Can stress eventually KILL you?

In Biology, Health, Human Biology, Nature by Mystifact

Stress is a natural bodily response. If you think about it, it makes sense. Let’s say you are being chased by someone, or something – you don’t want your body to be relaxed in these situations; you want to be kicked into gear, which is exactly what stress does. Unfortunately, everyday stresses keep your body ‘kicked up a gear’ when it doesn’t need to be in that state, resulting in chronic stress. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that too much stress is bad for you, but can it get to a point where it could kill you?


Stress is everywhere. Everyone you know has experienced it before and many are experiencing it right now. Homework, exams, rent, bills, jobs or even kids all can cause you a degree of stress, especially if you are unfamiliar with dealing with it properly. To understand why it is bad for you, we must understand what stress is at a fundamental level.

Fight or Flight

Stress, anxiety and fear are all a result of a response in the body called Fight or Flight. This response is triggered when a person reaches a certain level of discomfort. Since people find different situations more uncomfortable than others, people perceive stress, anxiety and fear differently [1]. The intensity of Fight or Flight is what causes us to feel these different emotions. As we are talking about stress, we must be a little more specific.


Cortisol is known as the stress hormone. The more we are stressed, the more of this chemical is released. Its task is to divert energy to where you most need it [2] – therefore, if you are running from a grizzly bear, cortisol would divert more energy to your muscles to help you run faster. Do you see how being stressed all the time could cause problems? If energy is constantly diverted away from some functions in the body, it can cause some problems such as:

• Suppressed immunity
• High blood pressure
• High blood sugar levels

The list goes on and on. Being exposed to high levels of cortisol for long enough eventually leads to susceptibility to disease and maybe even cancer.

Can Stress Cause Death?

Studies have shown that those who are chronically stressed can experience a wide range of harmful complications where some of which, can cause eventual death.


Telomeres are a part of your DNA. As you age, your telomeres get shorter and shorter [3]. Once they vanish, the cell containing that DNA cannot replicate so it dies. Increased stress can accelerate the shortening of these telomeres which could lead to early aging or even eventual death.


Figure 1: Image showing the telomeres on the DNA (pink)


Heart Attacks

Generally, a heart attack occurs when blood flow is blocked and cannot pass through the heart as expected. A way this could happen is when plaque continues to build up on the inside of an artery eventually clogging it. Researchers have shown that those with chronic stress have more clogged up arteries than those who do not [4]. Not doing anything about this stress leads to more clogging which could eventually lead to a heart attack that could very well kill you.


Figure 2: This illustration shows many of the other effects of prolonged stress


Coping with Stress

Everyone gets stressed out; it’s natural for our bodies to do so. Having said that, we must have a threshold of what makes us stressed in day to day life to avoid stress-related health complications. If you are one to blame for stressing out too easily, how can you learn to cope with it better?


Oxytocin is also known as the anti-stress hormone – it is the hormone responsible for love and does what it says on the tin. It combats stress and is what you need more of to deal with it better. There are many ways to increase your levels of Oxytocin so I will state a few and leave you with a link if you are interested in finding more ways to do so!

• Meditating frequently
• Exercising on a regular basis
• Physical contact with those who you love (eg. Hugs and kisses)
• Simply just smiling and laughing!

Click here for more ways to naturally increase your oxytocin levels; otherwise, I hope you have enjoyed this article.


Ashwagandha is known as a miracle herb that has been used over and over for its medicinal properties. Its main benefit is stress and anxiety regulation, and is extremely effective in doing so. This is the product I personally use; it really does help keep you a lot more calm and collected. Check it out!

If you have any questions, leave them below and until next time, take care.

~ Mystifact

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Please note; no copyright infringement is intended. All images used have been labelled for re-use on Google Images. If any artist or designer has any issues with any of the content used in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me to correct the issue.

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Why Do We Get Nervous?
Fascinating facts about the Human Body
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