What is episodic stress?

When acute stress – which is considered to be an excessive reaction to a traumatic event – starts to become a regular occurrence, it is referred to as episodic stress.  The reaction to events will come on quickly, generally a few days up to a month after the trauma has occurred, and it is therefore different to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in which symptoms can be delayed or last for more than a month at a time.  Excessive reactions such as emotional distress, anxiety and physical symptoms will be severe enough to affect a person’s personal or professional life.

Episodic Stress can be found more frequently among people with ‘type A’ personalities, and in people who place exceptionally high standards on themselves.  They will often find themselves agreeing to take on a lot in their lives, so that when stressful situations occur they are less likely to be able to juggle all the demands placed on them.  This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, which in turn exacerbates the stress they feel.  Episodic stress is also more likely to affect those who are naturally worry much of the time, which can lead to anxiety and even depression.

What are the symptoms of episodic stress?

The signs of episodic stress can range from cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioural symptoms and can include:

  • Anxiety or a constant sense of worry
  • A feeling that events are beyond or out of your control
  • Displaying unusually high levels of poor judgement or making bad decisions on a regular basis
  • An inability to concentrate for any length of time and memory issues
  • Mood swings but particularly being irritable and impatient with those around you. These feelings can be made worse by challenging events or situations
  • A feeling of being isolated or lonely, even when surrounded by people
  • Sadness and depression
  • Behavioural changes can include a chance of eating habits or loss of appetite, changes in sleep patterns (either sleeping too much or much less than normal)
  • Isolating yourself from family and friends and avoiding social occasions
  • Using drugs or alcohol as a way to escape your feelings or to relax
  • Neglecting your responsibilities or finding ways to avoid them
  • The development of nervous habits such as nail biting or pacing

The physical symptoms of episodic stress can be similar to those in people suffering from acute stress.  These can include nausea and diarrhoea, stomach complaints such as indigestion, pain and discomfort, shortness of breath and chest pains, a feeling of heaviness on the chest or rapid pulse, loss of libido, joint and muscle pain.  Becoming sick from colds and flus on a regular basis and not recovering quickly can also be a sign that your body is struggling to cope with a high level of stress. Over the long term, experiencing episodic stress has been associated with heart problems such as coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.

How common is episodic stress?

While there are no definite figures on the number of people suffering from episodic stress at any given time, it is likely to be close to that of acute stress – that is roughly a third of people who witness a traumatic event are estimated to develop symptoms of acute stress.

What are the causes of episodic stress?

The causes of episodic stress are similar to that of acute stress, in that witnessing a traumatic event, hearing about it happening to a close family member or a friend or experiencing it first-hand can bring on a number of symptoms, including those listed above.  Types of traumatic events that may lead to the development of episodic stress may include the death of someone close, witnessing the death of a stranger, being in or witnessing a major accident or an act of crime such as a robbery or a serious assault.

Not everyone will react the same when faced with a traumatic event, but it is known that there are a number of risk factors that increase your chances of developing symptoms of episodic and acute stress.  These include:

  • Being an ‘A Type’ personality who place a lot of pressure on themselves or who try and juggle a lot of responsibilities
  • A history of suffering from acute or episodic stress
  • A history of suffering from mental health issues such as depression or anxiety

Help options for episodic stress

At Brain Training Australia™ we use Neurofeedback Brain Training to help our clients suffering with episodic stress.

Let us help you. Here is how to get started.

Your first step is to get in contact with us.

All new clients receive a free, complementary and no obligation 15-minute face-to-face Complementary Assessment with a dedicated member of our team. If you’re on the fence, wondering if Neurofeedback Brain Training is right for you, then this is a really good place to start.

If you are ready to get started then you can just book in your First Appointment and get started straight away.

The team at Brain Training Australia™ recognise the unique qualities of all our clients and will work closely with you to personalise your Brain Training Program so that you can achieve your goals of optimal mental processes.

We look forward to helping you live a much richer, happier and healthier life.