Stress and Anxiety

Types of stress and how to cope with it

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Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand.1 Did you know that not all stress is bad?1,2

If you think of animals and their natural stress response ‘fight or flight’ – it can be life saving!2

However, chronic stress can cause both physical and mental harm.2

Types of stress

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Stress can fall into different categories, these are:

  • Routine stress, which is related to the pressures of work, family, and other daily responsibilities.2
  • Sudden stress that is brought about by a new or negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.2
  • Adjustment disorder is failure to adapt to a stressor that causes significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.3
  • Traumatic stress, which happens when in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. This type of stress can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).2

Stress and health

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Keeping the body in a ‘high alert’ stressed state over a long period of time puts a person at risk for health problems, including:1

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Acne or eczema
  • Menstrual problems

If you already have a health condition, chronic stress can make it worse!1

More about Adjustment Disorder

An episode of adjustment disorder is commonly related to family or love life, work or school and financial stress.4 Adjustment disorders are classified as trauma or stressor-related disorders on the same scale as PTSD!4
It is important to know that you can get treatment for these disorders.4

Coping with stress

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Here are some tips to cope with stress:5

  • Recognise the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Effective treatments can help if your stress is affecting your relationships or ability to function at work or at school.
  • Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health.
  • Try a relaxing activity. Try meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises.
  • Set goals and priorities. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much.
  • Stay connected. You are not alone. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help.


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What is anxiety?

Stress and anxiety can be inter-linked.1

Anxiety is stress that continues after the initial stress-factor has gone.1

Occasional anxiety is normal and not harmful.6

Anxiety can become a disorder if a person feels extremely worried or nervous when there is little or no reason to feel that way.6

How can you tell if you suffer from generalised anxiety disorder?

Typical signs and symptoms can develop slowly over time.6

People may:6

  • Feel restless with excessive worrying
  • Have difficulty concentrating
  • Feel easily tired
  • Have headaches, stomach aches or unexplained pains
  • Tremble or twitch
  • Be irritable or feel on edge
  • Sweat a lot or feel light-headed

What causes generalised anxiety disorder?

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Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) can run in families, but stress and environmental factors also play a role.6

Treating anxiety / what can YOU do?

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The good news is that generalized anxiety disorder is treatable.6,7 Anxiety is generally treated with psychotherapy (talking with a therapist or counsellor), medication, or both.6


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Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin-Norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) – these medicines are typically used to treat depression but are helpful for symptoms of anxiety. They may take several weeks to start working.6

Benzodiazepines – these are sedative medications, used to manage GAD. These medications are effective in rapidly decreasing anxiety, but they can cause tolerance and dependence if you use them continuously.6

Non-benzodiazepine medicines – these are anti-anxiety medicines that do not cause the dependance or cognitive impairment/sedation of the benzodiazepines.3,4 They can be used as an alternative to benzodiazepines for short periods at a time, to help in times of high stress or anxiety, without the risk of dependence.4,7

Generalised anxiety disorder can affect all ages6 and may become worse during times of stress.6 Talk to your doctor about the best treatment for YOU.6

When to seek help

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Visit your doctor if you feel overwhelmed by stress or anxiety about events in your life, or if it is affecting your health.1
Your doctor can help you develop ways to reduce stress in your life or to help you cope with anxiety.1
Please note: This is educational information only and should not be used for diagnosis. For more information on stress and anxiety, consult your healthcare professional.

  1.  MedlinePlus. Stress and your health [Online; 06 November 2019] Available at: Last accessed October 2022.
  2. MedlinePlus. Stress [Online; 19 November 2019] Available at: Last accessed October 2022.
  3. Nuss P, Ferreri F, Bourin M. An update on the anxiolytic and neuroprotective properties of etifoxine: from brain GABA modulation to a whole-body mode of action. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 2019;15:1781–1795.
  4. Stein DJ. Etifoxine Versus Alprazolam for the Treatment of Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Adv Ther 2015;32:57–68.
  5. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). 5 Things You Should Know About Stress. Available at: Last accessed October 2022.
  6. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Generalized Anxiety Disorder: When Worry Gets Out of Control [Online; 2016] Available at: anxiety-disordergad/index.shtml. Last accessed October 2022.
  7. Reference available on request.

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