In addressing stress: Focus on the cause, not symptoms

National 2 minutes, 17 seconds


EMPLOYEES suffering from stress should address its root cause instead of seeking medical advice for its health effects.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Dr Nayake Balalla, Senior Medical Officer in Occupational Health at Jerudong Park Medical Centre’s (JPMC) Outpatient Department, said people suffering from stress shouldn’t prioritise short-term medical treatment for its symptoms such as headaches, poor sleep and tiredness.

Instead, they should determine what’s causing their stress and find ways to reduce and prevent stress, said Dr Balalla.

“Often because of stress, we get headaches or we lose sleep. So naturally, we visit our general practitioner and they prescribe painkillers. This is just a short-term solution. It will reoccur for as long as we don’t find the cause of the stress,” which many people tend to overlook, he said.

“(The effects are) only the tip of the iceberg. Look deeper into the cause of the stress, whether it’s work-related or family related or financial,” he said.

According to Dr Balalla, stress is the body’s physical and psychological response to anything perceived as overwhelming.

He said while stress is common, it is more prevalent among women than men.

“Women are more prone to work-related stress than men,” he said, adding the signs that someone is under stress include being absent-minded, decreased productivity, carelessness and social withdrawal.

He said stress could also cause people to pick up unhealthy habits like overeating, which could lead to other health problems like obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Previously, a JPMC doctor also emphasised that a person’s oral health was also not spared from the ill effects of stress.

Dr Balekudru Vishwanath, a dental expert at JPMC, said teeth grinding that would occur subconsciously during sleep would usually be due to stress or something that was unconsciously bothering the individual.

Commonly seen among adults, Dr Vishwanath said prolonged teeth grinding can cause tooth chips and oral health issues.

This is because persistent pressure on the muscles and tissues can aggravate the lower jaw and cause shifting of teeth.

He said grinding or clenching teeth on a regular basis not only damages the teeth but can also cause tension in the jaw joints.

“Adults usually face this and they often aren’t aware of it. It could be due to stress from work or other matters,” he said.

Dr Vishwanath said while there was no guaranteed fix for this, there were ways to reduce the damage caused from subconscious teeth grinding.

He said occlusal splints, better known as bite guards, could reduce the damage and reposition the jaw.

He added that if left untreated, teeth grinding could also lead to excessive wear and tear on the teeth.

The Brunei Times