Stress has always been a part of the human experience. Our ancestors stressed about hunting and gathering enough food. They stressed about weather phenomena, empires collapsing, and wars. Today, we are faced with stress in almost every part of our physical and now, digital, lives. We are actually faced with so many different stressors, that sometimes, we don’t even realize we’re stressed out! Think about that. Some of us are already so chronically stressed that we don’t know what being calm even feels like. So before you add another worry to your plate, take a second to reflect. And ask yourself this question, “Am I stressed out?”
“Am I Stressed Out?”: The Symptoms of Stress
Stress can affect any and every aspect of your life. It affects your emotions, thinking ability, and even physical health. However, no two people interpret stress in the same way. People handle stress differently. And because of that, symptoms of stress can vary. And even others could be the same symptoms as other medical conditions. This is why it’s crucial to talk to your doctor!
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Quickly changing moods – including frustration and agitation
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control ‘
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Ringing ears
- Clammy hands and feet
- Dry mouth
- Clenched jaw/teeth grinding
Cognitive (Thought Ability) Symptoms:
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
- Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastination and avoidance
- Increased use of self-medication
- Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail-biting, fidgeting, and pacing
What Happens When You Ignore Long-Term Stress?
As we mentioned before, stress is a natural part of the human existence. A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. However, when stress becomes ongoing and chronic, it can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease ( heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke)
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Skin and hair problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
Help Is Available for Stress
Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to know your stress symptoms. We know you need a toolbox full of skills in order to cope with the challenges life throws at us. At CPA, we will always encourage patients to explore coping mechanisms that work best for them. However, we also know that a number of those skills come from counseling and different methods of therapy.
Cristina Panaccione and Associates has two locations in the South Hills and one office in Robinson Township. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients, so check out our videos to learn more about how our counseling services can help teach you the skills to cope with stress!
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Jennifer Krause – MS, LPC
Jennifer is a Licensed Professional Counselor who received her Masters of Science Degree from Chatham University. She has over 18 years of counseling experience with a wide range of patients in a variety of treatment settings. These have included: outpatient community mental health agencies, partial psychiatric hospital settings, both inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol facilities, correctional settings, and an outpatient intensive treatment foster care program. Her clinical experience has been broad, treating both adolescents and adults struggling with: addiction, trauma, mood disorders, anger management issues, borderline personality disorder, depression, and anxiety. I also have experience with couples counseling, working with families, and group therapy. She has extensive training in Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Trauma-Focused CBT.