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Causes and Effects of Stress

Anything that brings on feelings of stress is called a stressor. Today, people often face many stressors. Read on to find out how stress affects you and how you can gain control.

Woman in office looking stressed.

Your body’s response to stress

When you’re faced with stress, certain chemicals (hormones) in your body are released. These hormones trigger many changes in your body. For instance, your:

  • Blood pressure may rise

  • Heart may pound

  • Muscles may tighten

  • Stomach may become tense

  • Concentration may get worse

  • Forgetfulness may get worse


Stressors may include:

  • Adapting to constant, rapid change

  • Worrying about your finances or the economy

  • Handling a major life event, such as changing jobs, marriage, divorce, death of a loved one, or moving to a new home

  • Handling more than 1 major life event at the same time. For instance, dealing with a family illness while changing jobs

  • Juggling many roles and responsibilities, such as spouse or life partner, parent, friend, employee, and caregiver for aging parents

  • Going from 1 challenging situation to the next without taking time to relax

  • Being overwhelmed by technology. For instance, keeping up with cellphone messages, e-mails, and text messages.

The long-term effects of stress

If you’re often under stress, you need to learn to manage it well. Stress can affect your well-being. Over time, you may show some of these symptoms of being stressed:

  • Physical. Frequent colds or flu, headaches, trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, muscle tension, skin problems, trouble with digestion

  • Mental. Poor concentration, forgetfulness, learning problems, frequent negative thoughts, speech problems

  • Emotional. Anxiety, depression, anger, irritability, feelings of helplessness, lack of purpose, relationship troubles

  • Behavioral. Eating poorly, driving recklessly, abusing alcohol or drugs, being accident prone, showing aggression

If you don't feel you're managing the stressors in your life well, get help from your healthcare provider or a mental health provider. There are many effective strategies that can help you adjust your environment and get your stress level under better control.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Paul Ballas MD
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2021
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