Friday, March 5

Stress: Understanding Its Impacts And Treatments

Everyone has, at some point in their lives, experienced stress to a degree. The spectrum of its consequences varies greatly because the level of stress one can experience varies greatly: whether you’ve forgotten to buy an ingredient necessary for the dinner party, or have greatly miscalculated the time it would take you to complete a Very Important Project and are not able to get it done on time, you’ll go through a range of reactions and repercussions: not being able to sleep, lack of appetite, jitteriness/restlessness, and exhaustion to name a few. Most Americans (82%) find one extra hour of sleep at night somewhat or extremely valuable

The extreme end of the spectrum can completely disrupt day-to-day life. Some people begin picking and pulling at their hair due to a disorder called trichotillomania. Their stress and anxiety becomes too much to manage on their own, so they inadvertently turn to a compulsion for relief; some receive emotional gratification or pleasure from the repetitive act, but inevitably revert to shame and embarrassment (which, ironically, leads to more anxiety).

The average person sheds 50 to 100 hairs a day naturally, as their hair follicles continue to produce new strands; those with trichotillomania can form bald spots and patches in record time, especially when they don’t realize what they’re doing. Even if you’re not actively pulling out your hair, stress can push your body into a state of shock and trigger telogen effluvium, a resting period for hair follicles.

“The hair follicle has its own life cycle — growth, transition, resting and falling out of hair shaft,” said Dr. Julia Tzu, a double board-certified dermatologist and the founder and medical director of Wall Street Dermatology. “No one really understands the complex biology that determines the clockwork behind hair cycling. What is known is that stressors do bend the clock and shift hairs towards the telogen phase.”

Although devastating as is, stress can impact more than just your physical appearance. Some reactions to too much emotional stress include slurred speech: the condition is characterized by difficulty or unusual awkwardness speaking; pronouncing words, syllables, or vowels; moving the mouth, lips, or tongue; or being very self-conscious of problems talking or speaking. Though this symptom diminishes when the body returns to baseline and therefore doesn’t require the aid of one of the 145,000 speech-language pathologists in the U.S., it can be absolutely terrifying — and more stress-inducing — for the individual, who may worry that they have a brain tumor or neurological disorder.

Fortunately, both of these stressful side effects can be managed with the help of a professional. With the proper knowledge and healthy coping mechanisms, you can stop stressing about stress.

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