How to Recognize Symptoms of Stress

November 12, 2012

How to Recognize Symptoms of Stress

Stress is commonly thought of to be a mental or psychological disorder, but it manifests very real physical signs and symptoms. When the body is put in a new or startling situation, the adrenal glands release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. Cortisol helps keep the body in a state of high alert so that it is ready to fight danger or flee from danger. This causes symptoms of stress.

Body Pains

Various body aches and pains are common symptoms of stress. Many people under stress get headaches or migraines. Part of stress may be wondering when the next headache or migraine will strike. There are many other causes for headaches and migraines, so it is best to get the cause positively diagnosed by a doctor or neurologist.

Chest pains or problems breathing are frightening symptoms of stress. These pains are often caused by shallow breathing. When the body does not get enough oxygen, it sends out pains. But when people are scared, they have a tendency to breathe rapidly or pant, which makes it hard for them to take some deep, relaxing breaths.

People suffering from stress or anxiety often get muscle aches, uncontrollable twitches or spasms at various parts of the body, including the neck, back and shoulders. People under stress may sit or stand stiffly, which can worsen the pain.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

The digestive organs have a difficult time working properly when they are under the influence of large amounts of adrenaline and cortisol. This causes stomach ailments such as nausea, vomiting, indigestion and heartburn. When under stress, people may make poor food choices that worsen these symptoms of stress.

People under stress often get diarrhea or constipation. These conditions are often accompanied by embarrassing flatulence and painful abdominal cramps. Some people may also suffer from sharp stomach pains.

Sexual Symptoms

When under stress, the body tends to cut off energy to the sexual organs since they are not vital to immediate survival. This is a survival mechanism. However, stress can lead to sexual dysfunction and infertility, which in turn compounds stress. Anyone with sexual problems should know that they are common symptoms of stress and will go away once the sources of stress are addressed.

Women under extreme stress experience irregular periods or have their periods come to a premature stop. Men experience premature ejaculation or impotence. Since the sex hormones help regulate hair growth, both men and women may develop thinning, brittle hair or bald patches.

Other Symptoms

Symptoms of stress are often as unique as the person experiencing stress. These can range wildly from fainting, having a dry mouth, excessive sweating or suddenly itchy skin. People with skin conditions with eczema or psoriasis often experience a flare-up after they go through a stressful event.

People often experience problems sleeping when under constant stress. This varies from insomnia (sleeping too little) to hypersomnia (sleeping too much.) Some people may wake up and cannot get back to sleep while others may not be able to fall asleep for days. People often self-medicate in order to regulate their sleep patterns, even turning to illegal drugs in order to get some rest. This can lead to drug addiction.

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