Stress: A Situation of Symptoms

First and foremost, I must apologize for my recent disappearance. I’ve been experiencing some unpleasant symptoms related to stress, but, having said and experienced the aforementioned, I would like to take the time today to elaborate about the physical, mental, cognitive and behavioral symptoms of stress in addition to the causes.

With having talked about stress in a previous article, we can understand that certain stress can be labeled as good stress (eustressors) or bad stress (distressors). Both types of stress stem from an external stimulus of sorts. The type of stimulus that is triggering the stress response is key to identifying whether or not a stress is good or bad. If one is being stressed by a job to do well, that type of stress can potentially motivate an individual. Stress of this nature may be considered as eustressors. When a stress is negative in nature, such as the stress of job loss, debt, personal conflict with an individual, we may classify that stress as distress.

Stress, depending on the nature of it, may present itself with a series of physical, mental or cognitive symptoms. Typically stress is temporary, but it is occasionally left to stew in our subconscious. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to suppress it, it lingers, waiting until another stressful event happens to “attack” in full force. The symptoms of stress vary per individual, but are generally put into four categories: physical, mental, cognitive and behavioral.

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension or general pain through the body
  • Chest pain ranging from a dull ache to a sharp pain
  • Changes to an individual’s sex drive
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, nausea and constipation
  • Sleeping issues (such as insomnia)
  • Frequent colds or infections

Mental Symptoms

  • Anxiety, depression
  • Radical changes in mood
  • Feeling like you’re losing control of life
  • Low self-esteem
  • Recluse-like behavior

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Excessive worrying
  • Intrusive/racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Disorganisation
  • Extreme pessimism
  • Inability to focus

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Appetite changes – either excessive eating or not eating at all
  • Extreme procrastination or avoiding general responsibilities
  • Increased use of drugs
  • Demonstrating more nervous behaviors, such as fidgeting, biting nails, pacing around, etc.

All of these symptoms may seem very intense for something that most people brush off easily in day-to-day life, but there is a lot of medical evidence backing the symptoms of stress. With the advent of the internet and ease of access to resources for all, it’s very easy to become anxious when trying to figure out what is wrong. I know this from personal experience – I’ve tried to scour the myriad of resources available to figure out the cause(s) of my symptoms. I would drive myself to the brink of insanity trying to figure out what fits.

There are many causes of stress, but they are generally put into two categories: personal issues and social issues. Some personal issues that could lead to stress are: one’s health, emotional problems, major life changes (such as the birth of a new child, moving to a different city, or death in the family) and relationship problems (issues with friends, family or lovers).

Social issues that may lead to stress are: Environmental issues (such as crime in one’s city, state of one’s country, a noisy neighborhood), social situation (living in poverty, being unable to make ends meet, loneliness, being discriminated against), unemployment, or one’s job (such as being unhappy with work, or finding that work is too demanding).

In closing, stress can be very taxing to the well-being of individuals. It is important to be able to identify and manage stress before it is allowed to linger in the subconscious for too long and become something unmanageable. There are many ways to combat stress, such as exercising, living within one’s means, adjust one’s standards in relation to the stressor, express emotions instead of keeping them inside, strengthen relationships with friends and family… the list goes on and on. Managing, and if possible, removing stress is key to a healthy body and mind. Prolonged stress does nothing for an individual; it causes a variety of unpleasant symptoms, as previously mentioned. If you find yourself struggling with stress, please take a look here for tips on how to manage stress in relation to your life.

For more information (and publications used for referenced information), see the links below:

http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-causes-of-stress

http://www.webmd.boots.com/stress-management/physical-stress-symptoms

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

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