Stress is a natural response that enables you to deal with challenging or dangerous situations. The stress response begins in your brain. Beneficial stress enables you to act or react quickly. A certain amount of stress can also help you to reach your goals or to perform better, perhaps during an exam, a job interview, or a sporting event.
However, prolonged, extreme, or chronic stress can harm you. When your body is repeatedly or constantly on “high alert,” you may begin to suffer physically, emotionally, and mentally. Your behavior, including the way you treat others, may change. Chronic stress can also lead to substance abuse and other unhealthy means of coping. It may even spiral into depression, burnout, or thoughts of suicide.
While stress may not affect everyone in the same way, it can contribute to a wide range of diseases. And it can affect nearly every part of the body.