Stress is a condition of the body and mind that reduces functioning and causes discomfort. It is produced by events, situations or circumstances that trigger a sense of inadequacy or inability to cope in the individual. Psychotherapy, and
more specifically Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, has been proven very effective in treating stress disorders.
The body does not distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When we are stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, our body reacts just as strongly as if we were facing a life-or-death situation. If we have a lot of responsibilities and worries, our emergency stress response may be “on” most of the time. The more our body’s stress system is activated, the easier it is to trip and the harder it is to shut off.
Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious physical health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in our body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving us more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.
To make an appointment with Dr. Z, call (678) 554-5632 or fill out the online appointment request. We can go over your current situation, identify the ways in which the effects of stress are affecting
your life and that of your loved ones, or how current conflicts or low functioning are impairing important relationships. We will put some dimensions to the problem, and identify your current resources that may
be applied toward meaningful and lasting change. If additional resources and skills are needed, we will treat your severe symptoms of stress with CBT and help you feel calmer and increase your ability to choose the most
appropriate response to each situation. Treating stress is feasible, it’s proven to be effective, and has helped many people who had a variety of different symptoms and challenges. Call and make your appointment today
and we can get started!
How Does Stress Affect the Mind?
Our ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of our relationships, our general outlook on life, our emotional intelligence, and genetics.
More specifically, our level of mental stress is affected by:
Our support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated we are, the greater our vulnerability to stress.
Our sense of control – If we have confidence in ourselves and our ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it is easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.
Our attitude and outlook – Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
Our ability to deal with our emotions – We are extremely vulnerable to stress if we do not know how to calm and soothe ourselves when we are feeling sad, angry, or afraid. The ability to bring our emotions into balance helps us bounce back from adversity.
Our knowledge and preparation – The more we know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if we go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if we were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Psychologist Connie Lillas* uses a driving analogy to describe the three most common ways people respond when they are overwhelmed by stress:
FIGHT: Foot on the gas – An angry or agitated stress response. We are heated, keyed up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
FLIGHT: Foot on the brake – A withdrawn or depressed stress response. We shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
FREEZE: Foot on both – A tense and frozen stress response. We “freeze” under pressure and cannot do anything. We look paralyzed, but under the surface we are extremely agitated.
* Lillas, C., & Turnbull, J. (2009). Infant/Child Mental Health, Early Intervention, and Relationship-Based Therapies: A Neurorelational Framework for Interdisciplinary Practice: WW Norton & Company
Inability to concentrate
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
Eating more or eating less
Sleeping too much or too little
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
Aches and pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
Loss of sex drive