A 2015 survey conducted by YouGov showed that 60 per cent of the workforce in UAE suffered from stress in some form or the other. The survey also stated that 49 per cent of UAE residents are reportedly stressed about some issue daily.
Stress is a silent killer, and it may be managed or mismanaged. Stress if ignored can lead to chronic problems like asthma, ulcers, heart conditions, stroke, etc.
People need to be aware of the symptoms of stress because people consider stress to be a state of mind for a brief period of time rather than a medical condition. However, absence of any symptoms does not mean absence of stress. Frequent headaches, chest pain, insomnia, fatigue, irritability etc. are symptoms that must be taken seriously as they are signs that your body gives you to manage your stress.
We spoke to Dr. Gurukanth Neeleshwar Rao, Specialist Internal Medicine at Aster Clinic (Aster Jubilee Medical Complex), Bur Dubai for this guide.
What is stress?
Stress can quickly become a condition from a state of mind. Stress can be defined as the way you feel when you're under abnormal psychological pressure. Individuals respond differently to situations and have varying interpretations of stress. What is stressful for one may not be the same for another.
The most common causes of stress include work, money matters and relationships with partners, children or other family members. Stress may be caused either by major upheavals and life events such as divorce, unemployment, moving a house and bereavement, or by a series of minor irritations such as feeling undervalued at work or dealing with difficult children. Sometimes stress doesn't even need a cause.
Types of stress
Acute stress is the most commonly known and experienced form of stress caused by demands of routine life. Stress is generally associated with a negative emotion, however, acute stress brings out thrill and excitement. Acute stress may occur to anybody and can be successfully managed. Prolonged stress however, can cause irritability, anxiety and depression but the effects are short lived and do not cause extensive damage.
Acute stress when occurring frequently is known as episodic stress. This kind of stress is common in people with unrealistic demands, competitiveness and aggressiveness.
This kind of stress wears people out with each passing day and causes deteriorating mind and body health. Chronic stress is caused due to exposure to stressful situations or past experiences like career issues, unhealthy personal relationships, and traumatic experiences in childhood like a dysfunctional family, hence affecting an individual’s personality. Chronic stress is extremely serious and will require medical and behavioural treatments.
What can happen?
If you are excessively stressed, you may experience headaches, nausea and indigestion. You may also breathe more quickly, perspire more, have palpitations or suffer from various aches and pains. Longer term you may be putting yourself at risk of heart attacks and strokes.
When you are stressed you may experience many different feelings, including anxiety, fear, anger, frustration and depression. These feelings can feed on each other and produce physical symptoms, making you feel even worse.
Extreme anxiety can cause giddiness, heart palpitations, headaches or stomach disorders.
When you are stressed you may behave differently. For example, you may become withdrawn, indecisive or inflexible. You may not be able to sleep properly. You may be irritable or tearful all the time. Even if you were previously mild-mannered, you may suddenly become verbally or physically aggressive.
Mismanagement of stress
- Some people have to force themselves to eat, while others eat more and sometimes crave specific foods (such as junk food and carbohydrates).
- People may withdraw from or lose interest in friends
- Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
- Other issues such as depression, agitative body signals, suicidal tendencies
How to manage stress
- Taking note of symptoms like continuous headaches, irritability, poor concentration, indecisiveness etc. is important to help take necessary steps in the early stages.
- Engaging in physical activities such as yoga, running, walking or any other form of mild exercises will help lighten your mood.
- Meditation can help the mind and body to relax and gain focus.
- Being mindful can help manage stress related emotional issues.
- Clean eating and balanced meals can help handle symptoms of stress
It is okay to get help; from friends, peers or professionals. Stress is something people are living with and getting help for everywhere around the world. There is no shame in accepting it and healing yourself from within.