Stress: causes, symptoms, treatment, types and prevention

It may seem strange, but stress is a natural response of the body. In fact, it is necessary for the activities to be carried out, alerting the body about possible threats or risks.

So the problem with stress is when it ceases to be a necessary mechanism and starts to be surplus. These are the cases that people usually complain about, because tiredness , mental exhaustion, muscle and headaches, in addition to other symptoms can occur.

What is stress?

Stress is an organism’s response (physical or mental) to an event of extreme or important effort, usually when it feels threatened or under pressure. This response releases a series of chemical reactions in your body, which causes physiological reactions.

The organism undergoes several types of changes during our daily lives; this happens whenever the brain understands some activity as threatening or that causes pressure, called General Syndrome of Adaptation to Stress.

These changes in the organisms can be very positive, for example: if someone is experiencing periods of pressure at work, the brain perceives and responds with changes that will help the individual to complete their activities efficiently.

However, if the pressure persists for a long time, the beneficial changes become harmful, manifesting themselves in the body in pathological ways and with symptoms such as headaches and stomach pains.

Stress can be difficult to recognize and appear through sensations such as fear, discomfort, worry, irritation, frustration, indignation and nervousness.

In addition, it also produces physical changes, such as an accelerated heart, contracted muscles, high blood pressure, short breathing and clearer senses.

Any situation, whether good or bad, when it causes changes in the body, is a source of stress.

What is chronic stress?

Chronic stress is characterized when the condition is prolonged and persistent. Thus, it occurs on a daily basis, but in ways not as intense as acute stress. Thus, most people affected by stressors deal with it routinely.

The condition does not always evolve rapidly to mental exhaustion, which often causes the affected person to take time to understand the situation or not to seek treatment.

What types of stress?

There are some types of stress, classified according to the origin or triggering stimuli, which are called stressors or stressors. These stressors can be classified in several different ways:

Critical stressors

They are generated by events, good or bad, that require profound restructuring in the individual’s life, causing long-lasting affective-emotional reactions.

Examples of these events are weddings, childbirth, accidents, sudden changes in lifestyle or routine, among others.

Traumatic stressors

Caused by events that exceed the individual’s ability to adapt, causing trauma, such as emotional shocks and social problems.

Daily stressors

These are day-to-day events, such as health problems, acceptance problems, transient nervousness, work problems in general, relationship problems, sleep problems, among others.

Read more: What are the causes and symptoms of sleep paralysis?

Chronic stressors

They are developed by events that extend over a long period, causing repeated experiences of stress such as unemployment or overwork, or occasional situations with lasting consequences, such as stress resulting from divorce problems, mental illnesses and chronic illnesses such as lupus, diabetes, hypertension , cholesterol, and certain types of cancers.

Causes of stress

There are several items that can be the cause of stress or a stressful event, see:


Some medications can develop or worsen stress symptoms, such as:

  • Inhaler drugs used to treat asthma;
  • Thyroid medications;
  • Some diet pills;
  • Some cold remedies.

Products with caffeine, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco can also cause or worsen symptoms. When symptoms occur frequently, the individual may experience anxiety disorders.


Stress can also be related to some diseases such as:

  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD);
  • Acute stress disorder;
  • Burnout syndrome;
  • Panic Syndrome;
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • Depression.

Symptoms: what does stress cause in the body?

Stress, although not the cause of serious problems, triggers some of these problems, because when the reduction of the body’s immune system affects a more vulnerable individual, symptoms can arise, such as:

  • Feeling of constant wear and tear;
  • Sleep alteration (too much or too little sleep);
  • Muscle tension;
  • Tingling;
  • Change of appetite;
  • Mood changes;
  • Lack of interest in things;
  • Problems with concentration, attention and memory;
  • Weak judgment;
  • Accelerated thoughts;
  • Excessive and constant concerns;
  • Pains;
  • Constipation or diarrhea;
  • Nausea and dizziness;
  • Chest pain;
  • Loss of libido;
  • Procrastination;
  • Consume alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax;
  • “Nervous” habits, like biting your nails.

