Stress Center

Stress Symptoms

Stress can occur as a response to immediate situations or can occur as a result of ongoing or long-term events. Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting, low-level stress that's hard on people. The nervous system can remain slightly activated and continue to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period of time. This can wear out the body, weaken the immune system, leave a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed and cause other problems. 

Acute stress
Common symptoms of stress symptoms can be recognized by most people. People are immediately aware of acute stress because the symptoms are new to the body and provoke an almost immediate reaction.  The most common symptoms of acute stress are:

  • Acid reflux
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Chest pain
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches (tension or migraine)
  • Heartburn
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Jaw pain
  • Ligament and tendon problems
  • Muscular tension
  • Rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations
  • Relationship problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stiff neck
  • Sweaty palms
  • Tension headache
  • Tinnitus or ringing ears
  • Upset stomach
  • Weight gain or loss

Episodic acute stress
The symptoms of episodic acute stress are similar to those experienced during a state of extended over arousal.  Often, lifestyle and personality issues are habitual so that the symptoms of episodic stress are not easily identified. Instead, someone experiencing this type of stress blames other people and external events for problems. This is why sufferers of episodic acute stress can be fiercely resistant to change. Episodic acute stress is characterized by the following persistent symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Migraine
  • Tension headaches

Chronic stress
During a case of chronic stress, physical and mental resources decrease through long-term attrition.  Chronic stress wears people down to a final, fatal breakdown. Chronic stress kills through suicide, violence, heart attack, stroke, and, perhaps, even cancer. The worst aspect of chronic stress is that people get used to it. People can forget about and ignore chronic stress because it familiar and sometimes almost comfortable. Some signs of a chronic overload of stress include:

  • Addiction (drinking too much, smoking, overeating, or doing drugs)
  • Allergic reactions (eczema, asthma, etc.)
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Chronic illness flareup (heart or stomach problems, headaches, etc.)
  • Memory problems
  • Obesity
  • Problems sleeping
  • Sadness or depression

When to seek medical help
Stress can crop up in anyone's life, and but stress is highly treatable and manageable. Stress can cause health problems or make problems worse if you don't learn ways to deal with it. Talk to your family doctor if you think some of your symptoms are caused by stress. It's important to make sure that your symptoms aren't caused by other health problems.  Continue reading our next section on How to Diagnose Stress to learn more about which physical and psychological symptoms of stress doctors look for when they clinically diagnose stress.

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