Feelings of stress and anxiety are all too common for most people. But those who find themselves overwhelmed by stress may be leaving the door open for illness. In fact, chronic stress can lead to anxiety disorders and other health concerns.
Internal and external stressors
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, stressors can be either external or internal.
External stressors are caused by negative stimuli including work, family life and more.
Internal stressors are brought on by physical or mental illness.
Stressful situations can be identified as acute or chronic. Acute stress refers to short-term stress that might spark a “fight or flight” response. Things that threaten imminent danger fall into this category. This may also include short-term stressors like running late for work. Chronic stress refers to long-term issues. These may be related to money, work or family, for example. This kind of stress can accumulate and manifest in the form of physical or mental illness.
Stress leads to other diseases
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), chronic stress is dangerous and can lead to heart disease, headaches, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia, digestive problems, fatigue and alcohol/drug abuse. In fact, a 2014 Danish study found that frequent arguing might make people more likely to die in middle age.
Treating chronic stress often involves identifying your stressors. According to the APA, some people might find it helpful to list their stressors, making a plan for how to address each one. Reaching out for support from loved ones and friends can also help. Learning to let go of anger is another recommended strategy. The APA also recommends exercising during times of stress, which can help bring down agitation. Cutting caffeine and regularly getting a good night’s sleep is recommended, as well. Other relaxation techniques, like yoga and meditation, are known to help in coping with stress.