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Stress, Health Problems of Stress, Signs & Symptoms and Causes of Stress

What is stress?

In simple words, stress is the response our body produce against uncomfortable situations –be it concrete or non-concrete situations, real or perceived situations. Our body can handle minor short term stress but not the long term (chronic) one. Long term stress usually results in ill-consequences.

When we respond to stress, some biologic events occur in the body. These include increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, faster respiratory rate (breathing) and tightening of muscles. Heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate constitute vital signs in human medicine and together with muscle movements are important biologic events that occur regularly in the body. The longer the upset of these biologic events, the higher the risk of ill-health.

Although not all stress is bad. Having to force yourself to hurriedly halt your movement to avoid an accidental collision with another person or an object is a good one.

Some Health Problems: 

  • Depression
  • Sleep disorder
  • Hypertension
  • Cognitive(reasoning) problems
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease, stroke
  • Weight problems
  • Memory problems
  • Pains (chest pain, back pain, etc.)
  • Headache
signs and symptoms of stress

(Photo: HelpGuide)

Signs and Symptoms

Stress can affect any aspect of one’s life, including our emotions, behaviours, physical health and reasoning ability (cognition). It symptoms may vary from person to person because we react differently to stressors.

Emotional Symptoms:

  • Depressionn
  • Feeling sad
  • Easily upset/angered
  • Anxiety/fear/agitation
  • Bad mood & Frustrated
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loneliness & isolation

Behavioural Symptoms:

  • Increased use of alcohol, cigarettes or drugs.
  • Showing more or less appetite for food.
  • Displaying nervous related behaviours e.g. chewing of nail.
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities.
  • Sleep more or less than normal.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate, chest pain
  • Low energy, constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
  • Rapid/mumbled speech
  • Constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pain
  • Social withdrawal/isolation from people
  • Headache, pains, aches, tense muscles
  • Loss of sexual desire/ability
  • Nausea, dizziness.

Cognitive Symptoms:

  • Memory problems
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor concentration
  • Constant worrying
  • Tend to See more of negative than positive
Causes of stress

(Credit: Jobs in Scotland)


Stress is a part of life. The cuases are also called stressors. Knowledge of stressors can help to minimise exposure to avoidable ones. This may help to prevent the health problems.

Stressors are the factors, situations or pressures that cause stress. They are classified under external and internal stressors.

External causes:

  • Family problems
  • Economic meltdown/recession
  • Financial problem e.g. debt
  • Joblessness/unemployment
  • Illness/ailment
  • Travel in bad road traffic
  • Standing too long in queue
  • Noisy neighbourhood
  • Overcrowding
  • Crisis, Crime, War
  • Crisis in or abusive relationship
  • Pollution e.g. air
  • Oppression from superiors, gang members
  • Childlessness
  • Raising kids with challenging behaviours
  • Conflicts, e.g. in workplaces
  • Abortion, Miscarriage
  • Being homeless
  • Failed expectation or disappointment

Internal causes:

  • Constant worry
  • Negative self-talk or low self esteem
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Rigid thinking
  • ‘Do or die’ kind of attitude

Read also: Eight Ways to Manage Stress Effectively

                                   Author: Peter A. Aroniyo


1. Mayo Clinic

Stress, Health Problems of Stress, Signs & Symptoms and Causes of Stress
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