Written by Dr Ruth Dyson
There is no strict medical definition of "stress" and it can mean different things to different people. For some it is a mental health condition and for others it can have predominently physical effects; for some it may be the reaction to an external pressure or situation and for others it may be a result of internal pressure. As there is no strict definition of stress it is impossible to say how many people are affected at any one time but almost all of us have had the experience of feeling "stressed" at some point! While it is difficult to define we often have a sense of when life's normal pressures (and our reaction to them) are becoming problematic. This can then be considered a negative form of stress.
Symptoms and Signs
Signs and symptoms of stress include insomnia, racing heart, rapid breathing, muscular tension leading to aches and pains, GI upset and effects on appetite, palpitations,.... the list goes on! Many of these effects are linked to prolonged activation of the "fight or flight response" and the subsequent stress response within our bodies.
There is no specific test to identify when we are suffering from stress but sometimes tests may be helpful to rule out other conditions as a cause of symptoms and to quantify the activation of the stress response by looking at cortisol levels or other functional tests.
Management of stress
Learning to identify when we are becoming stressed, how to counteract the negative physical effects of that stress, and techniques to return ourselves to a more positive state of mind and body are very helpful.
Hypnotherapy is a very effective approach to help reduce stress and deal with any underlying contributory factors. If the stress has resulted in muscular tension then Massage Therapy or Acupuncture can be helpful. Reflexology can be profoundly relaxing and help to balance the body. Or if the chronic stress has had a negative effect on the body then you may find a consultation with one of our Integrated Medicine Doctors to be beneficial.
What practitioners can I see about this condition?
After you initial consultation, we recommend that you have regular check-ups to monitor your symptoms and response to interventions. The practitioner will advise on appropriate follow up arrangements for your individual situation.
Depending on your needs, your care may be shared with other practitioners at the natural practice or elsewhere. Whenever you permit us, we will write to your GP to ensure they are aware of our recommendations and follow up arrangements.