It can be tough discerning when stress is taking its toll on your mental health, so in this article, we look at the chief signs to note. The word “stress” is bounced around a lot these days. We tend to say “I had such a stressful day today!” and begin to this of this as normal. Have you said this this week, “Geez, that meeting stressed me out.” Right now, we have a lot of stress going on and we tend to normalize it without fixing the problem.
Stress is tossed around so much that for a lot of people the notion of “stress” as a serious condition has diminished over time. Unfortunately, it can have detrimental consequences to our mental health. As such, it’s not a condition to be taken lightly or merely shrugged off.
In this section, we’ll firstly look at how stress affects mental health. Then we’ll be moving on to the signs of when stress is impacting your mental wellbeing. This allows you the ability to identify when stress-reducing techniques or further treatments are needed.
How Stress Affects Your Mental Health
As mentioned above, stress can have very real and lasting consequences on mental wellbeing. When it goes untreated long-term, you might find yourself with impairments to attention, memory, and sleep.
Not only this, but chronic stress can severely affect the way we deal with emotions, leading to further symptoms that require techniques on how to manage anxiety or depression. One can become short-tempered, have plunging mood swings, be unable to make decisions, or act on impulse without regard for the risks or dangers involved.
Stress has been shown to create long-term changes to the brain’s structure, and indeed disturb its capacity for memory, learning, and emotional cognizance. The reason for these changes in the cranial formation is the effect of stress on your neurons, the brain cells that are responsible for memory, emotions, and learning. A study put a group of rats within a stressful situation, versus another that were not subject to such anxiety triggers.
The stress group was shown to have a much-reduced number of neurons the following week. This shows a reduction in their brain’s neurogenesis ability, i.e. their ability to form new brain cells. It highlights the effect of stress on your brain’s hippocampus, the area responsible for making new neurons, and how stress affects your mental health.
The Signal Indicators of Stress Impacting Mental Wellbeing
The signs of stress take many forms, and all to varying degrees of severity. The most common physical complaints include headaches, an upset stomach, chest pains, and difficulty falling asleep, a loss of appetite or overeating.
More internal mental symptoms can see a person feeling unfocused and on edge, crying, feeling anxious, or irritable. Stress might also instigate a series of negative behaviors in your life. Returning to previous addictions like smoking or alcohol, or even reckless behavior like driving too fast, but let’s view some specific signs below:
If you find post-mealtimes not as comfortable as usual, with your body not digesting as well as it used to, then this could well be a stress-related condition. When your body detects higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your bloodstream, it begins producing extra glucose within the liver so that it is ready with extra energy to combat whatever is causing the said stress.
However, chronic-stress, i.e. as an untreated long-term condition means your body will constantly be producing high levels of additional blood sugar. This continual rush of hormones, elevated heart rate, and respiratory rate can create turmoil within your digestive system.
Look out for digestive issues that are unrelated to the food you eat and that doesn’t get better over several days.
We all need our eight hours of sleep, imperative for both physical and mental health. Unfortunately, stress can keep you up, with worries and anxieties delaying the onset of sleep and being a fundamental cause of sleep deprivation.
Stressful thoughts tend to keep one’s brain in a state of heightened alertness, which leads to one not attaining the amount of sleep necessary to feel rested the next morning. It is one of those signs that compounds others, only resulting in more stress.
This is a stress indicator that can go both ways: you might find yourself eating far too much or far too little. The points to note are the extremes in which your body starts behaving.
Changes in your digestive system mentioned above can mean you lose your appetite, with your desire to eat only returning once those symptoms have been addressed.
Alternatively, staying up late at night and being filled with anxiety might result in binge-eating as a distraction from those negative thoughts .
Because of how stress affects the hippocampus and its ability to produce neurons, when it’s not dealt with, can be the gateway to the higher issue of depression and anxiety. When you find yourself with extreme mood swings, racing thoughts, and restlessness, it’s vital to seek out professional treatment and therapy that can address this.
Moreover, you may find issues with your memory and attention span. If this is the case, then memory supplements can be a good idea to help treat that particular symptom.
5. Chronic Pain
When faced with a stressful situation, your body physically prepares itself. In addition to the extra glucose we spoke about earlier, the muscles tense up and become rigid in expectation of fight or flight mode. They will relax once the issue of stress subsides.
However, if your body is constantly in this fight or flight mode, your muscles will not find a chance to relax and remain tensed for prolonged periods, causing injury and leading to chronic pain in the back, shoulders, and joints .
You’ll notice that many of the above symptoms are a result of chemical changes within the body. That being the case, supplements can help equalize the imbalance created in the body as a result of stress.
One such supplement is Provasil – especially good at dealing with long-term stress, this supplement can help order your thoughts, and provide some much-needed inner calm. Helping improve focus, Provasil contains only natural ingredients, such as Vitamin B-12, and folate acid.
These indicators are the most prominent signs that stress is affecting your underlying mental health. While it can be hard to search for outward signs of an inner health condition, the body is adept at pointing out these anxiety indicators, which will allow you to address them as soon as possible for a full recovery.
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