Stress Symptoms

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Re-printed with Permission by Yvonne Bergmans, BEd, MSW, RSW St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto. Developer of the Psychosocial/Psychoeducational Intervention for People with Recurrent Suicide Attempts (P.I.S.A.) 2013

Physical Symptoms Of Distress Involving Skeletal Muscles

1. Tension headaches
2. frowning
3. jaw pain
4. gritting or grinding of teeth
5. stuttering or stammering
6. trembling of lips or hands
7. muscle tenseness, bracing and aches
8. neck aches
9. back pain
10. aggressive body language


Physical Symptoms of Distress involving the Autonomic Nervous System

1. migraine headaches
2. increased sensitivity to light and sound
3. lightheadedness, faintness or dizziness
4. ringing in ears
5. enlarged pupils
6. blushing
7. dry mouth
8. problems swallowing
9. frequent colds or bouts with the flu
10. hives
11. rashes
12. “cold chills” or “goose bumps”
13. heartburn, stomach cramping, or nauseau
14. uneven or rapid heartbeat without exercising
15. difficulty breathing
16. sudden, suffocating panic, as if you are about to die
17. heart and chest pain
18. increased perspiration
19. night sweats,
20. cold, sweaty hands
21. painfully cold hands and feet
22. gaseousness or belching
23. frequent urination
24. constipation
25. nervous diarrhea
26. lowered sexual drive
27. difficulty with sexual orgasm


Mental Symptoms of Distress

1. anxiety, worry, guilt, or nervousness
2. increased anger and frustration
3. moodiness
4. depression
5. increased or decreased appetite
6. racing thoughts
7. nightmares
8. problems concentrating
9. trouble learning new information
10. forgetfulness
11. disorganization or confusion
12. difficulty making decisions
13. a sense of being overloaded or overwhelmed by problems
14. suicidal thoughts
15. fear of getting close to people
16. loneliness
17. more frequent crying


Behavioural Symptoms of Distress

1. inattention to dress or grooming
2. more frequent lateness
3. a more “serious” appearance
4. unusual behaviours
5. nervous habits, such as finger or foot tapping
6. rushing around or pacing the floor
7. increased frustration or irritability
8. edginess
9. overreaction to small things
10. increased number of minor accidents
11. perfectionism
12. reduced work efficiency or productivity
13. lies or excuses to cover up poor work
14. fast or mumbled speech
15. defensiveness or suspiciousness
16. strained communication with others
17. social withdrawal
18. sleep problems
19. frequent use of over the counter drugs
20. weight gain or loss without diet
21. increased smoking
22. recreational drug use
23. increased alcohol use
24. gambling or overspending
25. constant withdrawal