Stress is the physical and emotional response necessary for dealing with situations that are frightening, confusing, exciting, or tiring. But if there is too much stress, it can trigger off many diseases and disorders – insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, asthma, and migraine are just a few. What can make long term stress so damaging, is the fact that it produces tension. It is like the body being in constant preparation to meet a challenge.
How to recognize stress within you
If you are currently facing a crisis, or a situation in which you are un-relaxed, look out for these signs of stress:-
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Stress can trigger off other problems – insomnia, difficulty in concentrating, and symptoms of mental or physical illnesses that you may be prone to. It is known that those under stress are more prone to all physical illnesses including infections, and stress causes illness like peptic ulcer, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc. Stress can trigger off any of the major physical illnesses, and some of the minor mental illnesses are also caused by stress.
When to see the psychiatrist
If you feel :
- that stress is creating so much tension in you that it interferes with your effective handling of situation
- there is a feeling of stress for a long period of time
- the symptoms of stress are too acute for you to cope with
- you are developing physical illnesses very fast or have
- started developing minor mental symptoms listed above.
How can the psychiatrist or psychologist help:
For those who cannot develop their own coping methods to deal with stress, the mental health professional may work out a behavior therapy programme in which the person can be trained in coping skills. This will first involve psychological testing so that a training programme suited to individual needs can be planned. Relaxation and stress are two sides of the same coin. Relaxation is the key to coping with stress. The psychiatrist or psychologist can train you in special breathing exercises to bring about quick relaxation for dealing with situations that make you feel stressed, progressive muscular relaxation which involves training the brain to distinguish between relaxed and tensed muscles in the body and control them, machine assisted relaxation methods, such as biofeedback, and electrosleep, to teach control over body tension. Counseling will be of help in working through problems for people who have a constant stress factor in their lives. Medication for a short time may be required to being down the extreme levels of stress so that other techniques may be applied.
What can you do to deal with stress:
- Examine aspects of life and try to identify sources of stress.
- See what you can do to change these situations, or how you can by-pass the source of stress.
- Think of the skills you need to deal with situations, and practice them. In this way, you will increase your personal resources and not find situations so stressful.
- Learn methods of relaxation – frequent holidays, doing things you enjoy, favorite sports and hobbies, Yoga, meditation or music.
Never take alcohol/tobacco for stress or medication without the strict supervision of a psychiatrist. These can create a serious and damaging dependency.