Stress

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD

    Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.

Diet for Stress Management

What are the signs and symptoms of poorly managed stress?

Excess stress can manifest itself in a variety of emotional, behavioral, and even physical symptoms, and the symptoms of stress vary enormously among different individuals. Common somatic (physical) symptoms often reported by those experiencing excess stress include sleep disturbances or changes in sleeping habits (insomnia or sleeping too much), muscle tension, muscle aches, headache, gastrointestinal problems, and fatigue. Symptoms of many preexisting medical conditions can also worsen during times of stress. Emotional and behavioral symptoms that can accompany excess stress include nervousness, anxiety, changes in eating habits including overeating or undereating (leading to weight gain or loss), loss of enthusiasm or energy, and mood changes, like irritability and depression. Of course, none of these signs or symptoms means for certain that there is an elevated stress level since all of these symptoms can be caused by other medical and/or psychological conditions.

It is also known that people under stress have a greater tendency to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as excessive use or abuse of alcohol and drugs, cigarette smoking, and making poor exercise and nutritional choices, than their less-stressed counterparts. These unhealthy behaviors can further increase the severity of symptoms related to stress, often leading to a "vicious cycle" of symptoms and unhealthy behaviors.

The experience of stress is highly individualized. What constitutes overwhelming stress for one person may not be perceived as stress by another. Likewise, the symptoms and signs of poorly managed stress will be different for each person.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/3/2016
Stress Quiz: Test Your Emotional IQ

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Stress - Physical Symptoms

    Symptoms of stress can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your physical symptoms?

    Post View 27 Comments
  • Stress - Management

    What stress management techniques have worked for you?

    Post View 6 Comments
  • Stress - Effect on Health

    Do you have a physical or psychological condition that is made worse by stress? Please share your story.

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Stress - Teen Symptoms

    If you're under 20, what makes you stressed out? How do you deal with your symptoms?

    Post View 1 Comment

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors