Stress: The Silent Killer (Part I)

Stress in everyday terms is a feeling that people have when they are overloaded and struggling to cope with demands. These demands can be related to relations finances, work, family, etc. but anything that possess a real or perceived challenge or threat to a person’s wellbeing can cause stress.

Stress is the body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. Stress is a feeling of emotional on physical tension. In short burst, stress can be positive, it can help you meet a deadline or avoid danger. But when you are consistently running in emergency mode, you mind and body pay the price. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed frequently, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. 

When your body senses danger, whether it’s real or imagined, the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight or flight” reaction or the “stress response”. When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including noradrenaline control and adrenaline which stimulates the body for emergency action, your muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breathe quickens, hearth pounds faster and your senses become sharper. These physical changes will increase in strength and enhance your focus, thereby preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand. 

Types of Stress

Acute Stress

This type of stress is short term and most common. This is often caused by thinking about the pressures of recent events or upcoming demands in the nearest future. This type of stress will be reduced or removed once the triggers are resolved. 

For Example: A student can experience stress just by thinking about his GP and parental demands. Coupled with reading for upcoming exams, results released and his GP is fairly okay, the stress reduced. 

NB: When acute stress is repeated over time, it can become chronic

Chronic Stress

This type of stress is long term and occurs when a person doesn’t see an escape. 

For example: A crumbling marriage, a divorce, ongoing poverty, a dysfunctional family etc. Chronic Stress can continue unnoticed, as people can be used to it. People with chronic stress are likely to have a final breakdown that can lead to suicide, violent actions, heart attacks, etc.

Causes of Stress

1. Illness

2. Family problems 

3. Job issues/unemployment

4. Fear of crime

5. Fear of an accident

6. Overcrowding and pollution 

7. Relationship difficulties

8. Unrealistic expectations

9. Divorce or marital problems 

10. Death of a close family member

11. Retirement

12. Job loss

13. Abortion or miscarriage

14. Lack of time

15. Financial difficulties

Some people experience ongoing stress after a traumatic event, such as an accident, physical abuse, rape, war etc. This is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Remember, you can do it, just don’t overdo it. We will continue from here next time. Await the next article on stress as we will examine the signs and symptoms and possible solutions.

Adesina Adebisi

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