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Emotional and Behavior Changes With Chronic Stress

Chronic stress has many physical symptoms, which we discussed here “Chronic Stress: The Complete Guide“. It also has deep and significant affects on emotions, moods, thought patterns, and even behavior. It is important to remember that both positive and negative life events increase stress and to not discount the additive effect of these events.

Emotional symptoms

Anxiety, worry, and nervousness: Feelings of anxiety, worry, and nervousness are common psychological symptoms of chronic stress. Chronic stress can trigger the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can promote anxious feelings and behavior.

Chronic stress can also result in persistent worry about the future or past events, difficulty concentrating, and feelings of restlessness. These symptoms can impact daily activities and quality of life, and can lead to the development of anxiety disorders or depression.

Managing these feelings may involve a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Mindfulness of the impact your stressors are having on your life is often the key to avoiding long-term complications. Other strategies may include stress management techniques such as relaxation exercises, cognitive behavioral therapy, and support groups.

Medical treatment may include medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

Depression, sadness, and hopelessness: Depression, sadness, and hopelessness are often linked to chronic stress. Chronic stress can lead to the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which can disrupt the brain’s chemistry and contribute to the development of depressive symptoms. Outside of the hormone influence, often the stressor itself triggers these feelings as a natural consequence of life changes, loss, overwhelming work demands, or other circumstances.

Sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable are all impactful and can establish a pattern that can lead to the development of depression or major depressive disorder.

Management of these feelings may involve a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment if necessary. Mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, support groups, and exercise all show benefit for these symptoms and the underlying stressors.

Medical treatment may include medications such as short-term antidepressants. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

It is important for individuals who are experiencing depression, sadness, and hopelessness to seek medical evaluation and treatment. With appropriate treatment and management, individuals can effectively manage depression, sadness, and hopelessness associated with chronic stress and improve their overall well-being.

Irritability, anger, and hostility: Irritability, anger, and hostility can be very natural reactions to chronic stress. Chronic stress can trigger the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can promote these feelings as a mechanism of self-protection.

Chronic stress can also result in persistent feelings of frustration and impatience, and can cause individuals to be easily angered or hostile in response to minor stressors. These symptoms can impact daily activities and quality of life, and can lead to the development of anger management issues or other behavioral problems.

Management strategies may include stress management techniques such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness practices, and counseling. If the symptoms persist, anger management programs could be helpful as well.

Medical treatment may include medications such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers. These medications are prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

Difficulty concentrating and making decisions: Difficulty concentrating and making decisions is a common consequence of chronic stress. Chronic stress can impact brain function and lead to cognitive impairment, such as difficulties with attention, memory, and decision-making. Additionally, if the chronic stress stems from an overwhelming work, academic, or life situation, the physiological reactions to stress itself are often compounded by actual decision fatigue, which is a phenomenon that happens when too many mental tasks must be performed in a short amount of time, literally using up the brain’s resources.

Chronic stress can also cause individuals to become easily distracted and have trouble focusing on tasks, which can impact their productivity and daily functioning. These symptoms can be especially problematic for individuals in high-stress jobs or academic environments.

Some relief may be gained from stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Medical treatment for difficulty concentrating and making decisions may include medications such as stimulants or antidepressants. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

Loss of interest in joyful activities: As with depression, loss of interest in favorite activities is also a symptom of chronic stress. Chronic stress can impact mood and lead to a decrease in pleasure and interest in activities that were once enjoyable.

Chronic stress can cause individuals to feel emotionally numb or disengaged from their surroundings, leading to a lack of motivation and interest in activities that once brought them joy. This symptom can severely impact quality of life and social health, and take away what could otherwise be a happy outlet to escape the stressors for a little while.

Management of this symptom often comes down to behavioral strategies and many practitioners suggest engaging in these activities anyway, even if the enjoyment isn’t there right now, to help regenerate the enjoyment and give your body and mind a break from your stressors. other helpful strategies include exercising regularly, engaging in other pleasurable activities, and therapy.

Medical treatment may include medications such as antidepressants. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

It is important for individuals who are experiencing loss of interest in activities to maintain good communication with their medical provider because this symptom can become depression or major depressive disorder.

Low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy: Chronic stress can impact self-worth and lead to negative self-perception, feelings of failure or incompetence, and low self-esteem.

Chronic stress can cause individuals to feel insecure, doubtful, and self-critical. This symptom can impact confidence and ability to engage in social situations and everyday activities.

Management of low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy associated with chronic stress may include stress management techniques such as therapy, self-care, and positive self-talk. Hypnotherapy and the use of affirmations may be beneficial as well.

Medical treatment for low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy associated with chronic stress may include medications such as antidepressants. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

Behavioral symptoms

Changes in eating and sleeping patterns: Changes in eating and sleeping patterns are common consequences of chronic stress.

Changes in appetite may include overeating, often for comfort, or undereating. Some individuals may turn to food for comfort during times of stress, leading to overeating and unhealthy eating patterns. Others may experience a loss of appetite or undereating as a result of chronic stress.

