Experiencing stress is neither good nor bad. Every event that generates an emotion is a stressor. Being born was stressful, probably extremely stressful. You can have high stress levels when you enjoying an invigoration experience, like riding an amusement park roller coaster, abseiling down a steep cliff. In fact, any number of Adrenalin raising activities could have your measured stress levels off the scale. Yet you would be enjoying every minute of it. A major factor is the control you have over the environment in which it is happening.
However experiencing long-term stress could adversely affect your physical and mental health. Yet, much of the stress experienced in the western society is self-created. Continually checking your mobile, news streams, social media, or countless other digital devices keeps your stress arousal high. After time the base level resets to this new high. Eventually you can become hyper-vigilant, and in turn affect you mental performance and physical health. The disturbing news is that even if you have lots of sleep when highly stressed you do not get the restorative sleep that you need. A vicious circle follows because sleep deprivation is a stressor.
Anxiety is often the consequence of sustained stress, more than you can handle. You are not present in the now; it is about the consequences of the past or future. People feel overtaken by a sense of an irrational fear. Yet have a “felt-sense” of being unable to help themselves, a fear of failure. Without resorting to any medication, the brain can re-brand the symptoms of anxiety as excitement. It set up a series of chemical changes in the brain that saw the situation as a challenges rather than a threat.
The concept that depression is molecular disease is fixed in the media and popular received wisdom. Numerous academic studies show the root of this condition is complex social and/or personal problems. Anxiety and depression are frequently interlinked. When depressed the feeling of helplessness and lethargy will often prevail.
Awareness levels about depression have rocketed since the 1980’s. Then between one and two percentage of the population were diagnosed as depressives. Now normal variations of human behaviour are being classed as a disease. This difficulty arises because the diagnostic categories are extremely wide. The New Scientist in several issues expressed concern that the normal irritations, troubles, travails of everyday life could become a medical condition.
The problem is determining if the chemical imbalances in the brain are the cause or the result of depression. Published mental disease awareness campaigns may not be as sound evidenced based as they suggest. (Essential reading on this is “Cracked” by James Davies and “Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre.) Be careful about completing on-line questionnaires to determine if you rate the risk of depression. It can encourage you to diagnose yourself with a problem that you don’t have. It could lead you to seeking medication that is unlikely to benefit you.
Medication may be essential to alleviate the symptoms in the short-term while other coping strategies are put in place.
The program looks to determine the possible causes and building your inner resources to handle them in a positive purposeful way.