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Stress

What is Stress?

Last modified: 
17/04/2013 - 15:19

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Stress is the emotional and physical  way in which we respond to pressure. 

Stress can cause both mental and physical symptoms. The effects of stress are different for different people.

The mental (emotional) symptoms of stress include:

  • Tension
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling excessively tired
  • Trouble sleeping

     

The physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Dry mouth
  • A pounding heart
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Stomach upset
  • Headache
  • Frequent urination
  • Sweating palms
  • Tight muscles that may cause pain and trembling

It's almost impossible to live without some stress. And most of us wouldn't want to, because it gives life some spice and excitement. But if stress gets out of control, it may harm your health, your relationships, and your enjoyment of life.

Examples of "overload" situations are common in today's world:

  • You and your spouse both work full time while you are raising your family. At the same time, your parents are retired, in ill health, and are dependent on your help with shopping and running errands.
  • You are a single person living alone, and your salary isn't rising as fast as the rate of inflation. It's getting harder each month to pay the bills.
  • You are a divorced parent and share the custody of your children with your former spouse. But the friction between the two of you on matters concerning the children is becoming more bitter and more frequent.
  • The expectations and competition at your workplace is becoming fierce. You find yourself coming in early, staying late, and taking on more work than you can handle.

     

Managing stress involves learning about:

  • How stress affects the mind and body
  • How to identify the warning signs of stress
  • How to develop good stress-management techniques
  • When to seek professional help

     

Nice To Know:

Many addictions are linked to a stressful lifestyle, such as overeating, smoking, drinking, and drug abuse. These are used as an escape or a temporary way of "switching off" - but they do not address the underlying problem.

 

Facts about stress

  • According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, two-thirds of office visits to family doctors are for stress-related symptoms.

     

  • Almost everyone experiences events that they find difficult to cope with. In a recent poll, 89 percent of people said they had experienced serious stress in their lives.

     

  • According to one study, middle-aged men under severe stress who lacked emotional support were five times more likely to die within seven years than those who had the same amount of stress but had close personal ties.

     

  • A recent study indicated that stress-management programs may reduce the risk of heart problems, including heart attack, by up to 75 percent in people with heart disease.

     

  • Stress-related mental disorders have been called the fastest-growing occupational (work-related) disease in the U.S.

     

 

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Stress

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.