Stress affects everyone at some point in our lives. From the moment we enter this world we are faced with the stress of taking our first breath. The stress only gets more intense as we age. Often times, we end up realizing that what we thought was stress as a child is nothing compared to the stress we face as adults.
Job pressure tops the list as the number one cause of stress for Americans. In fact, 76% of Americans say that money and work are the leading cause of their stress. If you feel consistently stressed you are not alone. 77% of Americans regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress.
While you may like to believe that stress only affects you, you may be surprised to know that it is very common for this stress to negatively impact your loved ones. 54% of Americans admitted that stress has caused them to fight with people close to them.
The question is… Are you stressed?
You may be surprised to find that many symptoms associated with other common illnesses can actually be caused by Stress.
Physical Signs You May Be Stressed
Stress can cause chest pain, which can be very alarming. The first fear that comes to mind is, “Am I having a heart attack?” Signs of a heart attack are a feeling of tightness in your chest, crushing pain that radiates throughout your body including your arms – particularly your left arm, shortness of breath, cold sweats, pain that last more than a few minutes and get worse with activity, and pain that goes away and comes back.
Chest pain unrelated to a heart attack can be associated with pain that gets worse when you breath deeply or cough, tenderness when you push on your chest, or pain that gets better or worse when adjust your body position.
When you are stressed, it causes your body to produce cortisol and other hormones, which will make your skin oilier. Oily skin is more prone to acne. Stress can also cause hives and skin rashes. It worsens conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea and can even trigger fever blisters.
When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. It’s how our body guards against pain. When muscles are tense for long periods of time, the tension does not release, causing aches and pains.
Frequent Colds & Infection
Stress lowers the immune system making you more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. This leaves you vulnerable to colds, flu, and infections.
Loss of Sexual Desire/Ability
Stress can completely kill your desire for sex. It can cause erectile dysfunction and frigidity. This can take a toll on your relationship over time.
Stress can affect your digestion by slowing down or speeding up how fast food moves through your body, resulting in diarrhea or constipation.
You will know you have a tension headache by the dull aching head pain or pressure across your forehead. The pain can also effect the sides or back of your head and can cause scalp, neck and shoulder tenderness. Stress is the main cause of tension headaches.
Insomnia is a big deal. Not getting enough sleep contributes to irritability, depression, anxiety, tension headaches, difficulty focusing, memory issues and fatigue. Many of these issues affect people and they have no idea its due to lack of sleep. Stressing over your problems often leads to insomnia.
Stress takes a toll on several parts of your body. This can wear you out. Tiredness is sometimes one of the first symptoms you will see when you are stressed.
Excess Belching & Flatulence
Stress can trigger digestive issues such indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome which can cause a build up of gas. This can lead to flatulence and excessive belching.
Dizziness is one of the most common reasons people visit the doctor. Many people don’t know that often times, dizziness and anxiety disorders go hand in hand. If you suffer from agoraphobia, panic attacks or fears of leaving home dizziness is often an accompanying symptom.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke, aneurysm or heart failure. Many people smoke or drink alcohol to try to relax when stressed. The bad news is, like stress, alcohol and smoking increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. Combine that with the fact that your age, race, family history, weight, and diet also can contribute to high blood pressure and you have a recipe for disaster. Your blood pressure can become increased temporarily due to stress, which can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Indigestion is also known as upset stomach. It’s a feeling of fullness soon after you begin to eat or abdominal pain. Many things such as overeating, spicy foods, smoking or medication can cause indigestion, but also on the list is stress.
The medical name for this condition is bruxism. If left unchecked it can lead to damage of your teeth, tension headaches and facial pain.
Psychological Symptoms You Are Stressed
There is nothing wrong with occasional anxiety. It’s a normal part of life. However, when that anxiety becomes intense, and excessive, you have a problem. A clear sign you have anxiety issues is if your fear and worry is out of proportion to the actual danger (usually everyday life situations). Common symptoms of anxiety are feelings of nervousness, powerlessness, tiredness, having a sense of impending danger, and trouble concentrating on anything except what you are worried about. Stress is a big trigger of anxiety.
Depression isn’t just something you can snap out of any more than a person can just casually jump out of a 15-foot hole. It’s more than just the blues. Some people are more prone to depression than others. Stress is a huge trigger of depression.
So how do you know if you’re depressed? If you have some of the following symptoms, you are probably depressed: Angry outbursts, feelings of sadness, tiredness, hopelessness, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, constantly blaming yourself, thoughts of suicide, insomnia, loss of interest in normal activities, anxiety, and agitation.
Stress can cause you to worry about everything in your life. This constant worrying can be mentally exhausting and can rob you of your sleep at night.
Does everything seem to get on your nerves? Are you flying off the handle at the slightest bit of criticism? Or maybe you feel like everyone is ganging up on you? Stress may be the culprit. Stress can distort reality. Something you would laugh at one day could have you weeping the next day.
Stress can rob you of your motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Simple tasks that normally take 10 minutes to complete could begin to take an hour. Lethargy can be hard to snap out of.
Stress can cause bad decision-making. Often times you may find yourself dating people you know are bad for you, eating the wrong foods, indulging in drugs, or skipping critical appointments. You may even quit your job impulsively. When you are really stressed, try not to make any major life altering decisions.
Behavioral Symptoms You Are Stressed
Change In Eating Habits
Stress can cause you to overeat or lose your appetite entirely. Over indulging on junk or comfort foods leads to weight gain. Not eating enough can lead to a weak immune system and vitamin deficiencies.
There is nothing wrong with cleaning or have things neat and organized. Having order around you can actually help to reduce stress. However, when you start to find yourself intensely stressed because some one folded a towel incorrectly or because someone left a cup on the counter, you’re obsessing. Stress is a big cause of this behavior.
Often times when we are stressed we feel out of control. After all, if we had control of the issue that is stressing us out, we would make it go away. However, when you do not have control, you may feel the need to control the things around you. Common obsessions are fear of contamination, having things orderly and symmetrical, thoughts about harming yourself or others, and unwanted sexual or aggressive thoughts.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you feel you must perform. You get no pleasure from them, but they bring temporary relief. Compulsions typically have themes such as counting, checking, cleaning, strict routines or demanding reassurances. Examples would be washing your hands until they are raw, checking if the stove is turned off or the doors are locked repeatedly. It could also be arranging all canned goods the same direction.
Increased Use of Alcohol, Smoking or Drugs
Often times a sign that we are stressed is overindulging. It’s a gradual thing so it’s hard to notice sometime. Stress can cause people to drink and smoke in excess. What used to be a drink every few days can soon become 2 or 3 drinks per day. A few cigarettes a day can become a pack before you know it.
Does standing in line at the grocery store drive you crazy? Are you constantly in a rush when driving, even when you are not late? Stress is a big contributor this impatience.
Do you find yourself constantly debating with everyone? Stress can make you feel like everything is a big deal. It becomes harder to let simple things go. Stress can also cause pessimism, which causes you to see the negative instead of the positive in every situation. While you may be able to fight off the urge to constantly bicker with strangers, you will have more difficulty at home with your love ones who you feel more comfortable expressing yourself with.
Withdrawal from People
Stress can turn the most social of people into hermits. You want to avoid this at all cost. Becoming a recluse and stewing on all your problems is recipe for depression. Seek sources of positivity.
Some people are procrastinators anyway. However, stress can make this worse. Because stress can make a person lethargic and unmotivated to complete tasks they normally take care of on a regular basis it can start to affect many aspects of your life (job, home, kids, etc).
According to The American Institute of Stress, there are actually 50 common symptoms of stress. Check out the full list.