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Linking Stress and Mental Health

Stress is a normal part of life. In fact, some stress is even a good thing—for example, stress over a work project might motivate you to work harder; physical stress in the form of exercise helps keep you healthy; and anticipatory stress over a big milestone (like buying a house or having a baby) can help you focus on what you need to do.

However, all these are examples of short-term stress. Prolonged or extreme stress is a different story. Exposure to chronic or intense stress—such as that caused by a high-pressure job, a traumatic incident, financial troubles, problems with relationships or family members, and more—can be harmful, both physically and mentally.

The Effects of Stress on Mental Health

If not properly managed, stress can cause or exacerbate other more serious mental health conditions. Below are a few examples of how mental health and stress influence one another:

Increased vulnerability to depression and anxiety. From a biological standpoint, stress is known to cause a variety of neurological changes that can make you more vulnerable to depression. From an emotional standpoint, stress can lead to feelings of sadness and worry, or can cause you to dwell on negative thoughts or anticipated outcomes. These, in turn, can turn into anxiety or worsen pre-existing anxiety or depression.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Severe stress, such as that caused by a traumatic event or abuse, can result in PTSD.

Higher risk of substance abuse or other unhealthy behaviors. Many people experiencing long-term stress turn to alcohol, drugs, food, or other destructive behaviors to try to numb or mitigate their feelings. As a result, these individuals may be more likely to develop an addiction that ultimately only compounds their stress. 

RADIAS Health provides person-centered integrated healthcare services to people experiencing mental illness, substance use, or co-occurring disorders. Compassionate, skilled health care and support staff deliver our behavioral health services. In addition, our care includes supplementary services such as case management, supportive housing, homeless services, residential services, outpatient DBT treatment, and more. If you or someone you know could benefit from our mission, contact us today or consider donating!

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