How Do You Measure 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: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

How do I evaluate my stress?

Doctor's response

A number of scales have been developed for use by professionals and individuals to rate the degree of lifestyle stress that a person is experiencing. Many of these are based upon a person's perceived level of stress or symptoms that they may be experiencing, such as worrying, sleeplessness, etc. Other scales evaluate stress by taking into account the number of life-altering or significant changes (both positive and negative) that an individual is facing at the moment. Examples of such changes include the death of a spouse, divorce, the birth of a child, starting a new job, and others. According to these scales, the more external changes that an individual faces, the greater his or her stress level may be.

But perhaps a better way to evaluate your own stress is to take stock of your daily life. Are you content and happy? Do you generally feel emotionally and physically well? If you're constantly plagued by anxiety and worry, or if you are facing physical or emotional hardships, you're likely experiencing significant stress. You could also ask a spouse or significant other if they notice any changes in your mood or temperament. Talking about your situation is a stress-release method and can reveal hidden, subtle stressors.

Tolerance for stress varies greatly among individuals, so it isn't possible to compare your situation with that of another person and expect your particular stress levels to be the same. Your inner feelings and overall perception of your mental health are the best index of your stress levels.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


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Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2017