Customized Mental Health Treatment
If youre dealing with difficulties in your personal life, or are struggling with managing stress at work, Lake Behavioral Hospital can help. Our customized approach guides patients in finding effective ways to relieve stress so it doesnt become debilitating. Contact us to learn more about our mental health services or to schedule an evaluation.
How Is Chronic Stress Diagnosed
A mental health professional can interview a patient to gather information about the overall presence of stress. Given the wide range of symptoms and linked conditions, the diagnosis may require input from other specialists. “An integrative approach is best, Sinha says. I might pull in an endocrinologist to see a patient if I think a patients issues are related to metabolic problems, for instance. Stress biology, such as stress hormones and other physiological changes related to stress, may also perpetuate a chronic stress state and related conditions, so assessing those factors is also important.
Recognise When Stress Is A Problem
Its important to connect the physical and emotional signs youre experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Dont ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines.
Think about whats causing your stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can’t do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve.
Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritising essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you cant take on.
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How To Break The Cycle Of Stress And Weight Gain
When you’re stressed out, healthy behaviors likely eating properly and exercising regularly can easily fall by the wayside. Maintaining a schedule and/or routine can help make these healthy behaviors a habit and combat stress-related weight changes. Here are a few strategies that can help you break the cycle of stress and weight gain:
The Role Of Cortisol In The Body
Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent you from losing weight. Whether it’s the result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, unhealthy stress-induced behaviors, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is glaring.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
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Surprising Ways Stress Can Affect Your Body
Everyone experiences stress, but not everyone experiences it in the same way. While stress may be best known for taking a toll on the mind, sometimes physical symptoms are your bodys way of telling you that your brain is under too much stress.
Patients come in with real physical symptoms, but they arent caused by any illness, says Loretta Howitt, MD, a psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanentes Los Angeles Medical Center. Stress is the underlying problem that needs to be addressed.
Whether you have physical symptoms, mental and emotional symptoms, or both, finding healthy ways to manage stress can help you find relief.
What Happens In The Body When Youre Stressed
When youre stressed emotionally or psychologically your body goes into whats colloquially called the fight-or-flight response, as it readies for, well, fighting or fleeing. One effect is the release of the stress hormone cortisol, says Dr. Gupta. Cortisol works to suppress nonessential-in-an-emergency functions, like your immune response and digestion. The hormone also fuels the production of glucose, or blood sugar, boosting energy to the large muscles, while inhibiting insulin production and narrowing arteries, which forces the blood to pump harder to aid our stressor response.
Another hormone, adrenaline, is also released, which tells the body to increase heart and respiratory rate, and to expand airways to push more oxygen into muscles. Your body also makes glycogen, or stored glucose , available to power muscles. In addition, stress decreases lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, putting you at risk of viruses like the common cold.
When the fight or flight response is invoked, your body directs resources away from functions that arent crucial in life-threatening situations, Gupta says.
Its this maladaptive response to stress, says Gupta, that over time perpetuates itself and becomes implicated in chronic health problems.
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.
Stress Disorders & Brain Connectivity
This might mean that people with stress disorders, such as PTSD, have alterations in their brain connectivity. This might lead to a stronger connection between the hippocampus and the amygdala . It might also cause weaker connectivity between the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex .
If the amygdala and hippocampus have a stronger connection, the response to fear is more rapid. If the connection between the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus is weaker, then the ability to calm down and shut off the stress response is impaired. Therefore, in a stressful situation, a person with this imbalance will have a stronger response with a limited ability to shut down that response.
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Activation Of The Bodys Fight
When the body is under stress, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of epinephrine, also called adrenaline, from the adrenal glands. A rush of epinephrine activates the bodys fight-or-flight response, which prepares a person to flee or fight off an impending threat.
Epinephrine causes the heart to beat faster and breathing to speed up, which can burn calories. Additionally, it changes how the gut digests food and alters blood glucose levels.
Build A Support Network
While relationships can sometimes be a source of prolonged stress, having supportive people in your life to lean on also acts as an important buffer against acute and chronic stress. Research has found that social support is critical for both physical and mental health.
