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Are stress levels worrying you?

January 9, 2011
By CATHY BROWNFIELD, Family Recovery Center

Is blood pressure giving you problems? When your doctor asks, "What are your highest stressors?" it's time to take a look at the toxic triggers of your anxiety and stress.

"Joe" had been dealing with some major life changing issues over the long term, and not very well. He worried about everything and everyone in his household, even the grown children. "I can't help worrying," he said.

Well, you can help it. It's challenging, or maybe it's just downright difficult to do, but you can do something about your high stress level. It begins with a thinking strategy: Don't worry. Be concerned. Worry is a waste of time with nothing to show for the time spent doing it. But concern is a whole other concept. When you are concerned, you do what you can about the problem, then you "give it to God" or your concept of the Supreme Being. Then you move on. If resources come along at a later date that will let you change things, you can be concerned again then.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) online says, "People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) get through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.

Symptoms of GAD include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, frequent trips to the bathroom, feeling out of breath and hot flashes.

"Other anxiety disorders, depression or substance abuse often accompany GAD, which rarely occurs alone," says NIH. The American Institute of Stress advises, "Stress is difficult for scientists to define because it is a subjective sensation associated with varied symptoms that differ for each of us."

That could be Joe.

There is something called PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) which can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened, says the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). "People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled." Symptoms may be re-experiencing the traumatic event, avoiding reminders of the incident, emotional numbness, guilt, depression or worry, and having sleeping difficulties or angry outbursts.

That could be Joe. But he needs to see his health care provider for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

Stress symptoms present a long list of possible signs too many to list here, but you can find them at Some people blush. Some grind their teeth, get headaches or have frequent or unexplained asthma attacks, chest pain or heart palpitations, even hostility.

These times we live in are very stressful. WebMD says your body responds to stress when it perceives danger. Hormones speed up your heart, you breathe faster and have a burst of energy. (That's called the fight or flight stress response.) When stress happens frequently and lasts a long time, it can cause your immune system to weaken. Health problems you may already have can become worse.

Figure out what's causing your stress and eliminate as much of the bad stress as you can. If you aren't sure about your stress level, go to and take the life-changing stress test. If your stress level is high, you should find ways to stabilize life changes such as marriage, divorce, death in the family, etc. How well are you communicating with others in your life? Are you over-committed? What can you do to balance priorities in a more realistic way?

Your first priority is to reduce your stress and improve your health. If you need some help with that, Family Recovery Center can help point you in the right direction so you can succeed at reducing stress and healing yourself.

FRC promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities and is located at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email, FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County. For information about our education, prevention and treatment programs, call us.



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