Fighting Off Colds While Stressed
Does stress make it harder to fight off infections? Colds, flus, and other communicable diseases may be fought off more easily if you experience certain kinds of stress. But other forms of stress can make it harder to beat that cold.
Mild, acute stress seems to prepare your body to fight off infections. Studies on lab rats show that as their stress hormones rise, the animals release immune cells to the blood and skin. These are crucial places for immune cells to ward off diseases.
However, if your stress is chronic, lasting for weeks or months, the opposite seems to be true. Chronic stress inhibits some of the body’s most important infection-fighters: T-cells. As a result, someone suffering from chronic stress is left vulnerable to infectious diseases.
Sometimes Stress Isn’t So Bad
Stress gets a bad rap for good reason. It can cause physical problems like skin rashes and high blood pressure. It can lead to mental health problems too, like anxiety and depression. But we feel stress for a reason, and sometimes it is good for you.
The stress you feel before a big test or job interview can motivate you to succeed. It can even save your life stress from a dangerous situation can provoke a fight-or-flight reaction that raises your adrenaline and motivates you to act quickly. Sometimes stress gives you the quick pulse and alert mind you need to stay out of danger.
Whether stress helps or harms your body depends on many factors. One is whether your stress is acute or chronic. You know acute stress when you feel it–the way your heart races right after a car crash, or the sudden jolt of energy you get when you see a snake or spider. Acute stress goes away soon after the stressful cause is gone. But chronic stress is another story. The muscle pain that sets in after months of demanding work, the constant nausea you may feel during a financial crisis, and the uncontrolled weight gain you experience during a long, unhappy relationship can all be signs of chronic stress.
Whats The Difference Between Stress Anxiety And An Anxiety Disorder
When left unchecked, both stress and anxiety can escalate into more severe mental health conditions. Anxiety disorder, which includes generalized anxiety disorder , panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder , and obsessive compulsive disorder is the most common mental health condition in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million Americans. Globally, anxiety disorders are also the most common mental health condition, affecting up to one in 13 people.
The basic criteria for determining whether stress or anxiety have become problematic is whether they have begun adversely affecting key domains of your life such as work or social situations. Maybe youre having trouble sleeping, trouble concentrating, or have increased symptoms like irritability or sadness, said Dr. Marques. As a rule of thumb, those things have to happen for enough time consistently to qualify as an anxiety disorder.
Whether or not your stress or anxiety feel manageable at a given moment is a highly personal question especially since some degree of both is actually necessary for us to feel motivated. Most people can actually pulse check when stress or anxiety become too much, Dr. Marques said. When you start to see that regular interference , thats usually when its time to seek some help.
How To Deal With Stress And Anxiety
Everyone deals with stress and anxiety differently. I teach my clients to learn to develop a personal first aid kit. It can be a notebook, a binder, or a file on your computer. Your first aid kit needs to have a list of things that you like to do that help you recharge. Your first aid kit must be broken up into different categories from daily, monthly, yearly.
What Makes Us Stressed
Many things that can lead to stress: bereavement, divorce or separation, losing a job or unexpected money problems. Work-related stress can also have a negative impact on your mental health. People affected by work-related stress lose an average of 24 days of work due to ill health.
Even positive life changes, such as moving to a bigger house, gaining a job promotion or going on holiday can be sources of stress. If you feel stressed in these situations you may struggle to understand why or be unwilling to share your feelings with others.
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Panic Attacks Are A Sign Of Anxiety Not Stress
Like “anxiety,” the term “panic attack” gets thrown around in our culture, to the point where many of us might think that a panic attack is simply the state of feeling very panicked. However, a panic attack is actually a very specific experience of heightened fear of discomfort that, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, often involves sweating, trembling, pounding heartbeat, nausea, chest pain, the sensation of choking, chills, and numbness in the hands or face. The National Institute of Health’s U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “a panic attack begins suddenly, and most often peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. Some symptoms continue for an hour or more,” and many people go to the emergency room during their first panic attack, because they are convinced that they are having a heart attack or some other deadly health problem â so, yes, it’s a very different experience from just feeling a little panicked about getting your work done on time.
Why This Difference Is Important: If you’ve experienced a panic attack, that’s a sign of anxiety â and a sign that you could benefit from professional help.
No matter which issue you’re struggling with, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Talk to someone you trust about what you’re going through, and know that no matter what you have, you can start feeling better.