Not only does support help people become more resilient, but it also helps protect people from developing mental disorders related to stress and trauma. For example, one study found that social support helped reduce the effects of stress on symptoms of depression.
Finding support doesn’t mean you need to have an enormous network. The American Psychological Association suggests that having a handful of friends and family members can provide the emotional support you need to better manage your stress.
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Is My Stress Level Too High
Maybe itâs your demanding boss, morning gridlock, or relationship problems with a friend or family member. Whatever the cause, itâs likely you experience some level of stress on a daily basis.
But while some day-to-day stress is normal , chronic, overwhelming stress can have a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Knowing how to spot the signs and symptoms that youâre under too much stress can help you stay aware and address the issues before they harm your health.
Respiratory And Cardiovascular Systems
Stress hormones affect your respiratory and cardiovascular systems. During the stress response, you breathe faster in an effort to quickly distribute oxygen-rich blood to your body. If you already have a breathing problem like asthma or emphysema, stress can make it even harder to breathe.
Under stress, your heart also pumps faster. Stress hormones cause your blood vessels to constrict and divert more oxygen to your muscles so youll have more strength to take action. But this also raises your blood pressure.
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Eat Right And Stay Hydrated
Sounds simple, right? But when youre stressed, these healthy basics can easily fall by the wayside. Take good care of your mind and body by keeping healthy foods on hand, cutting back on sugar and caffeine, and drinking plenty of water. A few small changes in your daily habits can make a big difference in how you feel.
Who Is Affected By Stress
All of us can probably recognise some of the feelings described above. Some people seem to be more affected by stress than others. For some people, getting out of the door on time each morning can be a very stressful experience, whereas others may be less affected with a great deal of pressure.
Some people are more likely to experience stressful situations than others. For example:
- people with a lot of debt or financial insecurity are more likely to be stressed about money
- people from minority ethnic groups or who are LGBTQIA+ are more likely to be stressed about prejudice or discrimination
- people with disabilities or long-term health conditions are more likely to be stressed about their health or about stigma associated with their condition.
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Signs Of Prolonged Stress
Long-term, prolonged stress can have a number of different effects on a person’s body and mind. Some signs of prolonged stress include:
- Slow recovery from illness or infection
- Trouble sleeping
Such symptoms may vary in intensity. Many of these symptoms may become worse over time as the stress continues to take its toll.
Job Loss And Unemployment Stress
Losing a job is one of lifes most stressful experiences. Its normal to feel angry, hurt, or depressed, grieve for all that youve lost, or feel anxious about what the future holds. Job loss and unemployment involves a lot of change all at once, which can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem. While the stress can seem overwhelming, there are many steps you can take to come out of this difficult period stronger, more resilient, and with a renewed sense of purpose.
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When To Get Help
If youâre struggling with stress and donât know how to cope, you may want to seek help from a specialist. Your primary care doctor can be a good starting point. They can help you figure out if the signs and symptoms youâre experiencing are from a medical issue or an anxiety disorder.
They can also refer you to a mental health expert and provide you with additional resources and tools.
Some of the signs itâs time to get help:
- Your work or school performance is suffering
- Youâre using alcohol, drugs, or tobacco to deal with your stress
- Your eating or sleeping habits change significantly
- Youâre behaving in ways that are dangerous to yourself, including self-mutilation
- You have irrational fears and anxiety
- You have trouble getting through your daily responsibilities
- Youâre withdrawing from friends and family
- You think about suicide or hurting other people
If your stress has gotten to the point that youâre thinking of hurting yourself or someone else, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911. You can also call one of the free suicide prevention helplines, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You donât need to give your name.
Healthy Vs Unhealthy Stress
We all feel stressed now and then, some of us more often than others and thats OK.
After all, stress is a natural part of life. Sometimes, its even necessary for our growth and survival.
Stress is what keeps us alive, says Janine Ilsley, a licensed master social worker and a therapist with Cobb Psychotherapy in New York City.
Still, theres a distinct difference between healthy stress and unhealthy stress.
Healthy stress can often help us grow and thrive, whereas unhealthy stress may refer to unmanaged stress, which can be detrimental to our health and well-being.
Regardless of the stressors we face, Ilsley says we can learn to adapt to the ever-changing and challenging conditions were presented with.
