Stress is tension or pressure. People always need a little tension in order to function properly. This tension ensures that the body is ready for action. However, stress is unhealthy if a person feels tension for too long and can or want to take no time to relax. Too much stress for too long causes symptoms.


In case of stress, the body prepares to fight or flee. The brains give a signal, causing the body to produce the hormone adrenalin. This makes the heart beating more rapidly, breathing accelerates and the muscles get tense. There is more high-oxygen blood flowing to the heart and muscles and less, for example, to the digestive tract. In this way, people can optimally respond to ‘danger’. When the danger has not yet passed after a few minutes, the body also produces cortisol, another stress hormone.
In a life-threatening situation, the stress reactions are very healthy physical reactions. The effects are usually of short duration, after which the body needs some time to recover. When a stressful situation, however, takes too long or multiple stressful situations follow each other too rapidly, the body has no time to recover. The stress accumulates, until it’s too much. This is the case where new stimuli are constantly coming to us (heavy traffic, noisy television, workload, etc.). The adrenalin and cortisol levels remain prolonged too high and chronic stress arises.


Stress is not a disease as such, but rather a collection of symptoms. Signs and symptoms of stress include:

In case of chronic stress, a person will eventually run an increased risk of developing conditions, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. In addition, a prolonged increased amount of cortisol suppresses the immune system, making people more susceptible to diseases.


To make the diagnosis of stress, the general practitioner wil first engage in conversation with the patient about the physical and mental problems. Next, a follow-up can be determined.


The key to reducing stress is relaxation. It's important to recognize that one is stressed and will take the time to do something about it. The sooner the better, because the recovery period will take longer as people are stressed for a longer time. Apart from the fact that the patient himself can do a lot to reduce stress, there are many courses and training options that can help to deal with stress. A doctor can prescribe sleeping pills or sedatives for sleeplessness or anxiety. This way, the body can recover better. These drugs themselves, however, don’t solve the stress and are only intended to provide support.


The prospects highly depend on the way in which the patient will get along with the stress. If the stress persists for too long, a person can become stressed out or get a burnout.