Time for a break?
Is your life full of care with no time for a breather?
Photo: Shaju John
DOWN AND OUT Stress can affect the body and mind
Wait! Slow down a moment... or else soon you may find that you suffer from `the hurried woman syndrome' or HWS. The symptoms of HWS include a constant feeling of tiredness, frequent mood swings, lack of sleep, problems in controlling weight and a low sex drive. If these symptoms are your constant companions then it is possible that you could be suffering from HWS.
This syndrome is an offshoot of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome(CFS). CFS is the presence of severe, disabling fatigue lasting for six or more consecutive months.
The fatigue is new, not relieved by rest, not the cause of ongoing exertion and interferes with normal work. Diagnosis requires at least four of the following symptoms: persistent lack of concentration, sore throat, tender lymph nodes at the back of the neck, muscular pain, joint pain or headaches and `unrefreshing' sleep.
There is no definitive cause or treatment for CFS, although success has been reported with the use of anti-depressants, immune boosters and symptomatic treatment for the muscle and joint pains. Counselling and support groups are also known to be effective.
HWS mainly affects women in the age group of 25 to 55 years (usually with one or two children) and those desperately trying to juggle a hectic work life with an equally demanding domestic front. The root cause of HWS is chronic stress. Chronic stress can even cause chemical imbalances in the brain's serotonin-dopamine system, says Dr. Manju Mehta, professor of Clinical Psychiatry, AIIMS, New Delhi.
This chemical imbalance causes fatigue and often a vicious cycle starts - more fatigue causes more weight gain, which causes more tiredness, low libido, low self-esteem with more guilt and the cycle continues.
This can be described as a pre-depression stage as they resemble the symptoms, though they are milder in nature.
It is dangerous for people to accept the unhealthy lifestyle choices they make and not do anything about it.
Stress can damage the heart, cause blood pressure problems and contribute to at least one third of all medical problems.
Women are so adept at multi-tasking that they fail to accept their limitations, especially in India where the majority of the responsibilities of home is handled by the woman.
Not a super woman
What we women need to realize that that it is not possible to remain on ones toes all through the day without inviting the possibility of becoming a highly stressed out person.
Although estrogen helps protect women from heart disease, stress seems to strip away this protection.
A woman who exhibits these symptoms should see her doctor for a thorough check-up, but she also needs to examine her hectic lifestyle.
It is necessary to equip one self with the skills for handling such a high pressure life style. Time management, anxiety management, asking your spouse to help with the housework and developing the ability to compartmentalize one's life are the life skills required for this. At the end of it all, ask yourself this, can I make my family happy if I don't feel good about myself?
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