Issue 42 Traumatic Stress

By David B Posen

How does stress show up for you?

How does stress show up for you?


Recognizing symptoms can help you detect stress in its early stage and manage it.

Each of us has our own galaxy of stress symptoms. For example, some people get low back pain, but they never get headaches. Others get headaches but not chest pains etc.

Stress shows up in our body in 4 ways: physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral.

Start to become aware of your own particular symptoms so that you can detect stress in its early stage. A detailed list of stress symptoms is included below.

Physical symptoms

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Clenching jaw, grinding teeth, facial twitching
  • Chest pain or tightness, palpitations, shortness of breath or air hunger
  • Nausea, vomiting, heartburn, indigestion, cramps, diarrhea, constipation
  • Shaking, trembling, tremor of hands, clenched fists
  • Agitated, restlessness, feeling hyper
  • Sleep disturbances - trouble falling asleep, disrupted sleep and/or early wakening
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Appetite loss, loss of interest in sex
  • Frequent colds, flu or respiratory infections
  • Increases in pre-existing conditions such as migraines, colitis, ulcer, asthma

Mental symptoms

  • Decrease in short term memory and increased forgetfulness
  • Loss of decisiveness
  • Decrease in sense of humor
  • Mind racing, drawing blanks or confusion

Emotional symptoms

  • Anxious, tense or nervous
  • Depressed, sad or unhappy
  • Fear, worry, pessimism
  • Irritable, impatient, angry, frustrated
  • Apathy, indifference, loss of motivation

Behavioral symptoms

  • Fidgeting, pacing, restlessness
  • Compulsive smoking, drinking, overeating
  • Nail biting, foot tapping, jiggling knees
  • Blaming, yelling, swearing
  • Crying, weeping, feeling on the verge of tears

Original article from WellnessOptions #40, 2010

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