Have You Ever Hears The One About Stress Causing Shorter Lifespan?


I guess it makes sense, but I cannot wrap my head around how it can be a science-based assertion that stress causes shorter lives. There are so many other factors. How many were included in a group, how many were thrown as outliers?
A guy has a stressful life and never has enough time to do what needs to be done. He drives too fast and dies in a car wreck. Included?
A guy works his whole life erecting high steel and falls. Did the stressful job kill him or his nonchlaance about the stress? outlier?
I know women that have lived hand to mouth their entire lives and ended up running a farm after their husbands died. There wasn't a moment in 80 years that didn't have a cloud of worry and a list of chores and yet they go on strong.

I guess the assertion that less stress equals longer life is an intuitive conclusion.

nature shows me different. Jack pine that grows at the top reaches of the timberline can be older than trees in the valleys by hundreds of years. The berry vines I fight every spring just keep coming back to face my shovel, year after year, seemingly stronger for it. Maybe stressed rats in a lab live shorter lives than the ones left alone, but the stress is probably being shocked or frustrated by inconsistent food supply. We would be surprised if that meant a longer life. But that is not the same type of stress that affects us here, is it?

Maybe feeling like I am going to run amock if I don't choke it back makes me stronger. Maybe the people I see daily that seem to have let the burrito slide off the combo plate are going to be the winners. What difference does it make when you are living one day at a time, one traumatic memory or event at a time?


I heard about a study that noticed that a small amount of stress (in that case linked to borderline scarcity of food) could actually increase lifespan.

But yeah, if you count that suicide is one of the main causes of death in developed countries, together with car accidents, heart attacks (very linked to stress)… Trauma is a big big factor in mortality. Surely there must be a meta study that reviews that somewhere.

I’ve often found incredible that many people do share very traumatic experiences yet don’t realise how much it affects them and/or think they’re the only ones. We have a heavy problem sitting right in the middle of society and yet, nothing is done about it. Or so little.


Stress lowers the immune system. Many physical illnesses are related to stress including auto immune diseases. (Aside from accidents and suicides). Stressed people may also put different things in their body, including smoking and drinking. I read somewhere that carrying anger causes heart disease. My sister has Addisons Disease, which has to do with cortisol levels (you can google) and I understand that its caused by stress. My family of origin all have auto immune disease except me, and MS has never been ruled out on me because I got better and didn't have the spinal tap. Though I feel physically worse now. I do think stress will shorten life


“That one? She’s like the pet rabbit you scream at so much it’s hair starts falling out.”

Stress-related-illness is a very measurable thing.

Ou bodies are equipped, even built specifically for, handling certain levels of stress. Not just mental/emotional stress, but physical stress in myriad forms. What was groundbreaking about the initial studies (and is just further compounded by ongoing research that continues to confirm, and confirm, and confirm) on mental/emotional stress was that the body started breaking down in the exact same -highly predictable- ways that it starts to break down under physical stresses.

- You start starving someone? (Which is a physical stress) You start seeing these results, then these, then these

- Someone is subjected to this level of mental/emotional stress? For this time frame? You start seeing these results, then these, then these.

- Someone is running XYZ number of miles? (physical stress) You start seeing these results, then these, then these.

- Someone is subjected to that level of mental/emotional stress? For that long? You start seeing these results, then these, then these.

Repeatable results? Are the cornerstone of science.

That results vary? That the marathon runner who has salts & water & sugars to replenish a system under extreme stress won’t see the same physical results as the marathon runner who doesn’t, and neither of them see the same results -or the same results in the same time frame- as the person running 25 miles for their life with no physical conditioning, whether they have potassium & calcium/water/carbs or not. It doesn’t make the picture less accurate, that there are many variables that change the outcome.

That someone’s whose body is conditioned to starving (and their metabolism drops like a rock) will outlive someone -and out think / outperform- someone with significantly higher fat stores whose metabolism hasn’t been subjected to frequent and rapid change... or die in days due to repeated abuse of that system while the person with the hot metabolism survives weeks? Ditto. Biological organisms are complex, with complex -but still highly predictable- results.

