Stress Symptoms: Effects of Stress on the Body

Stress Symptoms: Effects of Stress on the Body

Stress is a common feature in all of our lives. You may experience symptoms of
stress during busy periods at your workplace, when trying to discipline your
children or when dealing with a challenging personal relationship. You may be
surprised to hear, that some stress can actually be beneficial. However, too much
stress can leave you feeling weary and cause both mental and physical sickness.

The best way to control stress is to know the symptoms of stress, however these
may be harder to identify than you actually think. As the large majority of us are
used to functioning in our day to day lives with a certain degree of stress, it is
common to ignore the signs of stress until we reach breaking point.

What is Stress?

Stress is the reaction of the human body when faced with potentially dangerous
situations. A chemical reaction known as “fight or flight” kicks in, which allows
you to avoid injury. During this response, your breathing quickens, heart rate
increases, muscles tighten and blood pressure rises. This is the body’s natural
way of protecting itself.

People react differently to stress, what is stressful to some may not bother other
people at all. Physically and mentally we can all cope with small levels of stress.
However, chronic, long-term stress can wreak havoc on the human body.

What Are the Symptoms of Stress?

Stress has the potential to affect many areas of your life, including your behavior,
emotions, ability to think and physical health. Your whole body is vulnerable to
the effects from stress. Symptoms of stress tend to vary, as people have different
ways of handling stress. Some stress symptoms can be similar to those caused by
certain medical conditions, so it’s a good idea to get advice from a doctor if you
notice any symptoms.

Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of stress.

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

  • A sense of feeling like you have lost control, or being overwhelmed by
  • Becoming easily frustrated, agitated or moody
  • Finding it difficult to relax
  • Having a low self-esteem, feeling worthless, lonely and depressed
  • Avoiding contact with other people

Physical Symptoms of Stress

  • Suffering from low energy
  • Frequent headaches
  • Bouts of diarrhea, nausea and constipation
  • Tense, aching muscles
  • Chest pains, often with rapid heartbeat
  • Frequently occurring infections and colds
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of libido
  • Shaking and nervousness, tinnitus, clammy hands and feet
  • Difficulty swallowing and dry mouth

Cognitive Symptoms of Stress

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Relentless worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Disorganization and forgetfulness
  • Having a negative outlook on life

Behavioral Stress Symptoms

  • Avoiding responsibilities and procrastinating
  • Turning to vices such as cigarettes, alcohol or drugs
  • A change in appetite – either not eating enough or overeating
  • Displaying nervous behaviors like fidgeting, pacing and nail biting

Possible Consequences of Long-Term Stress

  • Eating disorders and obesity
  • Mental health problems including anxiety and depression
  • Cardiovascular problems such as irregular heart rhythms, heart disease,
    heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure
  • Menstrual problems
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal issues, including ulcerative colitis, gastritis and irritable
  • Hair and skin problems including eczema, acne and hair loss

If you think you are suffering from excess stress, talk to your doctor about it.
They will be able to rule out other possible health conditions and refer you to a
counsellor or a therapist to help you cope with your stress.