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Columns

Check out, you might be stressed

Uma Ram
Image credit : Illustrative Image

Might it be a toddler or a topmost administrator, this single word `stress’ creates panic, and manifests disguisedly as tantrums or arrogance. This can be easily spotted through certain signals the mind and body send out. Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress and the health consequences that accompany it is to know its symptoms. Though the signals may vary with individuals , some of the symptoms are common.

*Increased heartbeat and blood pressure

*Shortness of breath with headaches

*Stiffened muscles and sweating sometimes profuse

*Low energy levels with dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing and metabolic changes affecting stomach leading to problems of digestion, constipation or diarrhoea, resulting from forgetting to even consume enough water

*Blurred vision and insomnia

*Loss of interest in even sexual desires

*Frequent cold and infections due to low immunity levels

*Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
*Clenched jaw and grinding teeth

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

*Becoming easily agitated, frustrated and moody and exhibiting emotional or physical violence

*Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control

*Having difficulty in relaxing and calming your mind

*Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless and depressed

*Avoiding others and even society at large preferring seclusion fearing criticism

Cognitive symptoms of stress:

*Constant worrying with racing thoughts

*Forgetfulness and disorganisation

*Inability to focus and poor judgment

*Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side of any aspect

Behavioural symptoms of stress include:

*Changes in appetite – either not eating or overeating

*Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities

*Increased use of alcohol, drugs or cigarettes

*Exhibiting more nervous behaviour, such as nail biting, fidgeting and pacing

Consequences of long-term stress:

A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. But ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health ailments including:

*Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders

*Cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke

*Obesity or anorexia resulting from eating disorders

* Sexual dysfunction in both genders and menstrual problems in women, sometimes leading to early menopause or andropause.

*Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis and eczema, or even permanent hair loss at times

*Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon syndromes

Thus if you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by stress, talk to your doctor without any delay. Many symptoms of stress can also be signs of other health problems. Your doctor alone can evaluate them and rule out other conditions. If stress is to blame, your doctor will recommend a therapist or counsellor to help you handle your stress. Above all, being an adult, you should understand there are always people more affected than you. So if you are the one with a fractured leg, remember there are always those without even legs too. Happy destressing.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author’s own.

(The author of the column is Uma Ram, freelance writer from Coimbatore)

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