Saturday 17 March 2018

Review: Flagging Stress: Toxic Stress And How to Avoid It by Harry Barry

Liberties Press, €12.99

AS a previous sufferer of endogenous depression I have to admit that I am a great supporter of the work and writing of Dr Harry Barry. Of everything I've read on mental health, his two earlier books (Flagging the Problem and Flagging the Therapy) appealed to me most, and this latest book did not disappoint.

Accessible, warm, innovative, enlightening and refreshingly short, Flagging Stress is, in the words of the Louth GP and director of Aware, "a simple handbook to assist us all in identifying and managing early-stage toxic stress".

How often have you asked a family member or friend who looks unwell if they need help, only to be palmed off with a dismissive, "ah, I'm just a bit stressed" -- as if they're embarrassed to admit that something so "trivial" as stress could be causing them so much distress?

In the first part of this book Barry explains the impact stress has on our minds and bodies, why some are more vulnerable to it than others and why our response can be as damaging as stress itself. He cites four ways in which we respond to stress: with avoidant behaviour, safety behaviour, aggressive behaviour and with a toxic lifestyle.

In the second part, he presents a seven-part holistic approach, showing how to recognise and manage stress before it becomes toxic. Barry has a non-judgmental attitude to the different types of therapies on offer and understands that all of us are different; what works for one may not be suitable for another.

Recognising the symptoms of chronic stress is the first step on the path to controlling it. In this simply written, informative and empathetic book, Barry presents a sensible holistic package, which aims at giving those of us afflicted the tools to cope. Toxic stress can kill.

With the help of the expert advice in this book Barry hopes to help "many from succumbing to this potentially lethal condition". It is, without doubt, a timely contribution to our current travails.

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