Thursday, September 26, 2013

Stress symptoms: Effects on your body and behavior

By Mayo Clinic staff

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit.

Common effects of stress

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Common effects of stress ...

... On your body
Headache
Muscle tension or pain
Chest pain
Fatigue
Change in sex drive
Stomach upset
Sleep problems

... On your mood
Anxiety
Restlessness
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or anger
Sadness or depression

... On your behavior
Overeating or undereating
Angry outbursts
Drug or alcohol abuse
Tobacco use
Social withdrawal

Except for the drug, alcohol or tobacco abuse, I've been experiencing all of these symptoms over the last few months. Stress is understandable considering that I've had several major losses in my life. I'm still mourning but I have to take control of my life again. If you, too, are dealing with stress and the symptoms above, here is what the experts at the Mayo Clinic suggest:

Act to manage stress

If you have stress symptoms, taking steps to manage your stress can have numerous health benefits. Explore stress management strategies, such as:
  • Physical activity
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
And be sure to get plenty of sleep, eat a balanced diet, and avoid tobacco use and excess caffeine and alcohol intake.

When to seek help

If you're not sure if stress is the cause or if you've taken steps to control your stress but your symptoms continue, see your doctor. Your doctor may want to check for other potential causes.
Also, if you have chest pain, especially if it occurs during physical activity or is accompanied by shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, nausea, or pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, get emergency help immediately. These may be warning signs of a heart attack and not simply stress symptoms.

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