Health Advice For U




Causes and Symptoms and ill-effects

Stress has emerged as a dreadful malady of the modern times with several diseases attributable to it. If not attended to in time, this problem can ruin one’s whole life. Stress is actually subjective. While an irritating factor may be stressful to a person, it might be stimulating to another because that person takes it as a challenge and turns it into a positive force. Here, we shall discuss some relevant aspects of stress and highlight some related remedial measures that can be taken in this regard.


Stress is a natural phenomenon in a human being. But today, it has become a widespread modern ailment affecting people of all ages and all continents. Life in this competitive age has become so stressful that a large number of diseases are attributable to this dreadful malady of the modern times. You may take any number of measures to keep away from stress-stimulating conditions, but practically these are unavoidable. Be it home, workplace, or any other surrounding, there can be more than one irritant to trigger stress. Normal stress may not call for extra attention, but when it becomes excessive, it certainly warrants taking appropriate preventive and remedial steps.


What is stress?


Stress is mental, emotional and/or physical strain on a person which disturbs his mind and body’s equilibrium. Anything that perverts or abuses our energy towards our desired functions is stress. It has several other names such as: tension, depression, frustration, anxiety, worry and gloom. Everyone is vulnerable to it- Age, gender, occupation or place is no bar.


Stress is subjective


Stress is subjective in the sense that while an irritating factor may be stressful to a person, it might be stimulating to another because that person takes it as a challenge and turns it into a positive force. Many people thrive on challenges while many others react with fear, anxiety and worry. So, the stress one feels depends on how personally one reacts to it. If the person reacts positively, there is little problem as probably it will lead to a happier life but if the person does not handle it with care and caution, suffering may follow.


What causes stress?


Before knowing the ways to cope with stress, it is desirable that one should know the cause and source of one’s stress. Listing the causes is tricky. There can be innumerable stress-laden factors. Since different persons react differently to the same stress conditions, its impact correspondingly would be different on different persons. Sources of stress of a person include 

Family, Occupation or profession, Social life, General surroundings etc.


Even little niggles at home or at work place can cause stress. Besides, there may be hundreds of other frustrating things, which can cause stress. Many people feel stressed when there are heavy rains for a couple of days or there is no sun shine in winter to enable them to enjoy their weekends or when some neighbour comes to greet them when leaving for office or someone has jumped the queue ahead of them. These are just a few things to signify the cause and source of stress.


In fact, in the present-day environment, career or job-related stress is among the most researched and focused forms of stress. High aspirations, tough competitive conditions, demanding bosses, impressive project targets with unrealistic deadlines, excessive travel etc. are among the most cited reasons for stress discovered by researchers & psychiatrists.


To sum up succinctly, stress is caused mainly because of the following reasons:


1.    Inability to cope with domestic chores consequent to resource constraints, strained marital relations, and/or failing filial duties.

2.    In the matter of business, profession or vocation, inability to discharge the obligations or commitments satisfactorily.

3.    Sensitiveness to others attitude or behaviour.

4.    Lack of confidence, inexperience or other limitations, which cause worry. Consequently, inability to attain set goals, plans and targets.

5.    Inability to fulfil desires which are based on unrealistic ambitions.

6.    Ill health that inhibits works performance and/or meeting other obligations.

7.    Incompatible relationships with others.


All these reasons are individualistic. Any of these things can disturb a sensible person. But some persons may not get disturbed. Stress, therefore, affects those persons who are psychologically or emotionally sensitive to the disturbing factors.


Cognitive and Emotional Symptoms of Stress


Stress reactions in human body and behaviour are reflected by:


(a)  Physical Symptoms:  Sweating palms, trembling legs, palpitations, dried up tongue, headache, tension, nervousness, stomach aches, fast breathing, rapid heart beat, frequent urination, loss of appetite, insomnia, and muscular pain etc.

(b)  Mental Symptoms: Growing negative thoughts, lack of concentration, loss of memory, feeling of boredom and nervousness.

(c)  Behavioural/Emotional Symptoms: Tendency to over eat or to eat hurriedly, excessive smoking, short-temper i.e. flaring up for no valid reasons, howling, and expressing of ill-cultured behaviour, avoiding situations or people, stopping pleasurable activities and/or resorting to alcohol or tranquilizers to reduce stress.


Under stress, our body produces cortisol, a hormone which acts as an alarm bell telling that you are stressed and need to do something about it.


Ill-effects of stress on human body


Ill-effects of prolonged exposure of stress on human body can be as under:

Body’s reaction to stress

Effect on human body

Adrenalin and nor-adrenalin released into blood stream

High Blood Pressure, frustration, worry, impatience, anxiety, insomnia

Liver releases energy stored as glycogen

Inability to relax, fatigue, hyperactivity, irritability, build-up of cholesterol in blood.

Rapid breathing and pulse rate

Breathlessness, High Blood pressure, dizziness and fainting.

Muscular tension

Dizziness, fainting, heart palpitations, headache, continually tensed muscles and aching.

Digestive problems

Nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, indigestion, constipation, peptic ulcers

Profound sweating

Rashes, eczema

Urge for emptying bladder and evacuation of bowels

Frequent urination, defecation, diarrhea

Emotional tension

Crying, aggression, angry-outbursts, panic, depression, dizziness, fainting


Positive aspects of stress


Contrary to the popular notion, stress can have some positive effects just as much as negative ones. In its positive impact, it can:


  1. Propel a person to new heights of energy
  2. Offer new perspectives.
  3. Motivate to perform at peak level.
  4. Uncover strengths and talents about which one may never know.

Negative aspects of stress


  1. Harms a person physically and emotionally by causing depression, anger, hurt, anxiety and frustration.
  2. When prolonged, it can cause psychosomatic/psychological disorders causing health problems.


Chronic stress can lead to more complications like skin problems and damage to immune system.


Natural Remedy: Aswagandha is a natural remedy for stress and memory loss. It is a well known Indian traditional medicine for thousands of years. Aswagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen, a natural substance that promotes the body’s ability to handle stress. This comes from the root of the plant. It is an anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety.


Aswagandha is particularly effective in reducing stress-related depression, enhancing memory sharpening focus, building concentration and balancing mood swings. Use this on the recommendation of a doctor. However, pregnant woman should not use this as this threatens pregnancy.