Although stress is usually talked about as a single disorder, the truth is that it has many faces. It isn’t when people talk about stress colloquially referring to running around all day with a thousand things to do. That is why it is convenient to start this article by remembering what stress is.
In psychology, we consider stress as the mechanism activated when a person is overwhelmed by an excess of situations and circumstances that exceed the resources available to deal with them.
In other words, it is overwhelmed when trying to meet its demands. The feeling of overload conditions influences your entire being, both physical and mental.
We want to clarify that not all stress is negative. In certain circumstances, stress acts as a process of adaptation to the environment and prevents dangerous situations. Positive stress is temporary. We will refer to the stress that we qualify as negative in the rest of the article.
Difference Between Acute And Chronic Stress
According to experts, there are two general types of stress: acute and chronic. Let’s see the differences and what you can do to avoid or minimize them.
This stress is characterized by the fact that it occurs in a short period and normally disappears quickly.
Acute stress is the most common manifestation in today’s society. It appears when the person experiences a new or exciting process or goes through complicated situations, such as a breakup, a complicated problem in the company, or changes within it.
Since its duration is short, it does not usually cause significant health problems. It can cause stomach, muscular discomfort, migraines, and emotional manifestations such as anger, anxiety, or depression if it is given exaggeratedly.
The event to which the person with acute stress disorder has been exposed may be direct or indirect. For example, direct exposure can be suffering a violent act or facing life-threatening danger. Indirect exposure is witnessing what happens to third parties, friends, or family.
The probability of developing an acute stress disorder is greater the more severe or recurrent the traumatic event.
Therefore, acute stress arises as a reaction to a specific demand or pressure, is short-duration, and is easily managed.
Symptoms of this stress may be:
- sudden tiredness,
- nervous feeling,
- tension symptoms,
- headaches that do not last in time,
- cold hands and feet
- depressive feelings or
- slight anxiety.
When stress is prolonged over time, there comes a time when it engulfs you, and you feel helpless and vulnerable. It impacts health and can also affect self-esteem, motivation, and the energy you need to face your workday (and your life). Sometimes it can lead to depression.
The main difference between chronic and acute stress is the duration of the episode, which can be months. People who get so used to the situation that activates them may not realize that they live in a constant state of stress until it causes serious health problems.
Chronic stress considered the silent enemy, usually occurs when the person experiences a situation with no way out and feels trapped. People feel something depressing and complex, such as problems with their partner or at work, economic problems, frustration with what they do, etc.
Stress is inevitable, the occasions in which acute stress is activated are countless and very common, but you must not allow it to paralyze you or affect your health, making it chronic.
Chronic stress is exhausting because it produces continuous physical and emotional wear on the person who suffers it and affects those around him. Occasionally, this type of stress induces the idea of suicide and can be the cause of myocardial infarction or other systemic diseases, such as stroke.
Psychologists capable of helping with therapy should treat symptoms of chronic stress.
How Can We Know If We Suffer From Chronic?
Stress can cause physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms. The affected person often does not relate the physical and mental signs to the stress itself.
If you suffer from any of these stress symptoms, it may be a sign of chronic stress:
- Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
- Sudden tachycardias with no known cause
- The sensation of pressure in the chest
- Headaches, all over the head or in localized areas
- Muscle pains
- Digestive problems and/or irritable bowel
- Weight changes: obesity or loss of kilos. Bad eating habits or loss of appetite.
- You catch a cold very easily because you have low defenses.
- Huge hair loss.
- Skin problems with no known cause.
- Tendency to negative and obsessive thoughts, with episodes of anguish or continuous stress.
- High blood pressure.
- Menstrual disorders.
- Recurring depression or anxiety.
- Bad memory, lack of concentration, and absent-mindedness.
- Changes in behavior.
- sexual problems
- Cellular wear and aging.
Knowing if you suffer from chronic stress is not easy because some symptoms, as you have seen, are confused with those of some diseases. The best way to diagnose it is by going to an expert who performs the necessary tests.
It is important to pay attention to physical and psychological symptoms to get out of this situation.