Consequences of Stress Psychological, Physiological and Behavioral Symptoms

30/08/2020 1 By indiafreenotes


The Physiological effects of stress are not always obvious to others, but they can be just as serious as the physical symptoms of stress, of they are not addressed. It can affect your relationships, your productivity at work, and even your ability to function normally.

Physiological symptoms that can be related to stress include illnesses such as strokes, backaches, headaches, ulcers and heart disease. Backaches are the body’s reaction to preparing for fight or flight. Headaches are from the constriction of muscles in the neck and head due to stress.


Physiological stress can include illnesses such as strokes, backaches, headaches, ulcers and heart disease. Psychological symptoms, such as burnout, rust-out, psychosomatic issues or depression, are also caustic to work environments. Sometimes, these changes are associated with anxiety, mood swings and feelings of distress. Thus menopause can be a stressor in and of itself. Some of the physical changes associated with menopause, especially hot flashes, can be difficult to cope with. Furthermore, emotional distress may cause the physical symptoms to be worse.

In psychology, stress is a feeling of emotional strain and pressure. Stress is a type of psychological pain. Small amounts of stress may be desired, beneficial, and even healthy. Positive stress helps improve athletic performance. It also plays a factor in motivation, adaptation, and reaction to the environment. Excessive amounts of stress, however, may lead to bodily harm. Stress can increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, ulcers, and mental illnesses such as depression and also aggravation of a pre-existing condition.

General adaptive syndrome occurs in three stages:

  • The alarm reaction. This stage occurs when the stressor is first presented. The body begins to gather resources to deal with the stressor. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and sympathetic nervous system are activated, resulting in the release of hormones from the adrenal gland such as cortisol, adrenaline (epinephrine), and norepinephrine into the bloodstream to adjust bodily processes. These hormonal adjustments increase energy levels, increase muscle tension, reduce sensitivity to pain, slow down the digestive system, and cause a rise in blood pressure. In addition, the Locus coeruleus, a collection of Norepinephrine-containing neurons in the pons of the brainstem whose axons project to various regions of the brain, is involved in releasing Norepinephrine directly onto neurons. High levels of Norepinephrine acting as a neurotransmitter on its receptors expressed on neurons in brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex is thought to be involved in the effects of stress on executive functions, such as impaired working memory.
  • The stage of resistance. The body continues building up resistance throughout the stage of resistance, until either the body’s resources are depleted, leading to the exhaustion phase, or the stressful stimulus is removed. As the body uses up more and more of its resources people become increasingly tired and susceptible to illness. This stage is where psychosomatic disorders first begin to appear.
  • The stage of exhaustion. The body is completely drained of the hormones and resources it was depending on to manage the stressor. The person now begins to exhibit behaviors such as anxiety, irritability, avoidance of responsibilities and relationships, self-destructive behavior, and poor judgment. If someone is experiencing these symptoms they have a much greater chance of lashing out, damaging relationships, or avoiding social interaction at all.

Behavioural Symtptoms

Behavioural Stress are observed in the form of sudden or unexpected changes in an individual. The earlier you spot stress, the easier it is to rectify the situation.

Some symptoms are observed such as:

  1. Sleeping difficulties: There are multiple ways where they get irritated due to sleeping difficulties. Break-up, missing ex, Toxic Relationships, overworking end up with sleepless nights. Therefore we find it difficult to sleep with some peace of mind. Nowadays, our generation is phone lovers where 24*7 they are busy in social apps and selfie which end up with sleep difficulties.
  2. Lack of Punctuality: Many people get affected by lack of being perfect on time. This not only helps them to come lack but effects to their own performance due to their own behaviour.
  3. Withdrawal: Sometimes we get tired from the pains what we go through. And if the same pain we see every time, we prefer to withdraw from the situation.
  4. Exhaustion: Tiredness, overworking gives exhaustion. Just like, a car engine needs some time to cool, the same way our body and mind needs to cool down. If we work continuously, without taking some rest, we can land up with exhaustion.
  5. Risk-taking behaviour: There is no Risk, there is no Gain. We often believe this proverb, but we have not realise that we don’t give importance to our health. Therefore, Risk taking behaviour also includes Stress.
  6. Unhealthy eating habits: Eating Frankie’s, Pastas, Burgers, Soft Drinks, etc are the unhealthy eating habits. It’s ok to consume once a week but on regular route, it causes weight gain and other diseases.

Some other Behavioural symptoms of stress include:

  • Changes in appetite either not eating or eating too much
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing

Social impact


When someone is stressed, many challenges can arise; a recognized challenge being communication difficulties. Here are some examples of how stress can hinder communication.

The cultures of the world generally fall into two categories; individualistic and collectivistic.

  • An individualistic culture, like that of the United States, where everyone is an independent entity defined by their accomplishments and goals.
  • A collectivistic culture, like that of many Asian countries, prefers to see individuals as interdependent on each other. They value modesty and family.

These cultural differences can affect how people communicate when they are stressed. For example, a member of an individualistic culture would be hesitant to ask for pain medication for fear of being perceived as weak. A member of a collectivistic culture would not hesitate. They have been brought up in a culture where everyone helps each other and is one functional unit whereas the member of the individualistic culture is not as comfortable asking others for aid.

Language barriers

Language barriers can cause stress by making people feel uncomfortable because differences in syntax, vocabulary, different ways of showing respect, and different use of body language can make things difficult, and along with a desire for successful social interactions, being uncomfortable with the communication around a person can discourage them from communicating at all.

The System 1 – System 2 model of Daniel Kahneman (Thinking Fast and Slow) and others would distinguish between automatic responses, such as one’s native language would be, and a foreign language that required System 2 work to translate. System 2 can become “depleted” by conscious mental effort, making it more difficult and stressful.

Changes in the home

Divorce, death, and remarriage are all disruptive events in a household. Although everyone involved is affected by events such as these, it can be most drastically seen in children. Due to their age, children have relatively undeveloped coping skills. For this reason a stressful event may cause some changes in their behavior. Falling in with a new crowd, developing some new and sometimes undesirable habits are just some of the changes stress may trigger in their lives.

A particularly interesting response to stress is talking to an imaginary friend. A child may feel angry with a parent or their peers who they feel brought this change on them. They need someone to talk to but it definitely would not be the person with whom they are angry. That is when the imaginary friend comes in. They “talk” to this imaginary friend but in doing so they cut off communication with the real people around them.