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Timely diagnosis and treatment of stress makes a lot of difference in your overall well-being and standard of life. Read on to know more on the diagnosis and treatment options for stress.

How to diagnose stress?

A certified mental health professional would diagnose stress by employing either/all of the below techniques:

  1. A face to face interview, probing into the aspects that make you feel stressed, the major symptoms you experience, the reasons that you might feel is causing the stress etc.
  • Standardized questionnaires like Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) and Standard Stress Scale (SSS).
  • Biochemical measures.
  • Physiological measures like electrocardiogram (ECG, also known as EKG).

Can you self-diagnose stress?

You can very well check for the symptoms of stress; there are self-assessment tests and quizzes that can help you in diagnosing if your stress levels are high and bothersome. However, it is always advisable to seek the intervention of a medical practitioner for a proper and timely diagnosis and treatment.

How to treat stress? Is stress completely curable?

First of all, stress is seldom categorized as a medical condition as it is your body’s innate biological response to threats in the environment. Hence, the scope of curability is out of question. The treatment is rather enabling you to deal and cope effectively with the symptoms of stress and not uprooting stress as such.

What are the different ways to treat the signs of stress? What can you do about the troubling symptoms of stress?

There are various treatment methods by which doctors approach stress management. The most widely used ones are:

  1. Psychotherapy:

The focal point of psychotherapy is the comprehensive analysis of the root causes pointing to stress and dealing with the causes employing successful and effective strategies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) attempts to analyze thought patterns, helps in identifying negative aspects, and enhances your thought process by making it more positive through the application of different tools and methods.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a therapeutic technique that involves mindfulness, yoga and meditation aiming at effective stress reduction.

2. Medication: When to take medication for stress?

As already mentioned, stress is not a medical condition and hence, doctors usually avoid medication for individuals presenting with stress symptoms. However, medicines become a necessity if there are other latent illnesses like anxiety disorder or depression.

The common types of medication used to control and manage stress symptoms are:

Antidepressants: Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) form the most prevalently used class of antidepressants that can aid with effective stress management.

Sedatives (CNS depressant): Sedatives work by slowing down the functioning of the Central Nervous System (CNS), thereby inducing a sense of calmness and relaxation. They aim at mitigating and relieving all sorts of worries and tensions and often cause sleepiness.

Beta blockers: Beta blockers refer to certain medications, commonly prescribed for controlling hypertension (high blood pressure) and managing cardiac troubles. Beta blockers also give positive results in regulating stress symptoms.

Nutritional supplements: The very commonly used B complex is said to be a great supplement in shooting out stress symptoms. Other effective supplements include melatonin, glycine, rhodiola, kava and L-theanine.

3. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM):

Some complementary techniques like acupuncture, yoga, aromatherapy and reflexology are also employed in stress management. CAM focuses on the emotional as well as physical well-being.

Can stress cause other mental illnesses like depression and anxiety?

Stress, in itself, is not a mental illness. However, researchers have established a strong connection between stress and other mental disorders like anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Chronic stress negatively influences the brain, specifically the areas pertaining to memory and learning; grey matter and white matter. Precisely, stress is capable of altering the structure of the human brain. Such changes could bring about other mental illnesses.

How does stress affect your body?

The predominant physical symptoms of stress are:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart problems
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea and indigestion
  • Hair loss and early graying of hair
  • High blood sugar
  • Weakened immune system
  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Miscarriage
  • Stomachache
  • Respiratory issues and rapid breathing
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Skin problems like acne, rashes and eczema

If symptoms of stress persist, ensure that you seek medical intervention at the earliest.