Causes and Effects of Stress and When to Seek Treatment

Stress occurs in everyone’s lives to some degree or another, either short or long term. Stress can be a positive experience when it offers a person the drive to achieve their goals.

Here, we examine some of the causes and effects of stress, as well as the importance of stress management and treatment in the event of overwhelming or chronic stress.

Causes of stress can be physical or emotional.

Causes of stress can be many and varied. For example, stress can be caused by physical triggers, such as an illness, lack of sleep, and chronic or transient pain. Other physical factors which can trigger stress may be self-induced, such as poor eating habits, too much caffeine, alcohol, or drugs, or can be environmentally based, such as off-gassing, allergies, or even bad weather or pollution.

Emotional causes of stress fall into one of two groups. The first includes event-based psychological stressors, such as fiscal or career problems, a personal crisis or failure, poor family relations or rocky relationships.

The second group of emotional stressors is more internalized, as they are based in the mind of the patient, such as worry, perfectionism, anxiety, depression, fear, sadness or anger. The ongoing psychological effects as the result of a past trauma, such as PTSD, is included in this group. As many of the emotional stressors which cause stress are also effects of stress, the patient may end up in a vicious circle of chronic stress.

Physical effects of stress

Stress always causes physical effects. Here are some of the physical manifestations of stress:

Muscular-- including muscle tension, which can lead to headaches, back or neck pain, jaw problems, and fatigue.

Digestive--IBS, gas, acid stomach or acid reflux, constipation or diarrhea.

Circulatory--heart palpitations or rapid heartbeat, raised blood pressure, shortness of breath, sweating hands, cold hands or feet, dizziness, numb or tingling lips, chest pains, headaches.

Long-term chronic stress--can lead to heart attacks, strokes, diseases, sleep disorders, and poor coping habits (smoking, drinking, overeating), which in turn have undesirable health consequences.

To add to these problems, a person who is under stress is more likely to be in an accident, either as the person at fault or the victim.

When is treatment necessary?

In some cases, an individual can manage stress without outside help, such as short-lived stress, or in the event individual already has effective coping mechanisms in place. Sometimes, it’s merely a matter of deciding on how to deal with the cause. In other circumstances, when there isn’t a method of removing the reason, individuals tailor lifestyle changes to include coping mechanisms, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or turning to a friend to talk. But, sometimes acute or chronic stress manifests itself in ways which are overwhelming. If this is the case, intervention is desirable to manage stress.

Professional stress management involves an arsenal of tools, either relieving the causes or managing the effects of stress. Treatment can include teaching a patient new ways of coping with the causes or effects of stress, talk therapy, medication, massage, and other forms of relief. Of course if you’re in an accident, you should seek help immediately.

Getting help when stress becomes chronic or overwhelming or when it leads to poor health will not only make a person feel better emotionally, but will prevent or lessen physical symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

When you’re injured in a car accident, there is no reason to delay treatment due to lack of insurance or while waiting for insurance approval. Here at Northeast Portland Chiropractic, we treat car accident cases with zero out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Call 503-493-9730.