Psychology Today defines stress as a “simple reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium.” Stress can be an everyday occurrence and stem from a variety of places such as traffic jams, relationships, work, and even Facebook. It is perfectly normal to feel the effects of stress from issues in your personal or professional life. In fact, low levels of stress can help keep us active and alert. On the other hand, persistent stress can have a debilitating effect on mental and physical health. Understanding the different types of stress helps identify the difference between normal stress and stress that may need counseling treatment. The American Psychological Association identifies three types of stress.
Acute stress is the most common and easily identifiable type of stress. Anticipating a rough patch ahead or reflecting on recent events that caused out of the ordinary pressure is a cause of acute stress. . Acute stress is short lived and does not result in any long term damage to mental well-being and is very manageable. Common symptoms of acute stress include
- Emotional reactions such as anxiety, anger, or irritability
- Muscle aches and pains such as in the back, neck, and shoulders
- Stomach problems such as diarrhea, constipation, or heartburn
- Other physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and migraines.
Episodic Acute Stress
Episodic acute stress suffers endure the symptoms of acute stress (described above) on an on-going basis. While acute stress is sporadic and triggered by short periods of increased physical and mental demand, episodic acute stress can be caused by constant worrying. Relief from episodic acute stress usually requires professional help such as counseling and can take months of treatment for symptoms to subside. Common symptoms of EAS include:
- Persistent headaches, migraines, hypertension, and chest pains
- Persistent irritability, anxiety, and short-temperedness
- Depression and anxiety
- Heart disease
Chronic stress is a debilitating mental health condition that last indefinite periods of time. This type of stress can stem from a particular situation that last for years such as an unhappy marriage or job. Stress is a normal part of life and thus difficult to identify because it has become the norm. Its symptoms are normal and it is common for sufferers to forget about seeking help. Chronic stress can be difficult to treat and often requires a combination of treatments such as counseling, stress management, and medication. Symptoms of the condition include:
- Heart disease
Stress is omnipresent and everyone must learn to manage it. There is a variety of helpful resources on stress management available online. HelpGuide.org has useful tips such as starting a stress journal, identifying your stress factors, and learning how to relax.
If you need help developing stress management tactics and coping mechanism please contact me at (954) 675-1936 or via my website at http://coralspringscounselingcenter.com/contact/. Monthly stress management groups are also available.