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What is Stress?

We all deal with stressful events in our lives. These occurrences may be short-lived, such as fighting traffic or preparing dinner; and they may affect us for long periods of time, as with the loss of a spouse or a debilitating injury.

Stress is what we experience when we face physical, mental, and emotional pressure. Whether these pressures are real or imagined, stress comes as our bodies and brains cope with the perceived obstacle that life has thrown in our path.

Regardless of each stressful experience, we all manage stress differently. A stressful event that greatly affects one person may have little bearing on another. Some people even gain motivation from the short-term stress associated with job interviews, exams, etc.

Who is Affected by Stress?

Everyone is affected by stress in some way or another, and each of us process stressful situations differently. On the whole, stress levels in the U.S. are rising. A Gallup Poll taken in 2019 uncovered a 10-year high in levels of stress and worry among adults. Children, teens, and seniors are also affected by stress, which is, unfortunately, a universal problem.

Recent studies by the American Institute of Stress revealed the following statistics from respondents:

  • 77 percent experience physical indications of stress
  • 73 percent feel psychological symptoms from stress
  • 48 percent believe their stress level has risen over the past 5 years
  • 33 percent are currently living with “extreme” stress


What Symptoms does Stress Produce?

As we respond to stressful events, our bodies produce stress hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. As these are released, our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels increase to give us the ability to escape the situation. Each of our bodies and minds respond in their own ways to these elevated levels of hormones. Accordingly, each of us experiences different symptoms as a result. Some of the more common symptoms of stress are as follows:

Physical symptoms of stress include:
  • Muscle tension and headaches
  • Digestive issues – vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, etc.
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Lethargy and weakness
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Mood swings and unpredictable irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • Inability to relax and unwind
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
  • Impaired decision making
  • Low self confidence
  • Inability to focus
  • Increased negativity
Behavioral symptoms of stress include:
  • Altered eating and sleeping patterns
  • Increased caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco use
  • Elevated signs of nervousness – nail biting, grinding teeth, fidgeting, etc.
  • Social separation and withdrawal from activities

By no means is this an exhaustive list of symptoms. Please be aware that stress can be a dangerous force in our lives, resulting in varied outcomes.


Untreated, stress can develop into other health related issues, such as:
  • Raised cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Elevated risk for stroke
  • Heart disease and hypertension
  • Decreased immune system
  • Alzheimer’s disease

What Causes Stress?

As noted, stress is a wide and varied mental health category. However, we can identify three different types of stress categories that affect us:

  • Routine stress – the “normal” pressures we experience at work, in school, and in our relationships
  • Sudden negative stress – unexpected and elevated stress from events such as an illness, losing a job, or financial problems
  • Traumatic stress – intense stress brought on by major life events including physical assault, accidents, and disasters

Some of the more stressful situations in life include:

  • Divorce and/or marriage issues
  • Death of a spouse or close family member
  • Job termination
  • Retirement
  • Significant personal injury or medical diagnosis


How do you Treat Stress and its Symptoms?

Acute and chronic stress affect our brains and their proper function. We often lose focus and our ability to function properly in other areas of our lives as our brains attempt to cope with the stressful situation.

The first step in treatment is determining the true source of the stress. Sometimes, we misinterpret the origin of our stress and thus focus on the wrong objective. We at Bridgepoint can help ensure that efforts are properly concentrated on what will eliminate your stress, not just temporarily relieve symptoms.

Along with our successful treatment plan, we encourage other practices of healthy living to stimulate proper brain function. If you need help in this area, we can recommend exercise plans, proper nutrition, and medicines that may aid your condition. Please note, however, that medicines are not a proper treatment for stress. Medications can be beneficial in reducing symptoms but will not resolve the stress itself.


How do I Get Help with my Stress?

We understand how difficult living with stress can be, and we want to help you live a healthy life, unencumbered by stress and all the unnecessary weight that it causes you and your loved ones.

Our trained and compassionate counselors are waiting to guide you to recovery. Contact us today to begin a process to uncover the source of your stress and develop a plan to face and mitigate the pressures that are affecting your ability to enjoy life to its fullest.

Visit Our Resources Page

Bridgepoint encourages clinicians, patients, and their loved ones to research new methodologies and techniques to improve mental health and wellbeing. To assist with your own learning, we’ve put together a variety of resources on a variety of topics – including genomics – to help you on your mental health journey.

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