The Effects Of Chronic Stress
Your nervous system isnt very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If youre super stressed over an argument with a friend, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if youre facing a true life-or-death situation. And the more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger, making it harder to shut off.
If you tend to get stressed out frequently, like many of us in todays demanding world, your body may exist in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
Health problems caused or exacerbated by stress include:
Hip Stress Fracture Symptoms Causes And Treatment
A hip stress fracture is an injury to the area near the ball of the ball-and-socket hip joint. You may think of broken hips only in the elderly, but stress fractures can happen at any age. Stress fractures are injuries to the bone that result from overuse activity.
A stress fracture is due to repetitive micro-trauma to the bone. Over time, the body cannot keep up with the forces acting on the bone, and a fracture eventually occurs. It differs from a high-energy hip fracture due to a fall or a pathologic fracture due to osteoporosis, tumors, or infections.
What Is Emotional Stress
Emotional stress is not a clearly labelled phenomenon. Its a wide range of problems and can range all the way from having a few down days to a more chronic condition. Note, that if youre having a few down days you shouldnt immediately pull on the bell or go see your doctor.
Though we might strive to be happy all the time, thats not actually how were built. We cant always be happy and were going to have down periods and moments where we struggle. It doesnt matter if youre working as a translator, are an Arab Sheik or work on a farm, thats just how it is.
At the same time, if youre feeling youve been on edge for a long time now without really feeling youve been able to get your head above water, then it might be time to take action.
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When To See Your Gp About Your Stress Levels
If you’ve tried self-help techniques and they aren’t working, you should go to see your GP. They may suggest other coping techniques for you to try or recommend some form of counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
If your stress is causing serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, you may need to take medication or further tests.
You Have Chronic Head And Body Aches
As I said before, your body puts itself into hyper mode when youre stressed out. This fatigue not only affects your focus and attention, but also puts a physical strain on your body. Your body has a natural fight or flight mechanism which stemmed from the early days of humanity in which we had to actually dodge predators on a normal basis. Nowadays, though we dont have to worry about lions and bears coming out of nowhere to attack us, our body reacts the same way to recurring stress accrued from work and other parts of life. Why do you think getting a shoulder rub feels so great after a long day? Because your bodys been tense for the past eight hours dealing with all the garbage youve had to deal with.
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Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders
The two main treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy and medication, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.
- Psychotherapy: Talk therapy is effective in helping people identify, process, and cope with their triggers of anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective, short-term treatment that helps people learn specific skills to target their specific triggers.
- Medication: Antidepressants generally have some mild side effects but help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants can be used for an extended period of time. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that can also be used on an ongoing basis. Benzodiazepines can be used on a limited basis to mitigate anxiety symptoms, but they can be habit-forming. All medications should be thoroughly discussed with your healthcare provider. Any side effects should be reported immediately. Never discontinue the use of these medications without supervision from your healthcare provider.
- Lifestyle changes: There are several changes you can make at home before you try medications. Daily exercise, good sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol are all home remedies that can decrease symptoms of anxiety.
Your Hair Is Starting To Fall Out
If youre waking up with more than a few strands on your pillow, you may be suffering from alopecia areata. This is an autoimmune skin disease brought on when the bodys immune system attacks the hair follicles. It causes small round patches of hair loss on the scalp. Its not dangerous, but its likely to be associated with a severe stressor, like an assault or significant traumatic event in ones life, says Dr. Colgan. This disease is more likely to occur in young women or adolescent girls.
What to do: In most cases, this is typically a temporary condition and your hair will grow back once stress is minimized. But dont be afraid to talk to your doctor about whats going on, says Dr. Colgan. While your MD might recommend injectable scalp steroids to help with hair growth, its best to have an examination. The hair loss could possibly be a sign of a scalp fungal infection, a bacterial function or even a thyroid disorder.
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Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The defining feature of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not for at least six months. The intensity of the anxiety or worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event or events.Other symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include the following:
- Difficulty controlling worry
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
- Psychosomatic symptoms: Headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, pins and needles
- Physical symptoms: Shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain
- The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning
What Are The Signs Of Stress
How you might feel
You may behave differently if youre stressed. You may:
- withdraw from other people or snap at them
- be indecisive or inflexible
- have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep
- experience sexual problems
- smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs more than usual.
If the stress is long-lasting, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise.
Some research has also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.
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Your Back Or Neck Is Always Aching
If youve got knots in your shoulders, a stiff neck or your lower back cramped up after a long day, it could be the constant of a job or personal situation, not just the position you sit in during the day. High levels of stress and tension create discomfort and muscle pain by tightening muscles and causing muscle spasms, says Dr. Colgan. And stiff muscles in your neck can also lead to headaches, he says.
If your back pain developed after an accident or emotional trauma, it could also be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder . The National Institute of Health recommends talking to your primary doctor, as many people arent able to heal their back pain until they deal with the emotional stress thats causing it.
What to do: Many relaxation techniques can help with stress reduction, including guided imagery, taking deep breaths from the diaphragm, meditation, massages and yoga, says Tuit. Try devoting time for stretching breaks throughout the day to help prevent muscles from tightening up. Make time for some of these yoga poses to unwind at the end of the day.
