You’re caught in traffic, running late for an important meeting, and you’re counting the minutes. Your hypothalamus, a small control tower in your brain, decides to carry out the order. That sends the stress hormones! These stress hormones are the same ones that activate the “fight or flight” reaction of the body. Your heart races, your breath is quickening, and your muscles are prepared for action. This response intends to protect your body in an emergency by preparing you to respond quickly. But when the stress response continues to burn day after day, it could put your health at significant risk.
Stress is a natural mental response to life’s experiences. From time to time, everybody expresses stress. Anything from day-to-day tasks such as work and family to major life events such as a new illness, war, or the loss of a loved one can cause stress. Stress can be helpful to your health for immediate, short-term situations. It can help you to deal with potentially serious situations. Your body responds to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones increase your heart and breathing rate and prepare your muscles to respond.
But suppose the stress response doesn’t stop firing. And these stress levels last for longer than you need to survive. Then, it may take a toll on your health.
This article gives the detailed connection between stress and mental disorder and the Risk Factor for Mental Disorders.
Risk Factor for Mental Disorders
Here are a few examples of Risk Factor for Mental Disorders:
- Living in an environment with few or no community services
- Parents who are homeless
- Family mental disorder
- Addiction inside the family
- Little to no help from family members
- The dismissive or violent reactions of members of the family to the adolescent’s experience
- Poor educational commitment
- Low-income family working
- Poor parental involvement
- Little or no attachment to parents or caregivers
How Stress Affects Your Mental Health?
When someone is under chronic stress, it harms their mental health. The stress reaction of the body has not been made to be constantly engaged. Many people face stress from various causes. These include work, financial, health, relationship concerns, and media overload.
The connection between stress and mental health
Several studies have shown a correlation between stress and mental health conditions. But, the cause for this link has remained unclear. Recent studies at the University of California, Berkeley, have found new insights into why stress can be so harmful to the individual’s mind.
Previous research has discovered physical differences between the brains of those with stress disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), versus others who don’t. One of the major differences is that the ratio of white matter to grey matter in the brain is higher in people with stress-related mental disorders than those without.
People who have chronic depression have white matter in some parts of the brain. The UC Berkeley research wanted to discover the underlying reason for this change.
Mental and Emotional Impact of Stress
Stressful circumstances are a common part of life. So, if you have too many stressors, suffer a seriously stressful situation—such as a work loss, a loved one, or a relationship—or have experienced a traumatic event, like violence or war, stress can affect your mental health. Expert counselors at the Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling are helping children, teenagers, and adults in New York City learn how to treat and relieve stress. Here are just a few of the ways that uncontrolled stress affects your mental health:
1. Your body is tense or hurting.
Stress activates a fight-or-flight response in your body. This causes you to produce more “stress” hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. So much adrenaline and cortisol in your body can make you clench your muscles. This leads to physical effects such as:
- Tense or sore neck
- Stiff your shoulders
- Pain in the jaw
- Pain back
Being in a constant state of alarm does not allow your mind to relax. It also raises your risk of experiencing anxiety and depression. Chronic stress also raises your risk for other physical conditions. These include digestive diseases and diabetes, leading to more stress and anxiety.
2. You have trouble sleeping or focusing.
If you’re stressed or have repetitive thoughts, you can have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia has many forms. These include not sleeping quickly, waking up in the middle of the night, or waking up too early.
If the brain doesn’t get the deep, restorative, and rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep it needs every night, it can’t remove toxins, regenerate cells, or process daytime activities. You can have trouble waking up in the morning or feeling tired all day. You might find it hard at work or school to remain focused and alert.
Your brain cannot work optimally when you’re tired. So, it’s harder to see a solution when faced with a problem. Even minor challenges may seem impossible, leading to feelings of desperation and anxiety.
3. You’re not enjoying things the way you once did
Do you have many changes or challenges that stress you? You may find yourself losing interest in things that once gave you pleasure and excitement. Also, you may stay home instead of going out to restaurants with friends. You may even lose interest in sex.
If you stopped participating in life as completely as you once did, you could experience depression. You can even lose your appetite when you’re depressed.
Tools to Manage Stress and Improve Mental Health
The best thing about mental health is that people can make things better. Improving mental health will improve your physical health. It can also prevent symptoms from developing into serious mental illnesses.
Here are a few tips to help boost mood and empower people to take care of their mental health:
1. Reach Out and Connect with People
Several studies have found that positive social links increase mental health. These links can come from friends, families, or support groups of like-minded individuals. In a meta-analysis of studies on mental wellbeing by Tayebeh Fasihi Harandi and colleagues, researchers claim that social support gives people a sense of being cared about, loved, and valued. This leads to less fear, sadness, and more.
2. Keep a Positive Attitude
Negative thought affects mental health. Focusing on the better as much as possible can improve mental health. In reality, the brain can be re-wired to think positively with more practice. Keeping note of what you’re grateful for at least once a week is a good start.
3. Make an Effort to Stay Active
Exercise improves mental health by minimizing depression, depressive moods, and anxiety. It also enhances self-esteem and cognitive function.
4. Increase your joy and humor
Joy can boost your mood, fight stress, and also help you control your illness. Laughter is healthy medicine. Studies suggest that it promotes happiness, lowers fear, and reduces pain. Go to a comedy club, bring together a series of photographs that will make you smile. Or keep a list of your favorite jokes.
5. Support and Help Others
Helping others can promote positive feelings. Researchers studying neurobiology have observed that social support reduces stress-related behavior in the brain. This can be as simple as visiting an elderly neighbor, volunteering at an animal shelter. Or be a shoulder to cry with a friend.
The Bottom Line
In this article, you learned the Risk Factor for Mental Disorders. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by stress, finding professional help will help you. Don’t be afraid to get professional advice if you think you’re no longer able to do anything. Many individuals feel reluctant to seek help because they feel like it is an admission of failure. This is not the case. It is important to find treatment as quickly as possible so that you can start to feel better.