Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes - HelpGuide.org (2022)

stress

In today’s fast-paced world, chronic stress is common, but your mind and body can pay a high price. Learn to recognize overwhelming stress—and what you can do about it.

Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes - HelpGuide.org (1)

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body’s defenses kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the “stress response.”

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for example, or spurring you to slam on the brakes to avoid a car accident.

Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw, or drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV. But beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, mood, productivity, relationships, and your quality of life.

If you frequently find yourself feeling frazzled and overwhelmed, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You can protect yourself—and improve how you think and feel—by learning how to recognize the signs and symptoms of chronic stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.

Fight-or-flight response: what happens in the body

Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes - HelpGuide.org (2)When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart pounds faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, breath quickens, and your senses become sharper. These physical changes increase your strength and stamina, speed up your reaction time, and enhance your focus—preparing you to either fight or flee from the danger at hand.

The effects of chronic stress

Your nervous system isn’t very good at distinguishing between emotional and physical threats. If you’re super stressed over an argument with a friend, a work deadline, or a mountain of bills, your body can react just as strongly as if you’re facing a true life-or-death situation. And the more your emergency stress system is activated, the easier it becomes to trigger, making it harder to shut off.

If you tend to get stressed out frequently, like many of us in today’s demanding world, your body may exist in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Health problems caused or exacerbated by stress include:

  1. Depression and anxiety
  2. Pain of any kind
  3. Sleep problems
  4. Autoimmune diseases
  5. Digestive problems
  1. Skin conditions, such as eczema
  2. Heart disease
  3. Weight problems
  4. Reproductive issues
  5. Thinking and memory problems

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Signs and symptoms of stress overload

The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep up on you. You get used to it. It starts to feel familiar, even normal. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you, even as it takes a heavy toll. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying

Emotional symptoms:

  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Other mental or emotional health problems
(Video) What are Causes and symptoms of stress

Physical symptoms:

  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heart rate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds or flu

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Causes of stress

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that puts high demands on you can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion.

Of course, not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be internal or self-generated, when you worry excessively about something that may or may not happen, or have irrational, pessimistic thoughts about life.

Finally, what causes stress depends, at least in part, on your perception of it. Something that’s stressful to you may not faze someone else; they may even enjoy it. While some of us are terrified of getting up in front of people to perform or speak, for example, others live for the spotlight. Where one person thrives under pressure and performs best in the face of a tight deadline, another will shut down when work demands escalate. And while you may enjoy helping to care for your elderly parents, your siblings may find the demands of caretaking overwhelming and stressful.

Common external causes of stress include:

  • Major life changes
  • Work or school
  • Relationship difficulties
(Video) وحش العصر الضغط النفسي و طرق السيطره عليه
  • Financial problems
  • Being too busy
  • Children and family

Common internal causes of stress include:

  • Pessimism
  • Inability to accept uncertainty
  • Rigid thinking, lack of flexibility
  • Negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations / perfectionism
  • All-or-nothing attitude

Top 10 stressful life events

According to the widely validated Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, these are the top ten stressful life events for adults that can contribute to illness:

  1. Death of a spouse
  2. Divorce
  3. Marriage separation
  4. Imprisonment
  5. Death of a close family member
  6. Injury or illness
  7. Marriage
  8. Job loss
  9. Marriage reconciliation
  10. Retirement

What’s stressful for you?

Whatever event or situation is stressing you out, there are ways of coping with the problem and regaining your balance. Some of life’s most common sources of stress include:

Stress at work

While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and performance, impact your physical and emotional health, and affect your relationships and home life. It can even determine the difference between success and failure on the job. Whatever your ambitions or work demands, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the damaging effects of stress, improve your job satisfaction, and bolster your well-being in and out of the workplace.

Job loss and unemployment stress

Losing a job is one of life’s most stressful experiences. It’s normal to feel angry, hurt, or depressed, grieve for all that you’ve lost, or feel anxious about what the future holds. Job loss and unemployment involves a lot of change all at once, which can rock your sense of purpose and self-esteem. While the stress can seem overwhelming, there are many steps you can take to come out of this difficult period stronger, more resilient, and with a renewed sense of purpose.

