Stress and illness takes on many forms. Chronic stress is an illness, but an illness that is very wide spectrum and difficult to define with ease.
Experts define stress as a modern mental illness, but one that is socially acceptable to suffer from. You would hardly be likely to boast or talk about having any other form of mental illness. Yet, stress is somehow different.
One thing is sure about chronic stress, its side effects affect every part of our body. Stress affects our brain, the ageing process, weight loss and weight gain, our mental ability, our fertility, and our sleep patterns.
In so doing, it affects our whole life – and ultimately shortens that life. That is inescapable fact. It has been scientifically proven, and should be totally unacceptable to us. We can, and should do something about the stress in our lives and the effects it has upon our general health, and those around us.
Stress affects every part of our life. It is not socially acceptable. You can and should do something to avoid stress in your life – or else be prepared for the illnesses that stress will cause you – sooner and later.
The stresses in our lives are almost unavoidable, and in most cases will need a change of lifestyle to totally avoid. Is your life worth that to you? Below are just a few of the illnesses that can occur or be exacerbated by too much stress in your life.
Stress and the Brain
Stress can affect, and cause illness, to your brain in several ways. Remember, the brain is the most important organ in the body, so any deterioration in brain function will be the precursor for problems in all other parts of your body.
It would be natural to think that any problems affecting the brain would show up as mental problems. This is only part of the problem, for an efficient brain is essential to ensure that all other organs in the body function properly, as well as the mental aspects of stress illness.
Stress and Ageing
Ageing is a natural process of the body. However, ageing can be accelerated by too much stress. It may not only show itself in poor skin conditions on the outside, but it may also affect most other parts of the body and mind.
The main stress hormone of cortisol is an integral part of premature ageing. Not only will stress make you look older, but it will also make you feel older. It can bring forward those mental health problems associated with old age. You can delay this by dealing with the stress in your life.
Stress and Weight Gain
Stress can be responsible for you piling on the pounds in several different ways. The weight gain could eventually cause many associated problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
There are many other preventable illnesses associated with being overweight caused by prolonged exposure to stress.
Depression and Stress
There are many causes of depression, and stress is often a cause not a symptom.
Depression Causes Stress… which Causes Depression!
And so it goes on – round and round in circles. For example. around 10% of the adult population in the United Kingdom are most likely suffering a form of mental distress, brought about by anxiety and depression.
Who says so? The Office of National Statistics in year 2,000 noted an increase in the figures – from 1.4 per cent in 1993 to 9.2 per cent in year 2,000. An educated guess would say that figure has risen even more during the last decade, with all the added stresses and problems in life.
Even so, most people will feel a little depressed from time to time. It is part of normal life. If you are never depressed, then you are either very lucky – or you may be hiding it (which can be a bad thing to do)!
There is a world of difference between feeling a bit depressed and out and out ‘clinical depression’. If you feel that you have severe depression after reading the checklist below, make a visit to your doctor.
Causes of Feeling Depressed
In fact, some of the ‘normal’ day to day events can make us all feel a bit depressed! The car breaking down again, the lousy weather, how to pay the bills on time.
These depressing moments are usually just that. A few hours of feeling grotty before shaking it off. So ‘feeling a bit depressed’ is simply that. It is unlikely to be the real illness of depression!
Depression – or Feeling a Bit Depressed?
To clear up any confusion between the ‘feeling’ of being a bit depressed (i.e. a bit down, or fed up) and the clinical illness of depression, take a look at the following description and clarifications.
Most people accept depression as being ‘a bit down in the mouth’ about a particular incident or event (or maybe more than one). Typical examples include:
- A bill that needs paying (e.g. the prospect of dealing with debt).
- The weather is getting you down.
- The kids have been naughty.
- Your prized marrow did not get the first prize!
- The boss had a go at you.
- The horse you thought was a certainty… turned out to be an ‘also-ran’!
The feeling usually lasts a few hours – or maybe a day or so. But, then it subsides as some other day to day event will takes its place, or you finally sort it out!
The illness of depression is very different to simply feeling a little depressed. It is a serious illness that is quite difficult, but not impossible to treat.
With depression, it is normal to suffer long periods of deep sadness – and even despair. The feelings take over your normal life, or at least cause extreme inconvenience. Depression can last for many weeks or months, and it should be treated by a health professional.
Perhaps surprisingly, depression is commonplace, with as many as fifteen per cent having suffered from it at some time in their lives. Many cases of depression remain untreated. The sufferers choose not to ‘own up’ to the illness and simply suffer it alone!
In fact, men are more likely to hide their problems, even though statistically more women than men suffer depression. It is not an age-related illness as is often thought, as teenagers can suffer it as well as adults.
Symptoms Associated with Depression
The typical symptoms of depression fall into three broad categories, namely physical, psychological, and socio-environmental.
This list is not exclusive, but it is a general list of symptoms. If you have several of these symptoms, it is time to make a visit to your doctor!
1. Slower Movement
- Lowering of speech activity (not wanting to talk)
- Little or no energy for things you usually enjoy
- Unusual aches and pains (with general lethargy)
- Poor sleep or irregular sleep patterns
2. Feeling Low and Sad for Long Periods of Time
- Lack of self-esteem and confidence.
- Little or no motivation to do things
- Tearful with bouts of crying spells
- Feelings of guilt
- No time or tolerance for other persons (including close friends)
3. Avoiding Friends (and others)
- Difficulties at work with concentration or making decisions
- Lack of interest in hobbies and pastimes or things happening around you.
- General difficulties with family and home life
Grief is a very natural feeling, often misconstrued as depression. Yes, there are many similar symptoms, but there are also some important differences.
Grief is a reaction to a great loss and you can generally overcome it with time. Depression is an illness and it rarely ‘goes away’ without treatment and therapy.