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Information And Treatment

Maybe your chest feels tight. Maybe you're feeling irritable and can't stop stuffing yourself with potato chips. Maybe you're grinding your teeth at night.

Guess what: You might be suffering from stress. But you probably already knew that.

Whether it's the traffic jam making us late, a troubled relationship with a loved one, or the monthly bills that need to be paid, stress is unrelenting and all around. As a population, Americans seem to be getting more stressed. Even college freshmen feel more under the gun than ever; a 2011 UCLA survey of 200,000 students entering college found that just over half felt their emotional health was "above average." In 1985, the same survey found that nearly two-thirds of freshmen felt that way.

The Good

Stress isn't inherently bad. Short-term stress can give you a jolt of energy as the brain sends the chemicals cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), and norepinephrine through your body, reinvigorating you so that you can meet a deadline or even avoid an accident—basically, perform at your best.

The Bad

But too much stress really does a number on the body—and mind. Those fight-or-flight hormones that got you through the exam? Over time, they'll wear you down and give you a stomach ulcer. Stress can cause everything from hair loss and eczema to hypertension and asthma attacks.

What You Can Do

Thankfully, there are myriad ways to de-stress without a week-long getaway to a beach destination. Exercise can be a great way to relax the mind, but if that's not your style, you might want to try massage or acupuncture. It doesn't matter whether you have just one-minute or are ready to change your whole lifestyle. What matters is that you learn the best ways for you to de-stress.