By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The passing of Penn State Coach Joe Paterno brought the subject of the body’s response to stress and overall health to the forefront.

According to experts at the Cleveland Clinic, it is important to carefully look at how we handle stress and its effect on our body.

Here are just a few of the things they suggest could have an impact: seeing a significant decline in performance at work or school. Feeling overly anxious or having irrational fears. Abusing drugs or alcohol, or thinking suicidal thoughts. Being unable to manage in daily life, or withdrawing socially. Seeing major changes in sleep or eating habits. Engaging in behaviors that cause self-harm. Having frequent physical illnesses or discomforts.

Stress can contribute to a number of serious health problems, so it’s important to visit your doctor when you notice warning signs that stress is affecting your health.