Acute stress, Episodic acute stress and Chronic stress and Post-traumatic Stress

Recent statistics show that 1 in 5 employees are stressed. But, what is stress? Is it just related to work and how can you cope if you’re feeling it? Everybody feels stress but very few think about what stress actually is and how it can really affect us. Stress can be a negative or positive condition that has an impact on a person's mental and physical well-being.  Stress is our body’s response to specific situations and there are many different symptoms associated with stress and stress itself can fall into four categories -

  • Acute stress

  • Episodic acute stress

  • Chronic stress

  • Posttraumatic stress (PTSD)

Acute stress

Acute stress is the more common form of stress and is associated with things to do with our everyday lives such as losing bills, rushing to meetings or making deadlines. These kinds of demands and pressures tend to be short term stress related issues that don’t have time to do any damage that long term stress could. Acute stress can actually be exciting and thrilling but too much can make you feel exhausted. Symptoms of acute stress can include emotional anguish, headaches, back pains and general muscular problems. They may also include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), dizziness, and shortness of breath and chest pains and heart palpitations which can often be triggered by adrenaline.

 Acute stress can affect anyone but it is very manageable.

Episodic Acute stress

Episodic acute stress is the stress which affects those who suffer from acute stress more frequently. People that tend suffer from this always seem to be in a rush, They take too much on and tend not to be able to organise themselves to deal with demands and pressures. Episodic Acute stress can affect interpersonal skills and can make sufferers hostile towards others causing a deterioration of relationships at home and the workplace. Its symptoms include prolonged over stimulation, persistent tension, headaches or migraines, hypertension and chest pains. Episodic acute stress can be helped with certain lifestyle changes but professional help may also be needed before any chronic problems develop.

Chronic stress

Chronic stress is the stress that can wear a sufferer down making them feel “burned-out”. Chronic stress is stress that someone can feel when they can’t see a way out of the demands and/or pressures that are making them feel depressed, miserable and disheartened on a continual basis. Factors of chronic stress can be the feeling of being trapped in an unhappy marriage or career and tends to be associated with ill health, alcohol excess, violence and can even be associated with suicide. Chronic stress can be helped with professional and medical help such as special forms of counselling and targeted behavioural therapy.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress (PTSD) is the stress associated with frightening or distressing events. These can be traumatic experiences from someone’s childhood, wars, poverty, sexual or violent abuse. Sufferers of PTSD tend to feel on edge and can relive traumatic events through nightmares and flashbacks. They struggle with concentration and have trouble sleeping. Sufferers can have strong feelings of guilt, emotional numbness, constant worry and depression. Symptoms associated with PTSD can often be very severe and have a huge negative impact on a person’s day to day life. (Through the depletion of physical and mental attrition).   Stress is not always bad nor is it the same for everyone.  There can be different symptoms for different people all of which should be addressed early on. If you’re beginning to feel stressed, it’s good to try and make adjustments to your lifestyle such as designating times to be active, becoming more social and safeguarding relaxation time. Watch out for the physical symptoms of stress such as persistent headaches, muscle tension, irritable bowel symptoms and insomnia. If these develop, speak with your GP and get advice and don’t be afraid to talk about. Further information on stress can be found on: HSE Mind NHS