8 surprising signs that reveal you're stressed out
Our body warns us when we're stressed out.
Ignoring them can cost our life because chronic stress increases risk for a host of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and depression, to name a few.
Experts have revealed eight sneaky symptoms of stress that we might mistakenly chalk up to some other health problem or brush off as nothing to worry about, Huffingtonpost reported.
The first is weird and/or recurring dreams.
"Unfortunately, the stress we deal with during the day tends to follow us to bed at night and plays out in our dreams," Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, author of Dream On It -- Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, wrote for DoctorOz.com.
Maybe you don't realize you're burning the candle at both ends until that dream comes back where you miss your bus or your house is on fire, two of the five most common stress dreams, according to Loewenberg.
However, these dreams might help you pinpoint what exactly is stressing you out -- and can help you work through why you're feeling that way, Fitness magazine reports.
Second symptom is tight muscles. Stress causes us to tense our muscles and can even trigger muscle spasms, leaving us in some serious pain, Woman's Day reported.
That funny eye twitch could also be sign of stress. While there's not exactly hard evidence to prove it, many people who complain of a twitch also say they're tired or stressed.
Your teeth can also tell you that you are stressed out.
A number of people grind their teeth in their sleep -- or "chew over the day's stressors," Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7-Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, told Fitness.
For women, changes in your menstrual cycle can be another sign of stress.
Women may experience late or missed periods due to stress. Some may even experience a condition know as secondary amenorrhea, when the cycle seems to completely stop, according to Everyday Health.
Other stressed women may find their periods continue on a regular schedule -- but feel far worse. Stress can make cramps up to twice as painful, according to Fitness.
Losing hair or going gray could be another sign.
We're more likely to lose hair when stressed, HuffPost Style reported.
However, if you are already genetically predisposed to going gray, traumatic events and periods of intense stress could speed up the process. The Mayo Clinic explains that stress can cause white blood cells to attack the hair follicle and stop growth, and it may also put hair follicles into a "resting phase," so hairs fall out during washing or combing.
Others experience trichotillomania when stressed or anxious, which gives them an irresistible urge to pull out hair on the scalp or other areas, like eyebrows and eyelashes.
Stress can also cause more serious reactions, including irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.
While the link between stress and gastro problems is not entirely understood, it seems to make the intestines more sensitive and contract more, according to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.
Stress also lowers our immune system, leaving us at risk for frequent colds.
One study found that the people who reported high levels of stress were twice as likely to catch a cold. The stress hormone cortisol seems to turn down the volume on the body's inflammatory response, Health.com reported, to "free up energy" to fight off whatever the threat that's causing the stress.
"Stressed people's immune cells become less sensitive to cortisol," Sheldon Cohen, Ph.D., the study's author and a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, told Health.com.
"They're unable to regulate the inflammatory response, and therefore, when they're exposed to a virus, they're more likely to develop a cold," he stated.