3 Types of Stress

by Leaza Norman
3 types of stress

Stress is a feeling we get when we are struggling with change or trying to cope with new challenges. These challenges can range from finances, work, relationships, family matters and more. Stress is a feeling that we perceive. Whether it is reality or not, only we can decide that. It is the body’s natural defense against the real or perceived dangers in our environment.

When we feel threatened, our body is flushed with chemicals that help prepare us for a flight or fight response called cortisol and adrenaline. Our bodies can’t tell the difference of what is real or life threatening, but it releases these chemicals either way.

Each type of stress needs to be dealt with in a specific manner due to the fact that each type of stress and it’s symptoms are different. Stress also needs to be dealt differently when personality, environment, lifestyle, coping resources and developmental history of each individual is different.

None the less, there are 3 main types of stress. Acute stress, episodic stress and chronic stress. Each one has it’s own symptoms that categorize them appropriately. So let’s dive in! 

Acute Stress

Acute stress is usually brief and is the most common type of stress. It is mainly caused by over thinking and over analyzing certain situations that we are faced with in our lives. We tend to think negatively about recent events or upcoming events or demands in our near future such as a big presentation, a sudden lifestyle change or work or school deadlines.

When the event passes, the stress tends to disappear as well. While the stress is present, however, they can cause a great deal of mental and physical symptoms on the body. These symptoms can be present in anyone of our lives at any given time. Good news is that it is highly manageable and often times, short term. 

Symptoms of Acute Stress

Acute stress can cause short term emotional distress. These feelings could include or be a combination of anger, irritability, anxiety and even depression.

Acute stress can affect our muscles leading to tension in various parts of our body and can lead to actual pain. We can get pain in our neck, back and jaw just to name a few. This muscle tension can lead to other problems such as pulled muscles and tendons and ligament problems.

Often times, with acute stress, we can also get short term stomach problems such as gut and bowel problems, acid reflex, constipation, flatulence, heartburn and diarrhea. We can also feel elevated blood pressure, experience rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and migraines. We can even experience chest pin, shortness of breath and poor sleeping habits. 

symptoms of acute stress

Episodic Acute Stress

Episodic acute stress is found in people who experience acute stress frequently or who live with frequent stress triggers of stress. It may even affect people who live in a life of chaos and crisis. There are 2 main types of personality traits associated with episodic acute stress. The first is personality and the second is the worrier.

Type A- Personality

A person who is excessively competitive, impatient, a continuous sense of time urgency and/or aggressiveness tends to suffer from type-A episodic acute stress. People with this personality often times are strict about performance and can respond with hostility. These type of traits can create frequent episodes of acute stress.

Type B- The Worrier

The worrier has core beliefs that the world is dangerous and unrewarding. They think about probable disasters and negatively forecast of catastrophe in almost every situation. The non-stop negative thoughts cause episodic acute stress on you mentally and physically. Worriers are more or less tense and anxious rather than angry and aggressive.

symptoms of episodic stress

Symptoms of Episodic Acute Stress

Suffers of episodic acute stress often times experience emotional distress. This emotional distress can cause anger or irritability, impatience, tend to be short tempered, and can experience anxiety and depression. They can suffer from cognitive distress and can have issues concentrating and compromised processing speed and learning abilities. They can have issues remembering things and can suffer from mental fatigue.

Muscle tension can be present in those suffering from episodic acute stress which can cause pain in the back, jaw and neck that can lead to pulled muscles, tendons and ligament problems. They can experience stomach, gut and bowel issues, heartburn, sweaty palms and heart palpitations as well as migraines, insomnia, and chest pains. Dealing with stress can also cause immune system compromises and can lead to frequent colds, flu, allergies, asthma and other immune system compromise illness. 

Chronic Stress

Chronic stress is the most harmful type of stress and if left untreated for long periods of time, it can cause significant and irreversible damage mentally and physically. It can stem from prolonged trauma dating back to childhood. Traumas such as repeated abuse of any form, unemployment, long-term poverty, dysfunctional family, unhappy marriages, poor working conditions and substance abuse.

Suffers often times feel a sense of hopelessness and feel as though they can’t escape their stress and eventually give up on finding a solution to their pain. In this sense, people who suffer from chronic stress have the stress ingrained in their behavior, actions and emotions. The stress becomes part of them and they have slowly adapted to living with the stress that is in their life.

The wear and tear on their bodies’ month after month and year after year can break down their bodies and their mentality. Being stressed out for such a long period of time can be hazardous and the mental breakdown can lead to suicide, strokes, heart attacks, homicide, violent actions and psychosis.  

causes of chronic stress

Symptoms of Chronic Stress

The symptoms of chronic stress are the same as the other types of stress, just more on a chronic and severe level. The symptoms last longer and may even be harder to manage. Most suffers of chronic stress don’t even realize they have chronic stress due to the adaptation of the stress over extended period of time.

Summing It Up

Everyone has experienced some sort of stress in their life at one point of time or another. Some may have experienced stress on a larger scale than others and have even experienced different symptoms than others. Stress affects us differently but it a natural occurrence that happens in our body to help prepare us for the fight or flight response. Even though we may want it to, our bodies can’t tell the difference between real danger or perceived danger when it releases cortisol and adrenaline into our bodies.

Just know that you are not a lone when dealing with stress. There are ways to manage the symptoms as well as professionals that can help treat stress. It is important to know what kind of stress you may be dealing with so you can know what kind of methods and treatments are available to you.

Stay tuned for ways to help manage stress and more articles like this. 

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The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. Self Verve is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. Be sure to contact your physician before trying any of the items stated in the above article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Self Verve does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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