How Stress Makes You Sick
It's 1 a.m. and Michele JuVette, 42, a daycare provider in Mansfield, Texas, and the mother of four boys -- "five if you count my husband," she jokes -- is ready to call it a day. She's been going nonstop since 6 a.m., getting the boys, ages 6, 9, 14, and 16, off to school, juggling calls for her home-based business, tending to the three infants in her care, scheduling upcoming extracurricular activities, picking the boys up from school, making dinner and cleaning up afterward, helping the children with homework, and passing her husband, Scott, 42, photo director of a video-production company, as he comes in the door and she goes out to do grocery shopping and other errands.She's dead tired when she finally crawls into bed, but as her head sinks into the pillow, her mind starts to race with all of the things she needs to accomplish tomorrow. She's lucky to get four or five hours of shut-eye -- not nearly enough to start it all over again the next day. "We are at maximum overdrive on a constant basis," she says of her family. All this craziness is taking a toll on her health. A normally upbeat person, JuVette feels depressed and rundown. And she has another, surprising symptom: One day after a shower she noticed an unusually large amount of hair in the drain. Then she found wads of hair in the vacuum cleaner. "My hair was falling out in handfuls," she says. Her family doctor ruled out illnesses such as thyroid disease and concluded her hair loss was a symptom of stress. "I was shocked to learn what my stress was doing to my health," she says.