Signs and Symptoms of Stress


stressed woman by Flickr user John Grimm

In order to get a true grasp on stress, you first must learn how to recognize it in yourself. The mind, body and judgment are affected by stress in many ways, and they’re all directly tied to the physiological changes of the fight-or-flight response. There are no set signs and symptoms of stress, as these vary widely from person to person. Some experience primarily physical symptoms, like lower back pain, stomach problems and outbreaks on the skin. In others, the stress pattern centers around emotional symptoms, such as crying spells or hypersensitivity. For others, the changes mostly affect their behavior or thought processes. Below are some of the more common signs and symptoms of stress, broken down by category. (It’s important to note that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems.)

Cognitive Symptoms       

  • Forgetfulness
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Indecisiveness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Poor behavior/being unlike one’s self
  • Focusing on the negative
  • Racing or anxious thoughts

Emotional Symptoms

• Constant worrying
• Fearful anticipation
• Agitation and moodiness
• Restlessness
• Short temper
• Irritability, impatience
• Inability to relax
• Feeling tense and “on edge”
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Sense of loneliness and isolation

Behavioral Symptoms

• Decrease in sex drive/libido
• Eating less or more then usual
• Habitual craving for salty or sweet foods
• Sleeping too much or too little
• Neglecting responsibilities
• Avoiding contact with others
• Using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to unwind
• Nervous habits (e.g. pacing or nail biting)
• “Overdoing it” (e.g. exercising, working)
•  Using caffeine to stay going
• Becoming argumentative or combative
• Overreacting to unexpected problems

Physical / Physiological Symptoms

• Chronic fatigue
• Tense pain in head and/or back
• Stiffness and tension in muscles
• Constipation or diarrhea
• Nausea, dizziness
• Difficulty sleeping/insomnia
• Increased heart rate/chest pain
• Increase or decrease in blood pressure
• Loss or gain in weight
• High or low blood sugar
• Skin conditions (e.g. eczema, hives)
• Frequent or prolonged colds

If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see your health-care professional for a full evaluation. A healthcare practitioner who is familiar with how stress and adrenal fatigue affects overall health can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are related to stress. Dr. Wilson’s Adrenal Fatigue Program may help your adrenal glands and the stress response system better cope with stress. Providing you make appropriate diet and lifestyle changes, you can help put an end to the suffering caused by 21st century stress.

Image Credit: Woman with hands on her face by Flickr user John Grimm

dr eric bakkerAbout the Author: Eric Bakker B.H.Sc. (Comp.Med), N.D, R.Hom. is a highly experienced naturopathic physician who has been in clinical practice for 25 years. Eric is passionate about improving people’s lives through proven wellness and lifestyle principles, natural medicine practice as well as public and professional practitioner education. Eric specialises in candida yeast infections, as well as adrenal fatigue, and thyroid disorders. Dr. Bakker has written one of the most comprehensive books on yeast infections called Candida Crusher. Website:  You can complete his online survey to determine if you have a yeast infection here, or link through to his many You Tube videos:  Dr. Bakker’s Blog:

3 thoughts on “Signs and Symptoms of Stress

  1. Yes, stress does cause diarrhea. Get the ALCAT test for diarrhea which can be complicated by a variety of other variables such as stress and environmental toxins.

  2. cope with stress.

    – Think of ways to reduce stress overload

    – Try to unwind your mind

    – Breathe easy

    – Connect with yourself through your hobbies and interests/find time for yourself

    – Try to manage your time

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