Financial stress

Many of us, from all over the world and from all walks of life, are having to deal with financial stress and uncertainty at this difficult time. Whether your problems stem from a loss of work, escalating debt, unexpected expenses, or a combination of factors, financial worry is one of the most common stressors in modern life. But there are ways to get through these tough economic times, ease stress and anxiety, and regain control of your finances.

Retirement

No matter how much you’ve been looking forward to it, retiring from work can bring stress as well as benefits. Escaping the daily grind and a long commute can seem like a great relief at first. But after a few months you may miss the sense of identity, meaning, and purpose that came with work, the structure it gave your days, and the social aspect of having co-workers. To help you through the stress of retirement, there are healthy ways to make adjustments and deal with this major life change.

Caregiver stress

The demands of caregiving can be overwhelming, especially if you feel that you’re in over your head or have little control over the situation. If the stress of caregiving is left unchecked, it can take a toll on your health, relationships, and state of mind — eventually leading to burnout. However, there are plenty of things you can do to rein in the stress of caregiving and regain a sense of balance, joy, and hope in your life.

Grief and loss

Coping with the loss of someone or something you love is one of life’s biggest stressors. Often, the pain and stress of loss can feel overwhelming. You may experience all kinds of difficult and unexpected emotions, from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, and profound sadness. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can ease your sadness and help you come to terms with your loss, find new meaning, and move on with your life.

(Video) Mental Wellbeing | pt1 | Stress

How much stress is too much?

Because of the widespread damage stress can cause, it’s important to know your own limit. But just how much stress is “too much” differs from person to person. Some people seem to be able to roll with life’s punches, while others tend to crumble in the face of small obstacles or frustrations. Some people even thrive on the excitement of a high-stress lifestyle.

Factors that influence your stress tolerance level include:

Your support network. A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against stress. When you have people you can count on, life’s pressures don’t seem as overwhelming. On the flip side, the lonelier and more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.

Your sense of control. If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. On the other hand, if you believe that you have little control over your life—that you’re at the mercy of your environment and circumstances—stress is more likely to knock you off course.

Your attitude and outlook. The way you look at life and its inevitable challenges makes a huge difference in your ability to handle stress. If you’re generally hopeful and optimistic, you’ll be less vulnerable. Stress-hardy people tend to embrace challenges, have a stronger sense of humor, believe in a higher purpose, and accept change as an inevitable part of life.

Your ability to deal with your emotions. If you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or troubled, you’re more likely to become stressed and agitated. Having the ability toidentify and deal appropriately with your emotions can increase your tolerance to stress and help you bounce back from adversity.

Your knowledge and preparation. The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less stressful than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.

Improving your ability to handle stress

Get moving. Upping your activity level is one tactic you can employ right now to help relieve stress and start to feel better. Regular exercise can lift your mood and serve as a distraction from worries, allowing you to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Rhythmic exercises such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are particularly effective, especially if you exercise mindfully (focusing your attention on the physical sensations you experience as you move).

Connect to others. The simple act of talking face-to-face with another human can trigger hormones that relieve stress when you’re feeling agitated or insecure. Even just a brief exchange of kind words or a friendly look from another human being can help calm and soothe your nervous system. So, spend time with people who improve your mood and don’t let your responsibilities keep you from having a social life. If you don’t have any close relationships, or your relationships are the source of your stress, make it a priority to build stronger and more satisfying connections.

[Read: Social Support for Stress Relief]

Engage your senses. Another fast way to relieve stress is by engaging one or more of your senses—sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, or movement. The key is to find the sensory input that works for you. Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Or smelling ground coffee? Or maybe petting an animal works quickly to make you feel centered? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.

Learn to relax. You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the polar opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities can reduce your everyday stress levels and boost feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.

Eat a healthy diet. The food you eat can improve or worsen your mood and affect your ability to cope with life’s stressors. Eating a diet full of processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, and sugary snacks can worsen symptoms of stress, while a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, high-quality protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, can help you better cope with life’s ups and downs.

(Video) اوعي الضغط يخطفك

Get your rest. Feeling tired can increase stress by causing you to think irrationally. At the same time, chronic stress can disrupt your sleep. Whether you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night, there are plenty of ways to improve your sleep so you feel less stressed and more productive and emotionally balanced.

Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson

FAQs

What are 5 signs and symptoms of stress? ›

These effects might include:
  • Diffculty breathing.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Blurred eyesight or sore eyes.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle aches and headaches.
  • Chest pains and high blood pressure.
  • Indigestion or heartburn.

What do you do when you can't handle stress? ›

Coping with stress

Write in a journal, go for a walk, call a friend, do some yoga or deep breathing… Anything stress-free that can take your mind off things and doesn't require too much effort from you. Feeling under pressure all the time can also be a sign of a mental illness, such as an anxiety disorder.

What are the five stress management techniques psychology? ›

5 tips to manage stress
  • Use guided meditation. Guided meditation is a great way to distract yourself from the stress of day-to-day life. ...
  • Practice deep breathing. ...
  • Maintain physical exercise and good nutrition. ...
  • Manage social media time. ...
  • Connect with others.
10 Dec 2018

How do you stop stress and anxiety? ›

Try these 10 stress-busting suggestions:
  1. Be active. ...
  2. Take control. ...
  3. Connect with people. ...
  4. Have some "me time" ...
  5. Challenge yourself. ...
  6. Avoid unhealthy habits. ...
  7. Help other people. ...
  8. Work smarter, not harder.

What are 10 signs of stress? ›

10 tell-tale signs that you're stressed
  • Feeling tired. Stress has a physiological effect on your body by releasing hormones into your bloodstream which accelerate your heart rate and your breathing. ...
  • Teeth grinding. ...
  • Headaches. ...
  • Irritable. ...
  • Tearful. ...
  • Loss of libido. ...
  • Eating too much, too little, or unhealthily. ...
  • Becoming less social.
14 Jun 2016

What disease can you get from stress? ›

10 Conditions Linked to Stress
  • Heart disease.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Tension headaches.
  • High blood sugar.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Common cold.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep dysfunction.
4 May 2018

What kind of health problems can result from too much stress? ›

Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

What is a nervous breakdown? ›

The term "nervous breakdown" is sometimes used by people to describe a stressful situation in which they're temporarily unable to function normally in day-to-day life. It's commonly understood to occur when life's demands become physically and emotionally overwhelming.

Which medicine is best for stress? ›

The most common medications to manage symptoms of stress are tranquilizers, beta-blockers, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), among others. Additional treatments may include acupuncture and herbal remedies.
...
Common types
  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • lorazepam (Ativan)
  • diazepam (Valium)
30 Aug 2022

What food should you consume when feeling stressed? ›

Top 10 Foods for Stress Relief
  • Avocado and Banana. That's two things, we know, but what do these fruits have in common? ...
  • Tea. Calm frazzled nerves with a soothing cup of your favorite tea blend.
  • Swiss Chard. ...
  • Fatty Fish. ...
  • ©Ina Peters. ...
  • Carrots. ...
  • Tarasyuk Igor. ...
  • Yogurt.

What is the hormone released during stress? ›

Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or harmful in a fight-or-flight situation.

How can I be happy and stress free? ›

So, follow a daily routine and set a time to sleep at night and when to wake up. Waking up early is not just healthy for your body but is also beneficial in improving mental health. Make a list of things that make you happy and optimistic. This technique will help to ease your stress in a positive manner.

What is the largest cause of stress? ›

Concerns about money, work and the economy top the list of most frequently cited sources of stress.

What are the 5 most stressful things in life? ›

Top 10 stressors in life
  1. Death of a spouse. ...
  2. Divorce. ...
  3. Marital separation. ...
  4. Being incarcerated. ...
  5. Death of a close family member. ...
  6. Major personal injury or illness. ...
  7. Marriage. ...
  8. Being fired or laid off from work.

What is the biggest cause of stress and anxiety? ›

Some examples of things that may cause stress include: work – feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement. family – relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone. financial problems – unexpected bills or borrowing money.

