Stress is a normal and often useful part of life. It can help when an individual needs to react quickly. Stress causes the body to release hormones to speed up the heart and breathing rate resulting in a sudden burst of energy. However, if one is stressed too often or the stress response lasts too long it can result in negative effects. As a result, the individual may suffer an upset stomach, headache, back pain or difficulty sleeping. The immune system can be weakened so it is harder to overcome disease. Existing health problems can be made worse and the person becomes tense, moody or depressed. Stress can affect relationships as well as job performance.
Symptoms and Types
Short term stress is normal and healthy. Symptoms can range from sweaty palms to a short increase in heart rate. The stress prepares you for a crisis or emergency.
Chronic stress is related to stressful situations that continue for a longer period. Examples of causes of chronic stress include family problems or difficulty at work. People that live in overcrowded areas where pollution, crime and overcrowding are problems may develop chronic stress. With recent economic changes, many are feeling the stress of unemployment. Over time, chronic stress may be related to severe health problems.
Individuals who have severe trauma, especially life-threatening events may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD may be triggered by events including war, natural disaster, rape or witnessing a violent crime.
Diagnosis and Tests
Medically there are no tests to determine if one is suffering from stress. However, if a person believes stress is causing problems in life he should speak with his general practitioner. The doctor may ask about family history, employment and personal issues to determine the causes of stress in one's life. Some patients are asked to keep a stress diary to determine triggers for stress. If stress continues, complications include anxiety, depression and hypertension. The doctor may measure a patient's blood pressure and ask the patient to complete a depression questionnaire.
Treatment and Care
Many people find self-help techniques, including deep breathing and exercise can help to deal with stress. Your doctor may offer other types of self-help techniques that are useful to you. If self-help techniques are not enough the doctor may suggest professional help including:
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- Anger Management
- Stress Management Support Groups
- Medication for stress related health problems
Although stress is a normal part of life, too much stress can be detrimental. If stress is causing problems in your life, your general practitioner is a beginning point for help. Self-help may be beneficial for some individuals but others could need the help of a professional.
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Depression, stress, and anxiety are conditions that people around the world deal with on a daily basis. Depression refers to a mental condition in which thoughts of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness dominate your life. Stress is a physical response to stimuli that helps you stay alert and focused.
Chronic stress, however, can result in health problems and emotional strain. Anxiety is a reaction to stress that can bring on feelings of restlessness, nervousness, irritability, and fear.
The feelings of helplessness that depression creates can leave sufferers feeling alone, worthless, and hopeless. Society also stigmatizes those with depression, making it difficult or potentially shameful to admit that you need help. Unfortunately, depression is often too much to handle by oneself. If you suspect that you have depression, let your loved ones and seek treatment as soon as possible.
There are several different types of depression, including chronic depression, major depression, bipolar depression, psychotic depression, post-partum depression, substance-induced mood disorder, and seasonal affective disorder.
People with depression may also suffer from some sort of adjustment disorder resulting from a traumatic event, such as a significant life change or death of a loved one. Depression can also occur with other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders. Some people with depression may even suffer from two types of depression at the same time!
Bipolar disorder is also referred to as manic-depressive disorder. People with this condition may suffer from episodes of elation, or mania, followed by episodes of severe depression.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is another common type of depression that often occurs in northern climates. This disorder is caused by a lack of sunlight, causing irritability, headaches, and fatigue.
Anxiety disorders are characterized by intense worry and stress. Although most of us experience these feelings at some point or another, people with anxiety disorders often suffer from irrational fears that interfere with normal life. In essence, their ‘fight or flight’ reaction is always turned on, creating intense, long-lasting stress.
Types of anxiety disorders include stress, panic disorders, phobias, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Although causes may vary, these disorders are often triggered by life-changing events such as divorce, death, illness, or job loss.back to top
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- Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 40 million Americans age 18 or older.
- Panic disorder is twice as common in women.
- Panic disorder affects 6 million adults in the United States.
- Nearly 19.2 million adults have some sort of phobia. Phobias generally appear in childhood.
- People with GAD may also suffer from other anxiety disorders, substance abuse, or depression.
- As much as 90% of all doctor’s visits in the United States may be caused by a stress-related illness, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Anxiety, depression, and stress are caused by a number of factors, including genetics, biology, and mineral deficiencies. Scientists have noticed that depression often runs in families. This is confirmed by studies of families, twins, and adopted children. If you have a family member with depression, you are two to six times more likely to suffer from depression yourself.
Depression may also be caused by chemical imbalances. Researchers believe that people who suffer from depression may also have an abnormal delivery of certain neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters deliver important chemicals, such as serotonin. This chemical contributes to a sense of well-being; an imbalance of serotonin may contribute to anxiety and depression. Other important chemicals, such as acetylcholine, catecholamine, and corticotropin-releasing factor can contribute to depression if an imbalance is present.
Certain mineral and vitamin deficiencies can also contribute to depression and anxiety. These include:
- B-complex vitamins. These vitamins contribute to emotional and mental well-being; if they are not present in significant amounts, you may experience fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, dizziness, agitation, and loss of appetite. Unfortunately, your body cannot store B vitamins, so you will have to get vitamins through food or supplements.
