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Stressed? Look out for these signs and symptoms

11 January 2019

Mental health
Psychologist Paul Loseby identifies some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress.

The signs and symptoms of stress can be different for everyone and you may experience one or more of these symptoms at once.

Signs of stress can be displayed physically, cognitively, emotionally or behaviourally.

Physical signs of stress

  • Sleep disturbance (insomnia, sleeping fitfully)
  • Clenched jaw
  • Grinding teeth
  • Digestive upsets
  • Feeling as if you have a lump in your throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Agitated behaviour, such as twiddling your fingers
  • Increased heart rate
  • General restlessness
  • Sense of muscle tension in your body, or actual muscle twitching
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Hyperventilating
  • Sweaty palms and/or feet
  • Stumbling over words
  • High blood pressure
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal problems (stomach pain, constipation or diarrhoea)
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • A change in sex drive
  • Shaking and feeling cold

Cognitive signs of stress

  • Mental slowness
  • Confusion
  • General negative attitudes or thoughts
  • Constant worry
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty thinking in a logical sequence
  • The sense that life is overwhelming; you can’t problem-solve
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Disorganization
  • Poor judgement

Emotional signs of stress

  • Feeling irritable, angry, sad or depressed
  • Frustration
  • Moodiness
  • Feeling overworked
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of helplessness
  • Apathy

Behavioural signs of stress

  • Decreased contact with family and friends
  • Poor work relations
  • Sense of loneliness
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Avoiding others
  • Failing to set aside times for relaxation through activities such as hobbies, music, art or reading
  • Change in eating habits – eating less/ eating more
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes

What to do if stress is overwhelming you

Stress can impact your health in many ways, so it is important to develop positive coping mechanisms to manage the stress in your life.

Read about some of the most helpful techniques that I recommend, or you can also seek help through our community mental health services.

St John of God Health Care
Paul Loseby - Manager Youth Services WA
Paul Loseby is the St John of God Health Care Social Outreach Youth Services WA Manager with over 16 years experience as a psychologist, working with individuals, couples, and groups.