April 25 2022

The impact stress can have on mental health issues

The impact stress can have on mental health issues

Stress is an important issue to contend with, when left unaddressed and when no steps are taken to reign it in, stress can lead to myriad mental health issues, turning a troubling predicament into something far more serious. One thing to be aware of is that chronic stress can increase the risk of developing anxiety and depression. If you become overwhelmed by stress, not only can this make any existing problems you may be suffering with worse, but failing to manage feelings of stress might cause more dangerous mental health problems like depression and anxiety to rear their heads. Mind says that mental health issues can in turn cause stress to develop when trying to cope with the concomitant problems being faced. As a result, it’s not hard to see how a vicious circle can present itself.

The Wellbeing Project, a global consultancy that is a leader in providing expert advice on well-being across all industries and sectors, spoke to us about the importance of combatting work-related stress and how it is linked to mental health:

“The two concepts are closely interconnected, particularly when you consider how much time the average working adult actually spends ‘at work’. When we experience prolonged or repeated pressure at work, yet don’t feel we have the resources to deal effectively with this, we can experience a sense of being overwhelmed and our stress response is triggered. This can have a detrimental impact on how we think, feel and act, not just in the workplace, but also in our personal life, too. Living in a continual state of ‘stress’ can erode many aspects of our overall wellbeing – physical, mental and emotional – and this can impact our motivation, confidence and general enjoyment of all that life has to offer.”

The connection between stress and anxiety

stressed man at work

As mentioned, stress can bring about a host of mental health issues, including anxiety. Anxiety UK, a charity formed in 1970 in order to help those affected by anxiety and stress, knows full well the deep connection between the two issues, especially in the workplace. The charity’s CEO, Nicky Lidbetter, spoke to us in detail about their relation:

“The effects of anxiety and stress are closely linked. Both are compounded by a high level of worry and ‘catastrophizing’ situations. Anxiety and stress both cause physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues and trouble sleeping. Both can lead to behavioural changes too, such as feeling irritable and isolated. Some people may feel the urge to self-medicate their stress and anxiety with drugs or alcohol. Some may experience panic attacks that are triggered by the thought of the situation they are worried about.

“Stress is commonly situational and brought on by certain pressures that build in someone’s professional life. It can also occur when an employee feels under-stimulated, such as not having enough work to do or feeling bored. Unlike anxiety, stress itself is not technically a medical condition. Everyone experiences stress at various points in their lives, and a certain level of pressure in the workplace can help motivate and make employees more productive. However, prolonged stress is linked to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.”

Regarding what people can do when faced with the perils of stress and anxiety, Nicky told us: “Talking to friends and family members about how you’re feeling is a good way to keep your worries in perspective, as well as speaking to a doctor if you feel like stress is having a major impact on you. Many feel that learning about anxiety and how it manifests and affects us is an important tool in managing it long-term.”

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