Female physician counseling patient on anxiety and stress
Healthy Living

At What Level of Stress Do I Need to See a Doctor?

Dec 10 2018
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When to see a doctor for stress and anxiety

Ever hear the saying, “Stress is the enemy?” Well, that’s not always the case. Finding yourself a little sweaty and extra alert before a big presentation or solving a problem at work can be a good thing. But most of the time, if you had to choose between being relaxed and happy and being stressed out … well, it’s a pretty easy choice.

Stress and anxiety can look very different for every person. Too much for some people is no big deal for others. How do you know what’s normal and when it’s time to talk to a professional about managing stress? Here are the basics.

What is a normal level of stress?

Simply put, there is no “normal.” But there’s nothing to worry about you have stress for a very specific reason and it doesn’t last very long. You may feel stress and anxiety throughout your body. Your nerves, your muscles, heart, stomach and intestines are common places to feel stress. However, it shouldn’t be too hard to deal with.

The best way to handle difficult situations is to avoid them when you can. That’s not always possible. If you’re worrying with such anxiety about activities that you once enjoyed or that others seem to be comfortable with, you may have high stress levels. If your stress is so great that you feel unable to cope, your stress is above average. In this case, stress really is the enemy.

What causes stress in the body?

Sometimes, it seems like stress comes from all sides. Almost any kind of physical or emotional situation can cause stress. Work, relationships and family life are common reasons people feel stress. Stages of life that include aging, pregnancy, menopause or being a teenager are stressful. Stress can come at any age.

The causes of stress break down into four categories:

  • Physical or mental illness
  • Social and financial problems
  • Lack of social support networks
  • A family history of stress or problems

These normal, common situations can make you anxious and nervous. You might easily get distracted from day-to-day responsibilities. They cause you to worry, feel bad and have trouble sleeping. When it lasts over a long period of time, stress can greatly impact your health.

When to see a doctor

There comes to a point when stress and anxiety become overwhelming. There are certain signs you might notice that mean it’s time to see a doctor. It’s a good idea to seek help if your stress is causing a major decline in work or school and if you find yourself simply unable to cope with everyday life. You might notice a change in sleep or eating habits, develop physical problems or have found yourself withdrawn. These mean your stress is taking too great a toll on you.

Most importantly, stress is too much of a problem if you’re abusing drugs or alcohol to make it through the day. You should always seek professional help if you’re “treating” yourself or engaging in any unhealthy behaviors.

Doctors can offer a number of solutions for stress. These often include therapy to help you develop and strengthen your stress-management skills. Sometimes, medicine is also something that can calm your worries and anxiety. Medical professionals can offer many natural alternatives to you, too, such as meditation. You might benefit from a combination of different stress-reducing treatments and lifestyle habits. This way, stress is no longer stopping you from leading a happy, productive life.

Ready to reduce your stress and lead a happier, more relaxed life? Visit Mercy.com to make an appointment with a primary care doctor or specialist.


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