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Doctors' Answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" - Stress

These comments are made for the purpose of discussion and should NOT be used as recommendations for or against therapies or other treatments. An individual patient is always advised to consult their own physician.

Question: I am a full time special education teacher, wife, and mother of a (4) and (1) year old. My husband works long hours and leaves me with the responsibilities of the house and children most of the time. I have not felt like myself lately. I'm moody, tired, and am not as social as I used to be. Life has become so hectic. I was wondering if there is any stress management or medication to help with all of the things that I have going on at this time in my life. I'm looking forward to your response.

Answer: Exercise, regular sleep, alcohol abstinence, and caffeine abstinence in that order will all help. Focus on your needs and ways to accomplish them. Hectic usually implies lack of time for yourself. Yoga, etc. will also help if you have time. Try to organize your day so there is assured time of at least 15-20 minutes just for your needs. Define these needs closely.

Stress Medications
Question: During the last few years I have become very fatigued. I have lost interest in my hobbies, and after an eight hour day in the office I ache all over. It is as thought my inner bones hurt. I'm 46 and get plenty of sleep, but am always tired. I seem to always be up-tight about something, usually work. I just can't seem to unwind. Can stress be the problem and is their a safe medication I can take to relieve it. Years ago I tried valium and it worked well but I know it's for short term use and don't want to get addicted. Are any of these type drugs safe? Are their any herbs that might be helpful?

Answer: Hard to tell from your description. The aching would suggest arthritis of some variety and this should be evaluated. Also, sleep disorders like sleep apnea could cause your problem Rather than try herbs, I'd try to have your physician figure out the cause of the problem.

Question: What are the symptoms of a burn out? Are they the same or similar as depression? Can a burnout be the cause of reflux and heartburn or other physical problems? Can a burned out person be prescribed a few weeks off from work to recuperate?

Answer: Burn out is a lack of enthusiasm-even to the point of dread-for an activity that used to be pleasurable. This is usually job oriented;but, can occur with hobbies, sex etc. The amount of time necessary to restore enthusiasm is usually related to the length and severity of the problem. That is, severe cases may take months to restore enthusiasm-if ever. Usually, a vacation will fix the problem. Sometimes, one must focus on those aspects which are "fun". Whether your physician will authorize time off depends on the physician and the severity of the problem.

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