Is stress a mental health problem?

Is stress a mental health problem?

Being under pressure is a normal part of adult life. It can provide a useful energy that helps us take action, feel more energised and get results. However if you often become overwhelmed by stress, these feelings could start to be a problem for you resulting in mental health problems like anxiety or depression. 

Thinking first about stress and the young people I work with, an article about stress and anxiety in students caught my attention: “How anxiety scrambles your brain and makes it hard to learn”, written by Juliet Rix and published in The Guardian, she describes how anxiety causes the body to prepare itself for flight or fight. This can interfere with our ability to concentrate and in students, their ability to study.  

Thinking about how stress affects us as adults, Michael West writing in the British Medical Journal powerfully states, “stress kills people”. He goes on to explain how it can damage our immune function, it damages peoples quality of life and it damages family relationships. West describes stress as “toxic cocktail”, the result of high work-demands coupled with low levels of control and support. This is often a problem for men and women at work, and for mothers and carers. 

Stress leading to anxiety can take root in very early childhood and continue to affect us all our life. Therapy can help: the relationship with a counsellor or therapist can be reparative, giving people a developmental second chance.

You can find more information on mental health, the effects of stress, and the resources and support available on Mind, the mental health charity. Their "How to manage stress" publication is available as a download from their website. 

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