A blood test, going on a solo trip, or meeting an investor for a start-up venture are all situations that may cause sweating, increased heart rate, and a decrease in appetite. It indicates signs of stress.
Stress is a body’s reaction to an unfamiliar situation that may affect physical, emotional, and intellectual health. Stress management training can help a person deal with changes more healthily.
This blog discusses stress, types of stress, symptoms, causes, and how to manage stress.
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to pressure from a particular situation or event. It can be any- physical, mental, or emotional reaction. Job, family illness, or money troubles are some of the common triggers.
When a human experiences stress, it develops a physical and mental response; this is because the body is designed to experience and react to it. Any stress responses assist the body in a new environment. It can be positive by keeping us alert, motivated and ready to avoid danger. But it’s important to know that stress becomes an issue when stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation.
What are the types of stress?
There are several kinds of stress, including:
- acute stress
- episodic acute stress
- chronic stress
Everyone has experienced acute stress. It’s the body’s quick reaction to a new and challenging situation. It’s the kind of stress one may experience when escaping an accident.
These incidents of acute stress don’t typically cause any harm. They may even prove to be suitable for a person under certain circumstances. Stressful situations provide the body and brain with the practice of developing the best response to future stressful scenarios.
It’s important to know that severe acute stress is entirely different. This stress, like a life-threatening situation, can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health problems.
Episodic acute stress
Episodic acute stress is when one has frequent episodes of acute stress. It may occur if a person is often anxious and worried about things they suspect may happen soon. As with severe acute stress, episodic acute stress can affect a person’s physical and mental health.
When one experiences high-stress levels for an extended period, they have chronic stress. Long-term stress can create a negative impact on a person’s health. It may contribute to the following:
Chronic stress may also lead to frequent ailments such as headaches, an upset stomach, and difficulties sleeping.
What are the different symptoms of stress?
Besides stress being a significant factor, some potential contributors to depression include:
- family history
- environmental factors
- even certain medications and illnesses
Reduced energy and sleep problems
When an individual experiences stress for a prolonged period, it leads to chronic fatigue and disruption in sleep. Thus, leading to reduced energy levels.
Reduced sex drive
A person may also experience a low sex drive during a stressful period. However, there can be other possible causes for reduced sex drive, such as:
- Hormonal changes
- Psychological issues
Physical effects of stress on the body include:
- Acne : Some research has found that higher stress levels are linked with an increased acne outbreak. One reason for this may be that when some people are stressed out, they tend to touch their faces more often. It can spread bacteria and contribute to the burst of acne.
- Headaches : Many case studies have found that stress can contribute to headaches characterized by head, face, or neck pain. Other common headache triggers are lack of sleep, diet, alcohol consumption, and hormonal changes.
- Chronic pain : Aches and pain are two of the most common complaints that may result from increased stress levels in the body.
- Frequent sickness : Stress may be to blame if a person is constantly battling a case of sniffles or other sicknesses. Stress may take a toll on the body’s immune system.
- Digestive issues : Some cases suggest that stress may be associated with digestive issues, such as constipation, heartburn, diarrhoea, and other digestive disorders.
- Appetite changes and weight gain : During stressful times, changes in appetite are common.
- Rapid heartbeat : High-stress levels may fasten the heartbeat and increase heart rate.
- Excess perspiration : Stress may result in increased sweating.
When to seek a doctor?
If a person has trouble managing stress or their reaction to a particular stress or is extreme, intense, and lasts for a prolonged time, specialist help is needed.
What causes stress?
Every person has different stress triggers. Work stress aces the list, according to surveys. Causes of work stress include:
- Being unhappy in the job
- Having a heavy workload or a huge responsibility
- Working for long hours
- Having poor management and unclear expectations of work
- Working under dangerous circumstances
- Being insecure about the chance for progress or risk of termination
- Stage fright
- Facing discrimination or harassment at work
Life scenario-triggered stresses can also have a significant impact, like:
- The death of a loved one
- Loss of a job
- Increase in financial obligations
- Getting married
- Moving to a new home
- Chronic illness or injury
- Emotional issues, including depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, and low self-esteem
- Looking after a sick or aged family member
- A experiences trauma-causing events, including natural disasters, theft, rape, or violence against a person or a loved one.
Sometimes the stress comes from within rather than outside. All of these factors may lead to stress:
- Fear and uncertainty
- Attitudes and perceptions
- Unrealistic expectations
- Change in the current life
What is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
A mental health condition often triggered by a terrifying event –experiencing or witnessing it – is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the scenario.
Most individuals experiencing such traumatic events may develop difficulty in adjusting and coping. However, they usually get better with time, good self-care, and consultation. If the following symptoms worsen and interfere with day-to-day functioning, a person may have PTSD. The signs include:
- Undesirable and repetitive memories of the traumatic event
- Flashback to the traumatic event
- Dreams and nightmares about the traumatic event that may upset a person
- Severe emotion and physical reaction to a situation that is a reminder of the traumatic event
The doctors should ensure that an effective treatment option is provided for the PTSD patient plays a vital role in reducing symptoms and improving body and mind functions.
How to manage stress?
A person cannot avoid stress but can help stop it from becoming overwhelming by practising some daily strategies:
- Exercise can help boost mood.
- At the end of each day, it’s good to count the accomplishments.
- Set goals for the day, week and month.
- Consider talking to a therapist or healthcare expert about any worries.
- Medication and therapy can treat stress
It’s natural and normal for every human being to be stressed sometimes. However, long-term stress can cause physical, emotional, and unhealthy behaviours. One can try relieving and managing stress using simple strategies, including those explained above. But before doing anything on their own, talking to an expert is best.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does stress last?
Stress can be a short-term or long-term issue, depending on the life changes. Regularly using stress management techniques suggested by an expert can help avoid most physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms of stress.
Do deep breathing techniques help in relieving stress?
When a person practices deep breathing, it helps to turn on the body’s natural ability to relax. It creates a state of deep rest that can change how the body responds to stress. It sends more oxygen to the brain and calms the part of the nervous system that handles the ability to relax.