Stress is basically your brain and body’s reaction to a difficult situation. It is so widespread that many health professionals consider stress to be America’s biggest health problem. The American Institute of Stress estimates that 75% to 90% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related issues. Usually, small everyday stresses pass, allowing your pulse to slow down and your muscles to relax with no harm done. Sometimes, though, the pressures of daily life pile up and your “fight or flight” response never fully shuts off, causing the body to stay in stress mode longer than it should. In addition to chronic or acute stress, post-traumatic stress disorder is the fallout from a terrifying or catastrophic event in your life, usually something where you, or someone close to you, were in danger of being seriously hurt or killed.
Many men have a tendency to cope with stress the same way they cope with other problems. They often bottle it up and refuse to talk, escape physically or by denying there’s a problem. They tend to cover it up, often with illegal drugs or alcohol, or get angry and aggressive. None of these are particularly effective. In fact, these methods almost guarantee that the physical and emotional symptoms will get worse.
Unfortunately, when that happens, most men don’t listen to their bodies and get the help they need. Instead, they keep on ignoring their symptoms until a crisis—like severe chest pains—happens. They add “worrying about my health” to the list of things that cause stress.
What causes stress?
Stress is caused by many things. Money or relationship problems, injury, divorce, the loss of a family member or close friend, losing your job or starting a new one, pressure at work, relationships with your boss or co-workers or environment factors such as the neighborhood you live in, loneliness, or a fight with a friend.
Post-traumatic stress has more extreme causes, such as surviving a serious accident, natural disaster or crime, shooting or being shot at in combat or sustaining a particularly sudden or devastating injury.
Getting the Help You Need
Not feeling like yourself? One or more symptoms persist, even after several weeks? Are they interfering with your life in any way? If so, it’s important to make some changes immediately.
- Review the symptoms for acute, chronic and post traumatic stress. Recognizing the problem is half the battle.
- Physical and mental health are closely related, and small changes in your lifestyle can improve your overall well-being. Visit Tips To Stay Well for ideas.
- You don’t have to do this on your own- reach out to a family member, friend or peer, or visit the resources page on this website to identify local organizations and professionals that can help.
- Talk to your health care provider to rule out other medical conditions that cause symptoms similar to those of stress.
- Don’t wait to take action. Effective treatment options are available and will help you feel like yourself again.