From anxiety to back pain: This how stress can affect your physical health

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Stress can take a toll (PHOTO: Getty Images)
Stress can take a toll (PHOTO: Getty Images)

You’re getting tension headaches almost every day, feeling tired all the time and there’s a nagging ache in your lower back. You realise it’s probably all due to stress, but how can you stop stressing when there’s so much to stress about? Between work, the kids and the bills, your to-do list never gets shorter. In some instances, your stress levels even cause anxiety that may bring about heart palpitations and concentration problems, because you feel like your mind is in a million places at once. There’s no doubt about it; chronic stress can mess with your body and mind - as insurers well know.

Over the past few years long-term insurers have received more claims for stress-related illnesses - such as heart conditions, chronic back pain and mental illnesses - than they’d predicted, it was recently reported. Back pain and chronic headaches, both linked to stress, make up a large amount of medical expenses these days, says Dr Deepak Patel, a clinical specialist at Discovery Vitality. Mental illnesses like anxiety are among the top 10 medical expenses for Discovery’s medical aid fund.

Janine Roos of the Mental Health Information Centre linked to the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University says that “anything that frustrates you or makes you anxious or angry can cause stress,” says. “That includes relationship problems, financial troubles, issues with your children, family or work, or major life changes.” Stress isn’t always bad, she adds.

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