Feeling stressed out? Worried that you have all the signs of stress overload, but not sure what to do about it?
There are many signs that you may be suffering from stress overload, and it can affect you physically, mentally and socially.
Physical Signs of Stress Overload
Have you noticed that you:
- are moving or speaking more slowly than usual;
- have changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased);
- are suffering from unexplained aches and pains;
- are experiencing a lack of energy;
- have low sex drive;
- have a disturbed menstrual cycle;
- are having trouble sleeping eg finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning.
Mental Signs of Stress Overload
Stress overload may mean that you are experiencing:
- continuous low mood or sadness;
- feelings of hopelessness and helplessness;
- fear, anxiety and worry;
- little motivation or interest in things you normally enjoy;
- low self-esteem;
- feelings of guilt;
- feeling more irritable and intolerant of others than normal
- difficulties in making decisions;
- a struggle to find enjoyment in life;
- suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of harming yourself.
Social Signs of Stress Overload
It may also be impacting your:
- ability to do well at work;
- social life, as you are avoiding contact with friends, and taking part in fewer social activities;
- hobbies and interests, as you can’t be bothered.
- home and family life, as all your relationships seem more difficult than normal.
If you are struggling with many of the items listed above, it is important to seek help eg from a psychologist.
What you might call stress overload, could actually be depression.
People from all walks of life experience depression however our environment (eg where you live, where you work, our family, friends etc) can have an impact on how it presents itself.
Our social environment might have certain pressures that dictate what is valued and expected of us at any given time. This can be influenced by a range of factors including (but not limited to): Geography; Gender; Race; Religion; Age; Class; Culture; Ethnicity; and Sexuality.
For example a man in a demanding job with limited social support, might experience depression differently from a woman who is adjusting to motherhood and leaving the workplace. Both could have some of the same symptoms listed above, but would benefit from treatment that also takes into account their own individual circumstances.
While some people feel a sense of relief at having a diagnosis, it may prevent others from seeking support due to the stigma of mental health that exists in our society.
Stress overload is often associated with an understandable reaction to difficult life events. The degree to which it intensifies is best viewed on a continuum; the point at which to seek professional help is different for each person.
- mild depression – has some impact on your daily life and you are experiencing a few of the symptoms listed above;
- moderate depression – has a significant impact on at least two areas of your life and you are experiencing several symptoms;
- severe depression – makes it almost impossible to get through daily life and you are experiencing many of the symptoms above.
Treating Stress Overload
The treatment offered in talking therapy will vary depending on the nature of your symptoms and their severity. It may include practical coping strategies and techniques, honest discussions about difficult experiences and your feelings, or both. You and your therapist can decide together what would be most helpful for you.
Author: Dr Anna Woodall, B Psych (Hons), D Psych (Clinical), MAPS.
Dr Anna Woodall has a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of East London, and over 10 years of experience delivering psychological support and mental health research in Australia and the United Kingdom. Anna has recently returned to Brisbane from England.
To make an appointment with Brisbane Psychologist Dr Anna Woodall, try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology (Mt Gravatt) on (07) 3088 5422.