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What are the Symptoms of Stress?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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Symptoms of stress can vary widely from one person to the next, and from even one stressful episode to the next. Stress can be caused by many different things, and the way a body reacts to that stress may change according to those causes. In some cases, stress may cause mainly physical symptoms. In other cases, symptoms of stress may be manifested through thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.

Physical symptoms of stress include such things as headaches, back pain, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and many others. While it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly if any of these symptoms are due to stress alone, if the symptoms persist, they should be checked out by a medical professional. If the stress is persistent, the patient may be referred to a mental health specialist, such as a psychiatrist. Some conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart disease will obviously require immediate medical attention.

Mental symptoms of stress include anxiety, trouble sleeping, sadness, depression, lack of focus, and burnout. These mental conditions can be very serious and they may require professional treatment. In such cases, a medical professional may not just treat the symptoms of stress, but see if the root cause of the mental anxiety can be subdued. This may be done through a drug therapy strategy involving antidepressant medications.

The final major division of stress symptoms include behavioral issues. Stress, mainly due to the mental strains, may cause angry outbursts, crying, eating disorders, drug abuse, or relationship problems. At this point, the stress may begin to cause other problems that are not related to the original cause of the stress. Thus, the situation quickly disintegrates into a cycle of problems that may cause even more stress.

Treatment of stress symptoms may be done using many different strategies, depending on the situation. Treating just the symptoms may be effective if the symptoms are primarily physical. For example, taking a pain killer is often all that it takes to get rid of a minor headache. Prescription anti-depressants, as mentioned previously, along with various relaxation techniques, and counseling are other ways to take care of the underlying problems, which should also alleviate the symptoms.

In most cases, symptoms of stress will return as long as the root cause of the problem remains unresolved. Therefore, treating the symptoms often offers only temporary relief. This is why stress can be so debilitating. It does not usually cause a total loss of function, at least not immediately, but becomes a chronic problem that only seems to get worse with time.

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