19th November, 20193 min read

When to see a doctor about stress

Last reviewed: 19/11/2019
Medically reviewed

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Stress has its advantages. Did you know that stress can help you prepare for challenges and respond better to demanding situations?

But in higher doses, stress can have the opposite effect. It can leave us feeling exhausted and unhappy, and can affect our quality of life. It can even increase our risk of many health problems, including depression and type 2 diabetes.

Self-help techniques aren’t always enough if you’re very stressed. It’s important to seek professional help when stress starts to have a serious impact on your life, but it’s not always easy to tell when you’re close to breaking point.

Could it be time for you to see a doctor about stress? Read on to find out.

What are the common symptoms of stress?

Your stress levels can spike in response to big events or they can build-up gradually. In the early stages, stress can affect you mentally and emotionally. You may:

  • feel nervous, anxious or distracted
  • worry a lot
  • be overwhelmed by your own expectations
  • notice changes in your sleep habits

Your friends or family may also start to point out that you seem to be under a lot of stress.

If stress starts to take a more serious toll on your health, it may affect you both mentally and physically, causing symptoms such as:

  • persistent tiredness or fatigue
  • depression
  • headaches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • pressure or pain in the chest
  • a fast or ‘racing’ heartbeat
  • dizziness
  • shortness of breath
  • hyperventilation or feeling like you are choking

Are your stress levels too high?

Answer the questions below to see if your stress levels may be too high.

  1. Do you feel irritable around others?
  2. Do you struggle to get to sleep?
  3. Do you ever feel overwhelmed or like you’ve lost control?
  4. Are you prone to mild aches and pains, coughs or colds?
  5. Are you often tired or lacking energy?
  6. Do you ever lose your appetite?
  7. Do you find making decisions difficult?
  8. Do you depend on alcohol or nicotine to manage your stress?

If you answered yes more often than no, your stress levels may be too high and you should see a doctor.

However, answering yes to any of the questions above suggests you have some stress in your life. You may be able to manage those symptoms and your general stress levels with self-care techniques, such as getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and exercising regularly.

When should you seek help?

The symptoms of stress are usually quite mild and improve with time. However, if they start to get worse or don’t go away, speak to a doctor.

You should also consider professional support if:

  • self-care techniques have not been effective
  • you're developing more serious health problems, such as high blood pressure
  • stress is having an impact on your mental health

Get emergency medical support if you ever have thoughts of harming yourself or others.

Still not sure if you should see a doctor?

You should never feel embarrassed about seeking help. We all deal with stress in different ways and no one is immune to its effects. Always see a doctor if you’re worried about how stress is affecting you.

Why not download our app and use our trackers to monitor your mood? This can help you decide which de-stressing techniques work best for you.

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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.