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Anxiety and Stress

The words stress and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably. So how can you tell the difference between common stress and an anxiety disorder? Both share many of the same physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, or rapid breathing. In both cases, your body is releasing hormones to trigger these symptoms.

Stress is a normal, proportional reaction to a stressful situation or external pressures. It’s normal to feel stressed about a final exam or job interview. It happens to all of us from time to time. Stress is our brain's response to different situations, both positive and negative. It's important to know your limits when it comes to stress to avoid more serious health effects.

How Stress Affects Your Health-

Each of us responds to stress in different ways. Some physical symptoms may include:

Over time, continued strain on your body from routine stress may lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, anxiety disorder, and other illnesses.

Coping With Stress-

The effects of stress tend to build up over time. Taking practical steps to maintain your health and outlook can reduce or prevent these effects. The following are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:

When stress lingers for days or weeks and prevents you from carrying out day-to-day activities, then you may be experiencing anxiety. You could be avoiding certain places or situations in fear of what might happen. You may even feel anxious about the fact that you’re anxious. If you are having these concerns, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are common and manageable.

When we talk about anxiety as in anxiety disorders, anxiety is a condition characterized by feelings of apprehension or unexplained thoughts of impending doom.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders-

If you have experienced any of these feelings, and if they won't go away, it may be a sign of anxiety.

In addition to some of the feelings you might have, anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well, such as:

 These symptoms may lead to what is known as a panic attack. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you're losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, and the problem goes away, perhaps when a stressful situation ends. But if you've had recurrent, unexpected panic attacks and spent long periods in constant fear of another attack, you may have a condition called panic disorder.

Treating Anxiety-

If you have feelings of worry, stress or anxiety, you can try several Self-Care methods.  If, however, your worries or fears are causing extreme distress or interfering with your daily activities, it is important to contact a healthcare provider.  And, in case of emergency, always CALL 9-1-1.

You can start with your doctor, who can check to see if your anxiety is caused by a medical condition like hypoglycemia or a thyroid problem. Be sure to tell your doctor about all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and recreational drugs you are taking. Your doctor may also recommend that you consult with a therapist who has experience treating anxiety disorders. A therapist will work with you to talk about your feelings and work with you to create a treatment plan.

Resources-

Source: National Institute on Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)