Psychological Stress: Symptoms, Causes of Stress, Treatment & Types of Stress

Patient Awareness

Stress, a six-letter word dreaded by many, manifests in various situations, be it tense work interactions or familial pressures. It is a natural response to life challenges, impacting behavior, mood, and overall well-being. Nearly a third of adults feel overwhelmed by stress, with chronic stress posing health risks.

Jan 1
Dr Raj Patel
Uro-oncologist & Robotic Surgeon, Zydus Cancer Centre, Ahmedabad
Psychological Stress: Symptoms, Causes of Stress, Treatment & Types of Stress

Stress, in essence, is the body's reaction to demanding situations, affecting physical, emotional, and psychological aspects. How one manages stress significantly influences overall health. Recognizing stressors and adopting effective coping mechanisms can mitigate their adverse psychological stress effects

In this blog, you can explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments of psychological stress as well as their types.


What is a Psychological Stress?

Psychological stress definition includes an emotional response to external triggers that can lead to physiological changes in the body. This psychological stress effect involves the release of hormones like noradrenaline and cortisol, impacting both mental and physical well-being. 

People react to stress differently, and while some may find certain situations motivating, others may perceive them as stressful. Psychological stress becomes a concern when it interferes with an individual's health and overall well-being.


Causes of Stress

External Stressors (Triggers):

  • Financial stressors, such as insufficient funds for rent or mortgage
  • Parenting or family stressors, like caring for a sick child or parent
  • School or work stressors, such as upcoming exams or important presentations
  • Political stressors, associated with living in a divisive political climate
  • Health stressors, such as receiving news of a medical diagnosis
  • Pandemics or natural disasters
  • Community violence or war
  • Discrimination or harassment
  • Social pressures, like adhering to gender roles or cultural expectations

Internal Stressors:

  • Perfectionism
  • Negative self-talk
  • Rigid thinking

The impact of stressors and psychological stress causes can vary based on personality, coping skills, and available support, highlighting the subjective nature of stress experiences. 


Signs & Symptoms

When facing pressure, the body releases stress hormones, like epinephrine and norepinephrine, causing increased heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels for immediate threat response. The severity of psychological stress symptoms varies based on the cause and individual for example symptoms of stress in women.

Cognitive Effects

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Memory issues
  • Negative thoughts
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Worrying
  • Trouble making decisions

Emotional Symptoms

  • Changes in mood
  • Irritability
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling tense, anxious, or nervous
  • Unhappiness
  • Inability to relax

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Digestive problems (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue

Behavioral Changes

  • Eating or sleeping pattern changes
  • Withdrawing from social life
  • Nervous habits (fidgeting, nail-biting, teeth grinding)
  • Increased use of caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • Decrease in work or academic productivity


Types of Stress

Stress is a universal experience, but its nature varies. There are two primary types: Acute (Short-Term) Stress and Chronic (Long-Term) Stress

Acute Stress

  • Short-term and triggered by daily challenges or inconveniences.
  • The body's natural stress response is activated, but it dissipates once the stressor is addressed.
  • Examples include forgetting keys, running late, or facing unexpected obstacles.
  • Can be unpleasant but often leads to adaptive responses and heightened focus.

Chronic Stress

  • Long-term response to prolonged stressful events.
  • Stressors are persistent and challenging to resolve.
  • Examples include poverty, family dysfunction, ongoing abuse, chronic illness, caretaking, and toxic work environments.
  • Linked to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, depression, and negative physical health outcomes.


Treatment of Psychological Stress

Effective management and psychological stress treatment involves adopting diverse strategies tailored to individual preferences. While complete elimination of stressors is impractical, mitigating their impact is achievable through the following approaches:

Lifestyle Changes

  • Healthy Eating: Balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritize 7 hours of sleep per night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Regular Exercise: Aim for approximately 2.5 hours of exercise per week to lower stress levels.
  • Limit Alcohol: Moderate consumption or abstaining to avoid adverse health effects.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking exacerbates stress; quitting promotes overall well-being.

Relaxation Techniques

  • Gentle Exercise: Incorporate stretching or mild exercise.
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Release tension through systematic muscle relaxation.
  • Deep Breathing: Practice controlled breathing exercises.
  • Meditation or Mindfulness: Foster mental calmness and clarity.
  • Nature Breaks: Spend time outdoors for a calming effect.

Social Connection

  • Engage with Others: Share feelings and concerns with trusted friends or family members.

Therapeutic Interventions

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Understand and reframe thoughts influencing emotions and behaviors.
  • Professional Support: Consult mental health professionals for tailored interventions, including talk therapy or medication.

These comprehensive measures empower individuals to discover effective coping strategies and gradually alleviate the impact of psychological stress on their well-being.



Effectively mitigating psychological stress involves adopting proactive measures. Consider these preventative strategies in a concise pointer format:

  • Mindful Time Management
  • Healthy Boundaries
  • Social Support Network
  • Positive Self-Talk
  • Mindfulness Practices
  • Regular Physical Activity
  • Balanced Nutrition
  • Adequate Sleep

Implementing these measures can contribute to a proactive and resilient approach to managing psychological stress.

Psychological stress is a response to daily challenges, that impact emotional and physiological well-being. Addressed through lifestyle adjustments like exercise and relaxation, individuals can explore additional coping strategies or seek talk therapy for effective stress management.


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1. What is stress in psychology with examples?

Stress in psychology refers to the psychological and physiological response to external pressures or demands, with examples including work deadlines, academic exams, or significant life events.


2. What are the signs of psychological stress?

Signs of psychological stress may include rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, feeling overwhelmed, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, persistent thoughts about stressors, and changes in behavior.


3. How can I reduce my psychological stress?

To reduce psychological stress, consider preventive measures such as regular exercise, sufficient sleep, practicing relaxation techniques, seeking social support, and engaging in activities that bring joy and calmness into your routine.


4. How do I check my stress level?

To assess your stress level, pay attention to physical and emotional cues, track changes in sleep patterns, and mood swings, and consider using stress assessment tools or seeking professional guidance for a comprehensive evaluation.


5. Who suffers from stress the most?

Individuals with high workloads, those facing financial challenges, and people undergoing major life changes often experience elevated stress levels.