Health & Diet Tips

Top Five Stress Causes
Stress causes heart disease, diabetes, depression and more, stopping you living a happy social, mental and work life. Beat stress now.
In this article:
  • Stress health risks: How stress leads to high blood pressure, kills brain cells and more
  • The main causes of stress and how to minimise your stress levels
  • Ways you can prevent stress and learn to relax

There’s a well-known deadly link between stress and heart disease. The psychological distress leads to a number of changes in your body’s metabolism and raises blood pressure, both well-known risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

Research has also shown that stress plays a significant role in chronic fatigue syndrome – a debilitating fatigue that can include muscle aches, fever and sleep disturbances. One study has shown that stress can kill brain cells. Plus, stress causes cancer cells to resist treatment and can even harm your unborn baby.

But what are the main causes of stress, and how can you prevent it? Read on to find out more.


Last year alone, a massive 420 000 people in the UK experienced work-related stress, depression and anxiety at such a severe level that it was actually making them ill, according to an HSE survey of Self-reported Work-related Illness. At least one in six people find their job or working conditions so stressful that they suffer from mental health problems or take regular sick days just to cope – in fact, work stress is responsible for an estimated 10.5 million sick days ever year.

Plus, a shocking 63 000 people report work-related heart disease every year. Several studies have found that job strain doubles the risk of cardiovascular death among initially healthy employees, according to the British Medical Journal. High job stress is also associated with increased cholesterol concentrations, diabetes and a higher body mass index. Plus, people who are stressed at work are more likely to damage their health with a poor diet (no fruit and vegetable consumption), smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity.

You’re most likely to suffer from work-related stress if you work in the public sector, have a professional or managerial post or if you’re a teacher, nurse or other medical practitioner. Other jobs that jeopardise your mental health are those in security positions, such as police or prison officers or those in the armed forces.

The main stressful factors? Not having enough support, not knowing exactly what is expected of you, tense work relationships and high work demands. Another big worry in the workplace is an effort-reward imbalance – high demands yet low security, few career opportunities and little reward.


High levels of debt and debt stress can be bad for your health. People with higher levels of stress about their debt have worse health, studies have found. In addition, people with a higher proportion of their income tied up in debt also showed higher levels of physical impairment.

"Any one of us who has debt knows that it can cause stress in our lives, and it makes sense that this stress may be bad for our health," said US researcher Prof. Paul J. Lavrakas. "The stress of owing money, and knowledge that we're paying high interest rates, may lead to increased stress resulting in worsening health."

The researchers noted that the association between debt and health remained strong and significant even after factors such as age and income were taken into account.

Debt stress has also been shown to take a heavy toll on the workplace, with more than 250,000 people taking over a month off work ever year as a result of money worries, according to Debt Free Direct.

In the UK, total personal debt at the end of April 2007 stood at £1,325bn, with the average household debt in the UK standing at £8,816, excluding mortgages and £54,771 including mortgages.


Countless studies and surveys have confirmed that feeling lonely increases your stress levels drastically. One recent study found that loneliness causes more stress than credit card debt and work pressures combined, with six million singles regularly losing sleep over loneliness. In fact, more than half of the UK’s singles say that feeling alone is their biggest stress, according to online dating service

By comparison, only one fifth (18%) of singles, cited financial problems, including credit card debt, as a cause of stress, and the same percentage put blame on work pressures. Only 7% mentioned family problems, and 3% illness.

“Whilst many people see being single as a positive choice, statistics show that the majority – 60% of UK singles – are looking for a relationship,” says psychiatrist Dr Victoria Lukats. “Scientific studies have shown that married men live longer than their single counterparts. This may be in part due to lower stress levels and the comfort that being in a long-term relationship can bring.”

Several studies have come to the surprising conclusion that marriage protects against the effects of stress. People in solid relationships, who feel supported, simply suffer less anxiety, depression and fatigue than the average single, widowed or divorced person. A stable relationship, it is argued, provides a shoulder to cry on and a form of emotional support. To read more, Click Here.

Moving House

The very thought of moving house can fill people with dread – and experts say that as the most expensive and life-changing financial transaction most people ever undertake, it’s probably also one of the most stressful.

Moving house stress is often caused by choosing the wrong solicitor, so make sure you find the right person for you before you even start looking for property to avoid a stressful rush, plus when you do find a great property, you’ll be able to proceed immediately. Avoid “cheap deals” - this could mean that they are dealing with huge numbers of clients, which will more often than not result in a slow service.

Surveys also show that another major cause of stress is not being able to secure the property you want – make sure you have an advantageover other buyers by getting a mortgage offer in principle before you start house hunting. And avoid the stress of signing a legal document for a house you can’t afford or don’t love by viewing your house more than once - take someone with you and see it at different times of day, in light and dark, busy and quiet times – after all, it is a huge investment.

As to the actual moving, make it less of a nightmare by setting up an easily-reachable kettle and snack station first, and don’t do it on a Friday – chances are, you will encounter a hiccup, and it’s unlikely you’ll find help until the following Monday as many banks and other institutions are not fully open over the weekend.

Relationship Problems

Marriage and other relationship stresses are a massive cause of stress and are associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease.

And among women with heart disease, the risk of having a heart attack is increased 3 fold for those who experience severe stress in their marriages or live-in relationships, far more so than other types of stress, including that caused by work.

For more on how your mind could be affecting your body, Click Here.

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