We all have mental health and there is no health without mental health. As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, I am presenting a series of articles covering a variety of issues on mental health subjects to increase our knowledge. These have so far covered:
- “What is Mental Health?”
- “The Impact of Mental Ill-Health”
- “When is a mental health problem a problem”
- “Balancing the Risks around Mental Ill Health.”
Now turning to some of the illnesses that come under the banner of “mental ill health”, let’s start by looking at something we are all familiar with – Stress.
What is stress? It is a word bandied around readily enough. We have probably all said recently that we are stressed accompanied by a heavy sigh. But how would I know if my stress is the sort of stress that needs attention?
Let’s look at the symptoms of stress. We may have all or some of them, in various combinations and degrees of challenge.
* Run down/burnout
* The body’s response to danger or stress-provoking events (flight, fright, frolic, fantasy)
* Irritability/Anger (a short fuse)
* Chest pain/Palpitations
* Psychomotor agitation (the fidgets, pacing, hand-wringing, etc)
* Bruxism (teeth grinding)
* Panic attacks
It will be obvious from the last 2 symptoms that stress may overlap with anxiety and depression. I have a formula which partially explains this overlap:
STRESS + ANXIETY + TIME = DEPRESSION
Time is an important factor in this formula. Symptoms affecting us for a short period of time may not lead to mental illness. The significance or intensity and duration of the symptoms is important.
Being stressed is like living with a high level of adrenalin in our body all the time. We all know that in a crisis adrenalin kicks in and carries us through – complete with palpitations, dry mouth, sweaty hands, upset tummy, nausea, butterflies, confused thinking, indecision, forgetfulness, wobbly legs, etc. I am sure you can understand how debilitating these symptoms can be over a longer period of time as is found in stress.
If in doubt about your own health, mental health and stress level please consult your GP.
In the next article, we will look at anxiety.