By Phillip J. Ladd, LCPC, Christian Psychological Associates
Years ago before our technological age really took over, experts were predicting how much time we would save when computers and technology became more prominent in our lives. Some were saying that we would have to do some work to figure ways to spend our extra time. Quite the opposite has happened. We have become busier than ever. 24/7 has become a term that has become prominent since technology took over. Stress can be a deadly issue. However, stress is not always a bad thing. It can stimulate creativity and productivity. It becomes a problem when the stress is so overwhelming that the person has a difficult time returning to a normal, relaxed state after dealing with stress.
We are told that three out of four American workers describe their work as stressful. These problems are not just an American issue. In fact, Occupational stress has been defined as a “global epidemic” by the United Nations International Labor Organization.
Internationally, there is less stress in developing countries than in developed countries. One author, Rebecca Maxon, wrote that “This may be due in part to increased consumerism and the growing influence of advertisers who try to convince the consuming public that a want is a need.” The sense of values is also different—family, nation, time, materialism, success, workload are all seen differently. Some cultures, such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore “are emulating the American model and, therefore are growing more stressed”.
The Wall Street Journal reported that one third of people surveyed considered quitting their jobs because of stress and 14 percent actually did. It is estimated that 75 to 90 percent of visits to health care providers are due to stress-related conditions.
Most of us have to deal with some type of stress. Many of us also may experience an anxiety disorder of some type.
Anxiety can be both good and bad for us. It may help us to get out of harm’s way. It may prepare us for something important in our lives. It may also warn us when we need to take action. However, anxiety can be bad when it is persistent, uncontrollable, or overwhelming. If you experience too much anxiety, you may begin to dread everyday situations. It can be disabling at times.
Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illness that affects both adults and children. An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder. Only about one third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment, even though it is a very treatable disorder. The term “anxiety disorder” refers to the following disorders: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD); obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD); panic disorder; posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); social anxiety disorder; and specific phobias.
There is a difference between feeling stressed and having an anxiety disorder. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, worried, or even anxious. What is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent, excessive, and sometimes unrealistic worry about everyday things. Usually feelings of fear and apprehension are present. Also, sometimes you may not know the source of this discomfort, which can complicate the distress that you are experiencing.
Worry about finances has long been one of the leading causes of anxiety for Americans. Along with this, a Washington Post/ ABC News poll reported that more than six out of 10 Americans are stressed over the economy (April 2009). Stress is also growing in the workplace and in our 24/7 technological culture. Stress is a normal reaction to stressful and uncertain situations. It is your body telling you to stay alert and protect yourself.
However, you may have an anxiety disorder if you worry about the economy, your finance, work, busyness, etc. for many hours every day, and you can’t sleep or perform your usual tasks, and you’re fears are irrational. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things. People with this disorder experience exaggerated worry and stress, often expecting the worst, even when there is no apparent reason for their concerns. They often anticipate that things will turn out bad and are overly worrying about many life issues such as health, family, finances, work, relationships, etc. GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about everyday issues for at least 6 months.
Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day is too much to handle. They do not know how to stop worrying and feels like it is often beyond their control. This disorder affects 6.8 million adults, or about 3.1 percent of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely to be affected.
The disorder often comes on gradually. The risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact causes are unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background (family systems), and environmental factors (life experiences) play a role.
For more information, contact John R. Day & Associates, Christian Psychological Associates, located at 3716 West Brighton Avenue, Peoria or at their locations in Normal, Canton, Pekin, Princeton, or Eureka. Call us at 309-692-7755 or visit us online: christianpsychological.org.
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