What symptoms does a person with stress develop? How can you tell if those symptoms are due to stress or something else?
Everyone experiences stress in their lives, but some people cope with it far better than others, and some experience far more due to their individual circumstances.
Stress can cause a very wide range of physical illnesses. Chronic headaches and peptic ulcers are probably the best known diseases due to stress, but depression, heart disease, migraines, diarrhoea, shortness of breath, sweating, passing excess urine, rashes, vomiting and a host of other symptoms may be an outward manifestation of inward emotional turmoil.
There is often no easy way to tell if the symptoms are due to stress or some other underlying disease, and doctors may perform numerous blood and other tests to exclude any other possible diagnosis.
I am a very timid person, and do not like any change in my life. I have been prescribed antidepressant medications by my doctor, and they seem to help, but I don’t think I am depressed. Could there be some other cause?
A I think you may be suffering from social anxiety disorder. This is a common form of neurosis in which the patient realises that they have an irrational level of anxiety or fear. It may be due to an unfortunate experience earlier in life, depression, trauma or stress, but often no cause can be identified.
Patients have a prolonged (greater than six months) marked and persistent abnormal fear about one or more social activities such that fear of embarrassment causes avoidance of others, avoidance of activities that draw attention, and a fear of looking stupid in the eyes of others. The patient does everything possible to avoid these situations, or they are endowed with intense anxiety. If exposed to feared situation, the patient may develop a tremor, stuttering, sweating, rapid heart rate and collapse.
Treatment involves counselling, abreaction (gradual exposure under supervision to situations that provoke fear), and some types of antidepressant medications. Some patients may become totally housebound and unable to function in society.
Fortunately, there is usually a good response to appropriate treatment.