Acute stress disorder: know the symptoms and how to manage them

Acute stress disorder is the most common form of stress; it is the body's reaction to environmental pressure, challenges or demands. In small doses, it is beneficial, but when it lasts too long, it can be harmful and damage your health (Barnhill, 2020; Berger, 2020). Stress can be triggered by any situation, experience or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. For example, getting married, getting divorced, getting fired, having a baby, having an illness, having problems at home, at work, and entering menopause are some of the factors that increase stress levels and can lead to mood swings (Berger, 2020; OASh, 2021).

Why can menopause increase acute stress disorder?

Menopause can be stressful for you due to several factors. It may be due to hormonal changes and the characteristic symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes and sleep disturbances (NAMS, n.d.). On the other hand, family problems, personal demands, teenagers, children leaving home, ageing family members and changes in professional life. These are all factors that come together at this time and can also contribute to increased stress (NAMS, n.d.).

Which are the symptoms of acute stress disorder during menopause?

Symptoms during menopause include (NHS, n.d.)
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Having racing thoughts or difficulty concentrating on something.
  • Feeling irritable.
  • Experiencing constant worry, anxiety, or fear.
  • Lack of self-confidence.
  • Having trouble sleeping.
  • Feeling tired all the time.
  • Avoiding people or things you have problems with.
  • Eating more or less than usual.
  • Drinking or smoking more than usual.
Acute stress disorder sustained over time can cause or increase the risk of developing further health conditions such as (Berger, 2020): Acute stress disorder: know the symptoms and how to manage them

Tips for managing acute stress disorder

Be physically active

Being active regularly can help burn off nervous energy in a healthy way. It won't make acute stress disorder go away, but it can make you feel it less intense. You can try running, cycling, walking more often and/or attending a gym. It may be the best solution to keep stress at bay (NHS, n.d.).

Organize your tasks and duties

Planning on time everything you must do including household chores, practices, and duties, can help you deal with stress and increase your sense of control over your life. You can use a calendar or an app to keep track of your personal life and be more organised. It can also help to create a balance, i.e., to divide your time between work obligations, taking care of your family and yourself. This allows you to cope better with new challenges and build self-confidence (NHS, n.d.; NAMS, n.d.).

Engage in relaxing activities

Find positive ways to relax. You can try breathing and relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation. You can also make time to learn how to avoid anxiety and enjoy activities you love, such as reading a book or relaxing outdoors (OASH, 2021).

Talk to someone

Strengthening and turning to your support network can be another way to avoid stress. Whenever you feel you are going through difficulties, talk to friends, family members and/or people you trust. They can help you when you have worries (NHS, n.d.).

Seek professional help

Now, if you feel that you can't cope with stress, don't be ashamed and seek help. This is normal, especially if it interferes with your daily activities. Whatever the cause of your stress, a mental health professional can help you manage your emotions better (Scott, 2020). Learning to manage acute stress disorder means developing strategies that allow you to face the challenges of everyday life with a better attitude. Managing stress is not about avoiding it completely but learning how to use it to overcome difficulties that may arise in life, especially during the menopause. References: Barnhill, J. (2020). Trastorno por estrés agudo. Manual MSD. Recovered from: https://www.msdmanuals.com/es-co/hogar/trastornos-de-la-salud-mental/ansiedad-y-trastornos-relacionados-con-el-estr%C3%A9s/trastorno-por-estr%C3%A9s-agudo Berger, F. (2020). El estrés y su salud. MedlinePlus. Biblioteca Nacional de Salud. Recovered from: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/article/003211.htm NAMS. (s.f.a). Stress: Getting out serious about solutions. The North American Menopause Society. Recovered from: https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/mental-health-at-menopause/stress-getting-serious-about-solutions NAMS. (s.f.b). Going mad inPerimenopause? Signs and solutions. Recovered from: https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/going-mad-in-perimenopause-signs-and-solutions NHS. (s.f.). Feeling stressed?. National Health Service. Recovered from: https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/stress/ OASH. (2021). Síntomas y alivio de la menopausia. Oficina para la Salud de la Mujer. Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de EE.UU. Recovered from: https://espanol.womenshealth.gov/menopause/menopause-symptoms-and-relief Scott, E. (2020). 5 ways to cope woth emotional stress. Verywell Mind. Recovered from: https://www.verywellmind.com/coping-with-emotional-stress-3144565

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