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Birmingham and Solihull Mental health NHS Foundation Trust
Better Together


Stress is the way you feel when you're under intense pressure.

It can be caused by many different situations. This could be major life events such as divorce, bereavement or unemployment. It could also be a build up of more minor problems. The most common causes of stress are worries over work, money and relationships.

Stress affects nearly everyone at some point in his or her life. Many people who visit their GPs about mental health problems are experiencing anxiety and depression as a result of stress.


Symptoms of stress

  • Physical symptoms - your body produces 'fight or flight' chemicals which prepare you for an emergency. Because you can't use these in everyday situations they can cause problems such as difficulty breathing, sweating, headaches, sickness and indigestion. If you are stressed for a long period of time, you can put yourself at risk from a heart attack or stroke.

  • Emotional symptoms - you may feel frightened, angry, frustrated or depressed. These feelings can also make the physical symptoms worse.

  • Behavioural symptoms - you may become withdrawn and indecisive or aggressive and inflexible.

What to do if you're experiencing stress

There are a number of ways you can help yourself to overcome stress.

The first thing to do is to recognise you have a problem. Make the connection between how you feel and the pressures you're facing.

Once you've done this, try to work out what's causing the stress. Deal with any immediate problems and let go of things you can't do anything about. In the longer term, it might be a good idea to review your lifestyle.

It can also be helpful to:

  • take time out when you feel stressed - go for a walk or make yourself a hot drink
  • learn how to relax - try deep breathing or sitting quietly
  • have a healthy diet and take regular exercise
  • keep smoking and drinking to a minimum - they can often make things worse in the long-run
  • make time for yourself - make sure you have enough time off to relax

If you feel like you can't cope with the stress you're experiencing, contact your GP. He or she will either help you directly or refer you on to another local professional or counsellor.


The following links below offer more detailed information and advice on a wide range of mental health conditions:

No Panic

Combat Stress


Royal College of Psychiatrists

The Mental Health Foundation

NHS Choices