Anxiety and stress are two of the most common types of mental disorders in the United States. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that 19 million Americans a year are afflicted by these illnesses. Conditions associated with anxiety and stress include depression, phobias, and chronic fatigue. Furthermore, accumulated stress and anxiety can predispose patients to medical conditions such as chronic headaches, hypertension, ulcers, and heart disease. Some physicians estimate that stress and anxiety may be a contributing factor in 90% of all illnesses.
Stress is a psychological and physical response to the demands of daily life that exceed a person's ability to cope successfully. Stress is often characterized by fatigue, sleep disorders, irritability, and constant worrying. Depression often accompanies stress. The accumulated effects of stress may lead to more serious medical problems. Stress may be work-related, or it may stem from personal problems such as divorce, family conflict, or financial concerns. Most often, stress results from a combination of these pressures. Stress may also be a factor in critical illnesses, and the use of specific therapies in these instances is a topic of current research.
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