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How Much Stress Is Too Much: Knowing When to Seek Help

You’ve likely dealt with a few stressful situations today even before stumbling upon this article. If that’s the case, you’re not alone. Around 60% of Americans say they become stressed or worried on a daily basis. Experiencing stressors is a normal part of living, but at what point do these feelings make up too much stress?

The answer to this question is complex, but it’s important that you understand these complexities. Common worries and strains could lead to stress-related disorders, and even management techniques dealing with these feelings can prove unhealthy. This guide will help you know when to seek help. If you’re at that point, reach out to Transformations Treatment Center today.

Can Too Much Stress Lead to a Mental Disorder?

Dealing with stress is an expected part of the human experience. Unfortunately, this reality often results in people not seeking help when they need it. Far too many convince themselves they should “just get over it.” This at least partially explains why 60% of individuals with mental illness in America don’t receive treatment.

Unfortunately, the line between what constitutes typical and too much stress isn’t always clear. The feelings of anxiety a person has related to starting a new job, for instance, can certainly feel overwhelming in the moment. In most cases, though, these are fleeting reactions. How can you tell when you may have a more serious problem?

Look out for the following symptoms:

  • Intrusion symptoms: Recurring painful memories, thoughts, or nightmares. These could include dissociative events, feelings, and flashbacks related to specific stressors.
  • Avoidance symptoms: Mental or physical acts meant to avoid or prevent stressors. A person may avoid places, events, situations, and even people in order to prevent themselves from feeling stress.
  • Negative alterations: A person’s cognitive abilities and mood can drastically change due to stress. These could include the emergence of other mental health issues such as shame, isolation, and depressive disorders.
  • Hyperarousal symptoms: Too much stress can also lead to irritability, self-harm, lack of concentration, sleep disturbances, hyperactivity, and even violent outbursts.

Each of these symptoms could show the existence of stress-related disorders. Even these red flags, however, are not always indicative of a major issue. Most individuals have likely experienced these feelings at some point, but they typically aren’t severe or don’t last long. Once these issues start seriously interfering with your life, though, it’s time to seek help.

Keep in mind that there are many issues that can arise from too much stress, and they’re not all equal in their severity. Acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), for instance, are different conditions whose outcomes vary drastically. Each of these can cause major issues in your life, though, so seeking treatment is important regardless of your specific circumstances.

Improper Coping with Stress Can Be Dangerous

Developing a stress-related disorder is a major problem, but it’s not the only danger a person can face. Some of the biggest issues seen with individuals who have too much stress involve unhealthy coping mechanisms. For instance, nearly 40% of American adults admit to overeating in the last month in order to deal with stress.

Unfortunately, nearly one in three Americans say that eating is one of their primary coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Of course, not everyone deals with these feelings in the same way. Some people feel like they can’t eat when they’re stressed out. Either of these issues could lead to eating disorders, but even when they don’t, they’re not good for your health.

The following are some other common unhealthy ways of dealing with too much stress:

  • Smoking cigarettes.
  • Binge or problem drinking.
  • Abusing drugs.
  • Agitated or aggressive behavior.
  • Watching too much television.

Each of these issues can exist separately from stress-related disorders. Unfortunately, they’re unhealthy regardless of their underlying cause. If you find yourself managing stress through these behaviors, try other coping mechanisms instead. Alternatives include reading, listening to music, spending time with friends and family, exercising, or simply getting out of the house.

If you’ve tried other ways of managing too much stress without success, you may benefit from the Coping Skills group offered by Transformations at Mending Fences.

Physical Symptoms of Too Much Stress

Psychiatric symptoms and unhealthy coping mechanisms aren’t the only negative outcomes of untreated stress. Like many other mental health issues, stress-related disorders can cause physical symptoms as well. You may not even realize that some of these issues stem from having too much stress.

If you experience any of the following unexplained symptoms, there’s a good chance that stress is the underlying cause:

  • Headaches.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Frequent illness.
  • Decreased energy.
  • Change in sex drive.
  • Digestive issues.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure or chest pain.
  • Tense muscles or clenched jaw.

Just like the mental effects of too much stress, these symptoms can occur even in those without a diagnosable condition. Many individuals even develop acne and cold sores when they’re overly stressed. This is another situation when you should become concerned when the issues turn long term or start affecting your life seriously.

Don’t Let Too Much Stress Ruin Your Life

No one makes it through life without experiencing stress. Even with this normal human process, though, problems have the potential to arise. Once such feelings become long term or severe or interfere with your life, it may be time to seek help. Stress-related disorders come in many forms, but in all cases, help is available for those who want their lives back.

Our certified staff of professionals understands the burden that can come from too much stress. And since no two people experience these feelings the same way, never convince yourself that you’re overreacting. If stress has become a hindrance to your life, contact us today to learn how we can help you overcome these hurdles.