Stress is a normal part of life and is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. 

This stress response, also known as the “fight or flight response”, is activated in case of an emergency. 

The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. The hypothalamus in the brain is the one that is responsible for detecting a stressor or perceiving a threat. It sends signals to the adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline hormones. Adrenaline increases the heart rate and supply of energy while cortisol boosts glucose concentration, the body’s source of fuel, in the bloodstream for energy.  

Prolonged activation of the stress response causes the body to constantly produce adrenaline and cortisol resulting in wear and tear on the body.


The different types of stresses are:

  1. Acute Stress

Acute stress is the stress that comes with day to day living such as the butterflies in the stomach due to an upcoming job interview or a huge occasion such as a wedding.

  1. Episodic Stress

Episodic stress is basically when a person gets overwhelmed by the number of things and when acute stress happens more frequently than it should. 

  1. Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is a stress that results from repeated exposure to situations that lead to release of stress hormones. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in the body and can cause serious health problems. It can suppress the immune system, upset digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, speed up the aging process and cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

What are the causes of stress?

Some of the common causes of stress are:

  1. Threat: A physical threat, social threat, a financial threat may make a person feel stressed.
  2. Fear: A fear can also lead a person to feel stressed. 
  3. Uncertainty: Unable to predict or control a situation can also result in stress.

What are the warning signs of stress?

Chronic stress can cause a number of psychological and physical symptoms.  

Psychological symptoms of stress can include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of confidence
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty with decision making
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Loneliness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Constantly fretting and worrying

Physical symptoms of stress can include: 

  • Muscle tension and pain especially around the neck, jaw, shoulders, and back
  • Constant feeling of tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle spasms
  • Indigestion
  • Decreased sexual function
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Racing heart, Chest pain
  • Cold and sweaty palms
  • Vulnerability to infections
  • Bad skin and hair loss
  • Nausea and dizziness
  • Infertility

What are the complications associated with stress?

Medical conditions that can occur as a result of chronic stress include: 

  • Heart diseases such as hypertension, arrhythmia, stroke, heart attack
  • Mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
  • Insomnia or sleeplessness
  • Menstrual problems
  • Hyperventilation
  • Indigestion, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome
  • The glucose in the bloodstream shoots up as the liver is forced to produce it. This can eventually lead to metabolic syndromes and type 2 diabetes.
  • Worsening skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, hair loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Recurrent cold and flu
  • Bulimia
  • Autoimmune disorders

What are the tips for reducing stress?

A person can learn to manage stress and lead happier, healthier lives with the following tips:

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga. They ease muscle tension and decrease feelings of anxiety.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthy, a well-balanced diet.
  • Learn to manage time more effectively.
  • Set aside time for hobbies and interests such as reading a book.
  • Get enough rest and sleep. Sleep helps the body to rest and relax. It also assists in suppressing appetite while increasing immunity and promoting better weight loss.
  • Seek out social support. 
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. These substances actually stimulate stress further instead of reducing it. 
  • Journaling can bring great insights and self-awareness and is also a highly effective stress management tool. 
  • Counselling or talk therapy can be of immense help if a person is highly stressed. 


ERemedium blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as advice or as a substitute for consulting a physician. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a healthcare professional.