The nagging headache starts at the office. You feel tired. You’re having trouble concentrating. Your productivity starts to suffer, and you begin to wonder if you’re coming down with the flu. By the time you get home you’re ready to tuck yourself into bed. The chills and fever never materialize but your symptoms don’t go away.
While persistent headaches, fatigue, frequent forgetfulness and decreased productivity can be signs of illness, stress is often the culprit. Stress can affect your body physically, can impair thoughts and emotions, and can impact behavior.
- Physically, excessive or long-term stress can cause headache, back pain, chest pain, high blood pressure, erratic heart beat, stomach and intestinal problems, and sleep problems. Persistent stress can decrease your immunity to disease and cause heart disease.
- Emotionally, persistent stress can cause anxiety, restlessness, excessive worry, irritability, sadness, anger, feelings of insecurity, inability to concentrate and forgetfulness. Left untreated, stress can lead to serious depression.
- Behavior changes associated with constant stress include overeating or undereating, problems managing and controlling anger, drug or alcohol abuse, increased smoking, social withdrawal, crying spells and relationship conflicts.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of excessive or chronic stress, it is important to seek medical help. Naturally, a trip to your primary care physician to rule out and address any physical illness that may be responsible for your symptoms is in order. However, if chronic stress is the source of your symptoms, you will have to go beyond your primary care physician to cure what ails you.
Chronic stress can be treated and overcome and you can learn to live a happier, more balanced, relatively stress-free life. With the help and guidance of a psychiatrist experienced in stress management, you can learn to recognize your personal stressors and how they impact your life and health. Through cognitive-behavioral therapy, an experienced psychiatrist can help you learn to recognize and control your reaction to stress. With expert guidance, you can learn new techniques for responding to stressful situations and people. You don’t have to let control your life. With help, you can learn to control stress and regain control of your life.