What are 7 physical signs of stress? ›

Physical symptoms of stress include:
  • Aches and pains.
  • Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing.
  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping.
  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching.
  • Stomach or digestive problems.
  • Trouble having sex.
28 Jan 2021

What are the 8 warning signs of stress? ›

8 signs that confirm you are stressed out
  • 1/8. 8 signs that confirm you are stressed out. Text: Businessinsider.in. ...
  • 2/8. Sleep troubles. ...
  • 3/8. Frequent headaches. ...
  • 4/8. Teeth grinding. ...
  • 5/8. Forgetfulness. ...
  • 6/8. Panic attacks. ...
  • 7/8. Angry outbursts. ...
  • 8/8. Sunday night blues.
21 Sept 2016

What are 8 symptoms of stress? ›

The physical symptoms of chronic stress are varied and vast, and can include acne, headaches, rapid heartbeat, sweating, changes in appetite, digestive issues, chronic pain, and more frequent infections or bouts of sickness.

Can stress put you in hospital? ›

Other than physical illnesses, stress can also give rise to psychological illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and panic, which are all valid medical concerns. Especially if the depression, anxiety, or panic attack is accompanied by suicidal thoughts, it is automatically considered as a medical emergency.

What does stress do to the brain? ›

Stress Shrinks the Brain

While the overall volume of the brain tends to remain about the same, it has been found that chronic stress in otherwise healthy individuals can cause areas of the brain associated with emotions, metabolism, and memory to shrink.

What is the first stage of stress? ›

There are three stages to stress: the alarm stage, the resistance stage and the exhaustion stage. The alarm stage is when the central nervous system is awakened, causing your body's defenses to assemble. This SOS stage results in a fight-or-flight response.

What are the behavioral symptoms of stress? ›

Emotional symptoms:
  • Depression or general unhappiness.
  • Anxiety and agitation.
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger.
  • Feeling overwhelmed.
  • Loneliness and isolation.
  • Other mental or emotional health problems.

How do I know if Im in a mental health crisis? ›

Mental health crisis signs:
  1. Rapid mood swings.
  2. Agitation.
  3. Aggressive behavior.
  4. Confused thinking or irrational thoughts.
  5. Verbally stating, writing, or insinuating they'd like to hurt themselves or someone else.
  6. Talking about death or dying.
  7. Extreme energy or lack of energy.
  8. Changes in completion of daily tasks.

What does the beginning of a mental breakdown feel like? ›

Being Able to Identify a Nervous Breakdown

being easily fatigued/having erratic sleep schedules. changes in routines (exercise, eating habits, etc.) being paranoid. experiencing feelings of hopelessness and despair.

What happens to your body when you have a nervous breakdown? ›

Symptoms of a nervous breakdown may include emotional distress as well as physical effects, like chest pains and difficulty breathing. This kind of breakdown typically comes after experiencing a great deal of stress that you find you can't cope with in healthy ways.

Is stress a mental illness? ›

Stress is not normally considered a mental health problem. But it is connected to our mental health in several ways: Stress can cause mental health problems. And it can make existing problems worse.

What drinks calm anxiety? ›

Top 10 Drinks to Relieve Stress
  • Overview.
  • Water.
  • Lemon Balm Tea.
  • Chamomile Tea.
  • Warm Milk.
  • Tart Cherry Juice.
  • Kava Tea.
  • Green Tea.
12 May 2018

What fruit is good for stress? ›

Citrus fruit.

Oranges, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are a great way to get your vitamin C, which studies show reduces stress levels. Plus, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts your immune system. Have an orange in the afternoon for a calming and nourishing snack.

What food calms down? ›

Foods naturally rich in magnesium may, therefore, help a person to feel calmer. Examples include leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard. Other sources include legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Foods rich in zinc such as oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks have been linked to lowered anxiety.

What does high cortisol feel like? ›

Some of the most common signs of high cortisol levels include: weight gain — particularly around your stomach, upper back, and face. fatigue. getting sick often.

What part of the brain controls stress and anxiety? ›

The amygdala is responsible for the expression of fear and aggression as well as species-specific defensive behavior, and it plays a role in the formation and retrieval of emotional and fear-related memories. (Fig. 2 depicts the amygdala's involvement in fear circuitry).

Can stress cause physical pain? ›

Stress can cause your muscles to tense up — and over time, that can lead to pain and soreness in virtually any part of the body. The most common stress-related aches and pains are in the neck, back, and shoulders.

