Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Feeling stressed could cause physical harm

Edited by Jill Wright,

A study published in the European Health Journal suggests that if you are feeling that you are under stress and that it is affecting your health ... it probably is.

Data gathered from the so-called Whitehall II study which followed 7,268 British civil servants - both men and women - over 18 years, showed that in that period there were 352 heart attacks or deaths from coronary disease among participants.

About 8 per cent of them reported that stress affected their health “a lot, or extremely” and those respondents were 49 percent more likely than other participants to have a heart attack or die of heart disease.

Looking for potential reasons for the connection between perception and physical consequences, the authors of the study suggest that the perception of the negative effects of stress might increase blood pressure or heart rate, or cause unhealthy responses, such as increasing smoking or excessive drinking.

The study's leader, Hermann Nabi, from Inserm, a public health research centre in France, recommends that people who feel that stress is affecting their health should take first steps to identify the cause of stress and manage it, through physical activity, relaxation and or meditation.

“But for severe cases," he warned, ""you need to look for professional help.”

Psychology Melbourne has a number of psychologists available who specialise in helping clients deal with Stress Management. We also run affordable and highly popular classes on Managing Stress and Anxiety which attract a Medicare Rebate if you have a referral from a GP.

About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.