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Stress: It's easy to say that you're under a lot of stress or that this or that caused you stress, but did you know that there are several types of stress and that they all affect your body differently? Some stress can even be helpful.
The truth is that we need stress in our lives to function. Without it we would simply not care about the world around us. I guess you could liken a person without a stress response to someone who has been sedated. The world would keep turning or it could stop turning and they wouldn't care in the least.
3 Types of Stress
There are three major types of stress: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Let's take a few minutes to look at each type and how they affect our lives.
Acute Stress - Acute stress is the "fight or flight response" stress. This stress helps you step back onto the curb when you see a bus barreling down the street and keeps you driving calmly and slowly on an ice-covered roadway. This stress is best described as the sudden jolt you feel when the hormonal and physiological effects of the "fight or flight response" mechanism kick in. Other common causes of acute stress are noise, hunger, crowds, and isolation. But no matter what causes the acute stress, this type of stress goes away almost immediately after the stressful event occurs.
Episodic Acute Stress - Episodic acute stress is similar to acute stress in that it can be caused by the same triggers. The main difference, though, is that in episodic acute stress the episodes occur more frequently. The lives of people who suffer from this type of stress are often chaotic. They have too much on their plate so to speak. They are often late, frazzled, rushed, angry, and anxious. They can experience several attacks of acute stress every day or every hour. It's the unending nature of this type of stress that makes it responsible for health problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, chest pain and heart disease.
Chronic Stress - Sufferers of chronic stress are normally dealing with a major stressor that just does not let up. These stressors adversely affect both mental and physical health and can lead to mental breakdowns or even death. Here are just some of the causes of chronic stress: poverty and financial woes; unemployment; dysfunctional or abusive relationships; caring for an ill family member; feeling trapped in unhealthy relationships or career choices; living amidst war, rivalry or criminal violence; bullying; and a constant strive for perfectionism.
In some cases, chronic stress can persist even after the stressor has been eliminated. When this happens it is called post-traumatic stress disorder and requires professional intervention.
If you feel that you are suffering from episodic acute stress or chronic stress, you should seek the advice of a medical professional. There are some medications that can help alleviate symptoms and behavioral therapy has proved invaluable especially for those with symptoms of episodic acute stress.
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