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Symptoms and Signs of Stress and Its Effects on the Body

Doctor's Notes on Stress and Its Effects on the Body

Stress can be caused by any type of physical, mental, or emotional strain or situation. Common causes of stress include social difficulties, financial problems, physical or mental illness, lack of social support networks, family problems, and a family history of stress,

Symptoms of stress may initially include anxiety, nervousness, being easily distracted, excessive worry, feeling internal pressure, and changes in sleep patterns. This can cause a person to seem self-absorbed, irritable, or angry.

When stress levels are high or chronic, more severe symptoms, including physical symptoms, may occur including fatigue, depression, thoughts of hurting yourself or others, headaches, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, chest pain or pressure, heart racing, dizziness, flushing, restlessness, shortness of breath, hyperventilation, or choking sensation. Most people can recover from stress symptoms when the stressor is removed or managed.

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.