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Stress

Explains what stress is, what might cause it and how it can affect you. Includes information about ways you can help yourself and how to get support.

This page is also available in Welsh.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) is affecting all our lives, and we know that our usual advice may not currently apply. Some ways of looking after yourself or getting support might not be possible or feel realistic during the pandemic.

We hope that you can still find information here that helps. You can visit our coronavirus information hub to find lots of information on coping during the pandemic.

Treatment for stress

There are no specific treatments for stress. But there are treatments for some of the signs and symptoms of stress. These might help if you are finding it difficult to manage stress yourself.

This page covers:

Visit our page on managing stress and building resilience to find tips for taking care of yourself when you feel stressed.

Speaking to your GP

Your GP might be helpful to speak to if:

  • You are experiencing a lot of stress.
  • You have felt stressed for a long time.
  • Your feelings of stress are affecting your physical or mental health.

If stress is causing you physical health problems, your GP may run some tests to see how they can help manage the symptoms.

They may suggest some options to help you manage your stress, such as wellbeing and relaxation tips. They might be able to refer you to social prescribing, if it is available in your area.

Social prescribing is a form of community-based treatment that helps you deal with social issues affecting your health. For example, this might include support for loneliness, money problems or physical activity. It can also help you find activities that improve your wellbeing, such as arts and gardening classes, or volunteering opportunities.

See our page on talking to your GP for tips on how to discuss how you're feeling with your doctor.

“Social prescribing helps you find lots of different activities and support in your local community that can help you turn things around.”

Medication

There is no specific medication for stress. But there are medications that can help reduce or manage some of the signs and symptoms of stress.

For example, your doctor might offer to prescribe:

  • Sleeping pills or minor tranquillisers, if you're having trouble sleeping
  • Antidepressants, if you're experiencing depression or anxiety alongside stress
  • Medication to treat any physical symptoms of stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or high blood pressure

Before deciding to take any drug, it's important to make sure you have all the facts you need to make an informed choice.

See our pages on things to consider before taking medication and your right to refuse medication for more information. Our pages on coming off medication give guidance on how to come off medication safely.

Talking therapy

Talking with a trained professional could help you find ways to deal with stress. And it can help you become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings.

You might also find talking therapies helpful if your stress has caused other mental health problems.

There are lots of different talking therapies. Some of them may help you. But not all of them will be suitable for your situation. Our pages on talking therapy and counselling have lots more information about different types of therapy.

Not all areas of England and Wales will offer talking therapy for stress on the NHS. You might need to ask your doctor what is available near you.

You may also be able to find therapy and classes from charities and third sector organisations to help with stress. This might include support from your local Mind.

Complementary and alternative therapies

You may find certain complementary and alternative therapies helpful in treating signs and symptoms of stress. This may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Some herbal remedies and cannabis-based medicines
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Massage
  • Tai Chi
  • Yoga and mediation

You can try some of these therapies on your own. Whereas others are usually done as part of a class or one-to-one session.

See our pages on complementary and alternative therapies for more about these therapies, and many others.

“Using mindfulness [helps me] to just allow some space to breathe and focus on the present moment.”

This information was published in March 2022. We will revise it in 2025.

References and bibliography available on request.

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