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Causes and symptoms
- Medications. These may include drugs to control blood pressure or other physical symptoms of stress, as well as drugs that affect the patient's mood (tranquilizers or antidepressants).
- Stress management programs. These may be either individual or group treatments, and usually involve analysis of the stressors in the patient's life. They often focus on job or workplace-related stress.
- Behavioral approaches. These strategies include relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and physical exercise programs including walking.
- Massage. Therapeutic massage relieves stress by relaxing the large groups of muscles in the back, neck, arms, and legs.
- Cognitive therapy. These approaches teach patients to reframe or mentally reinterpret the stressors in their lives in order to modify the body's physical reactions.
- Meditation and associated spiritual or religious practices. Recent studies have found positive correlations between these practices and stress hardiness.
The body's reaction to emergency stress is set off by the adrenal medulla. The medulla of each adrenal gland is directly connected to the nervous system. When an emergency arises, it pours the hormone epinephrine into the bloodstream. This has the effect of speeding up the heart and raising the blood pressure, emptying sugar supplies swiftly into the blood, and dilating the blood vessels in the muscles to give them immediate use of this energy. At the same time, the pupils of the eyes dilate. (See also alarm reaction.)
The reaction of the body to continuing stress is even more complex. Again the principal organs are the adrenal glands, but after the first phase of alarm, the glands continue to produce a steady supply of hormones that apparently increase the body's resistance. This is in addition to specific defenses such as the production of antibodies to fight infection. If the stress is overwhelming, as in the case of an extensive third-degree burn or an uncontrollable infectious disease, the third phase, exhaustion of the adrenal glands, sets in, sometimes with fatal results.
The diseases most often associated with a stressful environment are, according to some scientists, coronary artery disease and “heart attack,” high blood pressure, and cancer. Studies of laboratory animals have demonstrated a connection between isolated and specific stimuli such as electric shock and separation from mates and the development of heart disease in these animals. The stressful variables in the human environment are, however, much more complex, and a stressful environment can be related to heart disease only as a risk factor (see type a behavior).
The postulated relationship between stress and the development of a malignancy is based on the theory that destructive emotions affect and in some way weaken the body's surveillance system, causing its immune response to fail to recognize and destroy malignant cells.
Although relaxation techniques can reduce blood pressure in persons with mild hypertension, there is no evidence that tension and stress cause the blood pressure to rise and stay at levels above normal.
Other diseases considered by some researchers to be related to stress include asthma, allergies, colitis, migraine headaches, and peptic ulcers. Even though the relationship is not clear and there are currently no hard data to support this, most health care providers are convinced that stress contributes to the worsening of symptoms and influences the impact a disease will have on the lives of some patients while other patients adapt to stress and seem to have no long-term deleterious reaction to it.
Job stressors are frequently related to disorganization in the work place, poor time management, and unrealistic or uncommunicated expectations of the employer. Another source of stress for the working person may be the lack of time for family and recreation because of job demands. Once job stressors are identified, some options are to change the stressful situation, modify the way one responds to stressors, or seek another job that is less stressful. In some instances learning to be more assertive and better able to communicate with supervisors and coworkers can reduce job-related stress.
Stressors in the home environment include negative self-concept; inadequate physical, cognitive, or behavioral resources; poor problem-solving skills; marital discord; ineffective parenting or lack of parenting skills; and lack of family support. Effective coping may require strategies to improve self-concept and build self-esteem, develop problem-solving skills, learn effective parenting, and establish a network of people who can give support. Exercise, improving one's nutritional status, making time for recreational activities, and utilizing relaxation techniques to relieve tension can also be healthy ways to cope with stress.
stressA force that causes a change in physical or mental health. See Biotic stress, Oxidative stress, Physical stress, Stressor Psychology A noxious physical or mental stimulus that may cause a loss of self-control Clinical Depression, over/undereating, too tired for sex, anger, crying, physical Sx fatigue, headache, backache, insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, ↑ colds/flu, nervous stomach, skin complaints; feeling of disorganization, loss of concentration. See Chronic stress, Job stress, Mental stress, Physician stress, Shear stress, Social stress, Workplace stress.
STRESSCardiology A clinical trial–Stent Restenosis Study comparing outcomes of coronary stent placement to balloon angioplasty in treating CAD. See Balloon angioplasty, Coronary angioplasty, Coronary artery disease, Stenting.
stressAny physical, social or psychological factor or combination of factors that acts on the individual so as to threaten his or her well-being and produce a physiological, often defensive, response. The response to stress may be beneficial, distressing or, occasionally, dangerous. Responses such as the production of ADRENALINE and CORTICOSTEROIDS, raised heart rate and blood pressure, increased muscle tension and raised blood sugar, are natural; but persistent civilized suppression of the natural physical concomitants (fight or flight) may be damaging. Most medical scientists view with scepticism the proposition that many human diseases are caused by stress. There is, however, no questioning the fact that overwhelming stress can cause physical and psychological damage. See POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER.
Patient discussion about stress
Q. How to not be stressed from my job? I have a very stressful job. I stay up all night thinking about my assignments for the next day. During work hours I barely eat and my boss yells at me all the time. What to do? This is affecting my family life since I take all my stress out on them?
Q. How to deal with stress before exams? I am a college student and get very stressed out before tests. Are there good methods to relieve stress?
This articles recommends a good custom blend of essential oils when using Aromatherapy for Stress:
Q. Can stress really affect your health?? I’ve been having a stressed period at work in the past three months. I heard a lot of times:” don’t stress up-it’ll kill you eventually..” but is it physically true?