Stress Anxiety Whatever: Do I Need Professional Help
While stress and anxiety are normal emotions and reactions, they can become outsized. If stress or worry overwhelm you, take over your life, and prevent you from functioning, you could benefit from some professional therapy and treatment. Here are some more specific signs that anxiety or stress has gotten out of control in your life:
- Stress or anxiety interfere with important parts of your life, including relationships, work, school, and responsibilities.
- The reactions and emotions you feel are overwhelming, cause you significant distress, or are difficult or impossible to control and lessen.
- You also have physical health problems that may be related to stress and anxiety.
- There are other mental health issues going on, either triggered by or simply occurring at the same time as stress or worry. These could include depression, substance abuse, or anything else that concerns you.
- You experienced something traumatic, either in your past or recently.
- Your stress or anxiety is leading to thoughts of self-harm, hopelessness, or suicide.
Treatment for excessive stress or an anxiety disorder is available and is highly effective. You may benefit from medical care to manage any underlying illnesses or for complications caused by stress. Therapy can teach you useful strategies for managing stress, for coping with stress and anxiety, and for changing your patterns of thought and behavior that worsen mental health.
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Whats The Difference Between Anxiety And Being Stressed
The words stress and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably. So how can you tell the difference between common stress and an anxiety disorder? Both share many of the same physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, or rapid breathing. In both cases, your body is releasing hormones to trigger these symptoms.
Stress is a normal, proportional reaction to a stressful situation or external pressures. Its normal to feel stressed about a final exam or job interview.
When we talk about anxiety as in anxiety disorders, anxiety is a condition characterized by feelings of apprehension or unexplained thoughts of impending doom.
Another way to tell the difference between stress and an anxiety disorder is noticing how long your feelings of stress last. When stress lingers for days or weeks and prevents you from carrying out day-to-day activities, then you may be experiencing anxiety. You could be avoiding certain places or situations in fear of what might happen. You may even feel anxious about the fact that youre anxious. If you are having these concerns, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are common and manageable.
How Stress Affects Men
Studies show that stress tends to affect men and women differently. Men are more prone than women to “mental stress,” specifically regarding work. Men dealing with chronic stress are less likely than women to take care of their symptoms. They’re less likely to lean on friends and family for help, and are less likely to prioritize quality sleep. Clearly men could learn a thing or two from women in this regard.
Hormones may be at play. While men and women release stress hormones in similar ways, there’s a big difference in how oxytocin is released in response. Oxytocin promotes nurturing feelings and feelings of well-being. And women receive it in much higher doses when stressed than men do. Oxytocin may encourage women to look for help from others by nurturing and befriending, whereas men are more likely to flee from their stress or lash out in response to it.
Men, Stress, and Sexual Health
Stressed-out men can bring their worried minds into the bedroom, where it causes problems. Men with chronic stress can build up too much cortisol, which can lead to a variety of sexual health problems, such as:
- Lower testosterone
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Stress Vs Anxiety: How To Tell The Difference
While the terms stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, and while theres some overlap in the symptoms, they actually dont mean the same thing. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 5% of the household population, while stress is much more common. And the differences dont stop there. Heres how to tell one from the other.
DISCLOSURE: This advice is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner. Always seek medical advice that is specific to you and your situation.
Getting Help For Fear And Anxiety
Fear and anxiety are associated with many mental health conditions. These feelings of most often linked to anxiety disorders, such as specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
Approximately 20% of U.S. adults experience symptoms of an anxiety disorder during any given year, and women tend to experience these symptoms more often than men. Because of this, experts now recommend that all women over the age of 13 should be screened for anxiety conditions. If you are having symptoms of fear and anxiety that have become unmanageable, make an appointment with your doctor.
Your doctor will consider your current symptoms and your medical history to help determine a possible cause of your fear and anxiety. From there, expect your doctor to make a diagnosis or refer you to a specialty treatment provider for further assessment. Once diagnosed, you can start on a treatment plan that can assist in reducing and controlling your fear and anxiety.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
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What Is Depression
Unlike stress and anxiety, less is known about the causes, symptoms, and mechanisms of depression. Its debilitating nature can cause people to lose the ability to function in all areas of life, including work and relationships. The World Health Organization ranks depression as a leading cause of disability worldwide. The disorder can be deadly when it leads to suicidal thinking and planning. We lose nearly 50,000 people each year to suicide in the U.S. and that rate seems to be increasing, says Gerard Sanacora, MD, PhD, a Yale Medicine psychiatrist and director of the Yale Depression Research Program.
Many of my patients say depression literally hurts, Silva says.
Physical symptoms of depression can include weight loss or gain, poor sleep, physical pain, and speaking or moving more slowly than normal. Its mental manifestations can include persistent sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, and mental paralysis.
