Understanding stress and its effects

What is stress?
Stress is any event or condition or factor that imposes demands on your body (physically and mentally) to change and adapt to the new situation. Today’s fast paced life style constantly imposes multiple demands on us and can be a cause for constant stress.

Is stress always bad?
Eustress or positive stress is a state of heightened awareness where a person may actually find herself to be performing more effectively when under stress. (for example capacity for studying and memorizing may actually increase two days before an exam! – adrenaline rush). However these states are shortlived and impact of long term stress is invariably adverse.

What are the types of stress?
Reasons for stress are usually multifactorial. In addition to the fast paced life style that imposes multiple demands on our body, stress may also be:

Situational – such as exam anxiety, specific social situations, important interviews etc..

Circumstantial – grief related to loss of a loved one, loss of job, financial loss, experiencing a traumatic event

Interpersonal – Difficulties in relationships with significant others can be an important cause for stress

Biological – Presence of a chronic medical disorder (diabetes, hypertension, thyroid abnormalities, and malignancies) can cause changes in internal physiological mechanisms leading to stress disorders. There is usually a reciprocal relationship between medical and stress disorders with both impacting each other.

What is stress disorder?

A stress disorder essentially results when your body is not able to change or adapt to the stressful situation adversely impacting your physical or mental wellbeing.

So what prevents us from adapting to stress?

Multiple factors may make a person vulnerable to stress disorders.

Genetic predisposition – A person’s genetic makeup can dictate our thinking patterns and behavior. Research has identified certain specific genes that may make some people more vulnerable to stress disorders such as depression and anxiety. This is one of the reasons why you may have observed that different people react differently when faced with the same stressful situation.

Personality predisposition – Each individual has unique enduring patterns of behavior and thinking; called personality styles, which govern how we deal with any situation. People with insufficient coping skills and resilience to deal with difficult situations may be vulnerable to stress disorders.

People with a genetic and personality predisposition may also have a lower threshold for stress tolerance and smaller amount of stress may be enough to cause stress disorders.


What are the symptoms of stress?


A stress disorder essentially results when your body is not able to change or adapt to the stressful situation adversely impacting you physically and mentally. Usually if the distress lasts for a period longer than what would be normally expected or it is severe enough to affect your routine work and activities; it amounts to a disorder.
Common symptoms in stress disorders are:

  • Feeling of sadness
  • Negative thinking
  • Loss of self confidence

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