An Overview of Stress and its Health Effects
“Modifying my perception gives me effective control over stress, and choosing a superior thought process over stress is truly winning“…Dr Andrew Okpetu
What is Stress?
Stress is difficult to define because it is a subjective feeling,but this much is known: Stress is the pressured feeling of an imbalance between demand and capability, between desire and limitation. It is the resultant bodily and mental tension as a result of our pressured responses to emotional,physical or chemical stimuli as determined by our impressions,perceptions or capacity.
One in five children had psychosocial problems related to stress in the year 2001 according to the American Academy of Paediatrics. Presently we have attained epidemic proportions of heart disease, obesity, anxiety and personality disorders, sexual and social dysfunction, sleep disorders, alcoholism, osteoporosis, substance abuse, marital discord, type 2 diabetes, depression and Post menopausal syndrome. Underneath these illnesses lies excessive stress. Ironically, prescriptions for anti-stress or antidepressants have reached an all time high eg. zoloft, prozac, lexapro and paxil despite the fact that they do not address the root cause of stress and how to prevent it.
Health Effects of Stress
Stress, especially the chronic type is strongly linked to many serious mental and physical conditions.Many experts have attributed 60 to 90% of Doctors visit to stress.Some measure of stress is vital as a motivator to attain set objectives,win a race or in cases of danger eg. the flight or fight response. However, chronic or persistent stress have devastating health consequences and have been linked to sleeping disorders, back and neck pains, abdominal discomforts, mood swings, anxiety disorders, memory impairment, relationship and marital discords, poor work and school performance..It can also weaken our bodies immunity thereby rendering the body vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
Stress perceived as deleterious increases our state of alertness or arousal. A suitable mode of response is chosen by the individual based on capacity or experience to reduce or eliminate the stressor which leads to relaxation,but if the stressor is not eliminated or if its effect increases,this leads to strain. We all have to find the right amount of stress to optimise performance in our lives.More than five billion tranquillizers, five billion barbiturates, three and half billion amphetamines,seventeen tons of aspirin are consumed by Americans in a year in a bid to ameliorate stress-related headaches, pains and insomnia.
One of the most cost-effective ways for combating stress is becoming well-informed about the causes and health effects of stress. Keep a date with Andrew Okpetu’s resource tool for the most researched information on stress and health.