- Vitamin C. Not only can a lack of Vitamin C cause depression, but stress will also increase your body’s need for this vitamin.
- Calcium. A calcium deficiency will affect your central nervous system, causing irritability and nervousness.
- Magnesium. Many people struggle to get enough magnesium. Even worse, stress will deplete the level of magnesium in your body. A lack of this key mineral can cause hallucinations, anxiety, confusion, and agitation.
- Zinc. This key mineral can cause apathy and lethargy if below recommended levels. A low level of zinc will also increase the amount of copper in your body, eventually causing fear and paranoia.
- Iron. Chronic iron deficiency is often a major cause of depression.
- Manganese. You will need a significant amount of manganese in order to use and store Vitamin C as well as the B-complex vitamins.
- Potassium. A potassium deficiency may lead to fatigue, weakness, tearfulness, and depression.
Stress, anxiety, and depression may also be caused by external factors, such as divorce, financial problems, conflict, work pressures, unemployment, bereavement, substance abuse, or a life-changing move.back to top
Diagnosing depression can be difficult. Many people with depression do not realize, or do not want to realize, that their mood has a physical or external cause. Similarly, someone with an anxiety disorder may dismiss his or her condition as irrational, silly, or shameful.
If you believe you have depression or an anxiety disorder, you should talk to doctor or therapist right away. Most of these conditions will require extended discussion with a psychotherapist before you will have your diagnosis.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of depression, as outlined by the National Institute of Mental Health, may include fatigue or decreased energy, difficulty concentrating, memory problems, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or helplessness, insomnia, excessive sleeping, pessimism, irritability, a loss of interest in one’s favorite activities, overeating, appetite loss, sadness, or even thoughts of suicide.
Depression may also include physical symptoms, such as excessive sweating, blurred vision, itching, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, anxiety, headaches, or backaches. People with depression may also experience persistent anxiety, shakiness, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.
Like depression, anxiety may include both emotional and physical symptoms. The primary symptoms are excessive worry and irrational fear, but people with anxiety disorders may also experience the following emotional and mental symptoms:
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of dread or apprehension
- Feeling jumpy or tense
- Feeling like your mind is blank
- Constant scanning for danger
Physical symptoms also occur as a result of the body’s fight or flight reaction. In fact, many of these symptoms can be mistaken for signs of a serious physical illness. You and your doctor will need to pay close attention to your mental state before deciding on a course of treatment.
Physical symptoms include:
- Stomach upset
- Frequent urination
- Pounding heart
- Muscle Tension
- Skin problems
People with anxiety disorders may also experience an anxiety attack in addition to their other symptoms. You may be having a panic attack if you have a sudden surge of panic, chest pain, hyperventilation, chills, hot flashes, a feeling of detachment, shakiness, stomach cramps, or a choking sensation.back to top
Conventional Treatment Methods
Conventional treatments generally rely on psychotherapy, medicine, or electroshock therapy. Antidepressants and other mood stabilizers are believed to modify and balance the brain chemicals that can cause depression. Doctors seldom rely on medicine alone to treat depression.
You should consider talking to a therapist to discover whether there is a hidden or external cause of your depression. Electroshock therapy is a last resort for patients that do not respond to any other form of treatment.
There are four major types of antidepressants. These include:
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- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This type of antidepressant is a relatively new type of medication designed to alter the amount of serotonin in the brain.
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Like SSRIs, SNRIs alter the amount of serotonin. These drugs also increase the amount of norepinephrine.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). This type of medication treats depression by altering norepinephrine and serotonin levels. These drugs have more side effects than most, so they tend to be used only if SSRIs or SNRIs do not work.
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). These drugs are effective in treating depression and other mental illnesses, but interact with several types of medication and food. People who take MAOIs must watch their diet carefully to avoid negative side effects.
Natural Treatment Methods
There are also a number of natural remedies that can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. One of the most effective is 5-HTP, a substance derived from the Griffonia simplicifolia plant that can improve depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders.
Rhodial, derived from Artic and Golden root, is another effective remedy that has been used successfully for generations in countries around the world. Rhodial is, in essence, an adaptogen that can help restore your brain’s chemical balance.
Other supplements that can relieve your symptoms include:
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- St. John’s Wort
- Gingko Biloba
- B-complex vitamins
- Omega-3 fatty acids
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- MX Resveratrol Complex contains resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine and dark chocolate. This supplement reduces stress, improves heart health, lowers cholesterol, and boosts your immune system.
- MX 5-HTP contains 5-hydroxy tryptophan, one of the powerful remedies mentioned above. The ingredients in this product can reduce your stress level and help you sleep better. Did you know that insomnia is associated with depression and anxiety? Simply getting a good night’s sleep can boost your mood.
- MX Stress Protect contains Rhodial, an ingredient used to reduce stress and support your immune system. Taken regularly, this product can help your body adapt to the stressors that cause depression and other illnesses.