Stress Health (cont.)

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When to Seek Medical Care for Stress

  • You should call your doctor when you are unable to identify the source of your stress or anxiety and if the condition continues or comes and goes.
    • If, in conjunction with your friends, family , or spiritual or personal advisers, you cannot identify a source or solution for your anxiety and stress, your next resource can be your doctor.
    • A physical problem may be causing your symptoms. Or there may be a hidden cause that requires the assistance of a counselor to help uncover. Once your doctor has ruled out a medical cause for your symptoms, your doctor can be a great resource for other options in treatment of your stress symptoms.
    • Primary care doctors have many resources that they can use to help get to the source of your stress. You should never be embarrassed about your situation or the fact that you are seeking help. It is the doctor's role to help.
    • Remember, the sooner you get help, the sooner you will feel better. If you are having physical symptoms that seem either unrelated to stress or are worse than you have experienced in the past, you should consult your doctor immediately.
  • You should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital's emergency department if your stress is resulting in any of these symptoms:
    • Thoughts about harming yourself
    • Thoughts about harming others
    • Chest pain
    • Fluttering or rapid heartbeats
    • Headaches unlike your usual headaches
    • Any condition that you feel might cause you serious harm if not treated immediately

Stress Diagnosis

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Your doctor needs to take a careful history and perform a physical exam in order to diagnose any medical problems leading to your symptoms. After ruling out medical causes for your signs and symptoms, the doctor looks for an underlying stress or psychological disorder that could be the source of your stress symptoms.

  • Many times, a careful interview can be the best source of information about the cause of your symptoms. It is extremely important that you are completely honest and tell your doctor everything that you are feeling physically and emotionally and describe any situations that you think might be causing your problems or making them worse.
  • The doctor then performs a physical exam that is focused on the symptoms you have described.
  • Lab tests or other diagnostic tests such as an electrocardiogram (ECG) may be needed to completely rule out an underlying physical cause for your symptoms.
  • If these tests and your doctor's exam findings are normal, the doctor may consult other specialists for further evaluation and treatment of your condition.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/5/2012

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Stress - Physical Symptoms Question: Symptoms of stress can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your physical symptoms?
Stress - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with stress.
Stress - Diagnosis Question: How was your stress diagnosed?
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Stress - Prevention Question: What prevention measures do you use to avoid getting a stress?