The grinding stress that wears people down day after day and year
after year is chronic stress. It destroys bodies, minds, and lives.
It's the relentless stress of poverty, dysfunctional families, or
despised jobs. The people of Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, the
former Soviet Union, and the Middle East live with the chronic stress
engendered by their endless troubles. If you are experiencing chronic
stress, you can't figure out how to alleviate a miserable situation
that seems to go on for an interminable period of time. Devoid of
hope, you stop searching for solutions.
Some chronic stress stems from traumatic, early childhood experiences
that change the brain and become internalized, remaining forever
present and painful. These experiences can affect personality profoundly.
You create a belief system or view of the world that causes you
The worst aspect of chronic stress is that you get used to it. You
forget it's there and learn to endure it.
Why should you learn to cope
In the best of all possible worlds, when a stressful situation ends,
hormonal signals switch off the stress response, and the body returns
to normal. Unfortunately, stress doesn't always let up. If you tend
to harbor anxiety, and you worry about daily events and relationships,
your stress response never shuts down. Studies show that long-term
activation of stress symptoms can have a hazardous, even lethal
effect on your body. When the signs of stress persist, you are at
risk for many health problems that people often do not realize are,
in large part, attributable to stress, such as:
obesity ,heart disease ,cancer ,depression ,anorexia nervosa or
malnutrition ,obsessive-compulsive or anxiety disorder ,substance
abuse ulcers ,diabetes ,sexual abuse ,hyperthyroidism ,hair loss
,tooth and gum disease
As if this weren't enough, stress adversely affects reproduction,
sexual behavior, and growth. Stress inhibits the immune system,
making you more vulnerable to colds, flu, fatigue and infections.
It causes digestive problems and can even lead to suicide. For all
these reasons, it is important to recognize the symptoms of stress
and learn what to do about them. Fortunately, recent years have
brought increased societal awareness and a greater understanding
of factors that limit and relieve stress.