Physical Symptoms of Stress

The physical symptoms of stress are numerous.

Yes, stress can affect your cholesterol levels and your cardiovascular health.

An Ohio State University study discovered that stress slows the body's metabolism of triglycerides, a type of fat linked to cardiovascular system disorders, including heart attacks. By slowing the metabolism of triglycerides, stress allows the fat to remain in the blood longer, a factor that may speed up atherosclerosis development.

According to WebMD:

  • 75-90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

  • 43% of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress

  • Stress is linked to six of the leading causes of death:

    1. Heart Disease
    2. Cancer
    3. Lung Ailments
    4. Accidents
    5. Cirrhosis of the Liver
    6. Suicide

Sources of Stress

Stress can come from a variety of sources:

  • Work-Related Stress

  • Financial Pressures

  • Too Much to Do, Not Enough Time

  • Marital Conflict

  • Family Dysfunction

  • Too Many Changes Happening at the Same Time

Effects of Stress

The American Institute of Stress indicates that individuals may have both emotional as well as physical symptoms of stress. Below is a list of 52 of the most common emotional and physical symptoms of stress:

  1. Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
  2. Gritting, grinding teeth
  3. Stuttering or stammering
  4. Tremors, trembling of lips, hands
  5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
  6. Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
  7. Ringing, buzzing or "popping sounds
  8. Frequent blushing, sweating
  9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet
  10. Dry mouth, problems swallowing
  11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
  12. Rashes, itching, hives, "goose bumps"
  13. Unexplained or frequent "allergy" attacks
  14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
  15. Excess belching, flatulence
  16. Constipation, diarrhea
  17. Difficulty breathing, sighing
  18. Sudden attacks of panic
  19. Chest pain, palpitations
  20. Frequent urination
  21. Poor sexual desire or performance
  22. Excess anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness
  23. Increased anger, frustration, hostility
  24. Depression, frequent or wild mood swings
  25. Increased or decreased appetite
  26. Increased anger, frustration, hostility
  27. Increased or decreased appetite
  28. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams
  29. Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts
  30. Trouble learning new information
  31. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion
  32. Difficulty in making decisions.
  33. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed.
  34. Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
  35. Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness
  36. Little interest in appearance, punctuality
  37. Nervous habits, fidgeting, feet tapping
  38. Increased frustration, irritability, edginess
  39. Overreaction to petty annoyances
  40. Increased number of minor accidents
  41. Obsessive or compulsive behavior
  42. Reduced work efficiency or productivity
  43. Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
  44. Rapid or mumbled speech
  45. Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness
  46. Problems in communication, sharing
  47. Social withdrawal and isolation
  48. Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
  49. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs
  50. Weight gain or loss without diet
  51. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use
  52. Excessive gambling or impulse buying

Stress Relief

Stress relief is available. There are some healthy ways to cope with stress. For example:

  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet.

  • Don't overeat.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.

  • Don't use nicotine, cocaine, or other recreational drugs.

  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques like guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, or meditation.

  • Try biofeedback, using a certified professional to get you started.

  • Take breaks from work.

  • Make sure to balance fun activities with your responsibilities.

  • Spend time with people you enjoy.


Kivimäki Mika, Leino-Arjas Päivi, Luukkonen Ritva, Riihimäki Hilkka, Vahtera Jussi, Kirjonen Juhani. Work Stress and Risk of Cardiovascular Mortality: Prospective Cohort Study of Industrial Employees. British Medical Journal, 2002; 325:857 [Abstract/Free Full Text].

Chandola T, Brunner E, Marmot M. Chronic stress at work and the metabolic syndrome: prospective study. British Medical Journal, 2006; 332:521-525 [Abstract/Free Full Text].

Related Links

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This page was last updated on 11/1/06.