National Council for Mental Health
National Council for Mental Health "The realization of optimum mental health in Sri Lanka through research, training, awareness raising and care"
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Home > Psychiatry & Mental Health > Stress
Stress refers to the consequence of the failure of an organism to respond appropriately to emotional or physical threats, whether actual or imagined. It is a biological reaction driven by psychological processes which can be productive in the short term but in the long term causes harm to the physical body.

Stress symptoms commonly include a state of alarm and adrenaline production, short-term resistance as a coping mechanism, and exhaustion, as well as irritability, muscular tension, inability to concentrate and a variety of physiological reactions such as headache and elevated heart rate.

The psycho-physical organism (also known as a human being) consists of the mind interacting with the physical body.

The mind is the formless, non-physical energy force, animates the inert physical body and interacts with it. It is responsible for perception and cognition which is the software component.

The physical body which is the hardware component consists of the brain, sense organs, nervous system and major organs.

STRESS IS A MAJOR RISK FACTOR IN THE ETIOLOGY OF PSYCHIATRIC DISORDERS

The major types of stressors include physical stressors, organizational stressors and personal stressors.

THE STRESS RESPONSE:

Environmental stimuli enter our consiousness through the sense organs , causing the brain to produce chemical messenges that trigger the adrenal glands to produce toxins such as cortisol and adreneline, which cause damage in the long-term.

The psychological component of the stress response is a result of the mind defilements such as craving, hatred and delusion.

The biological component includes the release of harmful toxins that cause end-organ damage.

The long-term consequences of the stress response results in damage to evry organ system in the body, including the brain and the heart.

A case history that illustrates this theory,

A 52 year old school teacher begins to worry excessively about the health of her daughter and unborn grand child. Due to this psychological stress she experiences significant physical deterioration (insomnia, loss of appetite, weight loss, persistent headaches and palpitations) over a two week period, requiring hospitalization and treatment.

MANAGEMENT OF STRESS

  • Identify stressors 
  • Interventions that correspond to the different levels of the stress response

The mind- Cleansing the mind of the defilements (the use of meditation could be considered where aproprioate) The physical body

  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet (essential fatty acids and anti-oxidanrts)
  • Avoiding excess alcohol and smoking ceassation
  • Deep tissue massage
  • other relaxation techniques
  • Specific medical interventions such as drug therapy

Drug therapy is effective, non-addictive not known to lose efficacy over time and is not known to cause long term side effects if taken under medical supervision.

WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR

If you have sustained

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Mood changes
  • Impairment of memory and other cognitive functions
  • Physical symptoms
 
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NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Resource Centre - Colombo 08
No. 96/20, Kitulwatta Road,
Colombo - 08.
Sri Lanka
Tel +94 112 685 960 / +94 114 339 606-7
Fax +94 112 685 950
Email council@ncmh.lk
 
NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Gorakana - Residential Facility
No. 115/2, Galkanuwa Rd.
Gorakana, Panadura.
Sri Lanka
Tel +94 383 398 317 / +94 384 927 506 / +94 382 297 702
Fax +94 382 287 203
Email council@ncmh.lk
         
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