Today, stress is all around us. Need proof? According to Statistics Canada, one in four workers experiences intense workplace stress? And this does not take into account the various other factors in life that also cause significant pressure. Let’s shed some light on this issue!
Stress is vital. Without it, your body and your brain would be unable to react effectively when danger arises. A certain degree of stress is therefore beneficial in order to learn how to handle a threat, study better for an exam or perform at work, for example.
There are three components to stress: the stressor, stress response and attitude.
The stressor (source)
The physical, mental, social or emotional stimulus to which we must adapt. It can be major or minor; positive or negative; occasional or ongoing; expected or sudden. Certain medications can also cause stress. To learn more about this, talk to your pharmacist.
Reaction to stress
The immediate physiological responses to a stimulus (accelerated heart rate, constricted blood vessels, surge of adrenaline, etc.). They allow the body to react to a given situation.
The way in which our mind perceives the stimulus. The intensity of the reaction to the stressor depends on the message sent by the brain to the endocrinal glands.
To sum up, stress is an involuntary psychological and physiological response to a difficult situation with which you must contend.
Symptoms of stress
Stress manifests itself in different ways from one person to the next. The symptoms can be physiological, psychological, emotional or behavioural. Here are a few:
- Decreased sex drive;
- Increased intake of certain substances (i.e. tobacco, caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc.);
- A tendency to isolate yourself from others;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Digestive, sleep or appetite problems;
- Muscle tension;
The difference between stress and distress
A word of warning! If you are constantly experiencing anxiety that is preventing you from dealing with life’s daily issues, you are probably suffering from an anxiety disorder. If that’s the case, you should see a doctor.
A chronic state of stress can lead to more serious problems, such as generalized anxiety, panic attacks, neurosis, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.
Most of the above disorders are characterized by disproportionate anxiety, which lasts for prolonged periods of time. There are many symptoms, including hot flashes, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, chest pain or discomfort, a choking feeling, fatigue, recurrent troubling thoughts, inability to relax, headaches, phobias, etc.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health issues. If you think you are suffering from this type of disorder, talk to your doctor. If the source of the problem is psychological, psychotherapy is the best option for treatment.
Do you have questions about stress? Talk to your pharmacist. He can help.