Signs and symptoms of stress - Three types of stress with different symptoms
Stress. That word is everywhere and even though everyday we are
affected by it, sometimes we don't even notice it. We go through life
thinking that all of our symptoms are 'normal' or just a part of
getting old, since we see almost everyone we know going through the
same thing we are.
Many times we choose to ignore stress until it grabs us by the neck and
slaps us a few times. Let's not let that happen to us. Let's learn how
to identify stress symptoms early on so that we can be better prepared
to deal with it.
So I'm guessing the reason you're here is because you want to know if
you - or a loved one - are experiencing stress symptoms. Most likely
the answer will be yes (because really?, who isn't?), but what you
really need to know is what TYPE of stress you're experiencing.
There are three types of stress:
- Acute stress
- Episodic acute stress
- Chronic stress
Each type comes with its very own symptoms, and some types of stress
are worse than others. However, some stress symptoms are shared by all
Let's go through a few of them general stress symptoms.
General Physical Symptoms of Stress
- Sweaty palms
- Tingling extremities
- Chest pressure
- Stomach aches/butterflies
- Muscular tension
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Cold extremities
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
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General Psychological/Emotional Stress Symptoms
Psychological/Emotional stress symptoms
Aside from making you feel physically miserable, stress also likes to
make you think you're going nuts. Take a look at some of these symptoms
and see if you can identify a few of them in your life.
- Desire to yell, hit, or insult some one
- Irritability, anger, constant rage
- Catastrophic thinking, worst scenario thinking
- Wanting something bad to happen just so you won't have to lye in wait
- for inevitable disasters.
- Desire to cry, sometimes even without a reason.
- Restlesness, nervousness, anxiety, fearfulness.
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
- Slow thinking
- Memory problems.
- Lack of self confidence
- Feeling defenseless even when faced with small problems
Not all stress is bad
Even though stress has been demonized left and right, not all stress is bad. In fact, we need stress in our lives to keep alive. The type of stress that keeps you alive is called Eustress. This is the type of stress that is necessary for your body to adapt to the ever changing conditions of your life.
Behavioral stress symptoms.
After making you think you're crazy, stress also likes to make you act
crazy. Check out how stress can affect your behavior.
- Teeth grinding
- Development of nervous tics
- Sexual problems
- Increase or decrease in appetite.
- Excessive sleeping or insomnia
So now that we know the general symptoms of stress, let's get a bit
more specific and identify the types of stress there are so you can
pinpoint which type is making your life miserable.
Three types of stress
Let's summarize the three types of stress:
Acute stress - The stress you feel before or after something big in your life (driving test, public presentation, wedding, etc..)
Episodic Acute Stress - Experiencing acute stress very frequently. Feels like always being on a caffeine rush.
Chronic stress - The worst of all three. Being always in a constant state of tension and worry.
This type of stress is very short lived. Even though its symptoms are
strong, you only feel them for a short period of time. Acute stress is
the type of stress that you feel because of the recent past or the
close future, and it can feel very exciting in small doses.
For example, let's say you're about to give a public presentation. How
do you feel right before going on stage? Sweaty palms, racing heart,
agony...And even shortly after finishing your presentation, you may
still feel some of those symptoms, but you will not feel that way hours
after the event has passed.
Some of the symptoms of acute stress are:
- Excessive sweating
- Emotional agony
- Digestion issues/flatulence
- Increased heartbeat
Because of its short life span, acute stress is pretty harmless.
Episodic acute stress
This pretty much means you're experiencing acute stress very
frequently. It almost feels like always beign overdosed on caffeine.
People experiencing episodic acute stress always seem to be in a rush,
are very irritable and tend to be the kind of people that bite more
than they can chew.
Some of the symptoms of episodic acute stress are:
- Bad mood
- Prolonged agitation
- Cardiac disease
Episodic acute stress can be damaging to your physical and mental
health if nothing is done to control it.
Out of the three types of stress, chronic stress is the worst. This
type of stress is ongoing, and it becomes such a part of your life that
you stop paying attention to it and learn to live with it. Perhaps this
is one of the reasons chronic stress is so dangerous: people become so
used to it that its ill effects go largely unnoticed, thus leading to
serious diseases and even death.
With chronic stress, your body is in a constant state of emergency.
It's as if your mind is always expecting some kind of catastrophe to
take place. Since your body is always in a fight-or-flight mode, it
becomes very difficult for your body to maintain normal functioning and
you start seeing an array of other chronic deficiencies and illnesses
such as lack of concentration, gastric ulcers and even cardiac disease,
all these along with depression.
Symptoms of chronic stress include:
- Drastic appetite changes
- Getting startled easily
- Disturbances in sleep patterns
- Irritability when interacting with others
- Anhedonia (unable to feel pleasure even while engaging in activities
- that you used to enjoy)
- Compromised immune system
- Feeling of being empty and having nothing to offer
Even though stress is everywhere we should never see it as normal. By showing us some of these symptoms, our body is telling us that there is something really wrong and we should pay attention to it. Listen to your body and take care of yourself.