Types Of Stress And What You Can Do To Fight Them
The extent to which stress impacts our lives is hard to fathom. This is more true than ever in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, 78% of American adults say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives.
Although levels of stress have increased globally in the past few years, the conversation around stress is growing. And with this growing conversation comes more insight into the causes of stress and how we experience stress differently.
You may think of stress as simply a feeling of being overwhelmed. But there are different types of stress, each with its own physical and mental consequences.
Lets explore the different types of stress, their causes, and what you can do to fight them. Effective stress management begins with recognizing the specific types of stress affecting you.
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.
How Can You Relieve The Effects Of Stressful Situations
When you find yourself feeling the bad effects of stress, you need to take action immediately. The sooner you begin the process of treatment to relieve stress, the easier it will be and the quicker you find relief and be back to your normal state.
- The first step in the process is to try to identify the cause of the stress. Sometimes this is a known source such as a deadline at work, a pile of unpaid bills, or a relationship that is not working out. It can at times be more difficult to find the source of your problem.
- Often, many relatively mild stressors occurring at once can bring on the same stress as a larger problem or known source of anxiety or worry.
- Some people experience chronic and sometimes severe stress from events that occurred in the past .
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Sorry To Tell You But Your Weirdest Symptoms May Just Be Stress
Its just another ordinary day at work when you feel a migraine coming on. You see flashing spots, which make it hard to focus on tasks. You try to push through the day, but youre certain its getting worse. Instant panic sets in as you turn to Google for answers. Is it a tumor? A stroke? Are you going blind? You decide its best to schedule an appointment with your doctor to figure things out.
Your doctor walks in, and you prepare for the life-changing news youre sure is coming. After ruling out the most common and concerning causing of your ailments, she determines the cause of all of this uncertainty is
Stress, she says.
Thats it? The reason youre experiencing strange symptoms is just from being stressed? That cant be right. You werent even feeling stressed when it happened. So, whats the deal?
According to Dr. Braddock, a family medicine doctor at MU Health Care, its easy to take on a lot of stress without realizing how much it impacts your health.
In our current climate, with COVID-19 on everyones minds, Id say about 80% of my patients are impacted by the added stress, she said. There are several symptoms and many medical conditions that can be caused or worsened by stress, and right now most of us are stressed to the max.
What Are Some Strategies For Stress Relief
You cant avoid stress, but you can stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies:
- Exercise when you feel symptoms of stress coming on. Even a short walk can boost your mood.
- At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what youve accomplished not what you didnt get done.
- Set goals for your day, week and month. Narrowing your view will help you feel more in control of the moment and long-term tasks.
- Consider talking to a therapist or your healthcare provider about your worries.
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Do Women React To Stress Differently Than Men Do
Yes, studies show that women are more likely than men to experience symptoms of stress. Women who are stressed are more likely than men who are stressed to experience depression and anxiety.21 Experts do not fully know the reason for the differences, but it may be related to how mens and womens bodies process stress hormones. Long-term stress especially is more likely to cause problems with moods and anxiety in women.22
How To Relieve Stress And Anxiety
Symptoms of both stress and anxiety can be relieved in similar ways, in terms of coping mechanisms. Stress will typically fade as the external stressor decreases, but anxiety may take long-term work, and is best treated with therapy and medication.
If you are still experiencing symptoms every day that are interfering with your ability to function normally, you may have an anxiety disorder. Consider talking to a mental health professional or primary care physician. These professionals can help you go over what you are feeling. A therapist can help you with coping tools, a psychiatrist can help determine if you have an anxiety disorder, and a primary care physician can prescribe medication.
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Stress Effects On The Body
Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems.
Stress effects on the body.
Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stressthe bodys way of guarding against injury and pain.
With sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.
For example, both tension-type headache and migraine headache are associated with chronic muscle tension in the area of the shoulders, neck and head. Musculoskeletal pain in the low back and upper extremities has also been linked to stress, especially job stress.
Relaxation techniques and other stress-relieving activities and therapies have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being. For those who develop chronic pain conditions, stress-relieving activities have been shown to improve mood and daily function.
Which Types Of Doctors Treat Stress
A variety of mental-health care practitioners treat the emotional effects of stress and associated symptoms. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are specialized in the care of mental illness and can prescribe medications if necessary. Primary care physicians, including internists and family practitioners, are often consulted by patients suffering from physical symptoms related to stress.
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What Are The Consequences Of Long
A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. But ongoing, chronic stress can cause or worsen many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in men and women
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
Other Conditions That Can Bring On Vertigo
There are many potential causes of vertigo. Some of the more common causes include ear infections, BPPV, and Menieres disease.
- Vestibular neuritis is a viral infection of your vestibular nerve and can cause intense vertigo by impairing neural transmissions from your ear to your brain.
- Vestibular labyrinthitis is a viral infection of your inner ear that can disrupt the transmission of neural information between your vestibular system and brain.
