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Under Pressure

Apr/05/2024 / by Team Seema

South Asians face unique stressors that can contribute to anxiety and other mental health conditions

April marks National Stress Awareness Month, a time to focus on the importance of mental well-being and the impact of stress on our lives. According to South Asian Americans For Change (SAAFC), a community dedicated to breaking mental health stigmas, nearly one in five South Asians living in the US report a mood or anxiety disorder in their lifetime—and undue stress can negatively impact those conditions. 

South Asian Americans often face a complex set of cultural expectations and pressures that can contribute to heightened stress levels. These include academic and professional success, family obligations, and the pressure to maintain a strong cultural identity while assimilating into other societies. Additionally, the stigma associated with mental health issues in South Asian cultures can make it difficult for individuals to seek help or openly discuss their struggles.

To combat this, the SAAFC has focused on creating more spaces and events that feature South Asian leaders, mental health professionals, and peers where mental health and its struggles can be discussed openly and safely. By reducing the stigma around voicing mental health challenges, people are more likely to seek help, adhere to treatment, and ultimately end up with better outcomes. 

Unsure where to start? Mental Health America offers a 16-question Stress screener to assess where you’re currently at from a stress standpoint, and offer achievable ways to manage it. If levels are high, it also offers an Anxiety Screen, Depression Screen, or a PTSD Screen to see if those conditions might be contributing to your underlying stress.  Try it at mhanational.org/get-involved/stress-screener.

Stress Vs. Anxiety

Unsure if what you’re facing is stress or anxiety, or both? Here’s how the National Institute of Mental Health defines them: 

Stress

  • Generally is a response to an external cause, such as taking a big test or arguing with a friend.
  • Goes away once the situation is resolved.
  • Can be positive or negative. For example, it may inspire you to meet a deadline, or it may cause you to lose sleep.

Stress & Anxiety

Both stress and anxiety can affect your mind and body. You may experience symptoms such as:

  • Excessive worry
  • Uneasiness
  • Tension
  • Headaches or body pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of sleep

Anxiety

  • Generally anxiety is internal, meaning it’s your reaction to stress.
  • Usually involves a persistent feeling of apprehension or dread that doesn’t go away, and that interferes with how you live your life.
  • Is constant, even if there is no immediate threat.
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