Gregory Mowete, a medical officer in Abuja, says stress is not necessarily a bad health challenge as it has its positive side.
Mr Mowete made this known during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
He defined stress as a normal biological reaction to a potentially dangerous situation, or as a physical, mental or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.
“There are two stress hormones; one of them is called Adrenaline which is the ‘fight or flight’ response and another stress hormone is known as Cortisol,’’ he said.
According to him, once the body undergoes some form of stress, these hormones are released and they begin to perform various functions in the body.
“Cortisol does a lot of good work; increasing glucose in the bloodstream, helping the brain use glucose more effectively, helping the brain control fear and stimulates perspiration.
“All these are good because it helps you survive but being under stress for a prolonged period of time is mentally and physically harmful.
“Long term stress causes weight gain, high blood pressure, insomnia, lack of energy, depression, diabetes and hypertension which can later lead to damage of blood vessels, headaches, strokes or a heart attack, anxiety and weak bones,” Mr Mowete said.
According to him, there are various symptoms that can help individuals look out for stress both in your immediate environment and out there.
“Emotional symptoms like frustration and moodiness; having difficulty in relaxing, low self-esteem and depression, emotional unbalanced.
“Behavioral symptoms like changes in appetite which can lead to peptic ulcer and ulcer would not heal if the person is under constant stress because the hormones prevent the healing process.
“Cognitive symptoms like constant worrying, forgetfulness, disorganisation and racing thoughts are the other signs,’’ the medical expert said.
According to the physician, if someone is going to manage stress, the person must identify what is causing the stress and once it is identified, solutions on how to cope with it can be found.
He however advised Nigerians to maintain healthy diet as a very important way to healthy life.
“You should aim to sleep for about seven to eight hours every night, exercising regularly, coffee, caffeine or alcohol should be minimised or stopped totally.
“Caffeine increases adrenaline and alcohol does a lot worse because alcohol worsen the situation of hypertension caused by stressed resulting in cardiomyopathy, liver and heart problems.
“One has to stay socially connected so that you can get and give good support; keeping good company, basic self-care and self-meditation techniques like breathing in and out,” he said.
According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA, 110 million people die every year or seven people every two seconds as a direct result of stress.