Excessive stress can result in a variety of mental, behavioral, and even physical manifestations. Within people, the signs of stress are somewhat different.
Specific somatic (physical) symptoms frequently reported by those with excess stress include:
- Sleep disruptions or changes in sleep behavior
- Muscle pain or muscle tension
- Body aches
- Stomach complaints and fatigue
Emotional and behavioral signs that may follow increased stress include:
- Changes in eating habits, including overeating or undereating
- Lack of excitement or motivation
- Changes in mood, such as irritability and depression.
None of these signs or symptoms indicates a definite increased level of stress because any of these effects may be triggered by certain physiological and/or psychiatric disorders.
It is also recognized that people under stress are more likely to indulge in risky habits, such as heavy alcohol and substance consumption or violence.
These unhealthy habits may increase the frequency of stress triggers, often leading to a “vicious loop” of symptoms and unhealthy behaviors.
Individual effects of stress
Stress perception and effects are strongly individualized. What causes excessive stress may not be viewed by others as stress. Likewise, each person’s symptoms and signs of poorly controlled stress can vary.