What treatments are there for stress?

Stress is not a medical diagnosis, so there is no specific treatment for it. However, if you are finding it very hard to cope with things going on in your life and are experiencing lots of signs of stress, there are treatments that can help.

To access most treatments, the first step is usually to talk to your family doctor.

Talking treatments

Talking with a trained professional can help you learn to deal with stress and become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings that lead up to or revolve around your stress.

Common types of talking treatments which can help with stress are:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps you understand your thought patterns, recognise your trigger points and identify positive actions to take
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which combines mindfulness, meditation and yoga with a particular focus on reducing stress

“Using mindfulness [helps me] to just allow some space to breathe and focus on the present moment.”

Medication

Stress is a reaction to things happening in your life, not a mental health problem, so there is no specific medication for stress. However, there are various medications available which can help to reduce or manage some of the symptoms of stress.

Your doctor might offer to prescribe:

  • Sleeping pills or minor tranquillisers if you are having trouble sleeping
  • Antidepressants if you are experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of your stress
  • Medication to treat any physical symptoms of stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or high blood pressure

Before you are prescribed any medication, your doctor should explain to you what the medication is for, and discuss any possible side effects and alternative treatment options.

Ecotherapy

Ecotherapy is a way of improving your wellbeing and self-esteem by spending time in nature. This can include physical exercise in green spaces, or taking part in a gardening or conservation project.

“[It helps me to] spend time outdoors or doing crafts.”

Complementary and alternative therapies

You may find that certain complementary and alternative therapies help you manage your feelings of stress. These might include acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage or traditional Chinese medicine.

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