The effects on a human body subjected to varying levels of stress, of varying duration... are complex. Results will vary per the individual. There will even be a teeny tiny minority of outliers, who don’t “fit” in with the grouping we’d expect them to be in. Which usually means there are missing variables we haven’t factored in.

Which maaaaaay even concentrate enough to form their own grouping once better studied. Or may remain outliers.

The more we understand the effects of stress on the body? The better able we are to prevent/treat it. Which is why there are still hundreds, if not thousands, of ongoing studies going far beyond the initial results of; Yep. Stress related illness is very real.


i guess that all of these studies use a baseline of "normal human, normal stress" that I can't get a handle on. Put another way, if people are needed for a comparison study of a group of people that don't get exposed to stress, I want to volunteer, hell, I would even settle for the control group.
This was the discussion the other day waiting in a doctors office and it was very clear that people believed it, even cited something they read or heard. I was exposed to it in a college psych class (they should call the 101 classes cocktail party psych).
some of the same people that were sure that stress kills also agreed that "if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger".

I have to say, we walked into this conversation, most of the people there were older (ortho clinic) and being a part of a lively conversation bordering on debate was like a gift from the pre covid days, even the pre 2016 election days. It was enjoyable but a little tense, humor had to be interjected to keep it all civil. We were all eyeballing each other over our masks, but everyone was smiling.


Yes there's an old saying, I think Albert Camus but I could be wrong "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". I think that can also be true for some people.Say you grew up in the most ideal mentally healthy situation where you were nurtured and felt safe, were encouraged and praised, came away with strong self worth and esteem.

Thats just not the case for most of the people that I know, but I do know some of them, and their resilience is much better. Then there is the stress compounded. I use to be very resilient.....not anymore. Stress has definitely made me feeling unwell physically.


It’s Nietschze… I think it already says a lot… It always seemed to me that this saying was a form of rationalising trauma or difficulties in telling yourself that if you’re suffering, at least you aren’t lagging behind but going ahead of others. Romanticizing of suffering, at least in my opinion, which can be wrong. In reality, I think we have more or less variable breaking points, even for resilient people, and it’s quite difficult to say when you did reach it on the moment, but retrospectively it’s often very visible.

In terms of stress and biology, I recently read that "long covid" had many common points with auto-immune diseases, and it might have stress related or genetic vulnerabilities to it.

Just makes me think of… in the range of great and not too convoluted books about it there is Robert Sapolsky’s "Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers".

To define what is "normal stress" is quite difficult. Socially, even out of the pandemic and post-2016 world, contemporary society aren’t really made to respond to animal needs. They are stressful. Apparently, according to Sapolsky, the worse you can do in terms of stress is a constant feeling of disconnection from peers and constant unpredictability. It makes quite a lot of sense. Also when you look in methods of torture in prisons and concentration camps there always is some unpredictability pattern and petty rules that are designed to destabilise. Also, when you look at interpersonal violence… there is that element, too, with isolation. Apparently you can better resist to, and recover from, horrors if at least you have a stable community and a sense of belonging, that’s the factor n1.


i guess that all of these studies use a baseline of "normal human, normal stress" that I can't get a handle on.
Never read a study that does that... heard shittons of people talk about stress like that, though. But that’s how people generally talk about shit... especially science shit... in terms so broad as to often range from utterly meaningless to completely incorrect.

Take the executive/office man with classic low level stress, long term, in a sedentary job. What do you expect to see? Some heart disease, some GI issues, some edema, some thinning hair, etc. UNLESS? They run, swim, play polo, whatever... daily... that actually increases stress in the short term, but (stress cup!) is blowing off the stress of their job. That’s even before changjng their diet. Then? You expect to see someone who sleeps great, any hair loss is genetic, they’re not puffy/swollen in addition to any overweight issues, their cardiovascular health is top notch, etc.

