Symptoms of Stress
Distress causes some fairly specific responses in the human body. While not all of us exhibit all of these symptoms, most of us do respond to distress with at least a few of these symptoms. Because distress causes a chemical, hormonal, and electrical response in our bodies, the corresponding physiological symptoms might occur.
Biological Stress Symptoms
- Low energy
- Upset stomach (diarrhea, constipation, or nausea)
- Chest pain
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Loss of sexual desire
- Pain and tension in muscles
- Frequent sickness
Psychological Stress Symptoms
- Elevated agitation or anger.
- Anxiety(feeling overwhelmed, out of control, excessive worry, paranoia, focused on catastrophic possibilities).
- Depression (sad, feeling empty, helpless, guilty, loss of motivation, thoughts of suicide).
- Anhedonia (loss of interest in pleasurable activity).
- Decreased self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.
Sociological Stress Symptoms
- Avoiding normally enjoyable social interactions.
- Irritability with family, friends, or coworkers.
- Increased tendency to blame.
- Increased interpersonal conflicts.
- Inability to forgive others.
Cognitive Stress Symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating or staying focused.
- Cognitive overload or burnout.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Ruminating over negative thoughts.
- Poor judgment and choices.
- Forgetfulness and poor memory.
Long-term effects of chronic stress include:
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke.
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon.
- Obesity and other eating disorders.
- Forgetfulness and poor memory. Cognitive issues such as poor or loss of concentration, problem solving, and rational thought process.
- Mental health problems, such as chronic major depressive disorder, general or specific anxiety (performance anxiety, social anxiety, agoraphobia, etc.), and personality disorders.
- Chronic pain.
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men, inability to orgasm or painful intercourse in women, and loss of sexual desire in both men and women.
- Menstrual problems.
- Muscle and joint inflammation and chronic idiopathic pain.
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss.
Stress also has effects on the immune system. While some studies show that acute short-term stresses may actually be able to boost the body’s immune response, chronic (long-term) stress has the effect of “wearing down” the immune system, leading to an increased susceptibility to a number of infections. Scientific studies have also shown that stress can decrease the immune response to vaccinations and prolong wound healing.
If you experience some of these symptoms and suspect that your stress has become a chronic issue, you should take a proactive approach to reducing your distress. See your primary doctor for a thorough examination to rule out disease or other medical issue. Increase your exercise, improve your diet and sleep hygiene, learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques, and expand your positive coping skills.
CrossPointe Counseling can help you better deal with your stress.
Contacts us today for an appointment.