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Identify the symptoms of stress

Recognising that you are suffering from stress is the first step to getting effective help. Stress can affect individuals in different ways. It can be difficult to differentiate it from everyday worries or normal aches and pains. It can help if you have a checklist of common stress symptoms that you can consult.

Spotting the symptoms of stress

Stress symptoms can be divided into emotional, psychological, behavioural and physical. You may not experience all of these at once, but going through the list will help you recognise the condition.

In some cases, it might be easier for a partner or family member to identify your symptoms, particularly when they are behavioural. Ask them if they have noticed any changes in your personality or mood.

  • Emotional symptoms can include anxiety, low self-esteem, irritability, and general despondency. Sometimes keeping a diary of your emotional state can help you realise that stress has become an important issue.
  • Psychological symptoms can include dwelling on pessimistic scenarios, constant and obsessional worrying or compulsive checking of everything you do.
  • Behavioural symptoms can include smoking and drinking to excess, outbursts of temper, being careless or clumsy, and being unable to settle or concentrate on a task.
  • Physical symptoms include headaches, muscle pains and aches, feeling hot and bothered, dizziness, digestive problems and sexual dysfunction.

Symptoms don't surface overnight. Stress can gradually increase until it becomes noticeable, then intolerable. Treatment can range from self-help therapies to medication, but you need to take expert medical advice to find the most effective course of treatment for your form of stress.

Getting help

Doctors will treat stress as a significant health issue. Treatment will depend on your medical history and a variety of factors. Doctors can offer advice on coping mechanisms, and can advise counselling in some cases. Depending on the nature of your stress, treatment can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CPT), anger management sessions or group therapy.

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