Research now tells us that about 33% of people report feeling extreme stress. 77% ofpeople experience stress that affects their physical health. 73%of people report that stress impacts their mental health.

Can people be addicted to stress I’m asked?

Unfortunately, it’s not just drugs that can cause our brain to feel scrambled. Also, stress can create the same symptoms for some people.

Research is now finding that stress may even be as addictive as drugs for some people. The stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline that are constantly being secreted in people who experience chronic stress are the problem.

Shahram Hestmat Ph.D. reported in Psychology Today

“that life events combined with poor coping skills may impact risk of addiction through increasing impulsive responding and self-medication. While it may not be possible to eliminate stress, we need to find ways to manage it.”

Dr Heidi Hanna reported in an article Are You a Stress Addict? that stress (and drugs) have been shown to have the following side effects:

  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • increase in blood sugar
  • breakdown of muscle tissue
  • decreased digestive functioning
  • ulcers
  • blood clotting
  • migraines
  • skin problems
  • premature aging
  • loss of brain cells
  • social isolation and loneliness
  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • depression
  • substance abuse
  • relationship problems,
  • lack of focus
  • disengagement.

A twenty-year study by the University of London completed in the early 1990s found that unmanaged reactions to stress were a more dangerous risk factor for cancer and heart disease than either cigarette smoking or high-cholesterol foods. And stress may even be as addictive as drugs.

In addition to the hormones, adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, stress also releases dopamine, a “feel good or motivation” hormone. Dopamine encourages repeat behaviours by activating the reward centre in our brain and may be at the heart of many addictive behaviours and substance abuse issues.

Some girls between 11 and 16 years of age who have become addicted to mobile phone usage are lying in bed at night when their parents believe they are sleeping, texting and social media messaging seeking likes. They have become addicted to dopamine and are continually seeking a dopamine fix.

Often addictive stress behaviour can start with FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) being dominant in a teenagers’ life, especially young teenage girls.

A special report by the Australian Psychological Society in November 2015 found that social media dominated the life of many teens.

  • 60% feel brain ‘burnout’ from constant connectivity to social media
  • 57% find it difficult to sleep or relax after spending time on social media

 


 

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