Stress is normal. It’s a physical reaction when the body kicks into gear to meet challenges or face whatever has caused the stress response, and then the body usually returns to a normal balance. But there’s a large distinction between common stress and stress-related disorders. Stress-related disorders are usually caused by extreme, traumatic and overwhelming experiences that affect the body more long term.
Acute Stress Disorder and Treatment
Acute stress disorder characteristics include anxiety, dissociation, and other symptoms that occur within minutes or up to one month since exposure to a trauma. A traumatic event includes situations where a person witnesses, experiences or confronts an event with the threat of death or serious injury to self and others, and when an individual responds with intense feelings of fear or helplessness. During or after the experience a person may show symptoms of disassociation, which include detachment, lack of emotion, a dazed awareness, amnesia regarding parts of the traumatic experience, derealization, or depersonalization.
The disorder may prevent a person from being able to function normally at work and with friends and family, and the event may be re-experienced through dreams, flashbacks, illusions, thoughts or exposure to reminders of the trauma. A person may also show avoidance of anything that reminds them of the trauma, and may be easily startled, or experience difficulty sleeping, irritability, inability to concentrate, or hypervigilence.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Treatment
Not unlike acute stress disorder, a person with post-traumatic stress disorder has experienced trauma that has directly affected them psychologically. Some causes include war, natural disasters, serious accidents, witnessing violent death, sexual abuse, rape, torture, and terrorism. PTSD is less common than acute stress as a response to trauma. A marked difference distinguishing post-traumatic stress disorder is that the symptoms last more than a month and more dramatically impair a person’s ability to function socially, occupationally, or in other areas.
Symptoms are similar to other stress disorders in that individuals re-experience the trauma through flashbacks, or nightmares, will avoid stimuli reminding them of the event, and have difficulty sleeping, concentrating etc. They may also show anger and hypervigilence.
Job Related Stress Disorders
Some stress is a part of life, but it becomes a serious problem when it starts affecting your health and interfering with the ability to be a productive person. People may say some stress is good for you, but in that thought, stress is being confused with challenge. Challenges energize and motivate us to learn and improve, but stress is much different in that it feels like the job demands something that cannot be met. Instead of feeling relaxed or satisfied with the end result, workers are left exhausted and stressed. Stress on the body opens the door for illness, injuries and even job failure.
Why you should get professional help for stress
Oftentimes talking about and analyzing your habits with a professional can help get you on a path toward living a healthier lifestyle. There are many things you can do to help reduce stress. By having someone to help you to develop ways to cope with, prioritize and reorganize your responsibilities, you can regain self-control and confidence with your work. Ms. Schechtman and Dr. Drutman can also help you manage the specific things at work that may be stressors, such as helping you communicate better with coworkers or learning ways to manage tasks in smaller steps or through delegating some of the responsibility to others.
Getting professional help from Atlanta Behavioral Consultants
The formal diagnosis of any stress-related disorder depends on many of the above symptoms, which should be evaluated by mental health professionals. Without treatment, people with stress-related disorders may have a difficult time adjusting and living life normally, which can take a toll on the ability to hold a job and maintain healthy relationships, and it may even lead to suicide. With treatment a person can be supported on a path toward recovery. After discovering what has caused the disorder, a mental health professional will be able to provide that support, therapy and steps for treatment. They can help individuals learn techniques to change patterns of thinking and behavior in order to handle the stress and cope.
To learn more or get help from the Atlanta Behavioral Consultants, please call Dr. Drutman at 770.910.9135.