08 January 2009

Is negative stress a common phenomenon?

Stress has been labelled the "plague" of the new millennium and with good reason - stress is the number one cause of modern diseases. So you are not alone!


Yes! Research has proven that 80–90% of today’s diseases are stress-related. In the US the cost of job-related stress comes to $200 billion per annum, often disguised in the form of increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased staff turnover, accidents, compensation claims, health insurance (medical aid) claims and medical costs.

Emotional stress may be transformed (somatised) into and expressed or manifested in any number of specific and non-specific physical symptoms such as dermatitis, heart palpitations, backache, chronic fatigue, headaches, sleep disturbances, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal distress, hyperventilation, low blood sugar, high blood pressure, urination problems, weight gain or weight loss, unusual allergies, frequent irritating infections such as colds, leaky gut syndrome, candidiasis and cold sores, depressed mood and so on.

Seventy to eighty percent of all visits to a medical practitioner are stress related. There is an astonishing 75% reduction in the use of medical resources in patients with stress associated symptoms after they start implementing regular daily stress management techniques.

The warning signs for going into negative stress:

  • Reduced productivity and creativity: Nothing works the way it should. Everything is too much for you. You cannot find the solutions to problems. You are afraid of making the wrong decision, so you end up not making any decision at all. You are unable to concentrate or remember things. Depression starts in much the same way.
  • A reduced feeling of wellbeing, joy and happiness: You no longer enjoy anything. You don't look forward to anything. Everything is a burden. These symptoms can be precursors to depression unless you take the necessary precautions timeously.
  • All sorts of unfortunate things happen to you. You become so preoccupied with the daily stress of living that you are unable to focus or concentrate. This leads to car accidents; you drop and break things or lose them. You cut yourself or break an arm.
  • You start avoiding social contact. Avoiding people for long periods of time is also is a sign of depression. Remember that socialising is one of the basic human needs.
  • Reduced resistance: Your immune system functions poorly and you suffer from colds, flu, allergies, autoimmune diseases, chronic fatigue, anxiety attacks and all the diseases already mentioned - unless you take the necessary steps to restore your equilibrium.
  • Your organs and systems start to fail and physical disease processes start.
  • The ageing process accelerates because of the increased metabolism associated with uncontrolled stress. Free radicals and other waste products accumulate and cell activity deteriorates, resulting in premature ageing.

Tip: Listen to your body
If you’re experiencing signs of negative stress, listen to your body, mind and feelings and take a break. This will prevent the down-spiralling process of your health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of negative stress
Some symptoms of negative stress or ‘dis-stress’ that might lead to ‘dis-ease’:

  • Stress and your mind: easily distracted, constant thoughts racing through your mind, fearful thoughts, indecision, uncertainty, suspicion, illogical, forgetfulness.
  • Stress and your feelings: anxiety, irritability, impatience, depression, anger, loneliness, resentment, bitterness, low self-esteem.
  • Stress and your body: chronic fatigue, neck pain, muscle spasm, tight chest, headaches, diarrhoea, nausea, upset stomach, digestive problems, high blood pressure, eczema, frequent infections, flare-ups or worsening of existing disease symptoms.
  • Stress and your behaviour: excess sleeping or insomnia, rapid speech, abuse of alcohol or recreational drugs, excessive smoking, reckless driving, road rage, eating too little or too much.

Are you experiencing any of the warning signs too often and for too long? You have to listen to your body and take action now. If you don’t, the consequences might be unpleasant and even fatal.





Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.