An overview of stress-related disorders

Stress-related disorders often occur after a traumatic event. However, some disorders can develop as a result of exposure to chronic stress. In addition to the direct agent, personality factors, genetics, sex, etc. also play a role in the pathogenesis.

Common stress-related disorders

Stress is the body’s response to unfavorable events and circumstances in life. These effects cause strong negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, sadness, pessimism, disappointment, jealousy, resentment, etc. The intensity of emotions will depend on the level of the effect. stressors and personality traits.

In fact, stress has become an inevitable part of life and everyone has to experience stress. In the face of stress, the body responds biologically, behaviorally, and psychologically. Thanks to that, everyone can overcome stress after a certain time.

However, chronic stress or very traumatic events can cause stress-related disorders. In fact, the risk of stress-related disorders depends on both extrinsic and internal factors. Because when facing the same event, only some individuals have a stress-related disorder. While some people can easily overcome trauma and stabilize their spirits.

People with weak personality, personality disorder, low self-esteem, shyness, etc. will have a high risk of suffering from stress-related disorders. Until now, experts still do not fully understand why the same stressors, but each individual develops different types of disorders.

In fact, most mental disorders are stress-related. However, stress will play a major role in the pathogenesis of the following disorders:

1. Acute stress disorder (ASD)

Acute stress disorder is a sudden, intense reaction to the face of stress for no more than 1 month. Symptoms last for a few hours to a few days and may go away on their own. However, acute stress disorder can also develop into other disorders if left untreated.

ASD usually occurs after experiencing a traumatic event such as war, natural disaster, serious traffic accident, bankruptcy, house fire, sudden bereavement, etc. Risk factors are old age, physical weakness, weak personality and facing stress for a long time.

stress related disorders

An acute stress response is a stress-related disorder with onset as early as a few hours and up to 1 month after the traumatic event.

Typical symptoms of acute stress disorder (ASD):

  • The state of “dumbfounded” with a stunned expression, lifeless and unresponsive to surrounding stimuli.
  • Patients feel that everything around them is vague, broken, and cannot clearly express happy or sad emotions.
  • Sometimes there is dissociative stupor, but there are also cases of hyperactivity and agitation
  • The ability to think is inhibited and lose the ability to perceive everything around
  • Personality changes markedly compared to before the stress. The patient may be apathetic, insensitive to everything or easily irritable or angry.
  • Accompanied by symptoms of autonomic dysfunction such as hot flashes, sweating, heart palpitations, restlessness, etc.

Symptoms of acute stress disorder will usually last for a few days and resolve on their own after a month. However, there are also some prolonged cases that lead to other stress-related disorders.

Treatments for acute stress disorder:

  • Isolating from stress and building a healthy environment to help the patient return to a normal state of mind
  • Use of drugs (mainly tranquilizers)
  • Psychotherapy

2. Adjustment disorder

Adjustment disorder is one of the most common stress-related disorders. This condition is characterized by marked behavioral and emotional disturbances following one or more traumatic experiences. Adjustment disorder occurs during adaptation to the consequences of an event or significant life change (separation, bereavement, change in living environment, etc.).

Adjustment disorder usually develops within 1 month of the traumatic event and lasts no more than 6 months after the event has ended. However, there are cases that persist for more than 6 months due to chronic stress (financial problems, divorce, illness, etc.).

stress related disorders

Adjustment disorder has a wide variety of manifestations and is considered a prognostic diagnosis

Symptomatic adjustment disorder is diverse and is easily confused with mood disorders:

  • Worrying, sad, unable to make plans or deal with uncertainties that occur in life
  • Daily habits, study and work efficiency decrease markedly
  • Can explode with emotions
  • Short-term (no more than 1 month) or persistent (not more than 2 months) depressive reactions
  • Occurrence of mixed state of depression and anxiety
  • Some patients present with a full spectrum of emotions ranging from anxiety, stress, and depression to anger and irritability.
  • Children often regress with thumb sucking and bedwetting.
  • Some children have emotional disturbances associated with conduct disorders, especially antisocial behaviors, but the symptoms are not specific.

