Working with the Stressed-Out Client

Therapists,

Stress is increasingly common among our client population these days. I have been working with Army soldiers and see a common set of symptoms among this very stressed out population.

Two of the symptoms we see often are …

Headaches … Stress is at the bottom of headaches a good deal of the time (although there are other generators of headaches as well, such as diet, medication side effects, and so forth). Migraines can happen when clients are under substantial stress, and they often hold their tension in the back of the neck. The pain can end up at a 7 to 9. There is light sensitivity and sometimes nausea. The sufferer wants to curl up in bed in a dark room until they can ride out the migraine, which can go on for several hours. Learning stress reduction techniques such as mindfulness meditation can often alleviate these headaches, but a consult to a neurologist is sometimes indicated.

Sleep … It is not uncommon to see a person getting two, three, four hours of sleep per night. Their mind may race and they wake up frequently throughout the night. Drug-based sleep medication often interferes with REM sleep and the sufferer ends up groggy in the morning and unable to concentrate through the day. A better alternative is melatonin (a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain). Nine or ten milligrams half an hour before bedtime often does the trick. And of course, there are the standard sleep hygiene techniques. Turning off the thinking and just focusing on the breathing while the body is relaxed, in conjunction with melatonin, can often put a person to sleep within a few minutes.

The topic for the September/October 2015 issue of Emotional Wellness Matters will be The Passive-Aggressive Partner.

Till next time … Bob