Medical Treatments for Stress

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Treatment Of Stress

Sometimes non-medical treatments for stress don’t work, or they just aren’t enough.  For chronic stress especially, medical help may be necessary.  If you’ve tried other forms of stress management and nothing has worked, medical treatment may be your only option.

There are many different types of medical treatments available for stress.  Some of these involve various forms of clinical behavioral therapy.  Others may involve the use of biofeedback or other forms of therapy.  But medication can also be successfully used in many instances.

Anxiety Drugs

Medication that is used for anxiety can be successfully used to treat stress in many cases.  Anxiety and stress are similar in many ways, and are closely related.  Medications like Xanax, Valium, Ativan, and other benzodiazapines are popular.  They can be highly addictive and have serious side effects, so these aren’t generally given except in extreme circumstances or for short-term stress management.

Other anxiety medications like Clonazepam (Klonopin) aren’t quite as addictive, but may take longer to work and might not have the same level of effectiveness as the benzos.

Antidepressants

These can be used in some cases, especially when stress coexists with depression.  Sometimes when depression is controlled, the stress is mitigated naturally.  Other times the stress will still be present, but it will be minimized as the patient’s depression lessens and other parts of their life improve.

Antidepressants can also have very serious side effects, so they should be used with caution.  Remember to discuss with your doctor the potential side effects of any medication, as well as any interactions with other medications you might be taking.

Taking medication is never an easy choice, but sometimes it’s necessary.  Stress can wreak havoc on your body and your mind, so don’t be afraid to seek medical treatment if you’ve tried other stress management methods and nothing else has worked.

Building a Support Network

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Treatment Of Stress

One very important thing you can do to help reduce stress in your life if to build a strong support network.  Everyone needs a strong network of people they can rely on to be there for them and help them in times of trouble.  This could be friends, family, coworkers, mental health professionals, or support groups.  The important thing is to have a strong foundation of people around you to support you whenever you need it.

Most people depend on their family to be their support network.  This might include parents, grandparents, siblings, children, grandchildren, spouses, or extended family.  If you have a strong support network within your own family, you already have a sensational start.  Unfortunately, a lot of people just don’t have this kind of support network in their families.

Even if you have an enormous amount of support from within your family, it’s still advisable to build a strong network outside the family unit, as well.  Families can run into issues, sometimes.  You may also need someone to talk to about your family, especially if a family issue one day becomes one of your biggest stressors.

The larger and more diverse your support network, the more likely you are to have help when you need it.  Just be sure to build a network of trustworthy individuals.  If you can trust or rely on someone, you might be better off keeping them out of your network, or at least keeping the relationship mostly casual.

Whenever times are hard, we all need someone to help us through.  If you don’t have someone, get someone.  Even if you have to enlist the help of coworkers, someone from your church, or a professional therapist, you need that network available.

And don’t forget support groups.  They can be a remarkable source of friendly faces.  If you can’t find one, start one!  You may find others who need someone just as much as you do.

Organize to Reduce Stress

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured, Treatment Of Stress

Many people tend to think of stress reduction and stress management as involving therapy, the use of medication, and treatments like meditation and biofeedback.  But there are other treatments than can actually be a lot more simple.  In fact, the best way to treat any problem is to go after the root.  In this case, we’ll be looking at a very common cause of excess stress – being disorganized.

When you lack organization, stress can overwhelm you.  Every event like losing car keys, misplacing important documents, forgetting apointments, and missing birthdays and anniversaries is stressful.  These events can add up and eventually lead to chronic stress.

A simple solution to help ease a lot of this stress is to organize your life better.  Most people aren’t as organized as they’d like to be.  You may even think you’re pretty organized, but if you look at your life, you might notice some areas that are lacking.

For example, do you have a clear way of keeping track of appointments?  Marking them on a calendar might not be enough, especially if you are a forgetful person by nature.  I had a friend who was constantly missing appointments, and I asked her why she didn’t just mark them on her calendar.  “I do!” she responded.  “But then I forget to look at the calendar!”