Stress can also trigger some diseases, such as:

  • Skin problems;
  • Heart problems;
  • Gastrointestinal problems;
  • Hypertension;
  • Anxiety;
  • Depression;
  • Frequent colds;
  • Allergies;
  • Asthma;
  • Migraine;
  • Abnormal hair loss;
  • Infections;
  • Ulcer;
  • Infarction ;
  • Leakage;
  • Vitiligo;
  • Psoriasis;
  • Herpes;
  • Panic attacks.

Read more: Tripophobia: what it is, symptoms and causes

When the individual suffering from stress is not emotionally healthy, a vicious cycle of imbalance is maintained, that is, the individual is unable to return to his normal state, remaining stressed.

In such cases, the individual may experience symptoms such as:

  • Dissatisfaction with life;
  • Social isolation;
  • Tiredness;
  • Weight gain or loss;
  • Headaches;
  • Agitation;
  • Fever;
  • Sadness;
  • Bad mood;
  • Insomnia;
  • Concentration failures;
  • Anguish;
  • Low productivity;
  • Irritation;
  • Fear;
  • Difficulty making decisions;
  • Forgetfulness;
  • Sensation of loss of control.


If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek the help of a doctor for a complete diagnosis, as these symptoms can also be caused by other medical and psychological problems.

Specialists such as general practitioner, otolaryngologist, psychiatrist and psychologist can help with your diagnosis.

Reaching an appointment with the right information can facilitate the diagnosis, such as:

  • All the symptoms suffered and how long ago they appeared;
  • Medical history with other conditions the patient has and medications he takes regularly.

If possible, take a companion to the appointment.

Treatment for stress

Treatment for stress focuses on three approaches:

Managing stressors

This approach requires identifying the stressors that weigh the most on the patient, so that, then, it is possible to eliminate, manage or leave it for later, respecting the limits of each individual.

For the approach to be effective, it is necessary to learn to say no, negotiate and prioritize health, because if we do not rest properly our capacities will be affected.

Increase resistance to stressors

In this case, it is necessary to keep our organism healthy and in a better condition to face the challenges. For that it is necessary:

  • Sleep well;
  • Take care of health;
  • Eat healthy;
  • Do physical activities;
  • Allow yourself to have moments of pleasure and relaxation;
  • Avoid stimulants and toxic substances.

Changing the way you face the stressor

This occurs when you cannot change the stressor or eliminate it. Thus, it is necessary for the patient to adapt to them. For example, in the case of external stressors, if the problem is traffic, try alternative routes, leave early, or try to relax with music.

When stressors are internal, more work is needed and the best way to deal with them is through psychotherapy. A psychologist may be the best specialist to help you.

There are no remedies to treat stress, but there are some types of effective treatments. The most common are:

  • Psychotherapy;
  • Relaxation practices;
  • Physical exercises;
  • Restructuring of emotional aspects;
  • Good nutrition;
  • Alternative therapies;
  • Medical treatments.

Living together

Stress is normal and everyone goes through it. It can even be beneficial, because it is what makes us go after what we want and need with some degree of satisfaction.

However, when it remains for a long time, or becomes excessive, it becomes harmful.

Therefore, we can understand that living with stress only becomes a problem when it is excessive and, with the right treatments, living in society can be normal again.

To relieve stress, the patient can try some of these tips:

  • Work out! Try to start with a walk, it is the best way to relieve stress;
  • Writing down what bothers you can help you feel more relieved;
  • Expressing feelings, keeping them to yourself is almost never beneficial;
  • Finding a hobby, doing something you enjoy can help you relax;
  • Learning how to relax the body, can include breathing exercises, massage, yoga, among other methods;
  • Focusing on the now, this can occur with meditation, hypnosis, listening to calm music and even laughing.

Stress prevention

Preventions for stress are entirely related to treatments. Changing small habits, such as breathing and day-to-day changes, can help prevent excessive stress.

Some factors that can help you avoid stress are:

  • Eat in a balanced way;
  • Practice physical activities;
  • Change the way we position ourselves on a daily basis (a better posture);
  • Try to laugh more;
  • Having sex;
  • Sleep better;
  • Breathe right;
  • Self encourage yourself;
  • Use your cell phone less;
  • Learn new ways to make the most of your time;
  • Take care of yourself;
  • Change some ways of thinking;
  • Talk about your needs and concerns;
  • Ask for help.