Stress is not just affected by environmental or external factors but also by the internal ways of processing the environment. Increasing expectations from self and others, competitions, growing consumerism, shrinking support networks is not only leading to increased stress levels rather also causing behavioral problems especially amongst urban populace.
As Dr. Sameer Malhotra says, all of us are inculcated with the habit of exaggerating negative comments/events, getting stuck with trivial details, seeing everything as good or bad, overlooking the positives in person or self, analyzing things can trigger a chain of negative thoughts and emotions. When stress causes disturbance in biological functions viz. sleep and appetite disorders or it crosses the capability of a particular individual to cope up, it becomes morbid.
Over the years, we are witnessing increasing number of people from all walks of life, whether young or old, students or professionals, businessmen or housewives, coping with stress related issues. This at times leads to interpersonal conflicts, marital discord, poor performance at school or workplace and a sense of being isolated and worthless. There comes a time in life when one starts questioning the purpose of life and lost in his/her thoughts.
Causes and symptoms
- We have close link between our body and mind, and that includes a correlation between neurochemicals, hormones and immune system. It is observed from biological studies that low levels of vitamins are closely linked to suicidal and depression thoughts, feeling of insecurity, perceptual problems such as hallucinations, and anxiety.
- Stress is also caused with a range of psychosomatic problems and disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, headache, chest discomfort, psychogenic cough, psychogenic vomiting, psychogenic itching, sexual problems, and frequent infections due to lower immunity, fluctuating blood pressure and poor sugar control. Stress is considered to be an independent risk factor for heart ailment.
- Stress could trigger anxiety disorders — generalised anxiety, panic spells (acute anxiety states characterised by breathlessness, palpitations, sweaty palms, tremors, butterfly sensation in abdomen), phobias (fear and avoidance), obsessive compulsive symptoms (characterised by repetitive thoughts, images and actions/rituals) — along with sleep disorders, depression, anger dyscontrol/ rising aggression, eating disorders, compulsive behaviours, self-harming behaviours, feelings of insecurity and even psychosis (hearing/seeing things that other’s cannot; suspecting the intentions of others and feeling threatened and conspired against).
- There are cases when people under significant stress take to alcohol and drug abuse, which further aggravates distress. Alcohol as you know is a central nervous system depressant and its excessive use can predispose one to depression and suicidal behaviours or exacerbate the existing depressive symptoms. Be careful as stress can also take a toll on your relationships. Significant stress can call for a proper assessment of one context, personality, lifestyle, thought process and state of health.
Ways to combat stress
- Defining life goals realistically and carefully
- Setting priorities right, time management
- Work-life balance
- Taking out time for recreation/family and relaxation
- Following healthy lifestyle
- Regular sleep wake schedule
- Taking out time for some exercise, yoga, meditation and cognitive behaviour therapy (challenging negative thoughts by healthier options) are helpful. Remember, faith, determination, hope and patience are a great tool in themselves. Timely identification and appropriate treatment of psychiatric problems help.
Always remember! Anyone and any family can be affected by distress. Do not hesitate in seeking timely help as family and friends never hesitate to support and empathise with the affected person. So, let’s fight it out together.