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Are You Addicted to Stress? The Experts Weigh In

Are You Addicted to Stress? The Experts Weigh In

    Ever since the 1980s, there has been an increasing amount of media coverage on stress-related topics. For decades, scientists, researchers, and doctors have been investigating how the human body responds to stress, and whether it is possible for some people to become addicted to stress.

    While there are no hard figures to reveal how many Americans may be suffering from stress addiction, experts do agree that people suffering from this problem face varying degrees of danger to their health.

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    Are you addicted to stress? And if so, does that mean you will be facing serious health problems down the road? Or, will you be one of the few people who benefits from stress addiction?

    The Type A Paradox

    A bevy of medical experts have noted that there are a variety of human responses to stress, and not all of them have to be negative. In fact, high-strung Type-A personalities may actually benefit from stressful lifestyles based on their genetics and lifestyle preferences.

    ”Anyone familiar with the corporate world has had experiences with driven executives who seem to thrive on stressful circumstances that most others could not tolerate,” says Dr. Waino W. Suojanen, a professor of management at Georgia State University. ”There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that some executives deliberately seek out the management life because they get a high out of controlling people. Indeed, the making of decisions seems to become addicting.”

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    So why would someone benefit from stress addiction? Dr. Robert Ader of the University of Rochester, has studied stress addiction for many years, and he explains that stress can actually have some beneficial effects on the body. ”Through our animal work we have hypothesized that it might be possible that some people might need stress because it elicits the release of catecholamines, such as adrenaline, in the blood stream, and this is not necessarily bad because it might increase resistance to some types of disease.”

    Dr. Paul J. Rosch adds that because of these unexpected health benefits of stress, prescribing the right medical treatments can be very challenging. “The Type A individual has perhaps become addicted to his own adrenaline and unconsciously seeks ways to get those little surges,” he explains.

    “The Type A individual is apt to be irritable and depressed. Thus, recuperating from a heart attack by spending three weeks on a deserted beach might be a perfect prescription for one individual, but lethal for some Type A’s, who would be ‘off the wall’ in a matter of hours.”

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    Stress and Genetics

    Stress, when combined with certain genetic factors, can increase a person’s risk for developing depression or even chronic fatigue disorder. According to Dr. David Mrazek, “People with a genetic variant of the serotonin transporter gene [are] more likely to become depressed [if] they have experienced stressful situations.”

    While he notes that the types of stress caused by childhood abuse or major medical are more likely to affect those with the genetic variant, even “the hassles of everyday life [were] associated with an increased risk of depression if a person had this genetic variant.”

    Stress While Pregnant

    Even if you are one of the rare people who thrive under stressful circumstances, all bets are off if you are a woman who becomes pregnant. Stress is arguably the most dangerous thing a pregnant woman can be exposed to. Stress during pregnancy has been linked to all kinds of ill effects for the developing baby.

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    For example, stress can cause miscarriages, lower IQ scores for babies, and can affect the development of the child’s immune system. In fact, one Harvard study revealed that children who had mothers with highly stressful pregnancies were more likely to suffer from auto-immune disease, including asthma and allergies.

    Stress Addiction Warning Signs

    According to Debbie Mandel, author of “Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life”, there are many warning signs that can indicate that a person has become addicted to stress. Mandel says that if you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you may be at risk for developing stress addiction:

    “1. Do you tune out during conversations thinking about other things?
    2. Do you feel rushed wherever you are because you feel that you ought to be completing the next task somewhere else?
    3. Do you feel uncomfortable, worried, and nervous in your mind or body when you don’t have something you must absolutely do right now?”
     
    Mandel says that clients she treats for stress addiction get hooked on the surge of adrenaline they get when rushing around, frantically trying to check off items on their to-do lists. Many stress addicts, she adds, are also using their stress to keep from dealing with feelings of inadequacy. “In the case of stress addiction, all this busyness stems from the addict’s constant need to prove the self, suppressing feelings of unattractiveness, unworthiness and inadequacy seeping out through the seams of body and soul. It is a case of compulsion versus passion,” she explains.

    Conclusion

    There are good kinds of stress, and bad kinds of stress. Falling in love definitely counts as “good stress”, and getting fired is unquestionably “bad stress”. No two causes of stress are created equal, and it also seems that no two people will have the exact same response a given stressful event.

