Symptoms of Stress Disorder and Treatment

What is Stress?

Stress is a state of mind when one feathers weary, restless, disturbed or heavy, that is the result of person's interaction or response to the demands & pressures that come from the outside as well as from inside.

Symptoms & effects of Stress:

The human system is an integration of body & mind. Both are inter-dependent and influence each other. Internal organs can work effectively only in a harmonious environment known as 'homeostasis'. Disturbances in Homeostasis result in the following problems: Physical: Dry mouth, stiff neck, backache, excessive sweating, Irregular breathing, Palpitation, discomfort & pain in chest, Hyperacidity, Digestive problems, Fluctuations in BP, decreased body temperature, high cholesterol etc.

Decreased concentration, Restlessness, Irritability, Sleeplessness, Inability to take decisions, Unenthusiastic, low self-esteem, constant brooding, reduced work performance, anxiety, anger, unhappy, depression etc.

Fluctuations in mood, Nervousness, over emotional / crying episodes, lack of sense of humor, Argumentative, Hostility etc.

Behavior: –
General: – Smoking, over / under eating, over indulgence, drug addiction, personality problems like inferiority complex, introvert nature, work absenteeism, lethargy etc.,

Behavioral changes in students:
Withdrawal from usual social interactions, Decreased productivity, Increased errors, Noticeable absence from class, Emotional outbursts and crying, Loss of interest or apathy, Exam time "jitters", Increased or decreased sleep, Exaggerated irritability, Depression, Excessively blaming others, Excessive hostility , anger or resentment, Obsessions (unwanted thoughts), Excessive worrying or expression of fears, Increased forgetfulness, Confusion, Thought disorders (the student's conversation does not make sense), Compulsive disorders (ritualistic ways of acting, such as twitches, repeated words, excess hand washing).

Psychosomatic problems:
· Digestive – peptic ulcers, Irritable bowel syndrome, Diarrhea etc.
· Respiratory – Frequent susceptibility to respiratory infections, asthma etc.,
· Heart – BP, Palpitations, & chest pain etc.,
· Endocrine – Hyperthyroidism, menstrual irregularities etc.,
· Skin – Urticaria, Psoriasis etc.,

Factors that produce or lead to Stress?
There are numerous reasons & conditions often called "stressors" – They may be a single or more ranging from mild to severe. These stressors are grouped into 4 categories.

(A) Individual:
Psychological causes are the main cause for stress because of overreaction or attitude towards various events or situations depending on the type of personality, life style, job, family circumstances, financial aspects etc. Physical causes like over exertion, diet, food habits like excess tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, certain diseases etc.

(B) Group Stressors: Lack of group cohesiveness, lack of social support, conflict etc.,

(C) Organizational Stressors: Organization structure, policies, working conditions etc.,

(D) Environmental Stressors: Dust & Noise pollution, Socio-economic & financial conditions etc.,

Concepts of Stress:

Stress can be either temporary or long term, mild to severing depending on how long its causes continue (duration), severity & individuals' tolerance. If the stress is temporary and mild most people can handle it effectively. Similar people with more tolerance can take stress easily and can overcome comfortably.

Stress can be either positive or negative. Positive or low level stress called 'Eustress' contributions significantly to the work performance by stimulating an individual into productive action. Only negative or dysfunctional stress called 'Distress' is bad & must be overcome.Some people are more vulnerable to stress than others. Vulnerability to stress is determined by health, biological predisposition, behaviors, and life style considerations, financial, spiritual & social resources for coping with Stress.

How does body respond to Stress?
Whenever one is faced with Stress & with above factors the body responds through an adaptive response called "Fight and Flight" response or "Alarm response". This is a normal General adaptive response when faced with a stressful situation & is a healthy one.

General Adaptive Syndrome: Consists of:
Alarm reaction: is the body's response when it is suddenly exposed to stimuli to which it is not adapted.
Stage of Resistance: is when the person's full adaptation to the stress & the consequent improvement or disappearance of the symptoms occurs, simultaneously decrease in body's resistance.
Stage of Exhaustion: Sets in if Stress is sufficiently severe & prolonged because body's adaptability to stress is limited & exhaustion invariably follows.Body responds in a definite manner to stress & involuntarily mainly nervous & endocrine systems.

Root cause of Stress / Stress related Problems & When does Stress result in Psychological problems & disease?
When we are overly stressed or traumatized our mind through a series of responses tries to adapt. But if the mind is continuously performed due to constant stress, body's resources are typically depleted and it finally fails to adapt. Then the brain can not remain in a healthy state (low beta & alpha) long enough due to neuro-chemical imbalances resulting in physical, psychological, emotional & behavioral problems.

Vicious cycle of Stress & Tensions:
Once stress & tensions set in, it can perpetuate itself by a vicious cycle into continuous Stress resulting in physical problems. As these appear especially related to heart & chest the person becomes more anxious.

A number of studies have shown that Stress is both addictive and cumulative which adds up to the original stress & can reach a very high level even after the initial cause factor has long disappeared.

1) Existing Remedial Methods for Stress and Psychological Problems:
A) Drug Therapy- Psychiatric Medicines.
B) Non-Drug Therapy – Counseling, Psychotherapy, Behavioral Therapy, Yoga, Meditation, Other alternative methods.