Stress â€“ the feeling of being under duress â€“ is our bodyâ€™s response to perceived threats. Signs include a rapidly beating heart, increased blood pressure and heightened senses. Temporary, stress is beneficial because it helps us react quickly to threatening situations. Prolonged, or chronic stress, can be a risk factor or make hypertension, obesity and diabetes worse (2).
Men in general experience a higher rate of stress. Furthermore, African American men experience higher levels of stress for a longer duration â€“ usually our entire lifespan. Some of us may develop signs of hypertension, heart disease, or other potentially fatal health problems as early as our mid-20â€™s.
The causes of stress may include socio-economic conditions, lack of health care, poor diet, and obesity. Research suggests that coping with racial discrimination (as a result of being African American) is both a direct and indirect factor that exacerbates Black menâ€™s stress and triggers other risk factors (3).
As Black men, it is important that we understand and heed the warning signs in order to cope with our stress.
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