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Signs, Symptoms

Physician developed and monitored.

Original Date of Publication: 08 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Karen Larson, M.D.,Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.
Last Reviewed: 18 Jun 2007

Original Source:

  • Symptoms of stress vary and can be physical or psychological
  • Physical symptoms of stress include pain, digestive problems, headache, and fatigue
  • Stress also can cause anger, sadness, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings
  • Sleep disorders, including sleepiness and insomnia, can be signs of stress

Home » Stress » Signs, Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of stress vary from person to person, and from situation to situation. Stress can cause physical, mental, and psychological signs and symptoms.

Symptoms of acute stress include the following:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Digestive problems (e.g., heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain)
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Sadness
  • Sleep disorders (e.g., insomnia, excessive sleepiness)

Symptoms of episodic stress may include all of the above plus headache (e.g., tension, migraine), heart disease, and high blood pressure (hypertension).

If untreated, chronic stress can affect all aspects of daily life, and cause severe physical (e.g., heart attack, stroke) and mental (e.g., depression) effects.

It can lead to serious health complications, including the following:

  • Chest pain, irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Immune system suppression (increases the risk for illness)
  • Indigestion, heartburn, upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain
  • Periodontal (tooth) disease, jaw pain
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Reproductive problems (e.g., irregular menstrual periods, chronic pelvic pain)
  • Weight gain or loss

Chronic stress can also increase the severity and frequency of headaches, including migraines; affect the length and severity of asthma attacks; and can affect blood sugar levels in patients who have diabetes. It is a major cause for missed days of work.

Stress, Signs, Symptoms reprinted with permission from
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