Symptoms of Stress

Are You Paying Attention to these Warning Signs?

When you are going through long periods of stress, symptoms of stress begin to pop up. Your body and mind are giving you warning signs that something needs to be changed.

Because stress affects us on all levels of our being, these warning signs can be divided into four categories:

  • physical
  • mental
  • emotional
  • behavioral


Physical Symptoms of Stress

While each person handles stress differently, the physiology of stress is similar for all of us once we reach our individual stress threshold.

As soon as your brain interprets a situation as threatening, your fight-or-flight reaction (the stress response) kicks in.

Hormones are released and the sympathetic nervous system takes control of your body. Breathing rate increases, blood pressure rises, perspiration increases, and digestion slows down. Your body gets ready for action.

If this stress response becomes chronic, as it often happens in today's fast paced world, the body may respond with some of the following physical symptoms of stress:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased sweating
  • Trembling hands
  • Tight shoulders and neck
  • Lower back pain
  • Increased sensitivity to noise and light
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Raised blood sugar levels
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Cold feet and cold clammy hands


Mental (cognitive) Symptoms

It is not just your body that suffers from too much stress. Body and mind work together. Whatever affects one, affects the other as well.

As the energy of the body during stress response is directed towards basic survival needs, the cognitive (mental) functioning is more disorganized and inefficient. Some of the symptoms of this disorganization are:

  • Difficulty making rational judgments
  • Forgetfulness
  • Confusion
  • Problems understanding new information
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Problems with decision making
  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Mind going in circles
  • Memory lapses

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

Because mind, body, and emotions are connected, stress can have a profound effect on your emotional well-being. The effects of stress on your emotions range from depression to angry outbursts. Under too much stress even patient and tolerant people can blow up. People who are generally optimistic and happy can become bitter and cynical under too much stress.

Some of the signs that stress is affecting your emotions are:

  • Mood swings
  • Feeling of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Resentment
  • Feeling of powerlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Angry outbursts
  • Increased cynicism
  • Feeling overwhelmed


Behavioral Symptoms of Stress

Yes, even your behavior is affected by too much stress in your life. Your existing habits are exaggerated during stressful periods of time. For example, if you tend to overeat, you will find that in times of stress you will be overeating that much more. Or, if you are more of an introverted nature, you may find yourself totally isolating during periods of stress.

Some of the behavioral symptoms of stress are:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Reckless driving
  • Short temperedness
  • Obsessing (unable to let go of thoughts)
  • Edginess
  • Overeating or not eating
  • Increased or decreased sleeping
  • Increased drinking or smoking
  • Withdrawing and avoiding social situations
  • Nail biting
  • Hair pulling
  • Restlessness


If you are experiencing any symptoms, have them checked out by your doctor.

Related Articles:
Effects of Stress on Health
Effects of Stress on the Brain
Long Term Effects of Stress
Physiological Effects of Stress
Psychological Effects of Stress
Positive Effects of Stress
Physical Effects of Stress

Return from Symptoms of Stress to Stress Relief Tools




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