My name's Alan Cohen,
I've been a GP for about 25 years.
I am Primary Health Advisor for
the National Institute of Mental Health.
Stress is how the body reacts
to external pressures
that we perceive to be
It creates both physical changes
in the body,
so sweating, or worry,
or frustration, or anger.
Talking to you today, stress is not
a problem, it's good for me,
it makes me perform better
and more effectively.
Stress becomes a problem
when instead of helping me perform
it actually becomes
and I go terribly tongue-tied
and can't think of what to say.
That's when it become unhelpful.
When that lasts a long time,
we get chronic stress,
then people become really quite unwell.
The difficulty is know for an
when they should seek help,
when stress has stopped being good
and started being bad for them.
Stress can affect anybody, you or me.
And what's interesting is that
what may be stressful for you
may not affect me very much,
and vice versa.
So it's very much
an individual perception,
a meeting of the individual
with an external event.
So common causes of stress are
like pressures at work, for example,
pressures at home,
pressures around money,
pressures around employment,
These are all things that commonly
symptoms of stress.
When stress becomes bad for you,
the commonest sort of feelings
that one gets inside oneself
is one of either anxiety
You feel unable to manage things,
unable to think clearly,
everything becomes an effort, you're
slowed up, you can't think clearly,
as well as feeling on edge,
unable to concentrate, tearful,
a whole variety
of these uncomfortable emotions.
Often these are associated
with physical symptoms as well.
So you might get headaches,
tummy ache, back ache,
and one can describe these as being
linked to the mental health problem
because of the way the body works,
it doesn't separate mind and body,
We work together as a single unit.
In the same way
that the emotions get disturbed,
so the way the body works
As a GP, I see lots of people
with a whole variety of symptoms
that they come and present to me,
some of which is psychological,
some of which is physical.
It's the skill of the GP that they
to disentangle what's going on,
to work out whether the abdominal
and the sweating
is due to an underlying physical
like an ulcer,
or whether there's something going
home or at work that's upsetting them.
How you identify that depends on
the ability to listen to the patient,
what the symptoms mean to the patient,
to listen to what
their possible explanations are.
It's about good conversation
between the doctor and the patient
and both being honest with the other.