Our research leading to the recent newsletter on Marijuana turned up many references to “stress” — the relief of stress by smoking pot; the stress caused by not having access to pot; the tension caused by opposing points of view on the use of pot; myriad stress-relief programs; the stress caused by adverse reactions, side effects and withdrawal symptoms of pot-smoking.
We thought it would be appropriate, therefore, to write about the subject of stress. It is obviously a term of great interest to psychiatry as well. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the billing bible of the mental health care industry, names it explicitly as a billable diagnosis.
- Acute Stress Disorder (308.3, DSM-IV)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (309.81, DSM-IV)
- Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders (an entire chapter in DSM-5); including various manifestations of PTSD, acute stress disorder, adjustment disorders, and reactive attachment disorder.
There are even “DSM-5 Self-Exam Questions” with which you can diagnose yourself for stress-related symptoms.
Then there is ICD-10, the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision. This is a coding of diseases and signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or diseases, as classified by the World Health Organization. ICD-10 has its own classification of various stressors such as phobias, anxieties, adjustment disorders, and so on. The deadline for the United States to begin using Clinical Modification ICD-10-CM for diagnosis coding is currently October 1, 2014.
Let’s go over the basics, the dictionary definitions of the word “stress.” There are many; here are some:
- a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in life or work
- something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety
- physical force or pressure
- a constraining force or influence
- the burden on one’s emotional or mental well-being created by demands or difficulties
[from Middle English stresse stress, distress, hardship, short for destresse which is from Anglo-French destresce, from Latin districtus, past participle of distringere to grip with force, to draw tight]
“Acute stress response” was first described by Walter Cannon in the 1920s as a theory that animals react to threats with a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system. The response was later recognized as the first stage of a general adaptation syndrome that regulates stress responses among vertebrates and other organisms (from Wikipedia.)
Here are some additional terms and phrases associated with the concept of stress that one might consider as either causes or symptoms:
- suppression on one or more parts of one’s life
- lack of a goal or purpose in life
- physical or mental shock
- exposure to someone antagonistic to oneself or one’s efforts
- an accumulation in life of turmoil, distress, failure, pain, loss or injury
For comparison, here are some of the concepts encompassing opposites of stress (which we might generally just consider as an absence of stress):
We would like to make it very clear that STRESS IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS! It is the reaction to a stressor. It is not a deficiency of cannabis or Prozac, and cannot be fixed with a drug. It can only be fixed by finding and eliminating the causes of the stress. Notice we said “causes” plural; if you knew the one thing that was causing your stress, you would have already fixed it. Of course, there are many, many single things that, when found and fixed, could significantly reduce or eliminate those particular stressors.
Bodies also have their own forms of stress, for example chronic age-related diseases are linked to inflammation in the body; and oxidative stress occurs when the body is exposed to an excessive number of free radicals.
What’s keeping people from handling their stress?
Well, there are vested interests who want the general populace immobilized by stress. The psychopharmaceutical industry, for example.
Psychiatrists will not tell you that there are many safe and effective, non-psychiatric options for mental and emotional turmoil.
While life is full of problems, and those problems can sometimes be overwhelming, it is important to know that psychiatry, with its unscientific diagnoses and harmful treatments, are the wrong way to go. Their most common treatment, psychiatric drugs, only chemically mask problems and symptoms; they cannot and never will be able to solve life’s problems. Once the drug has worn off, the original problem remains, or may even deteriorate. Though psychiatrists classify their drugs as a solution to life’s problems, in the long run, they only make things worse.
According to top experts, the majority of people having mental problems are actually suffering from non-psychiatric disorders, which can cause emotional stress.
You can get a thorough physical examination from a competent medical—not a psychiatric—doctor to check for any underlying injury or illness that may be causing emotional distress.
It’s up to every individual to insist on it, and to insist on fully informed consent to any treatment.