Everyday life can at times be incredibly demanding and challenging on your body and mind. Having to constantly react and readjust to the changing social climate we live in can put a burden on you not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Whilst a certain level of stress is actually a good thing and can help to keep you motivated to achieve your goals and sufficiently challenged to make your everyday life stimulating, too much of it can be a negative thing. This can manifest itself in all sorts of ways; some mental, others physical. A trip to the GP can nip problems in the bud and ensure you maintain a healthy, happy lifestyle.
The term ‘stress’ and the existing connotations and preconceptions associated with it can make a lot of people assume that stress is simply a psychological problem that can be overcome independently and without help. The fact that the idea of stress derives from the outdated and inaccurate term ‘hysteria’ – applied almost exclusively to women and linked intrinsically with over-emotionality – does not help people to recognise it as a serious problem. Yet an overload of stress that is not treated can lead to an array of ailments and is a gateway to bigger problems. In fact, over three quarters of all problems addressed by GPs are related to stress in some way – and untreated, these problems normally plague the sufferer for over half of their life.
Why go to your GP for stress?
A build-up of stress can manifest itself as physical symptoms such as headaches, muscular tension, insomnia and palpitations, as well as leading to more serious problems like diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure and heart conditions. Moreover, as well as the myriad of physical conditions it can lead to, stress can also have a terribly adverse affect on the human psyche. Amongst others, it can be a catalyst for depression, irritability, lack of self-confidence, a withdrawal from loved ones and even self-harm or suicide.
What to look out for
If you notice any of the physical symptoms listed above (headaches, migraines, muscular, abdominal or gastrointestinal pains etc.) that do not have an obvious recent cause and do not dissipate after more than a few days, seek an appointment with your GP for a check-up. Similarly, any marked change in either eating or sleeping patters (either significantly more or less) without an obvious cause can also be a signpost that you are under too much stress. Furthermore, if you notice you are becoming overly or irrationally irritated by trivial things, have trouble focussing or making decisions or experience a general sense of apathy, you should seek medical attention to ensure these problems do not become exacerbated.
What to avoid
Simply trying to avoid the problem is not a great solution. Stress rarely goes away on its own and more often than not, will deteriorate and potentially cause more serious problems. Intoxicants, such as alcohol, caffeine, tobacco or stronger drugs should also be avoided. Alcohol in particular is a mood enhancer; therefore, if you are feeling highly strung, nervous or pessimistic, alcohol can actually make the situation worse and increase stress levels, rather than relieving them, thus having the opposite effect from that intended. If you find yourself becoming dependent on alcohol or other intoxicants to relieve stress, it’s time you booked an appointment with your local doctor to assess the situation.
To see a GP near where you work call Broadgate GP on 020 7638 4330 – Same day appointments available.