- Menieres disease is a buildup of fluid in your inner ear that can cause vertigo, hearing problems, or ringing in your ear.
- BPPV is the most common cause of vertigo. It develops when calcium carbonate crystals form inside your semicircular canals and disrupt the neural messages sent to your brain.
- Vestibular migraine refers to an episode of vertigo in people who experience migraine. Its not clear what causes these episodes, but similar to migraine attacks, stress is thought to be a trigger.
- Cholesteatoma is a noncancerous skin growth most commonly caused by repeated ear infections. It can cause vertigo if it grows into your inner ear.
Its generally a good idea to see a doctor anytime youve been experiencing severe, unexplained, or reoccurring dizziness or vertigo. You should also see a doctor if your dizziness is accompanied by:
- difficulty breathing
- chest pain
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How Are Causes Of Stress Diagnosed
Your doctor needs to take a careful history and perform a physical exam in order to diagnose any medical problems leading to your symptoms. After ruling out medical causes for your signs and symptoms, the doctor looks for an underlying stress or psychological disorder that could be the source of your stress symptoms.
- Many times, a careful interview can be the best source of information about the cause of your symptoms. It is extremely important that you are completely honest and tell your doctor everything that you are feeling physically and emotionally and describe any situations that you think might be causing your problems or making them worse.
- The doctor then performs a physical exam that is focused on the symptoms you have described.
- Lab tests or other diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram may be needed to completely rule out an underlying physical cause for your symptoms.
- If these tests and your doctor’s exam findings are normal, the doctor may consult other specialists for further evaluation and treatment of your condition.
Managing Stress In Daily Life
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.
There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.
Studies have found that mindfulness courses, where participants are taught simple meditations across a series of weeks, can also help to reduce stress and improve mood.
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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.
As a result, frequent or chronic stress will make your heart work too hard for too long. When your blood pressure rises, so do your risks for having a stroke or heart attack.
What Are The Signs Of Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety can have very similar signs and symptoms. A critical distinction between the two is how long the symptoms last. If you cannot sleep the night before you have a big presentation at work, that makes sense, and is most likely just stress. If you have not been able to sleep for weeks, and you are not sure why, that is most likely anxiety, and could be an indication of something bigger, and could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
The difference is the cause of the stressor, which in terms of stress is a definable situation, and with anxiety, it is constant if there is a stressor present or not. Anxiety is persistent, while stress is temporary.
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What Other Conditions Are Related To Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is linked to other conditions, both psychological and physical. These can include:
- Diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, obesity and metabolic syndrome, Type II diabetes, and arthritis
- Addiction to alcohol, nicotine and/or prescription drugs, and behavioral-related such as addiction to the internet, food, or gambling
- Mood disorders and anxiety disorders, which are common secondary diagnoses for people with chronic stress
Hypertension, depression, addiction and anxiety disorders are the conditions most related to chronic stress.
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.
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What Is The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety
It is ubiquitous for people to experience stress and anxiety, whether it be an issue at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. Both are emotional responses, but an external trigger usually causes stress. The difference between stress and anxiety is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation, while anxiety is a reaction to the stress. Anxiety is defined by persistent, excessive worries that dont go away even if there is no stressor, and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.
Treatment For Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
Treatment for anxiety depends on what symptoms you have and how severe they are.
Therapy and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety. If you experience physical symptoms, talk therapy or medication that improves your anxiety often leads to improvement of these symptoms.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common and effective therapy options for anxiety.
You may find that therapy on its own is helpful. But if your symptoms dont improve, anxiety medication is an option you can discuss with a psychiatrist.
You can also take action on your own to address anxiety symptoms.
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How To Tell If Stress Is Causing Your Fever
A psychogenic fever exhibits many of the typical fever symptoms, such as:
- Body chills or aches
In the case of acute stress, like if you suddenly receive bad news or experience the death of a loved one, you might feel these symptoms and recognize a psychogenic fever. But cases are rarely so clear cut. Thats especially true with chronic stress, like taking care of a loved one who is ill, which can build up over time and result in psychogenic fever symptoms.
To diagnose psychogenic fever, other physical causes of fever must be ruled out, Miller Parrish says. Its important to note that fever most commonly occurs with illness or injury. So, if youre also experiencing symptoms like nasal congestion or coughing with fever, its likely indicating an underlying cause for the fever other than stress, like the cold or flu.
If you experience fever regularly but cant easily identify the underlying cause like an illness or injury you should keep a fever journal, Miller Parrish says. Record what temperature youre experiencing, the symptoms you have, and how long the fever lasts. If the unexplained fever continues, you should see a doctor.
If that persists for days to weeks, it would be prudent to see a doctor to rule out causes that need medical treatment, Miller Parrish says. If those causes are ruled out or treated and the high temperatures persist, other psychological and de-stressing interventions may help.
Excretory And Digestive Systems
Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.
There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
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