But take the same man and put him in even a short term high stress (still sedentary) job? Like the last few months on the campaign trail? You’re going to see much more marked effects, in a much shorter period of time, AND you won’t get the same relief from physical symptoms with exercise & diet. (Often one just sees a faster breakdown of their body) Instead? One needs to interject periods of calm... in order to allow the digestive system to turn back on, their immune system to flow sweeping up infections / all the daily minor injuries to heal, etc., etc., etc.. Even total adrenaline junkies who thrive off of high-stress-jobs tend to face plant, otherwise, and people with more normal bodies? End up with a collection of strained & pulled muscles, stress fractures, the never-ending-cold, high blood pressure, GI issues, headaches, etc.

Take the same man -again- and put him in an extreme-stress (still sedentary) super-short-term situation... and voila! Once will have this range of effects, repeatedly will have this range, etc. How do we combat the effects of stress in extreme stress situations? Depends on what the stressor was, his health before hand, how he individually reacted (both physically & mentally/emotionally)

And those are just 3 tiny points on the same spectrum of low level long term to extreme level short term. The same body will have different effects, in different time periods, and different best-ways-to-manage-stress depending on where he falls in that spectrum.

When people say “diet & exercise helps manage stress”? Yeah. True. Ish. Mostly. Sorta. There are situations where that’s actually the worst thing a person could do, and situations where it’s the best IF & ONLY IF, and situations where it’s just one factor amongst many, and not a very important one comparatively speaking. And, and, and. Generally speaking? Yeah. Diet & exercise help. But the devil is in the details.


ruborcoraxx, thank you , it was Niche, I couldn't remember. I do think some statements like these are shaming trauma survivors.

Some things are genetic/hereditary, some environmental (like working in a coal mine or where you live), some are lifestyle (life style). The only one we have absolutely no control over is the hereditary part. However, if your dad had a heart attack and died at 50, you can help prevent that through diet and exercise but no guarantees. You can move or change jobs, but if your a kid growing up in a building with lead paint, not much help. Anyway, maybe I have become really negative because the way I see it at this point in my life, with ptsd, is that the damage is done. Health issues are too far in motion. So I guess its really a moot point.


I don't know how much DNA plays a part in how and when we blast off into another realm. But I do know from my own experience, I have had PTSD most if not all my life. I can never remember a time when I wasn't so stressed that it became my normal.

I'm going to be 71 this year. Maybe. And yes I have health issues. Age-related health issues. But there are two things that I feel have helped me live this long. Passion and my anger that I can, do, and will express.

This past year has been my hardest so far with the death of my son. Still having all the things related to his death following me for a very long time to come. I have no idea what the stress of losing a child does to someone. I haven't even been able to have a memorial for him, something that stays with me every single day.

I've worked since I was 14. I always ended up the supervisor or lead in any and every job I've ever had. I worked hard physically and my body is paying for that now. I smoke, I'm overweight, and if it requires 'exercise I'm not gonna do it. I don't eat healthily and allow chocolate binges when I want.

I do not want to live to be 90. Please NO. I'll be so crippled with arthritis and body pain I will have no quality of life. I have no idea why I'm still here. But if stress shortens life then I should have been dead a long time ago. Not saying the stress of losing my son won't be the straw that broke the camel's back, but here I am.

I don't know how many people my age are here on the forum. It would be interesting to know how they are doing. There is not one thing scientific in my comments. Just saying there have to be so many variables that have never been studied because I do not know a life without stress. Ever.

Not saying it hasn't taken a toll on my body and brain, because it has. Not enough to kill me yet. YET.


ladee I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I haven't experienced it but 2 of my sisters have and I know it is the worst grief. 71 is not so old, and you could have many more years, but I totally understand when you say you don't want another 20. Im 62 and feel the same way. I have been dealing with chronic pain for 30 years. My mother was an alcoholic, smoked like a chimney, had anxiety and depression and maybe ptsd. She lived to be 80. Seems nobody in our family has heart attacks, but 2 sisters with cancer. One passed and one is in poor condition being treated.

I smoked for much of my life and have lung problems. I had many many years where I rarely had a drink. During covid, not so much. I agree that those with a strong support system are happier, I use to have some of that but have isolated for many years. Im just too damn tired, so Im not exercising either. Im not ready to give up though. Going to ask dr for rehab program for weakness, rehab for lungs, etc. Im not afraid of death but Im afraid of getting worse and being in a nursing home for 20 years.