Sunday, April 6, 2014

STRESS And ANXIETY - The Silent Killer

Everyone has experienced stress and anxiety at some point in their lives.  Scientists have proven that stress is not a state of mind but something measurable and dangerous.  Stress can do something as subtle as kill your brain cells, shrink your brain, add fat to your body and age you.  Stress is caused by an existing stress-causing factor or "stressor".  Anxiety is stress that continues after the stressor is gone.  Some people can and do cope with the many causes of stress and anxiety, but millions of people everyday can't seem to turn down the voltage.

I have struggled with stress and anxiety as long as I can remember.  Doctors have prescribed medications such as Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax for me through the years to help me minimize the debilitating symptoms of anxiety.  I'm sure some of you recognize the names of these prescription anti-anxiety meds (benzodiazepines) as millions of Americans suffer from some form of anxiety today. Your heart pounds inside of your chest and you hyperventilate - these symptoms are overwhelming.  Anxiety medications only serve to treat these symptoms but have little effect on the underlying trigger. The worst part of stress is that if it continues, you eventually will become ill and it can kill you. 

I don't need to tell you what causes you to be stressed-out.  The list is long: poverty, loss of family or friends, loss of job, divorce, no control, disappointments, etc.  I will mention P.T.S.D. because I happen to know of a good friend who suffers from the after effects of going to war, and in my opinion that has to be the worst kind of stress, beyond my imagination.

Stress is something we need to attend to today!  My personal journey with stress and anxiety has led me to seek help other than just pharmaceutical medications.
I'm not a doctor or a psychiatrist, but I do know there are healthier ways to cope with stress.  I meditate and follow these tips for coping:

  • Take care of yourself.
    • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
    • Exercise on a regular basis
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out
  • Talk to others. Share your problems and how you are feeling and coping with a parent, friend, counselor, doctor, or pastor.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help with the stress. In the long run, they create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
  • Take a break. If your stress is caused by a national or local event, take breaks from listening to the news stories, which can increase your stress.
Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue or you are thinking about suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker, or professional counselor.

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