Symptoms of chronic stress
For many of us, stress is a common aspect of life. The way we feel stress can be varied, but no matter where it comes from it can have huge effects on our health and wellbeing. A number of emotional and physical disorders and illnesses like depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system instability have been linked to chronic stress. While we may not be able to completely get rid of stress, it’s clear that managing and lowering the stresses in our lives can cause many benefits in our daily happiness and health.
When you undergo a stressful situation or are confronted with a stressor, your body responds by releasing hormones. The hormones released when your body sends the “stress alert” include adrenaline and cortisol. The symptoms of these alerts, the systems of stress, can be felt immediately. Adrenaline raises your heart rate, elevating your blood pressure and boosting energy. Cortisol increases sugars in the bloodstream. Cortisol also stops functions that are not essential in a “fight or flight” situation like the immune system, the digestive system, the reproductive system, and growth processes.
While you may be familiar with the immediate symptoms of stress like feeling dizzy, nauseous, sweaty, or have a dry mouth, you may not be familiar with symptoms of chronic stress. Symptoms of chronic stress can include emotional symptoms, physical symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.
Emotional Symptoms of Stress
When you are stressed for a short period of time you may feel nervous, overwhelmed, or anxious. But when you are dealing with chronic stress, these emotional responses can increase. Emotional symptoms of stress include mood swings, increased irritability, feeling overwhelmed, having difficulty relaxing your mind, feelings of loneliness and lack of self-worth, and losing the desire to spend time with others.
Physical Symptoms of Stress
The symptoms of chronic stress go beyond emotional symptoms; they also include many very tangible physical symptoms in the body. When a person is chronically stressed they often feel fatigued, lose desire to do things they previously enjoyed, can suffer from stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, and upset stomach, and can get frequent headaches. In addition to this, chest pain, insomnia, and tension in muscles or the jaw are common symptoms of chronic stress. Because the body is producing “fight or flight” chemicals that slow down processes in the body like the immune system, those who suffer from chronic stress are also much more likely to get sick. The physical symptoms of stress can be debilitating and greatly affect a person’s quality of life.
Cognitive Symptoms of Stress
Stress affects all areas of life, including your ability to think and make decisions. Those suffering from chronic stress often have a pessimistic view of things, can have lapses in memory, be unable to focus, can be disorganized, and can excessively worry about things.
If you have any of these symptoms, you may want to try to identify what is causing you this stress and what options you have to mediate it.