How the right therapy can help with stress-related problems
Posted on 29 September 2017
A psychiatrist at Mediclinic explains that ignoring stress or not understanding its cause is detrimental to your health and well-being.
As stress is both a medical and psychological issue, it can start in the body and take its toll on your mind or vice versa. The problem is that it builds up without your noticing it, as you live through cycles of negative thinking. It’s essential to break this cycle before stress disrupts your life to such an extent that it starts threatening your health or quality of life.
‘Many of my patients are often surprised when they realise how long they’ve been suffering from prolonged stress as we start unpacking their experiences,’ says psychiatrist at Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg, Dr Fayeda Mahomed.
‘I see children who are struggling to cope with stress at school, and young people who are overwhelmed by the new responsibilities of work and budgeting as they become adults. And then I see middle-aged people who are trying to deal with divorce or a death in the family or older people whose symptoms of chronic stress have been building over many years.
‘By the time they get to me, many patients are simply non-functional,’ says Dr Mahomed. ‘The stress has built up for too long and patients may feel hopeless or at times even suicidal’.
‘At this point, working with a psychiatrist and psychologist can be a real asset to help patients get their lives back on track. This may involve medication for a limited time to help them manage their symptoms. In time, counselling will help patients to learn coping mechanisms which will continue to help them for years after they’ve left the medication behind.’
While counselling patients, Dr Mahomed’s team teaches them to:
- understand themselves
- understand their stress
- learn that stress is a part of life, and accept that some careers or life experiences will be more stressful than others
- develop more effective and healthy ways to cope with their stress
- talk about getting some exercise, seeking out a social support system and reconnecting with positive people
- come up with strategies to take time off work or to cut down on bad habits such as smoking