Stress is a mental or emotional state that results in physical or psychological strain. It's the sensation of being under pressure. While moderate levels of stress can be beneficial and motivating, excessive stress can cause significant physical and mental damage.

Causes of Stress

The primary sources of stress fall into two categories:

  • External Factors: These include work-related pressures, familial issues, divorce, conflicts in relationships, and the stress of relocating.
  • Internal Factors: These involve a predisposition to worry or anxiety over minor matters, or a chemical imbalance in the brain leading to stress and depression.

Contributing Factors

Several factors can increase susceptibility to stress:

  • Hereditary Conditions: Certain inherited traits can make the central nervous system more prone to stress.
  • Learned Behavior: For instance, individuals with parents who easily succumb to stress may adopt similar responses.
  • Life Situations: Stressful careers, family disputes, or other high-pressure situations can be significant contributors.
  • Age-Related Factors: Transitioning from childhood to adulthood or entering menopause can trigger stress due to hormonal changes and societal roles.

Types of Stress

There are three main classifications of stress:

  1. Acute Stress: This results from specific, short-term challenges like work deadlines or emotionally intense events. It dissipates once the situation is resolved.
  2. Episodic Acute Stress: Triggered by a series of distressing events, like health issues followed by unemployment and divorce. Some individuals are more prone to stress reactions, which can lead to episodic acute stress.
  3. Chronic Stress: This develops over time, resulting from ongoing stress and worry, significantly impacting long-term health and well-being.

Symptoms of Stress

Being under severe stress can manifest in various symptoms, including:

  • Headaches and general body pains.
  • Digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome, leading to discomfort and diarrhoea.
  • Physical symptoms such as shaking and sweating.
  • Feelings of exhaustion and indifference.
  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Weakened immune system functionality.
  • Heart-related conditions.
  • Mood swings, including anger, irritability, or being easily upset.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Experiencing depression and disorientation.
  • Persistent anxiety.

When to Seek Medical Advice

Consult a healthcare professional if you find yourself overwhelmed by stress and anxiety, especially if these feelings seem disproportionate to their causes. If continuous stress leads to depressive symptoms or physical issues like insomnia or strain-related conditions, it's crucial to seek medical guidance.

Diagnosis and Treatment Approaches

The diagnostic process typically involves a detailed discussion with the patient about their stressors. The aim is to understand the behavioural and situational aspects of the stress, which can aid in changing the patient's thought processes and responses to stress. This approach is geared towards fostering positive changes in daily life.

Preventing and Coping with Stress

Managing and reducing stress involves several strategies:

  • Engaging in Enjoyable Activities: Participate in hobbies or activities that bring relaxation and happiness.
  • Open Communication: Share your feelings with trusted friends or your partner.
  • Mindfulness Practices: Include techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and positive visualisation to overcome stress and anxiety.
  • Attitude Adjustment: View challenging situations as opportunities for learning and growth. Utilising spiritual principles can also aid in maintaining a peaceful state of mind.

In addition to these methods, traditional healthy living approaches such as maintaining a balanced diet, regular exercise, and ensuring adequate sleep are essential for effective stress management.