Stress Q&A by Dr. Stöppler

How many types of stress are there? Please describe the signs and symptoms of each type.

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

Answer:

Stress can be physical or emotional, meaning that the increased demands upon the body are of a physical nature (for example, an illness or injury) or psychological. Most people use the term to refer to psychological stress, and while there may be many different causes of psychological stress, there are no distinct or different types of stress in terms of the body's reactions and symptoms.

For example, one might speak of lifestyle stress, relationship or marital stress, parenting stress, or work-related stress, but all of these are just circumstances and causes for the body to perceive and react to stress.

Stress causes a number of changes in the body's functioning, including the release of hormones to control and modify the stress response. Stress can have an impact on immune function and can worsen the symptoms of many different medical conditions. A person's perception and experience of stress is extremely varied. Different people will experience different symptoms and reactions when under a similar amount of stress, so there is no way to define which symptoms are specifically associated with stress or with particular types of stress.

Thank you for your question.


Last Editorial Review: 2/26/2007