Who’s Most at Risk of Developing Chronic Stress Disorder & When to Consider Treatment
Stress can be both good and bad. Good stress acts as a motivator, enabling a person to take on challenges and meet goals. On the other hand, bad stress takes a toll on the body and overall well-being of the individual. People living with chronic stress disorder have likely endured high levels of stress for prolonged periods of time.
Chronic stress disorder can develop out of different types of circumstances, affecting people of all ages and socioeconomic levels. When left untreated, individuals remain at high risk of developing serious physical and psychological health issues.
Effects of Chronic Stress
Stress, in general, can leave a person feeling overwhelmed, battling constant worry on top of physical fatigue. According to the American Psychological Association, an inability to cope with or manage everyday stressors can give rise to chronic stress disorder over time. Traumatic events can also predispose a person to chronic stress disorder in cases where he or she fails to process or work through the emotional aspects of the event.
The effects of chronic stress disorder can vary depending on the circumstances involved. Conditions commonly associated with this condition include:
- Heart disease
- Depression disorders
- Anxiety-based disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Weakened immune system
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, an estimated 89 percent of poll respondents experienced periods of extreme stress at some point in their lives. While not everyone who undergoes high stress periods will develop a chronic stress disorder, some people are more so vulnerable to the effects of stress.
Life conditions that pose a high risk for developing chronic stress disorder include:
- People living with serious health problems, such as heart disease
- Feelings of severe or persistent stress resulting from a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or car accident
- A high-stress job
- A combination of long-term stressors, such as a bad relationship and a high-stress job
Certain types of life circumstances place individuals at a higher risk for developing chronic stress disorder, such as:
- Working mothers, both single mothers and those in committed relationships
- Older adults
- People who are divorced or widowed
- Long periods of financial difficulty be it due to unemployment or low income earnings
- Isolation and loneliness
- People who experience sexual or racial discrimination
- People who live in cities
Work-related stress in particular can take a considerable toll on the body’s reserves, especially for people living in a struggling economy. Within the United States, nearly 50 percent of workers describe their jobs as highly stressful. Under these conditions, sleepless nights and failing health factors can soon give way to a chronic stress disorder state.
Work environments that most predispose a person to chronic stress disorder include:
- Little to no job security
- A lack of control over decisions that affect one’s job role
- Demanding or overwhelming job performance requirements
- Low pay coupled with heavy responsibility
- Working the night shift
- Working long hours
- Poor communication practices among coworkers
Chronic stress disorder not only places individuals at risk of serious medical problems, but also psychological disorders along the lines of depression and severe anxiety. When left untreated, a declining health status only works to increase the degree of stress a person feels from day to day, creating a vicious cycle of stress and illness over time.
If you or someone you know suspect you may be living with chronic stress disorder and have more questions, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at to speak with one of our phone counselors.