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Stress Risk Factors

November 3, 2013

All people experience stress in one degree or another. Some can handle their stress very well while some can be overwhelmed by it and can result in mental or physical health conditions that can be deadly if not managed properly.  There are people prone to stress and it manifests in their health or the quality of life they live.

Listed below are some of the conditions that make a person a high-risk candidate to stress-related health problems.

  • A piling up of often encountered stressful situations, especially situations that are difficult for the person to control.  This can include an unhappy relationship and a highly stressful job.
  • Persistent stress resulting from a severe acute reaction to a traumatic event. An example would be a vehicular accident.
  • Acute stress combined with a serious condition such as heart disease

People react to stress in different ways and in different conditions.  These conditions can include:

  • Early care – Children who have been treated badly may develop long-term dysfunctions in their hypothalamus-pituitary system.  This is the system which controls stress.
  • Personality traits – There are people with certain personality traits who are predisposed to overreact to stressful events.
  • Genetic factors – People with certain genetic factors such as problems in the regulation of their serotonin level can exhibit inordinate reactions to stress.  These reactions can be heightened blood pressure and heart rates. Serotonin is a chemical found in the brain that is responsible to a person’s relaxation or state of well-being
  • Immune regulated illnesses – Some diseases connected to immune problems like eczema or rheumatoid arthritis can make a person vulnerable to stress.
  • The intensity and duration of stress factors – The longer the person is exposed to stressors or stress factors, the more intense these stressors are can obviously affect the person negatively.

Individuals with High Risk for Stress

  • Senior People – The older a person gets the more difficult it becomes for him to respond in a relaxing way to stressful events. Aging may mean the wear and tear of systems that properly respond to stress.  Becoming old may cause these systems to not address stress properly as they used to do before.  Old people also often experience high stress factors like financial problems, changes in living environment, loss of loved ones and medical problems.
  • Women and especially working mothers – Working mothers generally regardless of their civil status are immersed with stress with levels that are higher than those of a typical male.  These kinds of mothers regularly experience high levels of stress which oftentimes affect their health.  They are often burdened with a work load considered heavy for a typical woman.  This is a typical reality experienced by working mothers in Europe and in the United States.  The stress these women acquire in their workplace often spills out to their home affecting their children and spouse.
  • Less educated people
  • Widowed or divorced people – Many studies have indicated that unmarried individuals on the average have a shorter life span that married people.
  • People experiencing long term unemployment, financial problem and those with no health insurance.
  • Lonely or isolated people
  • Individuals who are sexually or racially discriminated
  • People living in urban centers

The Workplace

Work stress in the office or workplace not only leads to low productivity but can even lead to harassment or even violence in the place of work.  Stress cost the economy billions of dollars not only in loss of production but also in medical expenses each year.  Stress is a major issue in all developed countries.  The Japanese even concocted a new term to describe a person who suddenly died due to overwork.  This term is known as “karoushi.”

 

Dale Roach is a licensed acupuncturist and the founder of Dale Roach, MD,L.Ac in Larchmont, NY.