Laura sits in her room surrounded by a stack of notes, cramming for a test that she entirely forgot about, while James stares blankly at a college application. He also has the knowledge that he must be at work in 20 minutes, and that his car hardly has any gas left in it. Both of these teenagers suffer from a common dilemma, stress.
Stress is a reaction to external and internal pressure. It is a normal function that helps people in their daily lives ("Stress: Who"). Without some level of stress, individuals wouldn't have the motivation to meet deadlines or complete projects ("Stress: Who"). However normal stress can become a burden over a long period of time and this leads to chronic stress. Chronic stress is what people are referring to when they say that they are "stressed out" ("Spotlight"). Stress can become even more overwhelming if chronic stress goes into overload; this is what is known as distress (Romero, B1).
Since stress is a reaction, there must be a trigger to cause that reaction. The items that cause the stress reaction are called stressors, and they can fall into three different categories: catastrophes, major life changes, and daily hassles ("Stress (psychology)").
A catastrophe can be described as a sudden calamity that pushes people to their outmost coping abilities. Some examples of catastrophes are: Ø
Earthquakes, Fire, Flood, etc,
Violent physical attacks,
Sexual assault ("Stress (psychology)").
Catastrophes often affect the victim's mind long after the incident is over ("Stress (psychology)"). -
The following form of stressor is major life changes. A few examples of this, is: ü
Divorce of a parent,
Disability/Illness ("Stress (psychology)").
The final class of stressor is the daily hassles. These may not appear very stressful but if experienced repeatedly over a long period of time may have very severe effects. Adults face such hassles, as: their jobs, personal relationships, noise, traffic, and owing money ("Stress (psychology)"). However the typical teen has a more specific group of hassles such as: ¨
Living at home,
Blended families ("Teen").
Although stress is a normal part of everyday actuality, if it is coupled with despair it may lead to suicide. No one is completely sure what causes the shift into depression, therefore it is significant to understand and identify the symptoms of stress. This way, proper coping skills may be engaged before anything that's life threatening can occur (Scanlon, 26a). Stressors, which aggravate symptoms, vary in severity and duration, ("Stress (psychology)") and may cause mental, emotional, or physical symptoms (Romero, B1). Mental symptoms can be as minor as: slight forgetfulness, carelessness, or lack of concentration. Yet they may also be as severe as: not studying, and major drops in school performance (Romero, B1). The emotional signals are far easier to detect. Feeling: bored, angry, paranoid, pessimistic, depressed, guilty, anxious, or hostile are common emotional signals (Romero, B1). People can also suffer from physical signs of stress such as: v
Sleep disorders (Romero, B1).
Laughing/crying for no apparent reason, eating too much or too little, or blaming others for the bad situations they're in, are also quite common for terminally stressed people ("Stress: Who"). When the symptoms of stress are not managed properly, there can be a wide range of side effects a person may have. In the long fun if stress isn't handled properly it could ultimately lead to death ("Stress (psychology)"). As with any other aspect of stress it can have mental, physical, and emotional side effects. It's more likely that a stressed out person will engage in many adverse behaviors, like: ¨
Bibliography: "Stress (psychology)." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. 1999.
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