• Shruti GOCHHWAL

The Link Between Stress and Nerve Damage

Stress in any form may it be psychological, physical is bad for your body. Stress affects almost all systems of the body including muscles, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. We are discussing here the link between stress and nerve damage.

Stress And Neuropathy- Is There A Link?

Our body is designed in a way to handle stress in small doses. However, it cannot resist long-term stress and chronic stress can cause damages to the body. Chronic stress is especially dangerous for people with peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

How Stress Affects The Nervous System?

The nervous system

Brain, Credits: pixabay


The nervous system has several divisions: the central division consisting of the brain and spinal cord and the peripheral division consisting of the autonomic and somatic nervous systems. The autonomic nervous system is divided into the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The autonomic nervous system has a direct response to stress. When your body is under stress, the sympathetic nervous system generates a “fight or flight response”. The body reacts in a way like it is fighting off a life threat, or running from an enemy.

The SNS sends signals to adrenal glands to release hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. The combined actions of these hormones and autonomic nerves cause the following effects

  1. The heart beats faster

  2. Respiration rate tends to increase

  3. Blood vessels in the arms and legs will dilate

  4. Digestive processes can change

  5. Blood glucose levels can vary to deal with the situation

The SNS response is usually sudden to prepare the body to respond to acute stress. Once the crisis is over, the body returns to the pre-emergency state. This recovery part is taken care of by the PNS, which has opposing effects on the SNS. The over-activity of PNS can cause bronchoconstriction, exaggerated vasodilation, and compromised blood circulation.

To conclude chronic stress not only affects the nervous system but has negative effects on other parts of the body as well.

How Stress Affects Patients With Neuropathy?

Woman under stress

Woman under stress, Credits: pixabay


When patients with familial amyloid polyneuropathy are under chronic stress, stress affects their peripheral nerves, worsening their numbness, burning, and tingling sensations. Chronic stress can worsen neuropathic pain. Stress can affect patients with neuropathy in the following ways.

Changes in Eating Habits

Stress can cause changes in eating habits. People under stress may indulge in salty snacks and junk foods. This can have negative effects on the body, causing a restriction in the blood flow. Some patients may eat very less during times of stress, so that their body may turn devoid of nutrients. This irritates the peripheral nerves. Patients with neuropathy should be aware of how stress can affect their eating patterns which can in turn affect their nerves too.

Avoiding “Social Circles”

As the neuropathy symptoms tend to worsen, patients may withdraw themselves from friends and family. They may feel as a burden to their friends and family.

Mood Changes

Patients under mental pressure are prone to experience mood swings. Their physical symptoms can cause irritability and sadness.

How to Combat Stress?

Combating stress

A Massage therapy, Credits: pixabay


  1. Do not isolate yourself. Have regular connect with your family and friends. Positive interaction with your friend may help to combat stress, can change your mood, and can help you stay relaxed.

  2. Other methods to dampen stress in neuropathy patients include massage therapy and exercises. Physical activity can release endorphins and can reduce your stress levels.

  3. Having a healthy diet may help you stay energetic and can also reduce your stress.

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