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Stress is a normal part of life. Many events can create stress, for example: bereavement, ill health, change of occupation, problems at work, unemployment, financial worries and relationship problems.

A challenge can be exciting, and a certain amount of stress can be positive. However, too much stress can cause health problems. Different people react differently to the pressures of life.

It is important to recognise the signs of stress and to manage them appropriately. Symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Restless nights
  • Exacerbation of other medical problems for example
    • Asthma attacks
    • Menstrual disorders
    • Digestive complaints such as indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation
    • High blood pressure
    • Skin disorders
  • Crying unexpectedly
  • Having difficulty in collecting your thoughts and making decisions
  • Being short-tempered
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Feeling helpless
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Feeling lack of achievement

Some people feel that alcohol and cigarettes help them cope with the effects of stress. In truth, these only offer short-term help and in the longer-term they can only make things worse.


  • Talk through your emotions with someone close to you.
  • Write down your problems.
  • Punch a pillow, exercise or channel your anger into a job that needs doing.
  • Think to yourself, ‘in a few years from now will this problem really matter?’
  • Remember a place where you felt relaxed.
  • Deal with one problem at a time; learn to prioritise urgent tasks first.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist.
  • Give in to people at times.
  • Help someone else - you will feel less isolated.
  • Don’t be too critical of yourself or others.
  • Be cooperative, not in competition all the time.
  • Ensure you set aside time for a hobby or recreation.
  • Teach yourself to be in control of your body. Relaxation tapes, exercise or advice from a clinical psychologist may be helpful.

Side-effects of medication

If your syncope is due to side-effects of medication, your doctor will advise you of any alternative options. Remember, never stop your medication without discussing this first with your doctor.

Syncope related to heart problems.

There are many different heart problems that can result in patients experiencing episodes of syncope. Treatment will depend upon the particular diagnosis. Generally, however, syncope is related to problems with the heart rhythm beating either:

  • Too slowly, which may require a pacemaker
  • Too fast or erratically, which may require:
    • Medication
    • Cardioversion – the restoration of normal heart rhythm by controlled electric shock
    • Catheter ablation
    • A pacemaker
    • An implantable defibrillator

Occasionally syncope may be due to problems with low blood pressure, the heart muscle, the heart valves or the coronary arteries. In these situations the treatment is directed at the underlying cause.