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Feeling Stress

Stateman Journal Living Well July 2014
Feeling Stress

Stress is no stranger to most people, but did you know that prolonged stress can be a contributing factor of long-term health effects--not only physical, but mental and emotional, as well?  Because symptoms of stress are different for each person, it is important to know how it affects you, so you can take the necessary steps to regain a healthy equilibrium.

While it can be unpleasant, some stress is essential for our survival.  Stress elicits our bodies’ natural ability to respond quickly to situations requiring a “fight or flight” action.  It gives us the adrenaline we need to power through challenging times.

However, our bodies are not equipped to withstand stress of a more constant nature.  Too much stress for too long can affect your behavior, emotions, thought process, and physical health.  If you have many of the symptoms listed below, it may be a good idea to talk with your doctor.

Emotional symptoms:

  • Frustration
  • Moodiness
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Often feeling overwhelmed
  • Low self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Avoiding others

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Procrastination
  • Increased intake of alcohol, cigarettes, or other drugs
  • Inability to sit still

Physical symptoms:

  • Clenched jaw
  • Grinding teeth
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Upset Stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Aches/pains
  • Insomnia
  • Increased susceptibility to illness
  • Decreased libido
  • Ringing in the ear
  • Trembling, cold, or sweaty hands and feet

If left untreated, chronic stress can cause more serious health problems, or make existing conditions worse. Some of the most common include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Personality disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Acne, psoriasis, and eczema
  • Permanent hair loss

A visit to the doctor can help sort out underlying issues behind your symptoms.  If persistent stress is a factor, your doctor can suggest a course of treatment to get relief.

Jennifer Beitel, RN
Santiam Hospital