All of us face upset situations from time to time. The real problem, however, appears when stress begins to dominate our lives, and we cannot deal with it. What can we do to overcome chronic stress? What might be the consequences of prolonged, untreated tension? Is it possible to overcome stress on your own?
Symptoms and consequences of stress
Chronic stress is a long-term nervous tension that has a negative effect on the body. Although stress is natural in many situations and can act as an effective mobilizer, unfortunately, there are more and more cases of the so-called chronic and acute stress. States in which the feeling of tension is prolonged and we cannot control it can be destructive for us.
Research shows that untreated stress can cause organic, physiological, metabolic and neuropsychological changes. The effects of stress are virtually endless and it’s very hard to list them all. It can weaken the immune system, and also exacerbate the symptoms of diseases such as diabetes and Hashimoto’s. In many cases, it can also lead to sleep problems, anxiety and even depression.
Negative stress versus positive stress
In the diagnosis of stress disorders, the most important thing is to distinguish between two types of stress: positive and negative. The first of them is caused by positive stimuli and has a motivating effect on us. An example is the tension felt by an actor before entering the stage. Even though he gets very nervous before the performance, the stress he feels allows him to mobilize and perform in front of the audience. The same applies to people taking part in various professions.
Much worse for the body is negative stress, which may block concentration and creativity. The person who feels it is unable to act rationally and feels great psycho-physical discomfort. An example would be a child who, fearing the anger of his parents, cannot focus on the task at hand. His heart is pounding and his hands are trembling, which makes his priority not to achieve the goal, but to relieve tension.
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD)
One of the most dangerous types of stress are the so-called acute stress disorders that can cause very unpleasant consequences. They appear when a given person has experienced a dramatic situation or was a direct witness to it. The cause of acute stress may be, for example, the death of a loved one, a direct threat to life or the observation of a serious accident. Faced with a stressful situation, the patient experiences shock, helplessness and terror.
This type of stress is very difficult to deal with. The person with the disorder constantly experiences images related to the event, evidently avoids stimuli to remind them of the event, or has classic or less obvious symptoms of anxiety, such as malaise, irritability, trouble sleeping, poor concentration or hyperactivity. Disorders cause impairment in social interactions, which greatly affects everyday life. If symptoms of ASD last for more than a month, they can develop into post-traumatic stress disorder.
Nowadays, stress accompanies us practically every day. The fast pace of life, high demands from others, the omnipresent cult of the ideal … All this makes it very easy for us to lose ourselves in the feeling that nerves are something natural. Hard experiences, a weaker psyche or hormonal drugs, which may contribute to the appearance of chronic stress, also do not help.
Unfortunately, fighting it effectively at home is not easy and may not bring the expected results. Of course, a healthy diet, ingesting vitamins and supplements, avoiding alcohol and coffee, exercising, getting enough sleep and taking time to relax can help reduce tension, but in the case of chronic stress, these changes may not be enough, if they make a difference at all.
Przewlekły stres a wizyta u psychologa
Pacjenci doświadczający przewlekłego stresu bardzo często zaprzeczają temu, że zmagają się z problemem i nie widzą konieczności wizyty u specjalisty. Niestety przedłużające się stany nerwowości mogą szybko stać się nieodłącznym elementem życia codziennego, przez co osoba, która nie cierpi, zaczyna traktować je jak coś normalnego. Najważniejsze na tym etapie jest zdanie sobie sprawy z tego, że stres nie może przepełniać naszego życia, a powinien pojawiać się w nim raczej okazjonalnie.
W tej walce przydatna może być wizyta u psychologa. Jeśli podejrzewasz, że przewlekły stres dotyczy Ciebie lub bliskiej Ci osoby, nie zwlekaj z podjęciem kroków. Umów się na wizytę u specjalisty lub zachęć osobę, u której podejrzewasz zaburzenia stresowe, do pójścia na taką konsultację. Chociaż potencjalnie wizyta może być dla chorego kolejnym źródłem stresu, to jedynym rozwiązaniem jest przełamanie się i rozmowa ze specjalistą.
How is chronic stress treated?
There is no one-size-fits-all cure for chronic stress. Each patient’s case is different, and therefore the methods of therapy may differ. During the consultation, the psychologist talks with the patient and, on this basis, sets up an action plan. It may also advise the person experiencing stress to make some changes to help the person cope with stressful situations more easily.
The first visit to a specialist is an opportunity for a psychologist to get acquainted with the case. Various questions may be asked about the private and professional life or the patient’s past. After the interview, the psychologist is able to suggest an appropriate therapy. Depending on the case, it may include individual sessions with a psychologist or group meetings. The psychologist may also recommend taking sedatives or anti-depressants. Remember that chronic stress can affect a person of any age, but it is always manageable.
Read more: What is the First Session with a Psychologist Like?