Signs of Stress

"Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health
effects from stress; 75 to 90 percent of all physician office
visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints; stress
is linked to the six leading causes of death--heart disease,
cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and
suicide." (Miller, 1993, p.12) "Stress plays havoc with our
health, our productivity, our pocketbooks, and our lives,
but it is necessary, even desirable." (Oxford, 1998, p.29)
In researching stress, one would learn about what stress is,
the early warning signs of stress, the different types of
stress, and how to build resistance to it.

Stress is a combination of physical, mental, and emotional
feelings that result from pressure, worry, and anxiety. These
pressures are called stressors. Some examples of common
stressors are; divorce, death in the family, job change,
pregnancy, a large mortgage, marriage, and retirement. "In
medicine, stress is, a physical, chemical, or emotional
development that causes strains that can lead to physical
illness." (Microsoft Encarta)

The early warning signs of stress include apathy, anxiety,
irritability, mental fatigue, and overcompensation or denial.
Some signs of apathy are feelings of sadness or recreation
that isn’t fun any more. Feelings of restlessness, agitation,
insecurity and a sense of worthlessness are examples of
anxiety. Signs of irritability are feeling hypersensitive,
defensive, and arrogant. Feeling argumentative, rebellious,
or angry are also signs of irritability. Examples of mental
fatigue are feeling preoccupied, having difficulty
concentrating, and trouble thinking flexibly. Working too
hard, denying that there are problems, ignoring symptoms,
and feeling suspicious are all signs of overcompensation or
denial.

Some behavioral signs of stress are avoiding things, doing
things to extremes, administrative problems, and legal
problems. Avoiding things includes keeping to one’s self,
avoiding work, having trouble accepting responsibility, and
neglecting responsibility. Examples of doing things to
extremes are alcoholism, gambling, spending sprees, and
sexual promiscuity. Some administrative problems are
being late to work, poor appearance, poor personal
hygiene, and being accident prone. Possible legal problems
are indebtedness, shoplifting, traffic tickets, and an inability
to control violent impulses.

Some physical signs of stress include excessive worrying
about illness, frequent illness, and physical exhaustion.
Reliance on medication including remedies like aspirin is a
physical sign of stress. Ailments such as insomnia, appetite
changes, and weight gain or loss are also physical signs of
stress. Indigestion, nausea, and nervous diarrhea, are also
physical signs, as well as, constipation, and sexual
problems.

Stress can be confusing. There are some myths surrounding
stress. Here are a few of them. One myth is that stress is
the same for everybody. This is not true. What is stressful
for one person, may or may not be stressful for another;
each person responds to stress in a different way. Some
people seem to think that stress is everywhere, so there is
nothing a person can do about it. This is not so. A person
can plan their life so that stress doesn’t overwhelm them.
Another myth is that stress is always bad for a person. This
isn’t true because managed stress makes people productive
and happy. Some people think that only the major
symptoms of stress require attention. The minor symptoms
are the early warnings that a better job of managing stress
is needed. Another myth about stress is that people think if
they don’t have any symptoms of stress, they don’t have
stress. People can be affected by stress without having
symptoms of stress.

There are four types of stress. There is acute stress,
episodic acute stress, chronic stress, and traumatic stress.
Each type of stress has its own characteristics, symptoms,
duration, and treatments.

Acute stress is the most common type of stress. "Acute
stress comes from demands and pressures of the recent
past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near
future." (Hanson, 1985 p.17) Acute stress is exciting and
thrilling in small amounts, but too much is exhausting.
Overdoing it on acute stress can lead to psychological
distress, tension headaches, upset stomach, and other
symptoms. Some examples of stressors that can cause
acute stress are; an auto accident that crumpled the car
fender, the loss of an important contact, a child’s
occasional problems at school, and so on. Acute stress
doesn’t have enough time to do the extensive damage that
is associated with long-term stress.

Some of the most common symptoms of stress are
emotional distress, muscular problems, stomach problems,
and transient over arousal. Emotional distress includes
anger, irritability, and anxiety. Muscular problems such as
tension headaches, upper and lower back pain, and jaw
pain (TMJ), are symptoms of stress. Muscular tensions that
lead to pulled muscles and tendon and ligament problems,
are symptoms of stress as well. Other symptoms of stress
are stomach, gut and bowel problems. Heartburn, acid
stomach, ulcers, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and
irritable bowel syndrome are examples of