The Effects of Excessive Stress on the Body

  1. The body also reacts to excessive stress. The immediate reaction to a stressful event is the lawyer's heart rate will increase. She will get sweaty palms, breathe rapidly, tensed facial, neck and shoulder muscles, trembling voice and a pale or flushed face.
  2. In the long run, prolonged excessive stress has serious adverse effects on the body, as it's in perpetual “flight or fight mode”. The lawyer who is experiencing excessive stress for a prolonged period may experience the following:
    • Insomnia, i.e. difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early and not being able to return to sleep;
    • Headaches;
    • Muscle tension in the face, neck and shoulders;
    • Chest pains;
    • Fatigue from lack of sleep;
    • Stomach upset and gastritis;
    • Suppression of immune system, leading to greater susceptibility to viral or bacterial infections;
    • Increase in blood sugar levels to supply cells for flight or fight response, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes;
    • Decrease in serotonin levels, which may lead to depression;
    • Decreased sensitivity to physical pain;
    • Increased blood pressure, which may lead to hypertension;
    • Heightened recall for traumatic events, which exacerbates the stress.