Currently, adjustment disorder is considered a fallback diagnosis when post-stress disorders do not meet the criteria for another mental illness.

Adjustment disorder treatments:

  • Isolate from stressful environments
  • Medication use (sedatives, antidepressants, anxiolytics, etc.)
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements to improve resistance
  • Psychotherapy (combination of individual psychology and family therapy)

3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a stress-related disorder with relatively late and persistent symptoms. This reaction usually occurs within 6 months of the trauma, especially during extreme stressful events such as natural disaster, rape, terrorism, house fire, devastating war, etc.

PTSD appears rather late, so it is considered a delayed response to post-traumatic stress disorder. Compared with the above disorders, PTSD is persistent and difficult to definitively treat. In which, a few cases have to live with the disease for life and their personality is changed after a while. Subjects at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder are those with a weak, sensitive personality and a history of neurosis.

stress related disorders

PTSD is a relatively late-onset stress-related disorder characterized by persistent and chronic progression

Typical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):

  • Unintentionally replayed events through dreams, hallucinations, or thoughts. The images appear as real to induce the same emotions as when the patient witnesses the event.
  • An emotional state of numbness, loss of interest and interest in things.
  • Separation from the environment and people.
  • Avoid all elements that may recall the event (situation, activity, object, etc.). When conversing, the person will avoid words related to the traumatic event.
  • In the case of being questioned about feelings and thoughts about the event, the patient may become panicky, fearful, sometimes angry and aggressive towards others.
  • Always be overly cautious with those around you. The most obvious manifestation is the inquisitive look, constantly looking around and being very careful in words.
  • Penetrating recollection of the traumatic event leaves the patient with difficulty sleeping, insomnia, and marked weakness. Many patients turn to alcohol, tranquilizers, tobacco and stimulants to soothe themselves.

PTSD is considered to be the continuing development of the acute stress response. However, there are also cases of people who do not have an acute stress response but still develop PTSD. PTSD that occurs for 3 months is considered acute and persists for more than 3 months is called chronic.

Treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Pharmacotherapy (antipsychotics, tranquilizers, beta-blockers used to improve physical symptoms, etc.)
  • Psychotherapy (cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation exercises, etc.)
  • Families and those around them need to avoid mentioning the traumatic event, rebuild trust, and build a healthy environment for the patient to recover from.

4. Other stress-related disorders

In fact, stress plays an important role in the pathogenesis of many mental disorders. In addition to the disorders mentioned above, stress is also associated with other disorders such as:

– Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder often occurs in people who have been exposed to stress for a long time. Unfavorable life causes sufferers to develop excessive and persistent anxiety about everything around them. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry about things that are not really worrisome such as work, future, finances, relationships, etc.

Sometimes people have persistent and persistent anxiety but don’t know exactly what they’re worried about. People with this condition know that their anxiety is excessive but cannot be controlled. Generalized anxiety disorder does not cause severe impairment in activities of living, working and studying, but makes patients always stressed and never feel relaxed.

Typical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder:

  • Persistent anxiety, lasting at least 6 months
  • Excited, resentful and sometimes irritable over petty, unwarranted matters
  • Never feel relaxed and comfortable no matter how hard you try
  • Insomnia, difficulty sleeping
  • Fatigue, fatigue, increased muscle tone, etc.
  • Poor memory, inability to concentrate

Treatment of generalized anxiety disorder includes medication and psychotherapy. In addition, a healthy environment, low in stressors also helps a lot for recovery.

– Dissociative disorders

Dissociative disorders often occur after dealing with long-term stress or traumatic events. The disease occurs mainly in young women and can flare up in groups. Dissociative disorders are common in people with spoiled personality, lack of self-control, weakness, poor tolerance, etc.

