Am I at Risk of Chronic Stress Disorder?
For many people, today’s fast-paced world offers prime conditions for stress and pressure to build up over time. While the body’s natural ability to handle stress can go a long way towards keeping stress in check, a person can just as easily fall into destructive thinking and behavior patterns that only work to aggravate stress levels.
Chronic stress disorder develops in cases where short-term and/or long-term stressors start to impair a person’s ability to function in everyday life. As stress affects different people in different ways, not everyone subjected to prolonged stress will develop chronic stress disorder; however, some people may be more so susceptible than others.
The Effects of Stress
In general, a certain degree of stress can be a good thing when it prompts a person to take action or acts as a motivator for productivity. When stress is perceived as a threat or pressure, it can have adverse effects.
According to Harvard Health Publications, the body actually has a built-in stress response that works to prepare its systems to respond to threats and daily challenges. When confronted with perceived stressors the body reacts in the following ways:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated adrenalin levels
- Increased circulation
- Increased breathing rate
- Enhanced sensory perceptions
While these effects can come in handy in emergency situations, prolonged stress conditions can actually wear down the systems that regulate the body’s stress response. When this happens, the risk of developing chronic stress disorder increases.
Long-term stressors in particular can take a considerable toll on the body as these types of stressors tend to be part of a person’s everyday lifestyle. Examples of long-term stressors include:
- Money problems
- Relationship problems
- Work pressure
Over the course of months and years, these situations can create the type of ongoing stress that compromises a person’s physical and/or psychological health.
For more information on chronic stress disorder and available treatment options, call .
Signs of Chronic Stress Disorder
Signs of chronic stress disorder can vary depending on the person, the type of stressors involved and his or her ability to manage daily pressures, according to the University of Maryland. Signs to watch out for include:
- Ongoing fatigue
- Digestion problems, such as stomach aches, heartburn, constipation, diarrhea
- Frequent illness, such as colds or infections
- Confused thinking
- Ringing in the ears, buzzing or popping sounds
- Changes in appetite
- Being accident prone
- Rapid speech patterns
Risk factors associated with chronic stress disorder may stem from any number of areas in a person’s life in terms of his or her childhood upbringing, physical health and emotional stability. Life situations commonly present include:
- Childhood abuse, be it physical, sexual or emotional
- Medical conditions that weaken the body’s immune response, such as arthritis
- Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety disorders
- Poor coping skills
In the absence of needed treatment help, the effects of chronic stress disorder accumulate over time making it increasingly difficult to manage everyday life. This increased difficulty further increases stress levels at which point a person enters into a vicious cycle of ever-increasing stress.
If you suspect you or someone you know struggles with chronic stress disorder and have more questions, or need help locating treatment services, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at to speak with one of our addictions specialists.