by Harley Therapy
Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Stress is a common issue. While stress can be tolerated in small amounts, prolonged or intense stress levels can have a negative impact on our relationships and work performance. This can also lead to panic attacks and depression.

What is stress?

Stress is the body’s natural response to situations that require us to react. When stressed the body releases a mix of hormones and chemicals, such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response.

In small amounts, stress can be tolerated and help one to survive dangerous situations. This primal response helped our cavemen ancestors to be alerted to potential danger and to respond quickly. However, when stress is too excessive or prolonged, it can be detrimental to someone’s health and affect their life negatively.

What are the signs of stress?

Commons signs of stress include irritability, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, problems sleeping, lack of motivation, sexual difficulties, mood swings and social withdrawal. Bodily changes may include aches and pains, muscle tension, changes in appetite, headaches, digestion problems and an increased heart rate.

Common signs of stress include:

  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • negative thinking
  • changes in appetite
  • lack of motivation
  • loss of libido
  • social withdrawal
  • mood swings
  • digestive problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • headaches
  • muscular tension
  • high blood pressure
  • skin disorders
  • bodily aches and pains

What percentage of people suffer from stress?

74% of people felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point over the previous year, according to the Mental Health Foundation's 2018 study. 51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.

What are the common causes of stress?

Common sources of stress included either one’s own or a friend/relative’s long-term health condition, debt, housing worries, body image concerns, experiencing pressure to succeed and feeling the need to respond to messages instantly, according to the Mental Health Foundation's 2018 study.

What happens during therapy for stress?

Therapy for stress can help you to manage your levels of stress and to understand and tackle its root causes. You may learn stress-reduction techniques, identify your personal stress triggers and understand which behaviours may be exacerbating your stress.

Managing your stress levels through counselling and psychotherapy can be key in tackling the root causes of stress and developing ways of handling stress more effectively. Stress counselling treatment is designed to help you explore the causes of your stress, including those created by family, work, or past experiences. It may be important to understand what may be maintaining your high stress levels; for example, some behaviours serve to exacerbate stress.

Counsellors and therapists specialising in stress management can work with you to develop stress-reduction techniques and promote psychologically healthier patterns of living.

How can stress management counselling help you?

● It can provide you with an opportunity to explore the underlying causes of your stress and anxiety.

● help you to examine your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that contribute to stress

● gain self-understanding and insight, including identifying your personal stress triggers

● discover coping strategies to manage stressful situations that are tailor-made for you and your circumstances

● learn techniques and tools that can be effective for you in the long-run

● improve your ability to handle pressures and how you may react to them

How much does stress therapy typically cost?

Private therapy can cost from £25 to over £200 in the UK, depending on various factors including location and a therapist’s training and experience. The average psychologist’s session fee is £90, a psychotherapist’s £55 and a counsellor’s £45. In London, fees are roughly 10-15% higher.

Resources for dealing with stress

Useful self-help books

Helen Kennedy, ‘Overcoming Anxiety - A Self-Help Guide’ (1997)

Helpful websites

NHS Direct Guide to Stress

Advice for seeking help

There are now many counselling and therapeutic services and organisations available. You can also visit your GP and ask for a referral to the NHS, although the waiting list may be much longer than for private treatment.

Local charities or organisations can put you in contact with support groups and mental health advice within your local area. Contact your local council to receive further information.

How to find a therapist for stress

A therapist will work alongside you, examining your thoughts and behaviours to help improve how you feel. You will build a relationship based on trust, giving you the confidence to share feelings and emotions. Your counsellor will listen to all that you have to share with empathy and openness. They will also work with you to decide the pace of your treatment and how many sessions of therapy you might need. Therapists will not judge you, nor will they force you into following a particular course of action.

We vet our therapists, to make sure they are registered and insured to be able to practice as a therapist in the UK. We check all of the therapists listed on this platform are registered members of UK professional bodies, which means that our therapists have completed the professional training necessary to practice safely as a licensed therapist.

Find a qualified, professional and vetted therapist for stress by cost, location, availability and approach using the Harley Therapy platform.

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