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Publication #FAR0054

When to Get Help for Stress1

Suzanna Smith2

Every day we go through stress that is just a part of life, and usually manage to deal with things ourselves and with the help of friends and family. However, major events and the losses that go with them can trigger feelings of helplessness and sadness that even the usual personal coping methods can't fix.

Many signs may indicate a need for outside help, such as physical or verbal abuse of your spouse or child. This may include yelling and calling names, criticizing, hitting, kicking, and other acts of violence. Other signs of stress are panic attacks that include a high pulse rate and breathing difficulty; feelings of depression that last more than a week, including changes in your eating or sleeping habits; inability to concentrate, numbness, or bouts of crying.

Other signs that outside help is needed include thoughts of suicide, thoughts or talk of divorce or separation and feelings of isolation.

Sometimes our families give us clues that the stress is too much. For example, children may act up at home and school. Parenting may become more difficult because you can't concentrate on your children and give them the attention and supervision they need.

Help is available from professionals who are trained to help with stress. They can provide the extra, needed support. To find professional help, talk to your family doctor, ask a trusted friend if they know a counselor, or call your local crisis center.

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North Carolina A&T University (n.d). When to seek outside help for stress. Retrieved August 10, 2012, from



This document is FAR0054, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 288. Published March 2009. Revised October 2010. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Suzanna Smith, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.