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Identifying Symptoms Of Stress


ANDREA’S marriage to Andy is facing some serious challenge. This is unusual because for the past five years of their union, it has been literally a kind of heaven on earth. Other couples envy the level of intimacy and understanding that exist between them. Even in public, Andy and his adorable wife Andrea still hold hands and display other forms of public intimate relationship. From touching each other, to looking into each other’s eyes, to sitting on each other’s lap, this couple exemplifies marital love.  

  However, three months ago, the intimacy of this couple came under attack. Andy was promoted to the position of branch manager and sent to another branch farther away from home. Not only that his work load doubled, the time of his arrival home was stretched to almost midnight on weekdays while his Saturday was equally occupied with official work until 3pm. Suddenly Andy has become insensitive to Andrea’s psychological needs. On her own side, Andrea is ploughing all her energy and love on their three-year-old son Jeff.  Yet she is unfulfilled.

  Recall that stress, particularly distress, causes disequilibrium in the life of the individual.  It is the inability to cope with the responsibilities, demands or pressures of life. Andy and Andrea are facing such a disequilibrium in their erstwhile organised and romantic marriage.

  One obvious way to understand the onset of stress is to identify the symptoms. These range from physiological, physical to psychological.  Beginning with the former, it includes bodily aches and pains, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite or compulsive eating, low or complete loss of libido. Others are high blood pressures, frequent sweating and in extreme cases dizziness.

  Psychological symptoms of stress include, moodiness, agitation, overwhelming feelings of tiredness and discomfort, or even depression.  Mental symptoms like difficulty with concentration, negativity thinking, worry and anxiety, fear and loss of memory may occur.

  As we can see, stress can (and is) a major killer. Immediately it takes hold of an individual’s mind, and heart, stress can destroy every other aspect of an individual’s life. It is like a portion of poison, which is injected into the blood system and if not neutralized, will end up taking the person’s life.

  This period is a stressful period in the lives of our citizens. Both at the individual and several corporate levels such as; family, institution, company, organisations and governance; we are faced with a lot of distressing situations, which cause strain in our resources and ultimately our coping systems and abilities.  

  For instance, how do families cope with increasing cost of living in such specific areas like house rent, transport, electricity, school fees, clothing, feeding in time of inflation like this? How do they manage with uncertainty and insecurity?  How do the cope with the threat of diseases and unavailability of qualitative medical service?

  Adversity or distress sends neither alarm nor warning before it arrives anybody’s shore. It is part of its devastating nature to come like a thief in the night. Often times, stress is multidimensional. As one is trying to cope with one form, another type is ready to assail. 

Dr. Passy Amaraegbu, a clinical psychologist lives in Lagos.

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