, suddenly die. After being officially recognized and documented in Japan, these sudden heart attacks and strokes were quickly linked to stress. But, how does stress cause this? Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones which helps divert energy to where you need it and away from non essentials functions of the body. But with chronic stress exposure, problems arise. The immune system shuts down, inflammation is inhibited, white blood cells are reduced, and susceptibility to disease increases. Some evidence also suggests that prolong stress may be involved in the development of cancer. When looking at the arteries of macaque monkeys, those under significant stress have more clogged arteries. This prevents blood from getting to the heart quickly during stress and can ultimately lead to heart attacks. The brain also takes a toll, when looking at mice exposed to stress, we see dramatically smaller brain cells with fewer branch extensions than normal mice. This is particularly prevalent in the areas associated with memory and learning. Which may stir up some memories for you of those wonderful all night study sessions; the acute stress and sleep depravation can make it increasingly difficult to remember the things we want to. Perhaps the most telling story is in our DNA. We contain something called telomeres at the end of our chromosomes, which decrease in size with our age. Our video on “Aging”, here, explains this process. Eventually, the telomeres run out, at which point the cell stops duplicating and dies. So, telomeres are directly related to aging and length of life. And it turns out, stress may actually accelerate the shortening of these telomeres. But not all hope is lost for the perpetually stressed. Another hormone, oxytocin, has been shown to reduce this stress response. It helps our blood vessels relax and even regenerates the heart from stress related damage. So, how do we get more oxytocin? It’s sometimes dubbed the cuddle hormone, because it’s released during positive social interactions and while caring for others. People who spend more time with others, create a buffer or resilience to stress. So when life gets the best of you, just remember, you dont have to go it alone. Spend some time with those you love – it may just save your life. Got a burning question you want answered?
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100 thoughts on “Can Stress Actually Kill You?

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  2. But I am alone, I have no one, all I have is bills, I have no one, and my partner left me, my heart has been racing all morning

  3. Not only can stress from school kill you, it can lead to depression which leads to suicide. I read in an article a Japanese girl committed suicide when she forgot to do her summer school homework. She chose death over whatever would happen from not doing your homework. This is why I hate school so much. Peer pressure from parents and colleagues, difficulty of the classes itself, no extra time given for homework, papers, or tests if you are sick and need to just rest in bed for a whole week.

    I believe the reason so many students feel so stressed at school is there is usually almost no one to help you when you need it when you get to upper levels of education (College and up). You are on your own. If you can't understand the material and keep up with the rest of the class….. TOO BAD, you drop out.

  4. OMG This was the answer i was looking for because im always positive i cary for others and im always happy and i never did get stress :O so thats why thank you alot for telling me

  5. Wow. I’m stressed out because I have a project and I’m watching this video that says you can die from stress… dehell??

  6. Every time I get punished, I cry and when I get back to my homework I suddenly fall a sleep about 2-4 hours. Is that normal?

  7. I need help random person scrolling down the comments i have been considering suicide for some days now please help !!!

  8. I'm wondering why the hell I didn't die yet because I stress about way too many things even about things that I shouldn't stress about.

  9. I will go to school only one and a half month = One year stress well one and a half also I can't even relax

  10. Yes, it is possible. Heart attacks and cancer are known results of prolonged stress; among other health issues.

  11. Tbh I'm stressed caring for 5 kids solo. So…i guess that means oxytocin and cortisol is fighting a never ending battle in my body

  12. Don't have kids – too much stress.
    Don't have a wife – too much stress.
    Don't have a job – too much stress.
    Don't have a life – too much stress.

  13. Check out this channel she talks about things no one wants to talk about!! m

  14. Everyone is a liar and fake! I can't even trust my family! The whole world is full of disgusted people. I'm so confused that I don't wanna live anymore.

  15. I like it how EVERYONE is commenting that school is giving them anxiety. Like seriously, what do you even do there? Learn to accept the fact that you're going to school and make it fun. I like school, and no I'm not nine year old, I'm going to high school. It's not that hard to see good in bad. There's a lot of other reasons for stress, you have no idea.

  16. Other people's stress:job, "i need to get that promotion!''

    My stress:school, test, F, no B's in school, literally everything in school

  17. What i would do if i'm stressing i don't care just pretend that did not happen it's the best i can do since we cant get away from stress and it will follow you from generation to generation.

  18. Notice how stupid people are or how dumb everyone gets when a stressful situation arises. Its like a huge stupid explosion happens and everyone starts calling people racist haters and want their loved ones to be victims of violence. Dont ya just feel like voting.

  19. I speak a bit English but I think I have understood nearly with the english subtitles. Very interesting, I learnt the link with stress and telomeres, thanks. And well drawn. 🙂

  20. I’m starting to give up on life. My school career after vacation seems hopeless, and I feel more like I’m stalling rather than enjoying.
    A near-impossible music presentation, a ridiculously difficult research… yeah, giving up seems to be the best to do right now.

  21. so stressed that i'm even stressed in saturdays and sundays for school and for many more things.I have anxiety,depression and stress(usually)
    Good god i don't have a sister or a brother.
    That would kill me to the fullest.
    I went to my doctor and he said i have severe depression and anxiety.
    And thats why i cry my eyes off :/

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