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20.08.2013 Feature Article

STRESS RELATED DISORDERS

STRESS RELATED DISORDERS
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Stress-Related Disorders are diseases brought on or worsened by psychological stress. These disorders commonly involve the autonomic nervous system, which controls the body's internal organs. Disorders that can be caused by stress include hypertension (high blood pressure), headaches, back pain, skin disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers. Stress is also believed to contribute to coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the heart's arteries) and some cases of cancer.

Physicians have long recognized that people are more susceptible to diseases of all kinds when subjected to great stress. Negative events, such as the death of a loved one, seem to cause enough stress to lower the body's resistance to disease. Positive circumstances, however, such as a new job or a new baby in the house, can also upset a person's normal ability to fend off disease. Social scientists have devised a list of life events and rated the relative stressfulness of each. Thus, the death of a spouse rates a 100 on the scale; getting divorced, 73; marital separation, 65; going to jail, 63; death of a close family member, 63; major personal injury or illness, 53; and so on. People also experience stress from daily hassles, such as living in crowded, noisy conditions, commuting to work, and waiting in line. Although these are minor irritants when experienced individually, the cumulative effect of daily hassles can cause substantial stress.

Studies conducted in countries around the world demonstrate that people can actually work themselves to death. Factors such as workplace stress and long hours contribute to the risk of death from overwork. The secret of achievement is not letting what you are doing get to you before you get to it because there were many in your position who have wanted to live with honor but end up digging riches they never got to enjoy. The best way to enjoy a lesson in history is not just actual memorization of a date and details but picking a lesson from the past will help you cope up with the present stressful events. It is a known fact that we need more money in our pocket but our health comes first hence the need for non stressful environment at our work places.

Stress hampers function of the immune system, leaving people more vulnerable to many diseases. It also affects some disorders directly. When people experience stress, their heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, and other body systems prepare to meet the perceived threat. When a person does something active to cope with a threat, these systems return to normal. Running away or fighting the so-called flight-or-fight response is both successful ways of coping with many physical threats. Problems arise, however, when the body is prepared to cope with danger but cannot do so. Being caught in a traffic jam, for example, can cause the body to prepare for a flight-or-fight response, but when no action can be taken, the body's systems remain overly active. Similar repeated experiences of this frustrating nature can lead to conditions such as high blood pressure.

Certain personality traits or organization traits may also lead to stress-related disorders in some individuals. However, research has consistently demonstrated that people who show a high level of hostility, anger, and cynicism or constantly negative about positive ideas by trying to find only the negative part of it, have a higher risk of coronary heart disease than people without these traits. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the most common disorders made worse by stress. Although it has no noticeable symptoms, hypertension can damage the kidneys and can lead to stroke or heart attack. Therefore, for nature to nurture you with a healthy mind you need to reach always a point of compromise to appreciate certain circumstances.

Gastrointestinal problems are an even more common result of stress. Peptic ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or the duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine). Most researchers believe that stress contributes to ulcers by causing excessive secretion of hydrochloric acid. Normally this acid aids digestion by breaking down food in the stomach. But when the stomach produces excessive acid in the absence of food, the acid can eat through the protective mucous lining of the stomach or duodenum. Other stress-related gastrointestinal disorders include irritable bowel syndrome and some inflammatory diseases of the colon and bowel, such as regional enteritis.

Stress can also contribute to some respiratory disorders. For example, stress can trigger an attack of asthma. Asthma attacks are characterized by wheezing, panting, and a feeling of being suffocated. In addition, emotional stress can cause or aggravate many skin disorders, from those that produce itching, tickling, and pain to those that cause rashes and acne.

Major traumatic events such as accidents, catastrophes, or battle experiences may bring on a condition called post-traumatic stress disorder. Once known under war conditions as shell shock or battle fatigue. These include re-experiencing the trauma through disturbing nightmares and memories, emotional numbness, nervous irritability, depression, and sleep difficulties.

Stress-related disorders' treatment depends on the specific disorder. In some cases, treatment is limited to relieving the particular physical symptom involved. Psychological treatments are directed at helping the person to relieve the source of stress or else to learn to cope more effectively with it. Physicians often recommend combinations of physical and psychological treatments.

To sum up, people have tried to understand the causes of stress related disorders and mental illness for thousands of years. The modern era of psychiatry, which began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, has witnessed a sharp debate between biological and psychological perspectives of stress. The biological perspective views stress in terms of bodily processes, whereas psychological perspectives emphasize the roles of a person's upbringing and environment. At this moment you don't have to see a lawyer, politician or rocket scientist to help you understand stress related disorders but consult the Nurses or nearest physician at your health institution for information, education and communication on this very important topic.

JONES H. MUNANG'ANDU (author)

Motivational speaker, health commentator &
Health practitioner
BSc .SWP & HEALTH PROMOTION (AU),
DIP; TECH (UNZA), DIP; NSG, DIP; OD,
DIP; MCPD, CERT ART MGT , CERT PSYCH COUNS.

JONES H. MUNANG’ANDU
JONES H. MUNANG’ANDU, © 2013

The author has 185 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: JONESHMUNANGANDU

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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