Is honey good for anxiety? ›

Honey and Anxiety

Its magical properties relieve you from anxiety and stress, and gives you complete peace of mind. Honey is good for anxiety and is the easiest way you can throw anxiety and stress out of your body. Honey for anxiety is better than eating various kind of medications prescribed by doctors.

Is coffee good for anxiety? ›

But, drinking coffee can make anxiety symptoms worse. Research shows that in people with panic disorder, caffeine consumption raises the risk of having a panic attack and increases levels of anxiety. People with anxiety should consider avoiding or limiting coffee and other caffeinated drinks.

How do you keep your mind calm and peaceful? ›

How to Quiet Your Mind
  1. Breathe. 1/14. We do this all the time, but to use your breathing to find stillness, be more careful and conscious about it. ...
  2. Watch Fish Swim. 2/14. ...
  3. Exercise. 3/14. ...
  4. Listen to Music. 4/14. ...
  5. Help Someone. 5/14. ...
  6. Go Outdoors. 6/14. ...
  7. Progressive Muscle Relaxation. 7/14. ...
  8. Hang Out With a Dog. 8/14.
4 Nov 2020

What are 3 alarming signs of stress? ›

Warnings signs of stress in adults may include:
  • Crying spells or bursts of anger.
  • Difficulty eating.
  • Losing interest in daily activities.
  • Increasing physical distress symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains.
  • Fatigue.
  • Feeling guilty, helpless, or hopeless.
  • Avoiding family and friends.
16 May 2022

What are 7 warning signs of stress? ›

What are the warning signs and symptoms of emotional stress?
  • Heaviness in your chest, increased heart rate or chest pain.
  • Shoulder, neck or back pain; general body aches and pains.
  • Headaches.
  • Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling tired, anxious, depressed.
29 Dec 2020

What happens when you stress too much? ›

Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

What are 8 physical signs of stress? ›

Physical symptoms of stress include:
  • Aches and pains.
  • Chest pain or a feeling like your heart is racing.
  • Exhaustion or trouble sleeping.
  • Headaches, dizziness or shaking.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Muscle tension or jaw clenching.
  • Stomach or digestive problems.
  • Trouble having sex.
28 Jan 2021

What is the number 1 symptom of stress? ›

Feeling overwhelmed, as if you are losing control or need to take control. Having a hard time relaxing and quieting your mind. Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), and feeling lonely, worthless, and depressed. Avoiding others.

What parts of the body can stress affect? ›

Stress affects all systems of the body including the musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous, and reproductive systems. Our bodies are well equipped to handle stress in small doses, but when that stress becomes long-term or chronic, it can have serious effects on your body.

What illnesses can be caused by stress? ›

10 Health Problems Related to Stress
  • Heart disease. Researchers have long suspected that the stressed-out, type A personality has a higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. ...
  • Asthma. ...
  • Obesity. ...
  • Diabetes. ...
  • Headaches. ...
  • Depression and anxiety. ...
  • Gastrointestinal problems. ...
  • Alzheimer's disease.
1 Apr 2014

What are cognitive symptoms of stress? ›

Cognitive: Anxious thoughts, fearful anticipation, poor concentration, difficulty with memory. Emotional: Feelings of tension, irritability, restlessness, worries, inability to relax, depression.

How do doctors test stress levels? ›

The test itself is simple: A nurse or lab technician will use a needle to take a blood sample from a vein in your arm. Your results will show the level of cortisol in your blood at the time of the test. Your doctor will tell you if yours falls in the normal range.

What does stress do to the brain? ›

Stress Shrinks the Brain

While the overall volume of the brain tends to remain about the same, it has been found that chronic stress in otherwise healthy individuals can cause areas of the brain associated with emotions, metabolism, and memory to shrink.

Can stress cause weird symptoms? ›

Stress can cause pain, tightness or soreness in your muscles, as well as spasms of pain. It can lead to flare-ups of symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia and other conditions because stress lowers your threshold for pain.

How does stress affect the heart? ›

Stress can increase inflammation in your body, which in turn is linked to factors that can harm your heart, such as high blood pressure and lower “good” HDL cholesterol, Blaha says. But chronic stress can also affect your heart in a more indirect way. When you're worried, you tend to sleep poorly.

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