Why Do Some People Get More Stressed Than Others?

Why Do SomePeople Get MoreStressed ThanOthers_

How we respond to stress can vary a lot from person to person and if you’re someone who is very prone to feeling stressed, you may well wonder what it is that causes this.

Why do some people respond well to stress but others are strongly affected by the same amount of stress?

There have been a few studies about this, which have put forward some explanations of why we deal with stress differently.

Theory #1 – It’s in Your Genes

Studies have suggested that the way you respond to stress can be down to your genes.

The culprit is a stress molecule known as nuclear factor kappa B (NF KB). This can encourage the “fight or flight” stress response, which can make you more likely to develop depression and even cancer.

Here’s the good news though: meditation can actually decrease the amount of kappa B that your body produces, which has an impact on the way that you then handle stress.

Experts believe that meditation can go as far as to change how we respond to stress and anxiety at molecular level.

Theory #2 – Electrical Signals in the Brain

A study on mice showed electrical patterns in the brain that researchers believe can predict how well they cope with stress.

In time, they hope that this could be expanded to also help to tell whether people are likely to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and other mental health problems if they are already badly affected by stress.

The study looked at the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, which are linked to both stress response and fear. The mice who were more prone to being affected by stress had more interaction between these two areas of the brain while being exposed to stressful situations and this was also the case before this too.

Even mice who were genetically identical responded differently to stress and researchers believe that this was the result of having varying electrical patterns in their brains.

 

 

 

 

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What is Health Anxiety?

What isHealth Anxiety_

It’s natural to worry about your health sometimes but if it happens a lot, you may be experiencing health anxiety.

Signs of Health Anxiety

With health anxiety, you worry about your health to the point that it is excessive and has a big impact on your life.

You may have a chronic health condition that you worry about or you may spend a lot of time worrying about your future health and whether you’ll get things like cancer.

With a more general version of health anxiety, any symptoms you have are viewed in the worst possible light.

What if that pain in your leg means you have a blood clot or your ‘missed’ heartbeats are a sign of something more serious?

These kind of symptoms often have a far less serious cause but if you have health anxiety, you’ll tend to bypass these and go straight to the worst case scenarios.  This is the basis of health anxiety: the relentless fear that you’ll develop a serious health problem or the belief that you already have.

You may spend lots of time looking online for information and see your GP on a regular basis because of your worries.

There is also another type of health anxiety based around avoidance. This can include tuning out of anything that may potentially make health anxiety worse, such as never watching programmes on television that may mention medical issues or not going to GP appointments. You may also avoid things that you think could put your health in danger when you have worrying symptoms, such as exercising, or sitting down (or even going to bed) when symptoms occur.

The Problem With Health Anxiety

Health anxiety can become a very vicious circle in that you’re constantly alert to signs that something isn’t right with your body and this can make you aware of things that you wouldn’t normally notice.

Most of the time, these things won’t be anything serious and they may even be signs of your anxiety. Your awareness of them causes more anxiety though and the cycle continues.

Being reassured that nothing is wrong can help to put your mind at rest for a short time but the anxiety usually comes back fairly quickly.

It may not be enough to get reassurance from a doctor as there is always a “what if?” lurking at the back of your mind, especially when more symptoms crop up. This usually means going back to the doctor to get new reassurance about symptoms but it can also lead to you wanting to get a second opinion from another doctor or arranging tests, for example.

Who Gets Health Anxiety?

If you’re an anxious person in general, your health is often just another thing to worry about so it’s not that surprising if you develop health anxiety.

Being affected by negative thinking patterns is another factor in whether you’re likely to develop health anxiety. This can make you more likely to think along the lines of “if it’s going to happen to anyone, it’s bound to be me”.

Stress can be another culprit, especially if you have health related concerns in the family.

Certain beliefs can fuel health anxiety too, including:

  • Any change to your body is a sign that something is wrong
  • A family history of certain health problems means you’ll get it too
  • Doctors can miss things or get it wrong
  • Having tests is the only way to know for sure that everything is okay
  • Not knowing that you are totally well could mean that you’re actually ill

These beliefs can be incredibly unhelpful and keep your anxiety going if you genuinely believe them.

Treatment for Health Anxiety

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often used to treat health anxiety. This can help you to identify your thoughts and feelings and give you tools to manage them. Health anxiety is kept going by the negative, unhelpful and unhealthy thoughts that characterise it and breaking free from these is key for overcoming the hold it has on you.

A lot of the coping strategies that people with health anxiety use are actually keeping the anxiety strong in the mind, including focusing more on the body, constantly looking for reassurance, reading up on illness and avoidance behaviour.

CBT can help you to develop new ways to deal with health anxiety that are more helpful in relieving the anxiety.

Medications can sometimes be used too, especially if you have depression as well.

 

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