Is stress contagious?

It turns out that we can get infected not only with pox, flu or hepatitis, but also with stress.

A group of scientists came to this unexpected conclusion.

Although the obtained results are quite shocking, scientists from the Max Planck Society Institute for Brain Research and the Dresden University of Technology, Germany, are categorical – yes, stress is contagious.

Their research showed that if we are with a person who is experiencing stress, our body also starts to release the stress hormone – cortisol.

Participants in the experiment were required to solve complex arithmetic problems and answer questions.

At the same time, the other participants in the study had to observe what the “mathematicians” were doing and evaluate their actions.

Only 5 percent of the people completing the task were able to keep calm. At the same time, even the people watching the solvers were excited.

When the participant and the observer were familiar, 40% of the time the observer experienced stress during the experiment.

This indicator was 10 percent lower when the participants did not know each other.

Scientists observed a stress response in observers, even when they watched the performers from the next room or saw them on a computer screen.

“This means that television programs showing people’s suffering can cause stress in viewers”, – says Veronika Engert, author of the study. “Stress turns out to be highly contagious,” she adds.

At the same time, scientists are adamant that a single stress reaction in no way harms the body.

Only chronic stress is dangerous. «The hormonal response to stress is formed as a result of evolution.

When you are in a dangerous situation, your body starts to produce a large amount of the stress hormone called cortisol,” explains Engert. “But if the cortisol level is constantly elevated, it is no longer good for your body”.

The most common symptoms of stress are dry throat, muscle tension, sweaty palms. A sign that we are under stress is frequent yawning without feeling sleepy.

They are due to the so-called shallow breathing which is caused by stress. Short-term memory disorders are also a symptom – when we forget easily, have difficulty concentrating or are unable to make decisions.

One of the most common signs of stress is dry mouth. This condition is due to the reduced amount of saliva in the oral cavity.

Signal of stress can also be stomach ailments such as gas, heartburn, painful cramps, diarrhea.

These are all symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, which is usually triggered when we are under stress.

It is little known that dandruff appears as a result of stress, because immunity is lowered and the fungus that causes dandruff finds a favorable environment for development.

Among other stress symptoms are putting weight, colds, as well as restless legs syndrome – when we feel heaviness in the limbs without having put any strain on them.

Because of the discovery that stress is a contagious condition, scientists recommend that we don’t spend a lot of time, or at least not in close proximity, with people under stress – whether it’s our colleagues in work, or friends.

Make time to hang out with positive people and you’ll feel much better.

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