Long Melford: Pharmacy promotes stress awareness

STRESS accounts for about 40% of all work-related illnesses and one in five visits to GP surgeries in the UK, according to Government figures.

So a pharmacy in west Suffolk is hoping to help people to recognise the symptoms early and seek the right treatment.

A recent poll by health advice website allabouthealth.org.uk also revealed that most people suffer stress symptoms in silence for up to five months before seeking help.

To support National Stress Awareness Day, which took place yesterday, Long Melford pharmacist Nicholas Hunt spoke out about a service they offer in a bid to encourage people to take positive action to tackle stress.

He said: “Stress is the body’s response to the demands placed upon it. A little stress is good for you but too much can have alarming consequences. It affects different people on different scales of severity but once stress takes hold over a prolonged period, the body becomes exhausted.”

He added: “We want to let people know that we have a private consultation room for anyone struggling with stress levels to seek confidential advice. All they need to do is walk in off the street without the need for an appointment and ask for a quiet word with the pharmacist.”

Stress can manifest itself in many different ways, but the long-term health risks can include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, psoriasis flare-ups and asthma attacks.

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Another of the Long Melford pharmacists, Chris Jay, said the service was not intended to be a replacement for GP advice.

He added: “Although one in five visits to the GP are for stress related conditions people can still be reluctant to admit that they are under pressure because they quite wrongly see it as a failure of some sort.

“What they need to realise is that when we are under stress at work or at home for an extended period, we produce chemicals which can lead to a range of symptoms from itchy skin or irritable bowel syndrome to raised blood pressure – and that it is a physical reaction. Pharmacists are often a first port of call and we can sometimes recognise that a condition could be caused by stress. The idea is that we can then point people in the right direction to find the help they need, whether that be going to see a GP, directing them to a website or suggesting some kind of relevant exercise or therapy.”

Both pharmacists advise avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol and over-eating to help the body cope more efficiently with the extra demands placed on it during periods of stress.

Mr Hunt added: “In addition, regular exercise, a healthy balanced diet and finding a relaxation method that works for you will help keep stress levels in check.”

Data collected by the Health and Safety Executive show that the number of cases of stress in 2011/12 was 428,000 out of a total of 1,073,000 for all work-related illnesses. The industries that reported the highest rates of work-related stress over a three-year period were human health and social work, education, public administration and defence.

Anyone who feels they could benefit from a chat about their stress levels can call in at The Pharmacy in Hall Street, Long Melford, during opening hours.

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