Changes in sleeping patterns may include difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, waking up frequently during the night, or feeling tired on waking in the morning, even after what felt like good sleep. Chronic stress can cause insomnia or other sleep disorders.

Management of these changes may include stress management techniques such as therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques. Also, practicing mindful eating or using something as simple as a calorie counter can be helpful.

Medical treatment for changes in eating and sleeping patterns may include medications such as sleeping aids or antidepressants. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

It is important for individuals who are experiencing changes in eating and sleeping patterns to seek medical evaluation to rule out other possible causes of these symptoms.

Increased use of drugs or alcohol to cope with stress: Turning to substances to escape stressors is a common, albeit misguided coping strategy. Drugs and alcohol numb their feelings or provide reprieve from difficult emotions associated with chronic stress.

However, this coping mechanism can be detrimental to an individual’s physical and mental health. Substance abuse can lead to addiction, health problems, and social and financial consequences.

Management of substance abuse associated with chronic stress may involve a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatment. Strategies may include stress management techniques such as therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques, or even a rehabilitative program or facility.

Medical treatment for substance abuse associated with chronic stress may include medications such as detoxification agents or addiction treatment medications. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

Social withdrawal and isolation: Individuals who experience chronic stress may begin to feel overwhelmed, lose their enjoyment of normally pleasurable activities, and may start to avoid social interactions.

Social withdrawal and isolation can have a negative impact on mental and physical health. It can lead to increased feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. It may also increase the risk of developing physical health problems such as cardiovascular disease, immune system dysfunction, and cognitive decline.

While it seems counterintuitive, the best management for social withdrawal is pushing oneself to participate in social activities and build social support networks. These may be different from the social networks prior to the stressor, and may include support groups or more targeted groups of people, but socializing is the best medicine. Also, practicing stress management techniques such as mindfulness, therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques.

Medical treatment for social withdrawal and isolation may include medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. These medications may be prescribed by a healthcare provider and should be used under their guidance.

Procrastination and neglect of responsibilities: Procrastination and neglect of responsibilities are common symptoms of chronic stress. Individuals who experience chronic stress may find it difficult to complete tasks or meet responsibilities due to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, or lack of motivation.

Procrastination and neglect of responsibilities can have a negative impact on an individual’s mental and physical health. It can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It may also lead to negative consequences such as missed deadlines, decreased work performance, and strained relationships.

Management for this behavior may include setting realistic goals, prioritizing tasks, and practicing stress management techniques such as therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques.

Medical treatment for procrastination and neglect of responsibilities may include medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.

Aggressive or impulsive behaviour: Aggressive or impulsive behavior can be a symptom of chronic stress. When individuals experience chronic stress, it can lead to feelings of frustration, irritability, and anger. This can result in aggressive or impulsive behavior, which can be harmful to themselves or others.

Aggressive or impulsive behavior can have negative consequences on an individual’s mental and physical health. It can lead to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It can also cause interpersonal conflicts and strain relationships.

Stress management techniques such as therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques may be helpful. Also, anger management or communication skills training to help individuals learn to express themselves in a healthy and constructive manner.

Medical treatment for aggressive or impulsive behavior may include medications such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers. These should be used under the guidance of a medical professional.

Poor judgment and decision-making: Poor judgment and decision-making can be a symptom of chronic stress. When individuals experience chronic stress, it can affect their cognitive functioning and impair their ability to make rational and logical decisions.

Chronic stress can cause individuals to feel overwhelmed and anxious, leading to poor judgment and decision-making. This can result in negative consequences such as financial problems, interpersonal conflicts, and legal issues.

Practicing stress management techniques such as therapy, exercise, and relaxation techniques may be helpful in these situations. Management of these symptoms may also include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies to manage stress.

Not everyone experiences the same symptoms of chronic stress, and symptoms can vary in intensity and duration. This may be directly proportional to the weight of their stressors, but it may not. Stress and the physiological and mental or emotional changes that accompany it affect different people very differently. Individuals experiencing any of these symptoms for an extended period of time should seek professional help to manage and reduce the effects of chronic stress.

Clieck on this link to read our article : Chronic Stress: The Complete Guide

Clieck on this link to read our article : Treatment Approaches for Chronic Stress

Clieck on this link to read our article : Health Consequences of Chronic Stress

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Amy Neuzil
Amy Neuzil

Dr. Amy Neuzil, N.D. is a leading expert in MTHFR and epigenetics, and she is passionate about helping people achieve optimal health and wellness for their genetic picture. She has helped thousands of people overcome health challenges using a simple, step-by-step approach that starts with where they are today. Dr. Neuzil's unique approach to wellness has helped countless people improve their energy levels, lose weight, and feel better mentally and emotionally. If you're looking for a way to feel your best, Dr. Amy Neuzil can help. Contact her today to learn more about how she can help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

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