Understanding Stress Management

Stress is a common experience in life. For some, however, stress can become unmanageable, interfering with daily life. In scenarios in which stress dominates a person’s life, receiving intervention via stress management therapy can be helpful.

Why Stress Exists

From an evolutionary perspective, stress served an important function in human life. Stress provided humans with the energy they needed in dangerous situations and even warned them of imminent danger. Today, stress can help us avoid things such as accidents or precarious situations.

Sometimes, however, people will become triggered with a stress response when there is no threat imminent. People may feel an outsized reaction to somewhat stressful events, too, carrying stress for much longer than they need to.

Techniques for Managing Stress

Patients can benefit from any one of a number of stress management techniques. Patients can work closely with a therapist to develop the tools they need to deal with stress in the long term.

CBT

A popular intervention for stress is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). As a talking therapy, CBT allows the patient to narrate their experience with stress. Through this process they learn to spot the triggers of stress and can then develop effective coping mechanisms.

Lifestyle Changes for Stress Management

Sometimes, the way we live exacerbates stress. In these scenarios, patients can benefit from making lifestyle changes. Anything from getting exercise to improving sleep can ameliorate the effects of stress in our lives.

Medication 

In some cases, a mental health professional may recommend that a patient receive medication for the treatment and management of stress. Given the addictive properties of some of these medications, mental health professionals only prescribe medications when the benefits outweigh the risks for the patient.

Types of Disordered Stress

Disordered stress can come in three different categories: chronic, acute, and episodic. While some patients may have one type, many might have some combination of more than one type.

Patients do not need to live with unmanaged stress. Any type of disordered stress can be treated in a therapeutic environment.

Chronic Stress Disorder

It is the nature of life that some stressors are ever-present, such as work or relationships. When these situations are highly stressful for people, they can lead to chronic stress disorder. Someone with this type of disordered stress experiences stress in high levels almost every day.

Chronic stress can lead to physical ailments, as well. Those with chronic stress disorder can experience heightened levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause health problems in high doses. Individuals with chronic stress may also have insomnia, panic attacks and other anxiety disorders.

The Symptoms of Chronic Stress

Chronic stress symptoms can include:

  • insomnia
  • Faulty concentration
  • Feeling helpless or without hope
  • Chronic headaches
  • Digestive issues
  • Feeling that you are experiencing a loss of control
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Low self-esteem

Chronic Stress Effects

The physical symptoms of chronic stress can deteriorate the body. Untreated chronic stress disorder increases one’s risk for:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Digestive disorder, like Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Memory loss

Acute Stress Disorder

Acute stress disorder typically presents after a sudden and unexpected trauma and can last for up to a month. Oftentimes the triggering event involves a loved one or the patient himself. The patient might experience a violent crime, for example, or their spouse may suddenly pass away.

Stress in the aftermath of trauma is normal; in acute stress disorder, however, it lasts for far longer than usual.

The Symptoms of Acute Stress Disorder 

Common symptoms of acute stress disorder include:

  • Retreating to an emotional distance from friends and family
  • Scaring easily
  • Being unaware of surroundings
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Flashbacks
  • No memory of the trauma
  • Avoidance of things associated with the trauma
  • Panic attacks
  • Detachment from reality

Treating Acute Stress Disorder

Since acute stress often involves someone being in crisis, treatment sometimes involves intervention or residential treatment. Social workers may become involved. In less severe cases, patients can seek treatment via therapy or medication, if needed.

Episodic Acute Stress Disorder

This type of stress disorder typically presents in people with what is known as “type A” personalities. They react more strongly to minor triggers. Any deviation from their perfectionism is seen as a serious and stress-inducing problem.

While some might dismiss the needs of these patients, their experience is very real. they deserve compassion and support in their journey to health.

The Symptoms of Episodic Acute Stress Disorder 

Many with episodic stress disorder may not understand they need help, since they believe their outsized reactions are appropriate. As such, it’s important to know the signs of this disorder, including:

  • Uncontrolled anger and irritability
  • Tightness and pain in the muscles
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Heartburn
  • Digestive problems
  • Frequent panic attacks

Avoiding treatment for episodic stress can lead to:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Recurring headaches

If you need help with managing your stress, contact our clinic today. We can help you find the help you need.

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