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Stress and anxiety


Alternative Names:

Anxiety; Feeling uptight; Stress; Tension; Jitters; Apprehension

Considerations:

Stress is a normal feeling. In small amounts, stress can help you get things done. Stress does not affect everyone the same way.

Many people feel stress symptoms in their body. You may have pain in the abdomen, headaches, and muscle tightness or pain.

When you are very stressed, you may notice:

  • A faster heart rate
  • Skipped heartbeats
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness

Other symptoms include:

  • Loose stools
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Dry mouth
  • Problems swallowing

You may have a harder time focusing, feel tired most of the time, or lose your temper more often. Stress may also cause sexual problems. It can also cause problems with falling or staying asleep and cause nightmares.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call a suicide hotline if you have thoughts of suicide.

Reasons you may want to seek more help are:

  • You have feelings of panic, such as dizziness, rapid breathing, or a racing heartbeat.
  • You are unable to work or function at home or at your job.
  • You have fears that you cannot control.
  • You are having memories of a traumatic event.

Do not stop taking any prescribed medicines without talking to your doctor.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit:

Your doctor will want to know what medicines you are taking. Your doctor will also want to know if you use alcohol or drugs. You will have a physical exam and maybe some blood tests.

Your doctor may refer you to a mental health care provider. You can talk to this professional about your feelings, what seems to make your stress better or worse, and why you think you are having this problem.

Sometimes, medicines may help treat your symptoms.

References:

Larzelere MM, Jones GN. Stress and health. Prim Care. 2008;35:839-856.

Ahmed SM, Lemkau JP, Hershberger PJ. Psychosocial influences on health. In: Rakel RE, ed. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 3.


Review Date: 2/24/2014
Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, Addiction and Forensic Psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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