In our previous blog we have talked about what stress is and how it can develop. In today’s blog, we will explain how stress is diagnosed and what treatment options are available.
Types of Stress
Acute stress is the most common type of stress. It’s your body's immediate reaction to a new challenge, event, or demand, and it triggers your fight-or-flight response. Acute stress isn't always negative. In fact, they might actually be healthy for you, as these stressful situations give your body and brain practice in developing the best response to future stressful situations.
Episodic acute stress
When acute stress happens frequently, it’s called episodic acute stress. People who always seem to be having a crisis tend to have episodic acute stress. They are often short-tempered, irritable, and anxious. Negative health effects are persistent in people with episodic acute stress.
If acute stress isn't resolved and begins to increase or lasts for long periods of time, it becomes chronic stress. This stress is constant and doesn’t go away. Chronic stress can be detrimental to your health, as it can contribute to several serious diseases or health risks.
Common symptoms may include, but not limited to –
- irritable and "wound up"
- anxious or fearful
- lacking in self-esteem
- racing thoughts
- constant worrying
- difficulty concentrating
- difficulty making decisions
- muscle tension or pain
- sleep problems
- feeling tired all the time
- eating too much or too little
- drinking or smoking more
- snapping at people
- avoiding things or people you are having problems with
These symptoms alone will not necessarily be a marker of stress however, if you are experiencing several symptoms, it may be indicative of stress.
If you think you may be suffering from stress, your GP can help with your diagnosis based on your symptoms, current lifestyle habits and behaviours, any medications you are on and your history. Based on your current situation, they may recommend treatment options.
Feelings of stress are a reaction to things happening in your life, not a mental health problem, so there's no specific medication for stress. However, there are various medications available which can help to reduce or manage some of the signs of stress.
For example, your doctor might offer to prescribe:
Ecotherapy is a way of improving your wellbeing and self-esteem by spending time in nature. This can include physical exercise in green spaces or taking part in a gardening or conservation project.
You may find certain complementary therapies help you manage feelings of stress. These might include:
- yoga and meditation
Counselling or psychotherapy
If you are experiencing signs of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, your doctor may recommend either counselling or a form of psychotherapy.