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How often have you had a headache in the last twelve months? How many stomach aches have you had? Have you sometimes found it difficult to breathe? Have you had any skin problems? How often have you felt sad or nervous for no good reason? How often have you wanted to cry? How often have you got angry?
If your answer to three or more of these questions is ''too often'', you are probably suffering from stress, you are not alone. Over half of the adult population has had stress- related symptoms in the last year and many of them have needed help of some kind. Stress is now the major health problem of our times.
Stress, itself, is not an illness, but it can certainly contribute to illness, some of them serious. When you feel under stress, your body produces more of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. As a result, the body needs more oxygen and your heart rate and blood pressure go up. At its most serious, this can lead to heart problems, but stress is also related to weight problems, coughs and colds. Scientists have also discovered that stress can lead to the loss of brain cells.
The most common cause of stress is over-work, but a difficult boss or problems with your colleagues are also common cause. Some jobs are more stressful than others, with teachers and police officers at the top of the scale and beauty therapists at the bottom. From time to time, we hear of celebrities suffering from stress, footballers like Rolando or the American actress, Winona Ryder. But stress can affect us all and the figures prove it. 40 million working days are lost in the UK every year because of stress- related illnesses. What is more, people who are suffering from stress do not work as well as usual. The situation is so serious that some companies now offer relaxation and stress management classes. If you think you, too, are suffering from stress, it's important to know if it is causing you health problems. If it is, see your doctor and talk about it.
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