How Many Types of Stress Are There?

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    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.

Ask the experts

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

Doctor's response

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.

Medically reviewed by Robert Bargar, MD; Board Certification in Public Health & General Preventive Medicine


"Acute stress disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, and diagnosis"

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Reviewed on 9/18/2017