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Worried sick: Sussex hospital admissions for stress on the up
People worried about money and their jobs are being admitted to hospital with stress and anxiety in Sussex.
New figures reveal a growing number of the county's residents are developing serious problems which need urgent treatment.
Experts said stress and anxiety can have a “significant impact on people's mental, emotional and physical well-being” an heart palpitations and high blood pressure.
Hospitals across the county admitted someone with anxiety and stress-related problems 478 times between December 2012 and the end of last November, an increase from 466 in the same period the year before, figures obtained by The Argus from the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal.
Patients who need specialist help are referred to the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Trust consultant psychologist Kate Hunt said: “We have seen a rise in referrals recently to both primary care and our specialist mental health services where we use a range of evidenced-based psychological therapies to address anxiety and stress related conditions.
“Many people experiencing stress and anxiety tell us their worries are related to their job or financial situation and support is given to help people address these issues.
“It is possible that the increase in referrals is in part due to the current economic climate but is also likely to reflect an increase in people's awareness of the services available to them.
“It is rare for people with mild or moderate anxiety and stress-related conditions to be admitted to psychiatric hospitals but these services are available for those who need more intensive support, usually when the anxiety or stress is most severe or when a patient also has other conditions such as severe depression or psychosis.”
A trust spokesman added: “We know anxiety and stress can have a significant impact on people's mental, emotional and physical well-being, which is why we encourage anyone experiencing problems to seek help as soon as possible.”
Anxiety is generally a long-term condition, characterised by the inability to stop worrying, to the extent where a sufferer's daily life is affected. It is linked with insomnia, difficulty concentrating and irritability.
Stress develops when someone is under too much mental or emotional pressure.
It causes a surge of "fight or flight" hormones in the body and can contribute to physical problems such as a high blood pressure.
Health bosses are focussing on providing support and services in a community setting and at as early a stage as possible to try to avoid situations where people become so unwell they need to go into hospital.
GPs are the first port of call for most patients, where they can be referred to counselling and other support services.
People needing urgent help can call the Sussex Mental Healthline on 0300 5000 101.
It is available Monday to Friday from 5pm to 9am and 24 hours at weekends and bank holidays.