Symptoms of dissociative disorder:

  • Dissociative amnesia (only forgetting part of the traumatic event, as opposed to normal amnesia)
  • Some patients have the act of leaving home for no reason. However, the patient completely does not remember and does not know why he left home, and at the same time does not remember the events that happened at this time.
  • Fainting, loss of sensation, signs of movement disorders (paralysis, convulsions, …)
  • In some cases, dissociative blindness and dissociative deafness may occur

Dissociative disorders have a variety of manifestations depending on the clinical form. Treatment has many methods such as psychotherapy, proper care, acupuncture – acupressure and the use of drugs. In case of paralysis, blindness and dissociative deafness lasting more than 1 month, electric shock may be required.

– Suspected disease

Suspicion (illness anxiety disorder) is also one of the more common stress-related disorders. People with this condition always assume that the symptoms on the body are all signs of serious health problems – even if it is only very small symptoms such as acne, sore throat, sneezing, etc.

stress related disorders

Hypochondria is one of the most common stress-related disorders

Patients always feel anxious, afraid that they will get sick. They constantly go to the hospital to perform tests to find the cause. However, the patient’s anxiety did not decrease even when the doctor confirmed that the patient was completely healthy. Patients spend a lot of time in the hospital and regularly check their bodies for abnormalities.

Suspicion often occurs after dealing with a loved one’s terminal illness and sudden death. In addition, negative information about the disease, rumors of people around, etc. are also factors that increase the risk of this disease. Similar to other stress-related disorders, this is treated with medication and psychotherapy.

– Some other disorders

  • Phobias and anxiety disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depression
  • Body type disorders
  • Mental disorders

Prevention of stress related disorders

Nowadays, stress has become an inevitable part of life and cannot be completely avoided. The only way to prevent stress is to build in yourself good qualities to increase tolerance and adaptability. For strong traumatic events, psychological trauma is hard to avoid. However, people with strong, proactive, and independent personalities are able to overcome trauma more easily.

stress related disorders

Timely counseling and psychotherapy can effectively prevent stress-related disorders

To prevent stress-related disorders, the following measures should be taken:

  • Personality is a factor that affects an individual’s tolerance to stress. To increase endurance and adaptability, it is recommended to practice good qualities such as resilience, strength, independence, etc.
  • People with personality disorders – especially borderline personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, etc. will be vulnerable to psychological damage after stress. In this case, aggressive treatment of the personality disorder should be sought. At the same time equip yourself with skills to be able to overcome stress and adapt to unfavorable situations in life.
  • Stress can be limited by making a scientific work plan, building a specific schedule for a day, managing expenses and reasonable time. Alternatively, you can take the initiative to end relationships that only bring you stress and depression.
  • Learn how to release negative emotions, do not let emotions be pent-up for a long time, making the spirit unstable and vulnerable. Simple ways to relieve yourself include exercise, reading, listening to music, taking a warm bath, massage, taking care of plants, pets, etc.
  • If you are faced with dilemmas that cause inner conflict, counseling should be sought for support. Avoid situations where letting yourself think too much for a long time leads to excessive stress and anxiety.
  • For those who have experienced trauma in the past, it’s a good idea to learn how to take care of your mental health and set clear life goals. Besides, the people around should also show proper care so that the psychological damage can be completely healed.
  • After experiencing a traumatic event (accident, divorce, bankruptcy, etc.), it is advisable to actively seek psychotherapy. Early psychotherapeutic interventions help lift spirits and minimize the effects of stress. Building a healthy, scientific lifestyle is also an effective way to prevent stress and stress-related disorders. On the contrary, people with a bohemian lifestyle, abuse of alcohol, drugs, etc. will have a poor tolerance to unfavorable factors in life.

Stress-related disorders have a significant impact on health and quality of life. Nowadays, stress has become a part of life, so prevention can only improve mental health, build good qualities and lead a healthy lifestyle.

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