Most people will experience stress and anxiety at some point in their lives.  Stress can even be healthy. Anger sometimes simmers just below the surface or is full-on. Intense confrontation creates hostile environments and builds emotions of resentment, guilt, and fear – each is a pathway to stress.

In some cases, anger, stress and anxiety can be extremely detrimental to health depending on their severity. These feelings often create many of the same emotional and physiological symptoms – a sense of unease and tension, headaches, high blood pressure and affected sleep patterns – but they have very different origins. Understanding which one you’re experiencing is critical to finding an effective treatment plan and feeling well.

Stress is a response to an external cause, such as meeting a tight deadline at work or having a heated exchange with a friend, and generally subsides once the situation has been resolved. As stress is caused by external factors, confronting these head-on can help. If you’re experiencing prolonged, chronic stress, there are many ways to manage and reduce your symptoms.

How can I identify the signs of stress?

Everyone experiences stress. However, when it is affecting your life, health and wellbeing, it is important to address it early.  Stress affects each of us differently.  Here are common signs and symptoms you can look out for:

  • Feelings of constant worry or anxiety
  • A sense of being overwhelmed
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Mood swings or noticeable changes in your mood
  • Irritability and frustration
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Depression or low mood
  • Low self-esteem
  • Changes in eating habits. Eating more or less than usual
  • Changes in your sleeping habits
  • Using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to relax
  • Aches and pains, particularly muscle tension
  • Stomach upsets. Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Feelings of nausea or dizziness
  • Loss of sex drive.

Anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress; its origin is internal and comes from within. Anxiety is often characterised by a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread in situations that are not actually threatening. Unlike stress, anxiety can persist for long periods, even after a concern has passed. In more severe cases, anxiety can escalate and become an anxiety disorder, a common and world-wide mental health issue. Anxiety disorders are classified in a variety of ways: generalised anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Those living with anxiety, as well as chronic stress will benefit from an agreed care plan, with a mental health professional.

It’s important to know how to identify and differentiate signs of anger, stress and anxiety. It is important to identify symptoms early to help prevent the development of debilitating anxiety issues and disorders.

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