If someone feels like a burden, they are less likely to reach out to others, and could end up socially withdrawing, Silva says.
Depression can lead to ruminative thinking and feelings of guilt, and it can impair a persons ability to think or concentrate and form memories, Dr. Katz says.
We dont yet have a good imaging study or biomarker that lets us know if someone is depressed and what kind of depression they have, or why they have it, Dr. Katz says. We make a diagnosis through clinical evaluation and questionnaires that assess common symptoms.
What About Stress
Stress and anxiety may seem similar, but theyre not the same. The difference? Stress is a response to daily pressures or a threatening situation, while anxiety is a reaction to the stress. Anxiety, which has no clear cause, tends to last longer and be more difficult to treat.
Stress affects a lot of people, and can influence your health. Symptoms include:
- Skin rashes
- Loss of sleep
Stress typically goes away when the stressors disappear. However, chronic stress can escalate into anxiety or depression, so its important to take steps to reduce or eliminate stress whenever possible.
If youre not sure whether youre suffering from stress, anxiety or depression, dont delay in talking to a health care provider to get the help you need. The journey to recovery begins with defining the cause of your issues and getting the right treatment.
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When To Seek Help
If youre having thoughts about harming yourself or others, you should seek immediate medical help. Stress and anxiety are treatable conditions and there are many resources, strategies, and treatments that can help. If youre unable to control your worries, and stress is impacting your daily life, talk to your primary care provider about ways to manage stress and anxiety.
Three Things To Help Your Worries:
Give yourself a worry budget, an amount of time in which you allow yourself to worry about a problem. When that time is up , consciously redirect your thoughts.
When you notice that youre worried about something, push yourself to come up with a next step or to take action.
Write your worries down. Research has shown that just eight to 10 minutes of writing can help calm obsessive thoughts.
Remember: Worry is helpful only if it leads to change, not if it turns into obsessive thoughts.
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Stress And Your Health
Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous.
Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.
An Anxiety Disorder Can Be Characterized By Which Of The Following
Although anxiety is a normal human emotion, people who experience extreme fear and worry that donât go away may have an anxiety disorder. Each anxiety disorder has its own specific symptoms. For example, panic disorders cause sudden, uncontrollable feelings of terror, and social anxiety disorder involves the fear of being in unfamiliar social situations with expectations of scrutiny by others. Both can also manifest with physical symptoms such as shaking or breaking out in a sweat.
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What Is Almost Anxious And How Can You Handle It
As anxiety moves along the spectrum from normal to clinical, a gray area in the middle may still have a negative impact on your life: the almost anxious region. When the level of anxiety you experience is no longer adaptive or helpful to your performance and becomes a barrier to your enjoyment of life, but does not yet meet the diagnostic threshold for an anxiety disorder, you are almost anxious. You might find yourself struggling to focus your attention on tasks, distracted by negative thoughts, fear, or unpleasant body sensations. For example, someone who is almost anxious may sit at their desk all day, making minimal progress on an assignment due to constant worries and tightness in the stomach. While anxiety did not make it impossible to come to work, the level of anxiety experienced is making it hard to function. Using this concept of almost anxious can help you catch anxiety before it becomes too extreme, and target it using evidence-based strategies that help move anxiety back along the spectrum to an adaptive level.
When you find yourself feeling too anxious, try evidence-based techniques highlighted in the book Almost Anxious to bring your anxiety levels back to normal. Here are a few tools to try:
Are Anxiety And Stress The Same Thing
What differentiates anxiety and stress?
The symptoms of anxiety and stress are very similar. Stress is a result of external influences or stressors, like relationship issues, a move, a job change, or a health problem. Stress can have a range of symptoms, from headaches and uneasiness to sleeping problems and nausea. Anxiety is a result of internal influences that activate these feelings and physical responses. While those with anxiety can be triggered by external influences, the resulting symptoms far outweigh the impact of the trigger.
Does time make the difference between anxiety and stress?
Many people believe that the difference between stress and anxiety is the length of time that one experiences symptoms. The myth is that stress is short term, and anxiety is long-term. This is not exactly true, as stress can affect a person over a long period of time. Having a sick family member or being in a toxic relationship can introduce stress into your life over extended lengths of time.
Dont get confused by the word Anxiety
The Anxiety Emotion
Many people mistakenly mix up the emotion with the disorder. Phrases like I have anxiety about this can be misinterpreted as I have anxiety disorder, when the person actually meant, I am nervous about an upcoming exam.
How many people does stress affect?
Severe anxiety symptoms
The final verdict
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