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Stress-related Disorders

Stress-related disorders in adults include a range of psychological and physical conditions that occur due to prolonged exposure to stressors.

What are stress-related disorders?

Stress-related disorders in adults include a range of psychological and physical conditions that occur due to prolonged exposure to stressors. These disorders can manifest in various ways, affecting mental and emotional well-being. Common stress-related disorders include anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


What causes stress-related disorders?

Stress-related disorders arise from a culmination of environmental, psychological, and physiological factors that overwhelm your adaptive capacity. 

  • Stressful environments: persistent exposure to stressful situations, whether related to work, relationships or life events, can disrupt the body’s equilibrium. 
  • Genetics: genetic predispositions may also affect how you respond to stress. The continuous activation of the body’s stress response, including the release of stress hormones like cortisol, contributes to the development of these disorders. 
  • Medical conditions: underlying medical conditions and lifestyle choices, such as lack of exercise or poor sleep, may exacerbate stress-related symptoms. 

Understanding these multifaceted triggers is crucial for implementing effective stress management strategies that consider psychological and physiological factors to prevent the escalation of stress into debilitating disorders.

What are the symptoms of stress-related disorders?

The following symptoms can collectively reflect the complex impact of stress-related disorders on your cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioural well-being.

Cognitive symptoms

  • Persistent worrying and overthinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems

Emotional symptoms

  • Irritability or short temper
  • Feelings of overwhelm or helplessness
  • Increased anxiety or restlessness

Physical symptoms

Behavioural symptoms

  • Changes in appetite, overeating, or loss of appetite
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Increased use of substances like alcohol or tobacco

Emotional responses

Are stress-related disorders painful?

Stress-related disorders can emerge as both physical and emotional pain. Physical symptoms may include headaches, muscle tension, and digestive issues, contributing to discomfort. Emotional distress, such as anxiety and mood swings, adds another layer of unease.

While the pain may not be localised, such as a physical injury, the cumulative toll on your well-being can be challenging. Recognising and addressing these physical and emotional pains is crucial for effective management and improving your overall quality of life.


Who is at risk of stress-related disorders in Singapore?

Individuals in Singapore facing stress-related disorders vary, encompassing a broad spectrum of occupations, ages, and lifestyles. In fact, a study conducted in 2023 showed that Singaporeans are more stressed than the global average, with 16% of Singaporeans admitting that their stress is not manageable.

Pressures from demanding work environments, academic expectations, and familial responsibilities contribute to heightened risks. Professionals navigating competitive industries, students coping with academic stress, and individuals managing familial or societal expectations may find themselves susceptible. Furthermore, the fast-paced urban lifestyle prevalent in Singapore and the constant pursuit of success can escalate stress levels.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge that anyone, irrespective of background, can be at risk of stress-related disorders. Adopting stress management techniques and seeking support play pivotal roles in mitigating these risks and fostering mental well-being.

How are stress-related disorders diagnosed?

Diagnosing stress-related disorders involves a comprehensive assessment which includes:

Clinical evaluation

Medical practitioners typically employ a thorough clinical evaluation, considering your medical history, symptoms, and potential triggers.

Psychological assessments

Psychological assessments may be conducted to gauge your emotional well-being and identify stress-related patterns. Standardised questionnaires and interviews may aid in assessing the severity and impact of stress on your daily life.

Physical examinations

Physical examinations may also be conducted to rule out other potential causes for your symptoms.

Collaborative discussions between you and your psychiatrist are crucial in understanding your situation holistically. This collaborative approach ensures an accurate diagnosis, laying the foundation for a tailored and effective treatment plan to address stress-related disorders.

What are the treatment options for stress-related disorders in Singapore?

The treatment of stress-related disorders involves a holistic approach addressing both physical and psychological well-being.


  • Therapeutic interventions: therapeutic interventions such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) aim to identify and modify negative thought patterns, fostering healthier coping mechanisms. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, including meditation and deep-breathing exercises, reduce stress.
  • Lifestyle modifications: lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet, are pivotal in enhancing overall resilience. Establishing a strong support network, including friends, family, and mental health professionals, proves invaluable.
  • Medications: medications may be prescribed selectively to manage specific symptoms. Tailored treatment plans, developed collaboratively with healthcare providers, ensure a comprehensive and effective strategy for managing and alleviating stress-related disorders. Regular monitoring and adjustments to the treatment plan contribute to sustained well-being.

Frequently asked questions

Can stress-related disorders be prevented?

Preventing stress-related disorders involves adopting proactive stress management strategies. Prioritise self-care, maintain a healthy work-life balance, practice relaxation techniques, build a strong support network, and seek professional guidance when needed. Developing resilient coping mechanisms and addressing stressors promptly can significantly reduce the risk of such disorders.

Is medication always necessary for treating stress-related disorders?

Medication is optional for managing stress-related disorders. Therapeutic approaches, lifestyle adjustments, and counselling are often effective. Medication might be considered based on individual circumstances, but a holistic approach combining various strategies is typically explored first.

Can stress-related disorders be cured?

Stress-related disorders may not have a definitive cure, but they are often manageable with effective treatments and lifestyle changes. With appropriate support and strategies, individuals can significantly improve their well-being and learn to cope with stress more effectively.

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Reach out towards recovery

Readily available help

There are numerous resources catered specifically for young adults, including counselling services at colleges and universities, and employee assistance programs (EAP) at many workplaces.


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Holistic wellbeing

Your mental health matters just as much as your physical health. Taking care of your mind is a crucial part of your overall wellbeing.