    Even if you thrive on stress, your addiction may be putting your health at risk. As with everything in life, moderation is best. So, if you absolutely love the adrenaline rush of multi-tasking on 12 urgent projects, you need to make sure you find a little time each day to relax. Examine your motivations for reveling in stress, and make sure you balance your long-term health with your lifestyle choices.

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    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life?

    In Personal Development-speak, we are always talking about goals, outcomes, success, desires and dreams. In other words, all the stuff we want to do, achieve and create in our world.

    And while it’s important for us to know what we want to achieve (our goal), it’s also important for us to understand why we want to achieve it; the reason behind the goal or some would say, our real goal.

    Why is goal setting important?

    1. Your needs and desire will be fulfilled.

    Sometimes when we explore our “why”, (why we want to achieve a certain thing) we realize that our “what” (our goal) might not actually deliver us the thing (feeling, emotion, internal state) we’re really seeking.

    For example, the person who has a goal to lose weight in the belief that weight loss will bring them happiness, security, fulfillment, attention, popularity and the partner of their dreams. In this instance, their “what” is weight-loss and their “why” is happiness (etc.) and a partner.

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    Six months later, they have lost the weight (achieved their goal) but as is often the case, they’re not happier, not more secure, not more confident, not more fulfilled and in keeping with their miserable state, they have failed to attract their dream partner.

    After all, who wants to be with someone who’s miserable? They achieved their practical goal but still failed to have their needs met.

    So they set a goal to lose another ten pounds. And then another. And maybe just ten more. With the destructive and erroneous belief that if they can get thin enough, they’ll find their own personal nirvana. And we all know how that story ends.

    2. You’ll find out what truly motivates you

    The important thing in the process of constructing our best life is not necessarily what goals we set (what we think we want) but what motivates us towards those goals (what we really want).

    The sooner we begin to explore, identify and understand what motivates us towards certain achievements, acquisitions or outcomes (that is, we begin moving towards greater consciousness and self awareness), the sooner we will make better decisions for our life, set more intelligent (and dare I say, enlightened) goals and experience more fulfilment and less frustration.

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    We all know people who have achieved what they set out to, only to end up in the same place or worse (emotionally, psychologically, sociologically) because what they were chasing wasn’t really what they were needing.

    What we think we want will rarely provide us with what we actually need.

    3. Your state of mind will be a lot healthier

    We all set specific goals to achieve/acquire certain things (a job, a car, a partner, a better body, a bank balance, a title, a victory) because at some level, most of us believe (consciously or not) that the achievement of those goals will bring us what we really seek; joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

    Of course, setting practical, material and financial goals is an intelligent thing to do considering the world we live in and how that world works.

    But setting goals with an expectation that the achievement of certain things in our external, physical world will automatically create an internal state of peace, contentment, joy and total happiness is an unhealthy and unrealistic mindset to inhabit.

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    What you truly want and need

    Sometimes we need to look beyond the obvious (superficial) goals to discover and secure what we really want.

    Sadly, we live in a collective mindset which teaches that the prettiest and the wealthiest are the most successful.

    Some self-help frauds even teach this message. If you’re rich or pretty, you’re happy. If you’re both, you’re very happy. Pretty isn’t what we really want; it’s what we believe pretty will bring us. Same goes with money.

    When we cut through the hype, the jargon and the self-help mumbo jumbo, we all have the same basic goals, desires and needs:

    Joy, fulfilment, happiness, safety, peace, recognition, love, acceptance, respect, connection.

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    Nobody needs a mansion or a sport’s car but we all need love.

    Nobody needs massive pecs, six percent body-fat, a face lift or bigger breasts but we all need connection, acceptance and understanding.

    Nobody needs to be famous but we all need peace, calm, balance and happiness.

    The problem is, we live in a culture which teaches that one equals the other. If only we lived in a culture which taught that real success is far more about what’s happening in our internal environment, than our external one.

    It’s a commonly-held belief that we’re all very different and we all have different goals — whether short term or long term goals. But in many ways we’re not, and we don’t; we all want essentially the same things.

    Now all you have to do is see past the fraud and deception and find the right path.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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