Youve Become Overly Emotional
Lucie Hemmen, Ph.D, a psychologist in Santa Cruz, CA explains, When youre super-stressed, the brain stem the primitive part of your brain takes over, and the part that anticipates outcomes goes dark. This explains why being stressed will cause you to literally cry over spilled milk, or fly into a rage if someone honks their horn at you. Remember when you were a kid and would stay up way too late, and catch a case of the giggles? Same concept. Your body was so stressed out from exhaustion that even the slightest thing set you off, albeit in a silly way. When youre an adult, and your stress causes you to flip someone off for bumping into you on the subway, its not so funny.
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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.
What To Expect From Treatment For Shin Pain
If you are diagnosed with a stress fracture, your sports medicine specialist may recommend wearing a walking boot, brace or crutches.
A sports medicine specialist can help design a training routine that will keep you moving but allow you to heal, too. A sports medicine specialist will consider your overall load, maintain your cardio and keep building strength. Your training routine may be modified to include cross-training and low-impact activities, such as low-gravity treadmills, ellipticals, pool running or cycling.
The sports medicine specialist also will look for an underlying cause, which might be a gait abnormality or a bone problem, to pinpoint how and why its happening.
You may be out from running from four to six weeks, Dr. Goldberg says, but when you return, youll be ready for running.
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How Can Your Doctor Test Your Stress Level
There is no standardized test to formally diagnose stress because stress is subjectivewhat feels very stressful for one person may not cause high levels of stress for another. Only the person experiencing stress can determine how severe it feels. A healthcare provider may use questionnaires to understand your stress and how it affects your life.
Learn The Hidden Signs Of Stress And How To Manage Symptoms
Everyone has their own unique experiences when it comes to stress. Stress can be caused by workplace tensions, a clash of styles, social or home-life problems, or unexpected life events. Although we might know what can cause stress, sometimes its hard to know if were experiencing it ourselves.
Cheryl Carmin, PhD, psychologist at The Ohio State Wexner Medical Centers Harding Hospital, and Maryanna Klatt, PhD, professor in the Department of Family Medicine at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, discuss the different causes and signs of stress and ways that you can manage symptoms.
What are hidden signs of stress?Carmin says signals of stress may involve procrastination, engaging in activities that are enjoyable but may involve avoiding tasks you really need to do, or eliminating your stress-reducing activities because you dont have time. Some people find that they become irritable when they experience stress, and it might take a friend or family member to point out that they seem grumpy. For some, stressful events can cause your immune system to weaken and for you to get sick. A hidden sign can be as simple as coming down with a cold. If you seldom catch a cold, this may be a signal that your body is under stress, Carmin says. Other symptoms include:
- Feeling fatigued most of the time
- Having more headaches or muscle tension
- Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
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Different Conditions With A Common Cause
Shin splints happen when the muscles, tendons and bone tissue around your shin bone the tibia become inflamed. They are a common problem for runners, gymnasts and dancers.
Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone. They also are a common problem for runners, gymnasts or dancers and athletes in high-impact sports such as track and field, basketball or tennis.
While they are different medical conditions, shin splints and stress fractures share the same causes: an overload problem, says Laura Goldberg, MD, a pediatric sports medicine specialist with UH Sports Medicine.
Shin splints and stress fractures happen when you overtax your leg muscles, tendons or shin bone through a sudden increase in training.
One of the most common causes is a sudden increase in weight-bearing exercise, Dr. Goldberg says. A runner may be progressing with running, but has added other weight-bearing activities such as plyometrics and is not allowing enough recovery time.
If a patient mentions shin pain, one of the first things she asks her patients is to review their workout log. Dr. Goldberg recommends athletes keep a training log, which can help to identify training errors or pinpoint problems.
The history really clues me in, she says. Sometimes people dont realize how much they are doing or how much they are increasing.
Not All Stress Is Bad
In a dangerous situation, stress signals the body to prepare to face a threat or flee to safety. In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, and your brain uses more oxygen and increases activityall functions aimed at survival and in response to stress. In non-life-threatening situations, stress can motivate people, such as when they need to take a test or interview for a new job.
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Improving Your Ability To Handle Stress
Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully .
Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when youre feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and dont let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you dont have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.
Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your sensessight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
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How To Tell Shin Splints From A Stress Fracture
How to tell these two conditions apart? With a stress fracture, the pain gets worse as you run and persists in a smaller location after you run, Dr. Goldberg says.
With shin splints, pain often occurs over a broad area, although it may be localized, affecting a small area. The pain usually lessens after you warm up, Dr. Goldberg says. In addition, shin splint pain may be more tolerable than pain from a stress fracture.
If you develop shin splints, avoid activities that cause pain, swelling or discomfort, but dont stop all physical activity. Its better to switch to low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling or water running until you heal, she says. The pain will lessen over time as you get stronger.
You can treat shin splints at home by applying ice packs to the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day for several days. You also can take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen , naproxen or acetaminophen .
To avoid shin splints, make sure youre wearing the right shoes for your foot and ones that are not too well-used.
A lot of people try to treat it themselves, but it if recurs, it needs evaluation, she says.
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