What can stress cause mentally? Does it differ from mental effects of stress on students?
Did you see that stress meme that went viral recently? Kid you not! In today’s cancel culture of social media, it’s very easy for you to quickly conclude that unhealthy mental effects of stress are overrated! Before diving into how stress affects mental health, the total list of mental effects of stress would be beyond any tome published under the face of the sun. This is a touchy subject because most of us are in denial of our feelings and thoughts from the pressures of life.
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Does stress weigh you down, or help you avoid danger, or motivate you to take action fast to meet a deadline? How have you been feeling lately?
Does stress cause mental illness?
Tell the truth. Are you struggling with one thing or the other? It is either the looming news of the worst economic depression, how to meet that USD 2 million payroll this week, skyrocketing pump fuel prices, declining wheat products on our supermarket shelves.
Are you worried as a result of your tumbling crypto deals, falling real estate investments, or the fear of monkeypox, and Covid-19 complications?
You are not alone.
Stress statistics worldwide report that 26 percent of Brits and 33 percent of Americans are the most stressed, anxious, and saddest (2020).
Demi Lovato adds,
“The advice I’d give to somebody that’s silently struggling is, you don’t have to live that way. You don’t have to struggle in silence. You can be un-silent. You can live well with a mental health condition, as long as you open up to somebody about it, because it’s really important you share your experience with people so that you can get the help that you need.”
An American singer, songwriter, and actor
We all do not deal with mental effects of stress and pressure similarly.
What are your thoughts?
How can stress affect your mental health?
Before exploring what you have decided the mental effects of stress to be, are you curious to discover your stress level? The FREE perceived stress test for FREE rated on a 5 point scale, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is widely used in psychology to assess the stress levels in daily life. PSS measures the degree to which you appraise situations in your life as stressful.
It is a 10-item questionnaire originally developed by the psychologist Sheldon Cohen and Williamson focusing on the roles of stress, effects, and social support systems in health and well-being. Whether you are relaxed or stressed, evaluate your stress today to gauge how you deal with stress and anxiety fast.
“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
— J.K. Rowling
Definition of stress
What is the best definition of stress? Stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension as a result of any event or thought that makes you feel angry, nervous, or frustrated (MedlinePlus). It’s your body’s reaction to a demand or challenge.
Oxford defines stress as:
… a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
It is not all gloom! As noted by Deakin University, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines stress as:
“… the reaction people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their knowledge and abilities and which challenge their ability to cope.”
It is, therefore, not a disease.
The science of stress and mental health
Other statistics about stress show that 75 – 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
Only you can define the extent of the worst negative mental effects of stress.
By understanding how stress affects the body.
What is the science of mental effects of stress?
When the body is at ease, you are all together lovely, with sunshine and rainbows.
On the contrary, when you feel stressed-out, the brain immediately sends out a distress signal, resulting in a flood of adrenaline in the body. This switches on the fight or flight response and subsequent physiological changes that we will see shortly. Research suggests that when the brain releases cortisol, the stress hormone that temporarily changes or shuts down usual bodily functions that get in the way of survival mode, causing physical symptoms of stress.
How does stress affect mental health
What can stress cause? Stress response system is a common pathway across organism. As the old saying goes, “Into every life a little rain must fall.” Therefore, stress is like rain, with a little being a good thing, but too much causes havoc and devastation.
Mental effects of stress can include mild to severe changes in the body that are cognitive, physical, emotional, physiological, or behavioral.
Psychological effects of stress
- Faster heart beats that push blood to all the vital organs to help us get out of danger. When prolonged, t put a lot of stress on our heart and blood vessels, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
- Rapid breathing, taking in a lot of oxygen, causes shortness of breath. If you have a pre-existing condition like Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma, the mental effects of stress dangerously exacerbate the situation.
- Extra oxygen gets sent to the brain to boost sensory alertness
- Blood sugar and fats flood the bloodstream, energizing all body parts
Physical effects of stress
These physical symptoms include:
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
- Change in appetite
- Feeling dizzy
Behavioral symptoms of stress
Social anxiety is a reaction to stress that occurs even if there is no current threat.
“It means so much when you realize that someone was having a really hard time and feeling shame and was trying to hide this whole thing.”
— Winona Ryder
A little angel called me hours into the night to find out if our meeting had concluded on time. On inquiring further, it turns out their caregiver had not arrived home around the time they usually did. Unknown to all of us, law enforcement officers found the caregiver parked by the roadside having forgotten their way home – disoriented.
The officers took in the caregiver for an emergency check up. Will you believe it if I tell you that by the time we arrived in hospital, the little angel’s caregiver was hooked to prescribed drugs to treat an acute mental heath complication after a diagnosis?
How to deal with stress
“We want you to know that you don’t need to be in crisis or distress to seek help, as going to therapy has numerous benefits.”
— Carla Avalos
Mental health bloggers have addressed the subtle, mild, and adverse mental effects of stress and its symptoms. Having amplified the message to tackle mental health stigma, mental health matters are no longer a taboo that was once hidden and tucked away from the limelight. Even the greats like Kanye West, Selena Gomez, and Prince Harry talk freely about their feelings and thoughts of the varied mental effects of stress and burnout.
- Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R. A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of health and social behavior. 1983;24:385–396 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6668417
- Cohen S, Williamson G. Perceived stress in a probability sample in the United States. In: Spacapan S, Oskamp S, editors. The social psychology of health. Sage; Newbury Park: 1988.
For further inspiration to deal with mental effects of stress related thoughts
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Want to talk more about the mental effects of stress feelings?