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     Volume 9 Issue 40| October 15, 2010 |

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Stressed Out


Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. What is stressful to one person is not necessarily stressful to another. Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension or fear. The source of this uneasiness is not always known or recognized, which can add to the distress you feel. Certain drugs such as Alcohol, Bronchodilators for asthma, Caffeine, Cocaine and Nicotine can lead to symptoms of anxiety due to either side effects or withdrawal from the drug.

A poor diet – for example, low levels of vitamin B12 – can also contribute to stress or anxiety. Performance anxiety is related to specific situations, like taking a test or making a presentation in public. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after a traumatic event like war, physical or sexual assault, or a natural disaster. People with generalized anxiety disorder experience almost constant worry or anxiety about many things on more than half of all days for 6 months. Panic disorder or panic attacks involve sudden and unexplained fear, rapid breathing, and increased heartbeat. In very rare cases, a tumour of the adrenal gland may be the cause of anxiety. The symptoms are caused by an overproduction of hormones responsible for the feelings of anxiety.

Diagnosing anxiety is difficult and complex because of the variety of possible causes and because each person's symptoms arise from highly personalised and individualised experiences. When a doctor examines an anxious patient, he or she will first rule out physical conditions and diseases that have anxiety as a symptom. The doctor will then take the patient's history to see if prescription drugs, alcohol or drug abuse, caffeine, work environment, or other external stressors could be triggering the anxiety. In most cases, the most important source of diagnostic information is the patient's psychological and social history.

The most effective solution is to find and address the source of your stress or anxiety. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. A first step is to take an inventory of what you think might be making you "stress out":

* What do you worry about most?
* Is something constantly on your mind?
* Does anything in particular make you sad or depressed?
* Keep a diary of the experiences and thoughts that seem to be related to your anxiety. Are your thoughts adding to your anxiety in these situations?

Then, find someone you trust (friend, family member, neighbour, clergy) who will listen to you. Often, just talking to a friend or loved one is all that is needed to relieve anxiety. Most communities also have support groups and hotlines that can help. Social workers, psychologists, and other mental health professionals may be needed for therapy and medication.

Also, find healthy ways to cope with stress. For example:
* Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet. Don't overeat.
* Get enough sleep.
* Exercise regularly.
* Don't use alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, or other recreational drugs.

Take breaks from work. Make sure to balance fun activities with your responsibilities. Spend time with people you enjoy.



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