Medhealth Review

Stress – A Slow Poison

Stress is a common reaction when one feels unable to handle specific demands or circumstances. Stress, on the other hand, can become a chronic condition if not properly managed.

The workplace, personal interactions, financial pressures, or other circumstances may impose these demands, but stress can be triggered by anything that poses a real or perceived risk to one’s health.

Stress can motivate people, and it is sometimes necessary for survival. The body’s fight-or-flight response mechanism teaches a person when and how to respond to danger. However, if the body is overly easily triggered or if too many stressors are present at the same time, it can be detrimental to a person’s physical and mental health.

What is Stress?

A stressed person may have high blood pressure. The body’s danger-response mechanisms teach a person how and when to respond. When this happens, the body releases a flood of hormones that prepare it to face or avoid danger. This is commonly referred to as the danger-response mechanisms.

When confronted with a challenge or threat, humans respond physically in part. The body mobilises resources to either face the challenge or flee as quickly as possible.

Cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine production in the body increases. These result in the following physiological reactions:

  • a higher level of blood pressure
  • increased muscle readiness
  • alertness through sweating

Each of these elements improves a person’s ability to respond in a potentially dangerous or difficult situation. The release of epinephrine and norepinephrine causes the heart rate to increase.

Stressors are external elements that cause this response. Some examples include loud noises, aggressive behaviour, high-speed driving, terrifying movie sequences, and even going on a first date. When there are more stressors present, stress tends to rise.

Physical effects

Stress slows down some common bodily processes, such as those carried out by the immune and digestive systems. The body can then concentrate its efforts on respiration, blood flow, alertness, and preparing the muscles for emergency use.

When the body responds to stress, the following changes occur:

  • breathing becomes faster,
  • heart rate increases, 
  • digestive and immune systems slow, 
  • muscles tighten.
  • Sleepiness decreases as one’s level of alertness rises.

The way a person reacts to a difficult situation determines how stress affects their overall health. Some people can deal with multiple stressors sequentially or concurrently without having a severe stress reaction. Some people may react to a stressor differently than others.

People who do not believe they have adequate coping skills are more likely to react violently, which can lead to health problems. Different people react differently to stressors.

Even seemingly positive events, such as having a child, travelling, moving, and being promoted at work, can cause stress.

This is due to the fact that they frequently involve a significant change, additional work, new responsibilities, and a need for adaptation. They frequently require one to go into the dark.

A person who has been promoted might be anticipating a raise in pay but worry about how they will manage the added responsibilities.

Other studies suggest that those who think stress harms their health may be more prone to coronary heart disease than those who do not.

A person may benefit from becoming more aware of the effects of stress to better manage it and cope.

Types

Stress includes two types: acute and chronic. 

  • Acute stress

This is the most common and brief type of stress. Acute stress frequently occurs when people consider the pressures of recent events or prepare for upcoming challenges.

Anxiety may be brought on by a recent argument or a deadline. However, once the dispute has been resolved or the deadline has been met, the stress will lessen or vanish.

Acute stressors are often new and have a simple, immediate solution. Even in the face of the most difficult challenges, there may be ways to escape the situation.

Acute stress is not as harmful to the body as chronic, long-term stress. Short-term effects include tension headaches, upset stomach, and mild distress.

Acute stress can be harmful if it is experienced frequently over a long period of time.

  • Chronic stress

This type of stress worsens and becomes more prevalent over time.

Chronic stress can also be caused by chronic poverty, a dysfunctional family, or an unhappy marriage. It happens when a person stops looking for solutions because they can’t see a way to deal with their stressors. Chronic stress may be influenced by early childhood trauma.

Persistent stress impairs the body’s ability to return to a healthy level of stress hormone activity, which can affect the following systems:

  • cardiovascular
  • respiratory
  • sleeping 
  • immune
  • reproductive systems

When a person is constantly stressed, their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease increases. Chronic stress can cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

People who are used to feeling agitated and hopeless may be unaware that they are suffering from chronic stress. It can become ingrained in a person’s personality, making them constantly vulnerable to the negative effects of stress regardless of the situation.

Chronically stressed people are at risk of having a nervous breakdown, which can lead to violent behaviour, suicide, heart attack, or stroke.

Causes

Different people react differently to stressful situations. Almost any event can be stressful for someone, even if what is stressful for one person is not stressful for another. Some people can become anxious simply by thinking about one or more significant triggers.

When both people are exposed to the same stressor, one may feel less stressed than the other for no apparent reason. Some people are more susceptible to stress than others due to mental health issues such as depression or a growing sense of resentment, injustice, and anxiety.

Complications and symptoms

  • physical symptoms
  • Pains and aches.
  • A feeling of your heart racing or chest pain.
  • Tiredness or difficulty sleeping.
  • Headaches, vertigo, or trembling.
  • Blood pressure problems.
  • Jaw clenching or tension in the muscles.
  • Abdominal or digestive issues.
  • Sexual difficulties.
  • Immune system weakness.
  • Emotional & Mental Symptoms 
  • Anxiousness or irritability
  • Depression.
  • Panic disorders
  • Sadness.
  • Unhealthy Behaviours 
  • Excessive or repetitive alcohol consumption.
  • Gambling.
  • Eating excessively or getting an eating disorder.
  • Engaging in sexual activity, shopping, or internet browsing compulsively.
  • Smoking.
  • Abuse of drugs.

Diagnosis

A doctor will typically ask a patient about their symptoms and recent life events to diagnose stress.

Stress diagnosis can be difficult because it depends on so many different factors. To identify stress, medical professionals have used physiological techniques, biochemical tests, and questionnaires. However, they may not be dependable or helpful.

The most accurate way to identify stress and its effects on a person is to conduct a thorough, face-to-face interview with a focus on stress.

Treatment

When an underlying condition is the source of stress, specific medications may also be used as part of a treatment plan.

Reflexology and aromatherapy are two relaxation therapies.

Some insurance companies cover these medical services. Patients should, however, confirm with their provider that they will be covered before beginning this treatment. Knowing the specifics of a potential treatment can help avoid it adding to any existing stress.

Medicines

Most doctors will not recommend medications to help patients cope with stress unless they are treating an underlying illness such as depression or anxiety disorder.

In these cases, they may recommend an antidepressant. However, there is a risk that the medication will simply mask the person’s stress rather than assisting them in dealing with it. Antidepressants, in addition to having negative side effects, may worsen some stress-related conditions, such as low libido. reliable source

A person can manage new situations and maintain their physical and mental health by learning coping skills before stress becomes severe or chronic.

People who are already stressed out should seek medical help.

Management

The choices you make regarding your way of life may be able to reduce or even eliminate feelings of overwhelm brought on by stress.

  • Exercise can help people who are stressed retain more of their memories.
  • Caffeine, alcohol, and other drugs should be consumed in moderation because they do not reduce stress and may even make it worse.
  • Maintaining your immune system during stressful times can be accomplished by eating healthy, balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables. Stress and health problems can result from eating poorly.
  • Making a daily to-do list and concentrating on urgent or time-sensitive tasks may be beneficial. People can then focus on what they have finished or accomplished for the day rather than what tasks they still need to complete.
  • People should make time to plan their schedules, relax, and pursue their hobbies.
  • Massages, yoga, and meditation can all help with relaxation and breathing exercises. There are techniques for relaxing and slowing the heart rate. Another important aspect of mindfulness meditation is the practise of deep breathing.
  • Sharing emotions and worries with loved ones, friends, and coworkers can be therapeutic and help someone feel less alone.
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