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Stress: Causes and Effects

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Anything that brings on feelings of stress is called a stressor. Today, we often face many stressors. Read on to find out how stress affects you and how you can gain control.

Your Body’s Response to Stress

When you’re faced with stress, certain hormones (chemicals in your body) are released. These hormones trigger many changes in your body. For instance, your:

  • Heart may pound
  • Blood pressure may rise
  • Stomach may become tense
  • Muscles may tighten
  • Sleep patterns may change
  • Eating patterns may change

Stressors may include the following:

  • Adapting to constant, rapid change.
  • Handling a major life event, such as getting married or moving to a new home. More than one of these events may happen at the same time. For instance, we may have to deal with a family illness while changing jobs.
  • Juggling many roles and responsibilities. We may be a spouse or a life partner, a parent, a friend, and an employee. We may also be caring for aging parents.
  • Going from one stressful situation to the next without taking time to relax.
  • Being overwhelmed by the technology designed to help us. Staying ahead of our pagers, cell phones, computers, e-mails, and fax machines can be hard to do.

Is the Pace of Life Too Much for You?

Life was hectic enough even when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. If only he could see today’s fast pace! He would notice people racing around with high-tech gadgets, while juggling their many daily tasks. Life has only continued to speed up. In fact, we may often feel as though we’re caught in a tornado. At times, our lives seem to be whirling out of control. When this happens, the competing demands of work, home, and family may seem more than we can handle.

The Long-term Effects of Stress

If you’re often under stress, you need to learn to manage it well. Stress can affect your well-being. Over time, you may show some of these symptoms of being stressed:

  • Physical: Frequent colds or flu, headaches, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, skin problems, trouble with digestion
  • Mental: Poor concentration, forgetfulness, learning problems, frequent negative thoughts, speech problems
  • Emotional: Anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, feelings of helplessness, a lack of purpose, relationship troubles
  • Behavioral: Eating poorly, driving recklessly, abusing alcohol or drugs, being accident prone, showing aggression

Publication Source: Kluck JJ, Psychiatric Secrets, 2nd ed., Chapter 18 - Posttraumatic stress disorder, 2001, pp 92-97 


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