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During a stressful situation

Updated on July 13, 2009

STRESS

Overview

During a stressful situation, the brain

signals the release of stress hormones (adrenaline, Cortisol).

These chemical substances trigger a series of responses which gives the body ex­tra energy: Blood-sugar levels rise, the heartbeat speeds up and blood pressure increases-helping the body deal with the situation at hand.

Because the stress response couples physiological and emotional respon­ses, it seems probable that stress can translate frustration into physical illness, but the precise mechanisms by which this occurs are not known. On the whole, stress plays a non-specific role in disease by throwing off the body's natural ability to heal itself.

Stress usually first affects inner emotions. Initial symptoms may include these feelings:

• Anxiousness

• Nervousness

• Distraction

• Excessive worry

As the stress level increases, or if it lasts over a longer period of time, physical effects begin to manifest:

• Excessive fatigue

• Headaches

• Nausea and vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Chest pain or pressure

• Dizziness or flushing

• Hyperventilation

Causes

All sorts of situations can cause stress. The most common involve work, financial matters and relation­ships. Stress may be caused either by major upheavals and life events such as divorce, unemployment, moving house and bereavement, or by a series of minor irritations such I as feeling undervalued at work or dealing with difficult children. Sometimes there are no obvious causes.

Prevention

Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Ge­neral health and stress manage­ment can be enhanced by good nutrition and by avoiding intake of alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and junk food.

Exercising regularly not only pro­motes physical fitness, it also improves the sense of emotional well-being.

Balance work and play by planning time for hobbies and recreation. Even diversions like taking a warm shower, going to a movie or taking a walk can help make one feel better. Practice relaxation exercises every day, including visualization, deep muscle relaxation, meditation and deep breathing.

Laughter makes muscles go limp and releases tension, so try to keep a sense of humor. Tears can help cleanse the body of substances that accumulate under stress. Develop and maintain a positive attitude. View changes as positive challenges, opportunities or blessings.

It has been claimed that ginseng exerts a strengthening effect while also raising physical and mental capacity for work. These proper­ties have been defined as an "adaptogenic effect" or a non specific increase in resistance to the noxious effects of physical, chemical, or biologic:.! stress Several studies have shown that kava is very useful for relieving anxiety and the symptoms associated with it, such as nervousness, rest­lessness, and dizziness. Some studies found that acupunc­ture helped reduce blood pressure levels in people subjected to mental stress. Another study found that auricular (ear) acupuncture successfully reduced anxiety in some individuals. Treatment is based on an individual assessment.

Who to consult

General physician

Family physician

Psychiatrist

COMMONLY USED MEDICINES

Vitamin supplements increase body resistance against stress. Sulbutiamine, a vitamin B, derivative, is antiasthenic drug. It increases physical resistance to fatigue, neuromuscular efficiency and learning and memory. It also improves metabolic functions of the cerebral cortex. This is well-tolerated, parti­cularly among the elderly.


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