26 Symptoms of Excessive Stress

  1. Do you suspect that your family, friends and colleagues are talking critically about your behavior?
  2. Do those around you think you are relaxed?
  3. Has your stress has reached the distressed stage?
  4. Have you ever felt like crying for no apparent reason?
  5. Do you dread the telephone, as it might be yet another person wanting something and you can't cope?
  6. Do you complete the tasks you undertake?
  7. Do you greet your children and family with the same affection and delight at seeing them as you did before? Can you still be bothered to play with your children?
  8. If you have children, do you persuade them to disappear and leave you to your lonely thoughts?
  9. Do you take as much trouble with your appearance as you used to?
  10. If a man, do you shave daily and are your shoes clean?
  11. If you are a woman, do you wear the same amount of makeup as you used to do?
  12. Do you notice other people's clothes?
  13. Do you still enjoy a night out?
  14. How many previously enjoyable occasions have you cancelled recently because you can't be bothered to go?
  15. Do you still take as much pleasure in your hobbies?
  16. Do you look with the same delight at your most treasured possessions?
  17. Does music enthuse you as much as it used to?
  18. Do you feel guilty about enjoying yourself?
  19. Do you think you haven't done as well as you should have with the cards that life has dealt you?
  20. When you achieve something, do you immediately hope that it might impress or please others, over and above the satisfaction it might give you?
  21. Are you able to refuse work, or are you too intent on either trying to please your boss or the bank manager?
  22. Are you obsessed by planning your budget? Are you mean or profligate with your disposable income?
  23. Have you found difficulties making up your mind? Does it take you longer than normal to choose a pair of shoes, which train to catch, what to choose from a menu?
  24. Are your thoughts logical or going round in circles?
  25. Are you nit-picking and hypercritical? Are you still a good judge of character? Do you still notice and are you pleased by the achievements of others?
  26. Are you still interested in other people's careers?

If your answer to more than a few of these is 'yes', your life certainly needs to be re-planned. All these signs of stress and depression may be no more than an indication of the degree of tension that you are suffering; it may well be, however, that you are also depressed. In this event, the answers need careful analysis, as the degree of depression is important. This may be determined by which of the questions you say 'yes' to. If it is the underlying mood that is at fault, what you may need is not so much a lifestyle makeover but a visit to the doctor. He or she will be able to give you appropriate treatment, which may involve medication, often combined with cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is not deep psychotherapy; this is not always productive, whereas cognitive therapy doesn't delve too much into the past but helps you to realize your worth to other people, your strengths and attributes, and how you can re-plan your life to make use of them.

The emphasis in the first batch of questions is important because it has been found that people who have a highly conscientious personality with a medical history that has shown signs of psychological or psychiatric troubles still become depressed. If they do, the nature of their depressive symptoms is subtly different from those that affect other types of depression. Those who have an excessively conscientious personality, the type of person who hasn't had a day off work from eighteen to sixty-eight, are loath to admit that they might have psychological problems; these are for wimps, whereas real people only suffer physical problems. Their adherence to a strict work ethic (many are workaholics), and their highly tuned sense of duty makes them feel that any depressive feelings would be evidence of weakness. They're not going to have that. Instead, their subconscious readily comes into play and their symptoms are projected onto some relatively, if not entirely innocuous, physical symptom. This gives their minds an excuse to be ill.

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