- Mental Health
Side Effects of Stress - Why Anxiety and Stress Management Is So Important
Stressful situations and constant stressors in one’s life can lead to the development of negative physiological and psychological responses. Many patients that visit general practitioners have symptoms that are related to stress; some may not even realize their conditions are stress related. It is important to recognize the potential adverse effects of stress and raise awareness as to why individuals must use tools and better coping methods to deal with stressors in life that could lead to detrimental physiological or psychological symptoms.
Physiological responses to stress are also know as psychosomatic responses, which means that stress can lead to medical problems within the body of a person who is not able to successfully cope with a stressful situation. After a while, the stressors that they are unable to successfully cope with can potentially result in unpleasant or even painful symptoms. These affects of stress can be hard for some people to understand, but that is essentially why it’s so important to raise awareness about this subject so individuals can be aware of physiological symptoms they are experiencing and seek out their real source. Perhaps their weak immune system is not due to genetics, rather a combination of all the current stress factors in their life. For example, when I was younger, I used to have a very weak immune system and would constantly get sick; more so than other students at my school, yet I was always getting a sore throat or influenza. Years later, when I do not have as much intense stress in my life, I am rarely sick with colds and the flu. It could be attributed to other factors, however the one thing that has changed is the reduction of stress. Last year, when I worked an intensive political job that consisted of 60-100 hour work weeks, I developed symptoms such as massive migraines, acid reflux, an upset stomach and weight gain. Other co-workers also had the exact same symptoms and one was even prescribed a high-blood pressure medication. We all agreed that we don’t experience those symptoms as much when it is not campaign season. Thankfully, a month or two of vacation can clear those symptom up. If I was to work at that pace and in a high-stress environment of that heightened level, year round, I am confident that I’d experience those symptoms constantly, and potentially experience them even more strongly or develop additional adverse symptoms from stress. Other psychosomatic symptoms could include: muscle pain and tension, fatigue, skin disorders such as acne, eating problems, insomnia, asthma or allergies or a weak immune system.
While it is normal to experience “hassles”, which can be defined as small and frustrating events, the recurrence of negative major life events or extreme burnout in a career or in school, can lead to a combined stress load that can lead to other psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety, etc. Additionally, someone who has experienced many major life crises, may begin to become more affected by even small hassles as the level of overall stress in their life is incredibly high. In turn, these long term affects can transfer into psychosomatic responses to stress and wreak havoc not only psychologically, but physiologically, as well.
It is important to raise awareness for individuals to be aware of stressors in their lives and to encourage reducing stress load (if possible) or developing coping tools to lessen the affects of stress on the body and mind. Employers and educational institutions should make it a priority to provide tools for individuals to manage stress levels in their lives so employees or students can lead a better quality of life and be more productive.
Side Effects of Stress Works Cited
Rod, Plotnik, and Haig Kouyoumdjian. Introduction to Psychology. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008.
"Stress - Risk Factors." University of Maryland Medical Center. 17 Oct. 2007. Web. 01 Aug. 2009. <http://www.umm.edu/patiented/articles/who_at_risk_chronic_stress _or_stress-related_diseases_000031_6.htm>.