So, you are feeling stressed out but you’re not sure of what to do. Congratulations – you are part of roughly 18 million other Americans who suffer from stress, anxiety or depression. Considering the fact that over 90 million US citizens suffer from some form of mental health issue, nationwide statistics tell us that twenty percent (20%) of these health problems are related to stress, depression or anxiety.
Naturally, you’d like to overcome this feeling of stress, especially considering it can take both a physical and/or mental toll on your body and mind. However, the first step in fighting this battle is not to panic. For starters, stress can be a good ‘experience’ for humans. More importantly, it is common knowledge that in order to deal with a problem you need to understand and identify it first.
The actual definition of stress is, “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” But, you knew that already, right? Here’s the thing: there are several definitions for stress, however one of the most common yet mostly unnoticed definitions (and, quite frankly, more clear definition) is “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.”
Your body is calling for change as, like an immune system fighting vicious bacteria, it detects an incoming attack. Various chemicals, such as the well-known adrenaline and several others, are released to help control the situation. Though these chemicals can certainly help, it needs to be in the proper context and state of mind. The unfortunate truth is that when most people experience a ‘stress onslaught,’ they don’t know how to react properly let alone identify the symptoms of extreme stress. This is because when you are stressed out, blood flow is delivered predominantly to important muscles to help fend off the attack. However, proper blood flow to other organs, most notably the brain, is diminished. This leaves most people unable to think properly, evaluate the circumstances and take appropriate action.
For example, the most common instinctual reactions to stress are a fight, flight or freeze mentality. Depending on a range of factors including but not limited to personality type, people either become aggressive by fighting back (with physical action or words), fleeing from a situation, or simply freezing up in the moment – also known as ‘choking’ (in sports for example). While these reactions can be good in certain conditions, they can also have serious repercussions such as negatively affecting personal relationships or increasing your stress levels even further.
The good thing is that most people understand that they don’t know how to properly cope with stress. Their bodies take action but their minds cannot function at full capacity. Thus, we see millions of people seeking mental health help from certified professionals. But, in addition to seeking medical assistance, it is important to identify the wide ranging symptoms of extreme stress.
Symptoms of Extreme Stress
Human beings are complex. Everyone’s makeup is different and thus we see different reactions to situations from different people. Therefore, it is no surprise that people also experience varying symptoms when dealing with stress. While the most common symptoms of extreme stress are sleeping problems, headaches, concentration issues, a loss of appetite and sweating, there are close to fifty other symptoms you should be aware of. Such examples include:
- Extreme mood swings
- Rapid speech
- Increase in infections
- Back or neck pain
- Confusion or forgetfulness
- Communication issues
While there are symptoms that don’t explicitly have to do with bodily function such as creating excuses to cover up poor work productivity, as you can see, the overwhelming majority of the symptoms of extreme stress trigger a loss of physical bodily function. Extreme stress can affect the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems.
Now that you have the knowledge and understanding of extreme stress and the potential symptoms that come along with it, you can come prepared to your doctor’s appointment. This will not only assist your doctor in your evaluation, but it should at least alleviate some of the stress you have been experiencing simply by defining and understanding the issue at hand. Your first step in getting back to leading a normal life is complete.