The subject of stress is a vast labyrinth of information. It is a maze of crossroads that can be very difficult to sort through. Stress is misunderstood and the word is often used incorrectly.

Stress is actually a built in trigger mechanism which serves a very important purpose. It’s intended function is to alert us to danger so we can determine which action to take. In a case of physical danger, we may choose to stand and fight, or turn and run. In a case of an emotional attack, we may choose to react inappropriately  or respond in a healthy manner.

We may experience stress with  illness, marriage, divorce, finals at school, or a number of different situations.  Some situations may last longer and be more intense than others but most often, the stressful situations are temporary. With the loss of a loved one, the grieving process is very traumatic, but with the passage of time, the depth of pain oten  subsides and we are left with fond memories.

When stress is long-term and becomes chronic it is termed “Distress” or “Chronic Stress.” This is where it becomes so dangerous to our physical, mental, and spiritual well being. The symptoms are numerous and greatly contribute to disease and premature death.

The symptoms of chronic stress may be categorized as follows:

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Inability to Concentrate
  •  Anxiousness or Racing Thought
  • Constant Worry
  • Negative Thoughts
  • Poor Judgement
  • Memory problems

Emotional Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Moodiness
  • Short temper
  • Agitation
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of lonliness or isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness

Physical Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Frequent colds
  • Rapid heartbeat

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Changes in eating patterns and habits
  • Increase or decrease in food intake
  • Drastic change in sleeping patterns
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating from others to hide symptoms
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsiblity
  • Excessive use of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes to ease the pain
  • Nervous habits such as mail biting and pacing
  • Complete social withdrawal

The symptoms of chronic stress are all encompassing and very damaging.  In order to combat the dreadful effects, we must first comprehend what these effects actually are. This site offers information on medical and psychiatric studies that show the effects of chronic stress on the body, mind, and spirit. Though these studies are available to the public, few know they exist.

 It is important not only to comprehend the extent of the damage, but the cause of the chronic stress as well. Before we can eliminate these effects we must have the tools to do so. Simply put, chronic stress occurs because we believe we have no control over our external or internal environment. We will explore this further as we get into the studies.

 

Next: ‘Stress 101: “Is Stress Killing You”‘