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Mental health problems

 

Stress is the body's natural reaction in meeting demands and expectations. For example, it is natural to be stressed when taking an exam, or when performing difficult work tasks both at home, at school, or in working life. Psychological stress arises when a person experiences that the demands and expectations of the environment exceed their own capacity. Then the stress becomes uncomfortable, and can feel overwhelming.

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NHI.no writes:

Psychological stress arises when a person experiences that the demands and expectations of the environment exceed their own capacity. In this article, the stress definition excludes psychiatric illness as a result of traumatic / particularly stressful experiences.

They also write:

Hormone systems are particularly sensitive to psychological stress. It applies in the brain (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, HPA) and in the adrenal glands (adrenal medulla, SAM). Cortisol is secreted by increased HPA activity and regulates a wide range of processes in the body (physiological processes). Catecholamines, stress hormones, are released in response to SAM activation and affect the heart, blood vessels, lungs, liver, skeletal muscles and immune system. Prolonged or repeated activation of the HPA and SAM systems may interfere with the control of other physiological systems, increasing the risk of physical and psychiatric disorders.





In another post on hjelptilhjelp.no, we write:

Cannon introduced the term "Fight or flight", and showed that in the body there is a constant regulation of the stress level in the body. Stress regulation takes place automatically in the interaction between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system ensures that we are activated, while the parasympathetic "fights against" and ensures that we relax / calm down.

Normally, therefore, through everyday life we will naturally alternate between feeling stressed and feeling relaxed.

 





- A general ersponse to diffuse danger

However, there are many conditions that can interfere with the body's natural regulation of stress. Hans Selye researched stress, and used rats as experimental animals. His research was brutal for the rats: In some experiments, he exposed the rats to horrible things, and studied how this affected the stress level in the rats. He defined stress as a "general response to a diffuse danger".

As long as one enters expecting something stressful, is actually exposed to something stressful, or shortly after the stress has occurred, the body will have this "general response" which we call stress.

Stress can be both positive and negative, which is described in this article.

 

What is chronic stress?

Lifekeys.no writes further:

However, a persistent condition with a high level of stress can be a health burden that in some cases can develop into burnout. Stress is often linked to different situations at school or the workplace, and other personal situations where high demands are experienced.

In the mentioned article on hjelptilhjelp.no it is emphasized:

At the same time, stress can quickly become something negative. This can be, for example, when you experience that the difficult is too difficult, ie that you do not have an expectation of being able to master it. Then the stress becomes uncomfortable, and can actually be experienced as anxiety. In other words: it is really just stress (the "fight-flight" response is turned on), which is completely natural (and completely harmless), but due to frightening thoughts / interpretations, the whole bodily reaction is experienced as negative , unmanageable, and perhaps as proof that "something is wrong with me".

Another way that stress can become negative, and which cannot be treated as easily as anxiety, is when the stress becomes prolonged - that is, when the body is never able to "calm down" again after experiencing stress. When the "fight-flight" response (stress response) persists over time, changes occur in the body.

With chronic stress, the body begins to create its own regulatory system. This can happen, among other things, in what we call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In such a condition, one experiences being "constant" in emergency preparedness (constantly having the stress response turned on).

 

Stress and mental health

Many people suffer from stress, and for people with complex disorders, with both physical and mental health problems, managing stress is the key to a better life.

 

Body and mind are connected

It is important to understand that body and psyche are connected, which becomes clear in relation to the phenomenon of stress. Among other things, the hormonal systems in the body are particularly sensitive to psychological stress (source: NHI):

Brain: Hormone systems in the brain (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis, HPA) are affected by stress. Cortisol is secreted by increased HPA activity and regulates a wide range of processes in the body (physiological processes).

Adrenal glands: Adrenal hormone systems (adrenal medulla, SAM) are also affected by stress. Catecholamines, stress hormones, are released in response to SAM activation and affect the heart, blood vessels, lungs, liver, skeletal muscles and immune system.

