Yes! Long periods of stress can be the trigger for clinical anxiety, a medical condition. In the body, stress hormones, called cortisol and corticotropin, regulate how the body regulates pressure. When normal amounts of stress occur, these hormones are released in response to the perceived threat and then fade away shortly after. Stress is a very normal, and necessary, response that our bodies have to protect ourselves from harm.
However, when long bouts stress occur, there is an increase in cortisol and corticotropin present in the body for longer periods of time. That boost in the presence of hormones is what leads to clinical anxiety and mood disorders.
What does long-term stress look like? Many people experience symptoms such as:
- Sleeping difficulties including insomnia, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Change in appetite
- Clenched jaw/grinding teeth
- Racing heart
- Feeling hyper-vigilant and on-edge
Stress and anxiety, although, are not inherently the same. While they share many common symptoms, the difference is that stress is the response to a situation and anxiety is a reaction to that stress.
Anxiety may have the same symptoms of stress as outlined above and/or persistent intrusive thoughts, unrelenting feelings of worry, fear, panic attacks, or other physical symptoms. While the cause of anxiety is complicated and unique to each person, there tend to be many common triggers.
Some of these triggers are new health issues (like the Covid-10 pandemic!), medications, caffeine, skipping meals, negative thinking, financial concerns, social events, conflict, or public events. Some tips to help recognize if you might be struggling with anxiety include starting a journal, getting more time outdoors and assuring consistency in physical activity.
If you feel like your stress has gotten out of control and could be possibly sliding into a medical condition, we encourage you to see a physician trained in diagnosing the difference between the pressure everyone feels in these uncertain times versus a true medical condition that can be treated.
Don’t wait and hope that things will “get better soon.” Call the staff at Dr. Sambunaris & Associates at 770-817-9200 to take the first step in understanding how you can start to feel better!