Using a software program that sends you reminders can be helpful.  If you don’t have a computer, you can subscribe to reminder services that can telephone or text you whenever you have an important event that you ask to be reminded of.

How organized is your home, your office, or your desk?  I’m not asking how clean it looks, I’m asking how organized it is.  Many places appear to be clean and organized, and then you ask the inhabiter to find something and they run off rummaging through endless disorganized drawers and closets full of clutter.

If you aren’t as organized as you’d like to be and you don’t know where to start, you can enlist the help of a professional organizer.  They can actually be found relatively inexpensively, and they often end up paying for themselves in terms of stress reduction and time saved!

If you’re already super-organized, that’s great news!  But if you’re like most of us, you could always use a bit more organization in your life.  Take the time to find out where you could organize your life a bit better.  You’ll probably find several areas where you could become better organized and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress.

Meditation For Stress

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Treatment Of Stress

Meditation is a process that anyone can use to reduce stress and regain mental focus and clarity.  There’s nothing magical or mystical about the process.  In fact, the process is entirely physiological.  Mediation helps bring brainwaves and brain chemicals back into balance, in much the same way sleep does each night.

There are many different types of meditation.  You can use special audio programs to guide yourself, or you can use a simplified form of meditation that requires only a relaxing position and a few minutes of peace and quiet, or at least some uninterrupted time.

Here’s a simple meditation routine you can use anywhere:

  • Start by sitting comfortably, whereever and however you are comfortable.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Take a deep breath, hold it for ten seconds, then slowly release it.
  • Now start by relaxing your muscles starting from either your toes and working up, or the top of your head and working down.
  • Notice each and every muscle group as you relax it individually.  (This may take practice.)
  • Focus your attention on breathing slowly and rhythmically.
  • Pay attention to your breathing, as it will help guide you into a meditative state.
  • Keep breathing, counting each breath if you need to in order to keep your mind focused.
  • Keep this up for anywhere from 5-20 minutes, as you have time or desire.

You can also focus on an object like a candle, photograph, or object.  You can use various sounds like your own voice humming or chanting, music, relaxation sounds, brainwave entrainment CDs, or other noises you find helpful.  Imagery is also helpful.  Imagining yourself in the calmest, most serene environment you can personally imagine is very soothing.

Don’t dismiss meditation as new-age mumbo jumbo until you’ve given it a try.  Most people are shocked at just how effective it can really be!

Stress In The Workplace

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Causes Of Stress

Perhaps the most common cause of stress is associated with a person’s job or business.  A person spends a very big chunk of their life at work, and it’s not something most people can simply avoid when they need to cut down on their stress levels.  Unless you have a big trust fund or still live with your parents, it’s not likely you could reasonably avoid work for long!

Workplace stress is a very serious issue that is affecting millions of people today.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found a number of responses to various studies on the issue of stress in the workplace.  A study by Northwestern Nation life found that 40% of people classify their job as “very or extremely stressful”.  The Families and Work Intitute found that 26% say they are “often or very often burned out or stressed” by their work.  And a survey done by Yale University discovered that 29% of workers reported feeling “quite a bit of extremely stressed at work”.

A staggering one fourth of employees say their job is the number one source of stress in their lives, so the problem is quite widespread and very serious.  With so many people experiencing stress on the job, is it any wonder our health is suffering?

There are a number of things you can do to help ease some of the stress you feel at work:

  • Try to strike a balance between your work life, family, and personal life.
  • Build a network of friends and family to support you.
  • Talk to your employer about how you feel and see if solutions can be found.
  • Get enough rest.  Working to exhaustion can worsen stress.
  • Ask for help.  Call on family, friends, coworkers, your boss, and anyone who will listen.

If you are experiencing stress at work, you need to take action to correct it.  If you don’t, your health will end up suffering, your relationships could have issues, and you could end up quitting your job out of sheer desperation.  It’s much better to try to fix things than to just abandon ship.

Relationships And Stress

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Causes Of Stress

Relationship issues are one of the most common causes of chronic stress.  When your relationship isn’t happy or is having issues, it can effect your whole life.  A lot of people underestimage the importance of having a healthy relationship.  They may think other things like money, work, and kids come first.  But that can lead to serious troubles that actually affect all of those things.

