Dr B S Suvarna
B.A, D.I.Hom[Lond.], M.I.H, PhD, PGDPC (Psychotherapy & Counselling, USA)
MAMTHA HOMOEO CLINIC
Karnataka State, India
Defining what stress is not any help in understanding this difficult but most important element in our lives , stress is not simply nervous tension , it is not just an emergency release of adrenaline , it is not necessarily something bad , it can not result from positive events ( promotion , marriage ) just as from negative events (loss of a job , or a divorce ) . thus stress can be seen as a very necessary part of life and some thing we need to learn about , rather than something we should avoid , learning to respond to challenges in such a way that we avoid burn-out can be the ultimate goal of a successful and contented life , when we fail to respond to demands and challenges (stressors as they are labeled by the scientists ) then we may experience symptoms and signs of the stressed state .
RECOGNIZING THE DANGER SIGNALS : Becoming aware of these danger signals is often the first step in learning how better to cope . These may be different for each person and will affect one part of the body or mind . They may also manifest themselves by a change of behaviour ( such as drinking more alcohol or driving faster etc.)
MUSCULAR SYSTEM : symptoms connected with this system are the most common and they result from an increase in muscular tension .Symptoms may be felt anywhere in the body , but usually the back of the neck or lower back is the first area . Head aches are the result if increased tension of the muscles , at times accompanied by feelings of nausea or sickness , tension in the jaw muscles leads to grinding of teeth and can produce an imbalance in alignment of the spine . tightening of the muscles of the face leads to pain over the eyes and fore head , any of the muscles in the body can be affected and some do not produce any obvious symptom like pain or tension . The most common groups of muscles to be so affected are the diaphragm , which is a dome shaped muscle separating the contents of the abdomen from the chest , and the pelvic muscles deep in the lower abdomen surrounding the sexual organs . Increased tension of the throat muscles can lead to the sensation of a lump in the throat , can affect speech and accounts in part , for the high pitched and nervous laughter not uncommonly found in people under tension , in the muscular tension is severe , then it can lead to trembling , shaking , nervous ties or frequent blinking . If any warning sign of a stressed state is not attended to , it can produce not only short term discomfort . but long term disability and disease . In addition to the muscles that help us move and are under our conscious control , there is a group of muscles known as involuntary muscles surrounding blood vessels and the intestines which in turn are also affected by the stressed state and produce a whole variety of warning signs , some only apparent to the doctor on examination , other causing trouble some symptoms for those individuals affected , these include:
- Raised blood pressure : because of tension in the muscles surrounding the arteries
- Migraine head aches : the muscles surrounding the arteries of the scalp first constrict (tighten), then dilate (expand) giving rise to the throbbing one sided head ache
- Intestinal symptoms : from rumbling of the stomach to burping or increase in flatus the “irritable bowel syndrome” which causes intermittent diarrhoea and constipation and is often associated with pain and distension of the abdomen results from a disturbance in the muscle tone surrounding the lower gut , these symptoms are also accompanied by loss of appetite .
GLANDULAR SYSTEM : The stressed state may result in many disturbances of the different glands in the body , the most frequent and obvious being excessive sweating , resulting in damp palms and an unpleasant body smell . Similarly , dryness of the throat and mouth with difficulty in swallowing is a common symptom for some individuals.
HEART AND LUNGS : Rapid pulse rate , pounding of the heart , palpitations , rapid shallow breathing or over breathing , known as hyperventilation are common warning sign of some one in a stressed state .
NERVOUS SYSTEM ; dizziness , fainting spells and a general feeling of weakness and lethargy can develop into loss of joie de viure and affect sleep . difficulty ingetting off to sleep , as well as waking up early and tired are very common warning signs . Not so well recognized but equally common is sleeping too much . sleep which is disturbed by dreams or nightmares is frequent for those individuals who are possibly repressing some conscious thoughts during the day . Stress is an inevitable component of modern life . how well we cope with it will determine how healthy we feel . General warning signs include : Inability to concentrate not being able to focus on any thing for long .
General irritability or over exactness which is often followed by periods of sadness , lethargy and depression , floating anxiety –having a sense of mild fear or panic but not quite knowing why.
On occasions the mind is unsettled or distressed , the only way that we can recognize this to be so is by observing our behaviour or habits obvious habits such as excessive smoking or drinking and increased use of tranquilizers or food binging are easy to identify , other behaviours or habits that are equally destructive may include promiscuous sexual activity or accident proneness , tension manifests itself both mentally and physically . Problems with breathing can result from being in a stressed state .
It is possible to expands this list almost indefinitely but what is more helpful is that each of us should become aware of our own warning signs , they serve to tell us that we are in the stressed state – similar to the red light on the dash board that goes on to indicate that the car has run out of oil . unfortunately , what tends to happen is that we ignore the red light or we divert our attention to something else .
What is worse is when we visit our doctor and his approach “ knock the red light out “ these warning signs are invaluable markers and guides that let us know we are in a state of imbalance either with ourselves or our environment . By all means find something to relieve the distress or pain but make sure it is something that helps in returning you to a state of balance and not something which affects the warning sign only . The cause underlying the warning must also be addressed .
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF STRESS AND THE STRESSED STATE :
To be alive means that you have to learn to cope with stress –each event or change in your life can be seen as a stressor ; a series of stressors may lead to the stressed state , so one of the first coping strategies may be to list all the stressors are external i.e., changing house or job , other stressors are internal , i.e., unhappy memories , worrying about unpaid bills etc.,
HOW STRESSED ARE YOU ?
Lists a number of significant life events and assigns them a numerical value according to the levels of stress , they endanger , most stressful, least stressful.
