Everyone has some stress in their everyday lives. A little stress is good for the body and alerts the mind. Stress helps people to prepare for challenges that life throws at them but problems start to occur when someone has too much stress in their life over a prolonged period of time. It starts to affect people’s ability to cope and respond to situations and it can cause emotional and physical health problems. It also temporarily weakens people’s immune systems.
The most common stressor is the constant demand of interruptions that affect our ability to carry out the usual routines of everyday life- impossibly high expectations from employers, partners and families or financial difficulties.
Symptoms and signs
Common symptoms include excessive worrying, irritability, an inability to relax, feeling lonely and isolated or depressed. Other signs are: difficulty in concentrating, making decisions or meeting deadlines, frequent crying, lack of interest in life, loss of libido, impotency or frigidity, denial of a problem. People might turn to cigarettes, alcohol or tranquillizers as a way of coping with stress. These may seem to help in the short-term but in the longer term this may further undermine well-being and will not contribute to developing a positive approach to stress.
People can suffer from physical symptoms such as aches and pains, diarrhoea or constipation, indigestion, nausea, sleep disturbances, sweating, breathlessness, fainting, muscle twitches/spasms, headache, chest pains and rapid heartbeat.
Stress can also act as a trigger and maintain medical or psychiatric conditions such as peptic ulceration, musculoskeletal problems, stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, psoriasis, asthma, eczema, irritable bowel syndrome and depression.
You may recognise that you are under stress without professional diagnosis but seeking professional help is important and can help to alleviate and off-load worries when managing the problems caused by stress.
Treating stress is about helping people understand what is causing it and helping them to find ways of controlling it.
It is important to identify the origins of stress in life in order to make changes.
There is variety of options for stress treatment ranging from individual psychotherapy to group therapy.