Thousands Affected by Stress across Dudley and Walsall – 03/11/08

Busy lifestyles, pressure at work and the ‘credit crunch’ are adding to the stress levels of adults in Dudley and Walsall, experts at a mental health trust say.

Dudley and Walsall Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust says stress affects thousands of residents in the area it covers.

According to studies, around 14 per cent of people experience moderate or high levels of stress and more than one in 20 suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder. This means more than 75,000 people across both boroughs could be affected.

But experts at the Trust say many people often do not realise they are suffering with stress.

The Trust is aiming to raise awareness of the condition ahead of National Stress Awareness Day on Wednesday (NOV 5).

Lesley Burton, primary care mental health manager in Walsall, said: “Everyday life is incredibly stressful at the moment for many residents, what with the current economic crisis adding to people’s worries and workplace stress becoming more prevalent.

“We need to educate people about the condition because many do not know they are feeling stressed.

“Stress is the way a person feels when pressure is placed on them. A little bit of pressure can be quite productive, give motivation and help a person to perform better at something.

“Too much pressure, or prolonged pressure, however, can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for both the mind and body.

“Stress affects different people in different ways and everyone has a different method of dealing with it. If stress is not recognised and dealt with it can build up over time and cause various mental and physical symptoms.”

Lesley said there were various mental symptoms of stress including feeling irritable, low, anxious, experiencing food cravings, frequent crying, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, feeling tired and having difficulty concentrating.

“Most people who are stressed often don’t realise it but end up going to their doctor or the hospital because they are experiencing physical symptoms associated with the condition. These can include chest pains, constipation or diarrhoea, cramps or muscle spasms, dizziness, fainting spells, pins and needles, sexual problems, breathlessness, muscle aches and increased sweating,” she added.

The Trust has compiled 10 stress-busting tips to help residents ease their anxiety levels and improve their general mental well-being:

Be realistic about what you can achieve – don’t take on too much.

Eat a balanced diet. Eat slowly, sit down and allow 30 minutes for each meal.

Action plans. Write as many possible solutions as you can to a problem, make a plan and deal with it.

Time management. Set priorities, plan your time and do one thing at a time.

Smile and laugh.

Talk things over with a friend or family member.

Relaxation and leisure time each day is important.

Exercise regularly – for at least 20 minutes, two to three times per week.

Say no and don’t feel guilty.

Seek professional help if you have tried these things and stress is still a problem.