The mind and the body are intimately and intricately connected, Ilsley says. When we reclaim our bodies, we have the power to rearrange and reorganize its system to allow us to thrive, Ilsley says.
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What Is A Psychogenic Fever
A psychogenic fever is an increase in body temperature caused by stress. It is sometimes referred to as stress-induced hyperthermia.
Psychogenic fevers are diagnosed when body temperature is above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit while someone is experiencing acute or chronic stress, according to a 2015 scientific paper in the journal Temperature. Other typical causes of fever, like infection or illness, must be ruled out.
Doctors dont understand exactly why this happens, according to Miller Parrish, but they believe that either the brain increases temperature in response to stress, or that stress hormones interact with the endocrine system and lead to an increase in body temperature.
For example, a 2020 study published in the journal Science found that the stress response affects the hypothalamus in rats, which is the area of the brain that controls body temperature. But more research is needed to determine whether this is the case for humans.
Psychogenic fevers can occur at any age, and seem to occur more commonly in females than in males. However, because there hasnt been a large body of research, there isnt precise and consistent data.
It is difficult to know the true prevalence of psychogenic fever because it may not be reported as much as it exists, Miller Parrish says. If we took all people with any kind of stress, and noted a portion of that total had stress-induced hyperthermia, it would be quite a high number.
The Consequences Of Constant Stress
If stress perseveres over a long period of time, it usually has mental, emotional and physical consequences. If we ignore the signals from our body and permanent stressful situations determine our everyday life, this can lead to significant health impairments.
Adverse effects on the course of existing diseases are also possible. Widespread attempts to cope with stress, such as smoking, alcohol and tablets, add to the negative health consequences.
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How To Deal With Prolonged Stress
If you think that you are being affected by prolonged stress, there are things that you can do to help find relief. Establishing effective stress management practices is important for maintaining good physical and mental health.
Even if you cannot always control the sources of your ongoing stress, you can manage the ways that you respond and cope. Some strategies that might help are listed below.
What Are Some Symptoms Of Stress
Stress affects everyone differently. Some ways that chronic or long-term stress affects women include:
- Pain, including back pain
- Acne and other skin problems, like rashes or hives
- Feeling like you have no control
- Overeating or not eating enough
- Being easily angered
- Loss of interest in things you once enjoyed
- Less interest in sex than usual
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How Is Chronic Stress Treated
Patients with chronic stress often receive a treatment plan that targets their specific symptoms. A patient with digestive issues rooted in stress could go on medication, change his or her diet and also focus on stress reduction. As Sinha says, Its better to address these earlier, as a preventative approach.
Yale Medicines stress management recommendations include:
- Making time for leisure activities
- Building stress reduction skills
- Learning and practicing mindfulness
Changes In Mood And Personality
If you dont find effective ways to relieve stress, it can lead to changes in mood and personality. If you or someone you know is under frequent stress or has experienced a traumatic event, you may notice personality changes, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- Lack of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- Impulsive behavior
- Irritability, anger, and sometimes even aggression
- Loss of interest in appearance and self-care
- Difficulty communicating
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Can Stress Kill You
Whether its work deadlines, debt or even road rage, we all get stressed from time-to-time.
While for most the feeling passes, others become overwhelmed and unable to cope.
In the short term, stress can leave us anxious, tearful and struggling to sleep.
But over time, continuously feeling frazzled could trigger heart attacks, strokes, and even suicidal thoughts.
In short, yes, stress can kill you, Dr. Diana Gall from Doctor4U told Yahoo UK.
Though its not the stressful situations that kill you, its how you deal with stress that affects your health.
When we encounter a stressful situation, our body produces hormones that send us into fight or flight.
This causes a surge in the hormone adrenaline, which gets our heart pumping and raises our blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The stress hormone cortisol also gets released, curbing functions that are non-essential in a fight or flight scenario, like the immune and digestive systems.
Fight or flight can be helpful, with the sudden release of adrenaline giving us the boost we need to get through a big work presentation or even escape danger.
Once the stressful situation has passed, our hormone levels should return to normal.
Over time, sufferers may endure digestive problems, weight gain, and even heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.