Shortly after New York State shut down unnecessary businesses and asked people to stay home, Ashley Ladder woke up every morning with a headache.

“The pressure was so intense that my head seemed to explode,” recalls the 27-year-old freelance writer from Long Island.

She tried to spend less time on the computer and take painkillers without a doctor’s prescription, but the beatings continued: a constant drumbeat to accompany her with constant concerns about COVID-19.

A month and a half later, Ashley Lader decided to visit her neurologist, who had a headache. But the doctor did not find a physical reason. The survey was clear.

“I lived in fear that I would be infected and that my whole family would be infected,” she said.

A month and a half later, he decided to visit the neurologist prescribed by Ladare MRI. But the doctor did not find a physical reason. The survey was clear.

Then he asked – are you under a lot of stress?

People who have never had coronavirus during the epidemic are reporting many seemingly unrelated symptoms: severe headaches, hair loss, constipation for weeks, sudden onion outbreaks and immunosuppression. Specific symptoms, often in other healthy individuals, confuse doctors and patients, sometimes leading to a series of visits to specialists with few answers. But in many of these situations there is a common thread, a one-month-long stress.

Although people often underestimate the effects of stress on the body, a growing research catalog shows that long-term stress can drastically alter physical activity and affect all body systems.

Now, at least eight months into the epidemic, alongside a divisive electoral cycle and racial instability, these results are showing a variety of symptoms.

“COVID’s mental health unit is starting to look like a tsunami,” says a California-based psychiatrist and co-author of How to Survive Stress.

Nationwide, surveys have found an increase in the incidence of depression, anxiety, and suicide during the epidemic. However, many medical professionals say that it is too early to measure related symptoms because they appear months after the onset of stress.

Still, according to a small Chinese study and an online survey of more than 500 people in Turkey, some early research points to inspiration.

In the United States, a nonprofit database that provides value information to the health industry and consumers, data from FAIR Health, has seen a modest increase in the percentage of medical claims related to conditions exacerbated or exacerbated by stress, such as multiple sclerosis and shingles. The section for autoimmune lupus claims, for example, showed one of the biggest increases – 12% this year – compared to the same period last year (January to August).

Express scripts, chief executive of Pharmacy, reported that anti-depressant medications increased by 15% at the beginning of the epidemic.

Probably a strong indication comes from doctors who report an increasing number of patients with unexplained symptoms.

Dr. Shilpi Katarpal, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, saw about five patients a week with anxiety-related hair loss. Since mid-June, that number has jumped to 20 or 25. Most women in their 20s and 80s report hair loss, says Katerpal.

In Houston, at least a dozen patients, obstetrician Dr. Rashimi Kudisia, said that despite normal hormonal levels, there are abnormal menstrual cycles, changes in cervical fluid, and breast tenderness.

Stress Dentists are recommending a rapid increase in patients with tooth decay, tooth decay and TMJ.

Love: “As humans, we want to have the idea that we control our minds and that stress is not a big deal.” But it is simply not true.

How stress can be physical

Stress causes physical changes in the body that can affect all parts of the body.

Kate Harkens, a professor of psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, says that although the symptoms of chronic depression are often in one’s head, the pain is very real.

When the body is safe – whether it is a physical threat of attack or a loss of work or a psychological fear of getting sick – the brain signals the adrenal glands to suppress stress hormones. Adrenaline and cortisol flood the body, triggering a fight or flight response. They also impair vital bodily functions, such as digestion and reproduction.

At the end of the day, the hormones return to normal. But in times of chronic stress, such as epidemics, stress levels continue to plummet. This causes swelling throughout the body and brain, and leads to a weakened immune system.

Studies have linked chronic stress to heart disease, muscle tension, gastrointestinal issues, and even injuries to the hippocampus, the brain, and memory. When the immune system is activated, some people may even develop new allergic reactions, says Harkus.

The good news is that many of these signs are reversible. However, Barbara Sahakiyan, a professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge, is especially important when it comes to the brain.

“The brain is plastic, so we can adjust it to some degree,” says Sahakian. “But we don’t know if there is a cliff that you can’t reverse. So the sooner you catch something, the better. ”

Daily impact

In some ways, mental health awareness has increased during the outbreak. TV shows are flooded with ads for therapy and meditation apps like Talkspace and Calm, and companies are announcing employee mental health days.

For Alex Costa, epilepsy caused mood swings, nausea, and vomiting.

But those areas of focus do not completely affect people’s mental health.

For Alex Costa, epilepsy caused mood swings, nausea, and vomiting.

About a month before the outbreak, he was working at a full-time restaurant in New York City, when he was suddenly hired. As deaths in the city increased, Costa Rica continued to work on the subway, interacting with co-workers in the shop and working long hours only with a 2 hour pay rise. (Months later, he gets a $ 500 bonus.) He keeps the 28-year-old’s feelings constantly safe and sound.

“The minute I got in, it was hard not to damage the subway,” says Kostka.

Soon he had a firm grip on his jaw and began to wake up in the middle of the night. His teeth were often grinding and cutting, and they were loud enough to wake his girlfriend.

Kostka tried Talkspace, but felt that texting was a personal matter. At the end of the summer, he decided to take advantage of the seven free counseling sessions offered by his employer. That helped, he said. But at the end of the session, he worries that if he does not find a new therapist covered by his insurance, the symptoms may return.

“Eventually, I can leave this behind, but it will take time,” says Kostka. I am still a work in progress. ”

How to alleviate chronic stress

When it comes to chronic stress, seeing a doctor for stomach aches, headaches, or skin rashes can be helpful. But medical experts say the main cause is mental illness.

That means the solution often involves stress management techniques. And there are many things that can make us feel good:

Exercise. Even moderate to moderate exercise can help relieve stress. It can also increase nerve connections in the brain.

Meditation and discernment. Studies show that this can lead to positive, structural, and functional changes in the brain.

Develop social relationships. Talking to family and friends, or even seeing pets, can release a hormone that can fight inflammation.

Learn something new. Whether it’s a regular or casual hobby, learning supports brain plasticity, flexibility and adaptability, and can protect against depression and other mental illnesses.

“We should not think of this tragedy as a negative statement,” says Harkins, a professor of psychology in Ontario. “Because stress changes the brain, that means positive things can change the brain. And we can do much to make ourselves feel better in the face of adversity.