- Diet for Stress Management Slideshow
- Take the Stress Quiz!
- Tips for Exercise, Diet and Stress Reduction Slideshow
- Stress FAQs
- Patient Comments: Stress - Physical Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Stress - Management
- Patient Comments: Stress - Effect on Health
- Patient Comments: Stress - Teen Symptoms
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
- Stress facts
- What is stress?
- A brief history of stress
- What are the signs and symptoms of poorly managed stress?
- Who is most vulnerable to stress? What are the risk factors for stress?
- Teen stress
- What is the healthy response to stress?
- How does the response to stress work?
- What is the role of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis (grouping) in stress?
- What is the role of the locus coeruleus in stress?
- How do the connections in the brain work in stress?
- What do we know about using (activating) and overusing our internal systems that respond to stress?
- What are the effects of stress on medical and psychological conditions?
- Conclusions about the effects of stress
- What can people do for stress management? What are home remedies to combat stress symptoms?
- What's in the future for stress?
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.