Posted by: Chelsea Hampton | April 9, 2012

Stress Awareness Month – Facts and Symptoms

We all experience stress from time to time – we have to, as it is part of the body’s natural alarm system. Thanks to the body’s stress-response system, we are better equipped to handle and respond to all kinds of threatening situations. In such situations, our response time quickens, every fiber of our being becomes intensely alert, and we become flooded with stress hormones that override our normal state of functioning when at rest. The whole process is actually quite amazing.

The health problems frequently associated with stress, however, begin to manifest when our stress-response system never gets a chance to “turn off” and allow the body to recover. Chronic and long-term stress can create many health issues and exacerbate pre-existing conditions. Such stress has become a widely recognized societal problem due to factors such as longer work hours and stressful careers, economic difficulties and lower employment rates, child-care demands, relationship difficulties and more. Being “stressed out” has become such a frequent phenomenon, in fact, that people often continue to function while unaware that underlying stress is wreaking havoc on their well-being. It is important to understand the stress-response and be able to identify when stress is taking a toll on your body.


Did You Know…?

  • Stress can in fact, cause hair loss. There are three types of hair loss associated with stress and include alopecia areata, telogen effluvium and trichotillomania. Telogen effluvium is the most common and occurs during high levels of emotional or physical stress, and causes hair follicles to go into a dormant state. The actual hair loss occurs several months later following the period of stress.
  • High levels of stress can contribute to an accumulation of abdominal fat, mainly due to the stress hormone, cortisol.
  • The stress response is actually an amazing feature of our physiological make-up! It has enabled humans to survive and thrive in all kinds of stressful and potentially threatening situations.
  • The part of the brain that initiates the stress response is the hypothalamus.
  • During particularly stressful events and instances of physical harm, the brain releases opioid compounds which can actually inhibit the body’s ability to feel pain.
  • Chronic stress is incredibly taxing on the body. When the stress-response system stops working properly and does not allow for adequate recovery, this causes overexposure to all of the stress hormones that are constantly being released. This, in turn, causes much of the damage that is associated with chronic stress, including cardiovascular problems, sleep disturbances, skin problems and more.
  • Chronic stress can alter the neurochemical makeup of the body and even interfere with optimal growth and development.


Symptoms and effects of feeling over-stressed can be synonymous. Doing a self-assessment and maintaining an awareness of your overall functioning can lead to a greater awareness of stress overload. The following list describes symptoms and warning signs of stress:

  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling anxious or irritable
  • Random aches and pains
  • Digestive problems
  • Chest pains
  • Frequently feeling overwhelmed
  • Procrastinating and/or neglecting obligations and responsibilities
  • Relying on other substances to relax, including drugs, alcohol and/or food
  • More symptoms and information can be found at the Helpguide.org website: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

Information obtained and adapted from the following sources:  

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

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