MAJOR LIFE EVENT : death of spouse , divorce , marital separation , jail term , death of close family member , personal injury or illnesses , marriage , lossof job , marital reconciliation , retirement , change in health of family member , pregnancy , sexual problems , gain of new family member , business readjustment , change in financial state , death of close friend , change to different type of work , change to number of arguments with spouse , high mortgage , for closure of mortgage or loan , change in responsibilities at work , son or daughter leaving home , trouble with in-laws , outstanding personal achievement , spouse begins or stops work , beginning or ending education , change in living conditions , change in personal habits, trouble with boss , change in working hours or conditions , moving house , changing schools , change in leisure pursuits , change in church activities , change in social activities , low to medium mortgage or loan , altered sleeping habits , going on holiday , approaching Christmas season , minor violations of law ,
Disharmony in a relationship scores very high on the stress scale , when feelings get out of control , physical health can do also suffer .There is a 50% chance that your health will suffer in the near future , and a score of more than 300 indicates a 90 % chance – unless you take measures to manage your response to stress more effectively . stress is likely risk to your health . It would be sensible to try to change your way of life to lower your stress levels , stress could be a problem for you . try to change some aspects of your life to reduce the effects of stress . you have a high resistance to stress and enjoy a healthy life style .
WHAT ARE YOUR REACTIONS TO STRESSORS : imagine the telephone ringing while you are busy doing an important task . how do you respond ? with irritation and anger or do you choose to ignore it and continue what you are doing , or do you choose to ignore it and continue what you are what you are doing , do you accept the interruption with tolerance and equanimity . these 3 responses are part of every one’s repertoire of reactions to stressors . the first , the fight response , is characteristic of the person who wants to control the stressor , this response is associated with competitiveness , aggression , impatience , people who push themselves constantly and are ambitious use the fight response to manage their stressors ; they have been characterized as having an “A” type personality , some people choose a fight response but do not show it externally . they may appear unemotional , obsessionally “tidy” and give the impression of never being out of control .
The second stress response described involves denial or a flight response ; the unpaid bill is buried underneath the mail , the job vacancy is not applied for such individuals are cautious and conservative , they may feel at the mercy of the world , appear dependent and timid and are prone to depression . the third response has been termed the flow response , this implies accepting the stressor without turning away from it or trying to control it . At first hand it may appear the most mature response , but if it becomes the characteristic method of responding to a stressor , the individual may appear changeable and erratic , they may be inconsistent , have little sense of their own identity and be prone to being influenced by the latest fashion or fad , such individuals who exhibit the flow “stay cool “ response will be attracted to strong charismatic leaders and are the types who become members of religious sects and cults . The 3 responses , fight , fight and flow , have been exaggerated slightly in this analysis to make them clearer . the successful managers of stress are those who do not overuse one or other of these responses , but who are able to use each stress response appropriately as the occasion demands . It is the over use of one stress response or the mismatching of stress response to stressor that is likely to lead to the stressed state of health , learning to cope with stress involves a number of different strategies which can be introduced into one’s daily life and help to influence the life style we lead .
Problems at work , do you fight , flee , or “ go with the flow “ , a balance of the 3 responses to stress is considered ideal , that feelings like grief are expressed openly , people who exhibit a fight response to stressors can find this difficult .
SYMPTOMS AND HOMOEOPATHIC MEDICINES :
Complete and almost total loathing of food and drink tendency to be over weight at the start of the illness . tendency to be sentimental and dislikes being touched may feel peevish sad and weepy.
Medicines: antimonium crudum , can help nervous and anxious people , who are excitable or melancholic and over sensitive to noise –nausea and constantly yawning –a desire for alcohol –asarum europum.
Following a total loss of appetite , lips and tongue become very dry and constipation develops with hard dry stools––Bryonia alba.
Can not bear any disturbance or movements and wants to be left alone , becoming irritable , angry and nervous if disturbed –bryonia alba.
Anorexia begins after suffering grief , fear or extreme anger . –intolerance of any help or consolation . terrible head aches , which come on during the day and recorde in the early evening – tongue feels numb and tingles –acne and greasy skin—natrum muriaticum
Anorexia often follows a debilitating illness –may appear pale and grayish and have a poor memory and slow thought processes .-stomach feels full after the smallest amount of food or drink and can become very distended with wind—carbo veg.
Total aversion to the sight or smell of food and bright lights and noise become unbearable –the illness often comes on after grief –colchicum.
Any slight appetite disappears on eating the first mouthful of food , especially cold food –tendency to become very apprehensive , weepy and cannot bear to be contradicted , -symptoms are worse between 4 and 8 pm –the illness may follow a fright or anger –lycopodium.
Total aversion to the sight or smell of food and bright lights and noise become unbearable . –the illness often comes on after grief –colchicum.
Fear that food is poisonous and becomes very restless anxious and apprehensive , especially at night – dizziness when walking or standing –rhus tox
Nausea from the smell of food cooking. –A tendency to faint very easily . very sad and weepy feelings , with indifference to family and friends . but there is a dread of being alone –a continual empty feeling in the stomach which is not relieved by eating-sepia
Complete appetite loss with sour belching and great acidity in the stomach –skin is unhealthy with acne and itching, which gets worse when scratched or washed –selfish, irritable and argumentative . –a sensation of weakness that is worst mid-morning – abdomen is very sensitive to pressure –sulphur.
Food is vomited as soon as it reaches stomach . –suitable for tall , slim , sensitive artistic types who are oversensitive to light , noise , smells, and touch –restless and fidgety .-affects tall , usually slim women , the illness often follows grief or an unfortunate love affair , complaints of colicky abdominal pains , when trying to eat –calcarea phos.