30 Stress Symptoms You May Recognize

Everyone feels stress symptoms sometimes, but how do you know whether it's beyond what's healthy? Read on to learn more about stress symptoms--and when they require help.

stressed man

Frequent headaches, lightheadedness, a feeling of being overwhelmed, and reduced work efficiency are just four of the signs that the stress you're experiencing might need professional help. Seek it out and it'll make a difference.

Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

Look up the symptoms of stress and you’ll find well more than 50 that are typically cited in medical annals. That’s because stress affects every aspect of your bodily functioning, and everyone experiences and expresses stress differently.

Here are some of the most common stress symptoms:

  1. Frequent headaches
  2. Increased compulsive behaviors, like gambling or shopping
  3. Tremors
  4. Muscle aches and spasms (could occur anywhere but most commonly affected are the neck and back)
  5. Lightheadedness, faintness, or dizziness
  6. Ringing, buzzing or “popping” sounds in the ears
  7. Frequent blushing or sweating
  8. Cold, clammy, or sweaty hands or feet
  9. Dry mouth or problems swallowing
  10. Frequent colds or infections
  11. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, or other stomach upset
  12. Difficulty breathing
  13. Sudden attacks of intense panic
  14. Chest pain, palpitations, or rapid pulse
  15. Diminished sexual desire or performance
  16. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, or nervousness
  17. Increased anger, frustration, hostility, irritability, or edginess
  18. Depression or wild mood swings
  19. Increased or decreased appetite
  20. Sleeping too much or too little
  21. Difficulty concentrating or learning new things, racing thoughts
  22. Difficulty in making decisions
  23. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
  24. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
  25. Nervous habits like fidgeting, feet tapping, or tooth grinding
  26. Reduced work efficiency or productivity
  27. Social withdrawal and isolation
  28. Constant tiredness, weakness, or fatigue
  29. Weight gain or loss without diet
  30. Increased smoking, alcohol, or drug use

Signs of Too Much Stress

Everyone experiences some of the above symptoms, so how do you know when stress is becoming too much? Well, the first sign is simply that you feel like it’s unbearable. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stress in your life, it’s definitely time to get help.

Of course, some people are not so in tune with their bodies that they hear those inner messages, so what other signs are there? It might be that others have seen a change in you. You might be more irritable or impatient or less attentive, caring, or focused. If people who love you are consistently telling you to get help, you should probably listen to them.

Probably one of the most obvious signs of stress overload is that something has changed in a consistent and negative way. Maybe your sleep is suffering, your weight is changing, you can’t get as much work done as you used to, or you’re not enjoying life the way you once did. Other signs could be marital problems, fatigue, or new or worsening chronic pain.

Any time you see a negative pattern of change in your health or well-being, take it as a sign that something is up. It might be stress, an impending illness, or simply the consequences of aging. The only way to find out for sure it to talk to your doctor.

Originally published in May 2016 and updated.

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Alison Palkhivala

Alison Palkhivala is an award-winning writer and journalist specializing in lifestyle, nutrition, health, and medicine. She has authored the Belvoir special report Overcoming Depression and the University Health News book … Read More

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