Stress, trauma and grief

Having too much stress can be bad for your health and well-being. Some stress can be positive, but if you have so much stress or other strong emotions that you are kept from living your normal life, it can cause real problems for your mental health.

Stress can come from different situations, some of which are good and some of which are bad. A good experience like a wedding can cause stress and anxiety. A bad experience like a natural disaster or the loss of a loved one can also make you feel anxious or scared.

If you are struggling with stress, trauma or other emotional issues, help is available. Talk to your doctor or call 1-888-276-2020 to find out what behavioral health resources are available to you as a First Choice member.

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a part of life, but too much can be bad for you. You could have nightmares, lose your appetite or not be able to sleep. Here are some tips for dealing with stress and anxiety.

  • Live a healthy life:
    Staying healthy is a good way to get through times of high stress. Eat a healthy diet, get lots of sleep and stick to a normal schedule.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol:
    Drugs and alcohol can make your stress worse in the long run. Make sure that you manage your stress in healthy ways.
  • Talk to friends and loved ones:
    Make sure you get help if you have a lot of stress. Family members, doctors and people in your community can help give you the support you need.

Grief and loss

Traumatic grief can come from the loss of a parent or loved one. You may feel upset or frightened. You can also feel depressed and be unable to focus on your daily life. Each person grieves differently.

  • Know you are not alone:
    Grief is a very common experience. More than 2 million people die each year in the United States. Each death leaves an average of 4 or 5 grieving survivors.
  • Share your feelings:
    It can help to talk about your loss with friends and family. Sharing your feelings can help you cope with your grief.
  • Watch out for prolonged grief:
    Research has found that grief that lasts longer than 6 months can be a sign of other problems. 10 percent to 20 percent of people coping with loss go on to experience prolonged grief.¹ Talk to a doctor or counselor if your grief does not go away after several months.

Trauma and abuse

Trauma can impact people of any age, gender, race or ethnicity. It is especially common in the lives of people with mental health or substance use disorders. Traumatic events can be a factor in behavioral health, as well as physical health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

  • Trauma affects different people in different ways:
    Some people will be able to cope with trauma without difficulty. Other people may have strong reactions.
  • Trauma is widespread:
    There are many different types of trauma. They include sexual abuse, domestic violence, emotional abuse, bullying and natural disasters.
  • Find help and support:
    Having help and support is a key to coping with trauma. There are many resources available to help you cope with trauma, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline and Disaster Distress Helpline.


  1. Davis, Mellar; Feyer, Petra; Ortner, Petra; Zimmermann, Camilla (2011). Supportive Oncology. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Elsevier Saunders.