What treatments are there for stress?

Stress isn’t a medical diagnosis, so there’s no specific treatment for it. However, if you’re finding it very hard to cope with things going on in your life and are experiencing lots of signs of stress, there are treatments. To access most treatments, the first step is usually to talk to your GP.

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. 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 you can take. (See our online booklet Making sense of cognitive behavioural therapy for more information.)
  • Mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), which combines mindfulness, meditation and yoga with a particular focus on reducing stress.The Be Mindful website provides more guidance on mindfulness, including how to find a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course (see‘Useful contacts’on p.20).

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

Medication

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

For example, your doctor might offer to prescribe:

  • sleeping pills or minor tranquillisers if you’re having trouble sleeping
  • antidepressants if you’re experiencing depression or anxietymedication 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. (For more guidance, see our web pages on medication.)

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 certain alternative therapies help you manage feelings of stress.These might include acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage or Traditional Chinese Medicine.

 

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