Prolonged stress: Prolonged or repeated activation of the HPA and SAM systems can interfere with the control of other physiological systems, increasing the risk of physical and psychiatric disorders.

Stress also affects the regulation of immunological processes and inflammatory processes (inflammation), which in turn can have effects on depression, infection, autoimmune diseases, coronary heart disease and some cancers.

 

Stress increases the risk of mental health problems

It is good that we have the ability to be stressed. The body then prepares for the extra work a challenging situation requires, and we are able to perform a little more when needed. We sharpen when we get stressed! Stress in itself does not make us sick, but stress that becomes too intense or lasts for too long can become a strain. In the face of chronic stress, the risk of health problems can increase.

In other words, stress over time can lead to health problems. Such stress helps to increase the risk of depression. At the same time, people with depression tend to have difficulties related to regulating stress, which can contribute to impaired functioning in everyday life - even in the time after the depression is over. This is important to be aware of, not least to prevent new depressive periods.

An important type of stress is traumatic stress.

By this term is meant both the stress reactions that come during a traumatic event (e.g. witnessing an accident, that someone in the family dies, that one is exposed to violence, etc), and the reactions that can come in the wake of the traumas. The term post-traumatic stress is often used here. In extreme cases, one can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Having experienced trauma can affect the stress systems in the brain, which can make one more vulnerable to mental health problems later in life. This is an important perspective in developmental psychology, and emphasizes the importance of early intervention to help at-risk children and young people.

 

What helps with stress?

Preventing stress is important for experiencing better coping in life and for preventing illness. Preventing stress does not necessarily mean avoiding stressful experiences. It may not be possible or desirable. But finding ways to deal with such experiences, which reduce the negative emotions, is important. Rule number one will be to try to do something about the situation that triggers the stress.

This can be about very different relationships from person to person. Tips for how to de-stress are described in this article on hjálptilhjelp.no.

NHI.no writes:

Preventing stress does not necessarily mean avoiding stressful experiences. It may not be possible or desirable. But finding ways to deal with such experiences, which reduce the negative emotions, is important. Rule number one will be to try to do something about the situation that triggers the stress. Other measures can be:

 

  1. Process negative emotions, among other things by giving yourself enough time in, for example, a grieving process
  2. Ask for help if this can ease the situation, for example in the event of major challenges
  3. Tell us if the expectations from the environment are too high, for example in relation to care tasks
  4. Think positive and solution-oriented
  5. Slow down and focus on the demands where possible
  6. Take control of the situation - coping reduces stress
  7. Seek medical attention if necessary
  8. Tell your immediate supervisor if you find the job situation unmanageable
  9. Use breaks, vacations and weekends to rest and do things that provide variety and "replenishment"
  10. Take a "timeout" to rest properly

 

Psychological treatment for stress

In some cases, psychological treatment is needed to help control stress. Much of what happens in mental health care is about stress.

 

  1. First, in various forms of treatment, one will try to give the patient better strategies for dealing with mental ailments that are often triggered and maintained by stressful living conditions.
  2. Secondly, there are various coping options that are about strengthening the resilience in the face of stress, for example for people who live as relatives with mental illness, intoxication or disability, or in the form of general stress management courses or courses to deal with stress.
  3. Third, much of the help provided in the support system seeks to assist in the lives of children, young people and adults in a way that can alleviate stress and strain.

 

On the website of Oslo Psykolog Virke, they write that psychological help can be useful:

When you seek psychological help against stress from us, we start by mapping out which specific mechanisms drive exactly your ailments. We like to distinguish between basic causal factors, triggering factors and sustaining factors. Once we have mapped these factors, we know more about what is needed for the best treatment for stress in your particular case and how we can set up a therapy. The very awareness of the inner dynamics that drive stress is often therapeutic in itself.

There are various recommended methods for treating stress. For example, mindfulness, biofeedback training, intensive depth therapy (ISTDP), metacognitive therapy, cognitive therapy or psychodynamic therapy. None of the methods work equally well for everyone, always. The crucial thing for a successful therapy against stress is that we work in a way that makes sense to you.

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