Whenever your relationship is having problems, it causes stress.  Chronic stress can cause you to perform poorly at work, lead to job loss, and even cause you to mistreat other people around you, like coworkers, friends, and even your children.  When relationship problems are left to fester, they can spread into every other area of your life.

You may not even realize that you have serious issues in your relationship.  Some people are absolutely shocked when their mrelationship breaks up, having felt everything was ok.  But in retrospect they can often see that the relationship had been in trouble for some time.

As yourself these questions:

  • Do you and your partner fight often more than once per week?
  • Do you feel any anger, resentment, or hostility towards your partner?
  • Do you ever suspect your partner might be cheating on you, or thinking about it?
  • Are you cheating on your partner, or thinking about it?
  • Do you ever find yourself wishing things could “be like they used to be”?
  • Do you think you get enough attention from your partner?
  • Do you feel you spend enough time together?
  • Do you believe your sex life is mutually satisfying?

These are all issues that, while many are mild, can all lead to serious relationship troubles.  Things like cheating are obviously extremely detrimental to a relationship, but even minor issues like arguing often or feelings of lack of attention can mount up and lead to more severe problems.

Please take a good look at your relationship as a potential source of stress.  If you’ve been trying to de-stress your life and are still feeling the effects, this might be one place you’ve thus far overlooked!

The Effects Of Stress On Health

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Effects Of Stress

Stress can have a number of different effects on your body and your health.   While it isn’t possible to avoid stress completely, it is vital to your health to minimize the stress in your life.  If you don’t, your health could suffer dramatically.

Stress can cause many different minor ailments.  It can cause minor headaches, nausea, minor sleep disturbances, mild depresssion, muscle aches, and other minor issues.  These are usually relatively easy to deal with quickly by simply participating in a stress management course or taking over-the-counter painkillers.

But stress can have many effects that are much more detrimental to your health.  Among the dangerous and even life-threatning issues that can be caused by, or exacerbated by, stress, are:

  • Chronic high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or heart attacks.
  • Severe insomnia.  The lack of sleep can also cause severe health issues.
  • Major depression, which can harm relationships and even lead to suicide.
  • Reduced immune function, potentially leading to very serious illnesses that are hard to get rid of.

These are just a few of the very serious health issues that can be caused by stress.  It truly can be extremely dangerous to your health, so it is critical that you seek treatment for chronic stress before it has a chance to do more damage to your body.

You can see your doctor or a licensed therapist to discuss treatment options.  Just don’t wait, because the effects of stress can build up over time and the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to treat.

Can Stress Cause Migraines?

January 31, 2009 by  
Filed under Effects Of Stress

Migraine headaches are painful, distracting, and very hard to treat.  Because doctors don’t know exactly what causes them, they are difficult to diagnose and treat.  Research may not yet be as thorough as we’d like, but one thing is for certain – stress can absolutely bring on or at least exacerbate migraine headaches.

Emotional stress is a very common trigger or migraine headaches.  In fact, extreme stress can cause headaches even in people who have never had a history of migraines.  Headaches due to stress are especially common in individuals with a known history of migraines.  Migraine sufferers often find that their headaches are stronger and occur more often during the most stressful periods of their lives.

Whenever an individual is under stress, the brain releases various chemicals to help the body respond to the stress.  This “fight or flight” response is meant to help creatures flee from predators and handle other life-threatening situations, but it can’t distinguish between being attacked by a lion and being yelled at by your boss.  When these chemicals are released often and no extreme “fight or flight” situation occurs, a chronic situation can develop.

Chronic stress can cause all kinds of issues, including tension headaches and migraines.  While these headaches can be triggered by a single stressful even, especially in someone who is tired or ill, it is usually caused by a build-up of stress or stress that is experienced on a regular basis.

Treatment for these headaches generally requires treatment of the root issue – the stress.  Stress management, counseling, and sometimes the use of antidepressants and anxiety medications can often help.  Once the root is treated, the symtoms usually disappear or ease up significantly.