Short Term and Long Term Physical Symptoms of Severe Stress

Stress doesn’t only have an affect on your emotional and mental wellbeing; it can also have serious affects on your physical health. Physical symptoms of stress do not usually manifest until one experiences a severe case of short term or long term stress. Depending on the type of stress a person suffers from, usually determines the symptoms they experience.

First well take a look at the short term physical symptoms that are commonly associated with severe cases of stress, followed by long term physical symptoms. Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms that will be discussed below may not be the only ones experienced, and that not everyone suffers from the same physical stress symptoms.

Physical symptoms related to short term stress

  • Breathing rapidly
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Cool skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast heart beat
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or unsettled stomach “butterflies in the stomach”
  • Tension in muscles
  • Sweating excessively
  • Urge to urinate

The symptoms that occur during short term stress are how your body is responding to what it perceives as a physical threat, and is the result of adrenaline release. Although these symptoms are unpleasant, they are signs that your body is readying itself for high performance or survival.

Physical symptoms related to long term stress

  • Body aches and pains including back pain
  • Chest pain and irregular heartbeat
  • Change in appetite
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Immune system suppression
  • Hair loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Increase or decrease in weight
  • Insomnia
  • Illnesses such as: Asthma, Arthritis, Cold virus (frequent cases), Digestive disorders (IE ulcers), Periodontal disease, Jaw pain
  • Migraine
  • Reproductive issues such as a missed menstruation cycle
  • Sexual disorder
  • Skin problems

These above symptoms are a sign of severe long term stress and are the result of your body being exposed to adrenaline for a prolonged period of time. As you probably are aware, adrenaline readies your body for action by redirecting resources to muscles from the parts of the body that perform body maintenance. Therefore, if your body is exposed to adrenaline for a continuous period, your physical health may begin to deteriorate.

Severe stress can lead to a number of health illnesses and conditions, as mentioned above. However, it can also make existing conditions even worse. If you have severe stress you shouldn’t ignore your condition or think it will go away on its own. You need to find relief by making lifestyle changes that allow you to relax and cope with the situations that are causing you stress. If natural forms of stress relief do not work, you need to seek the help and support of your health care provider before your condition becomes even more dangerous to your health and wellbeing.

In addition, don’t forget that severe cases of stress doesn’t only affect the sufferer, it can also affect their family, friends and co-workers. Take control of stress, don’t let stress control your life.


  1. Hi Jason, the more you think/worry about a problem, the more it grows. The more energy you give to it and the more you resist it, the more complicated it becomes. On the contrary, if you try accepting the problem, it disappears.

    Have you tried meditating or doing some breathing exercises?

  2. hi its jason i suffer severe stress palpatations tight chest aches and pains but the last few years iv started getting very horrible thoughts in my head .is this normal as it upsets me and u begin to believe u are this bad person . My blood pressure as gone sky high and my gp has put me on beta blockers to try to slow me down and candersartin to reduce my bp . Im very scared with the mental side of stress so a reply would b nice . Thanks j .

  3. I have severe stress problem, tension in muscles and they are very painful. Backpain, I wake up every day with headache and nausear.

  4. my ears feel completely blocked up my head is tight and fuzzy i have anxiety attacks and seeing black spots and my jaw hurts, not good

  5. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  6. Try doing Kapalbhati breathing exercise every day for 15-20 minutes half an hour before breakfast.

  7. i was over dose of marinol, almost i died
    and aftre i start having severe anxiety , stress hit very bad , i dont know to become normal

  8. the effects of stress on the body, especially long term stress can be as dangerous and fatal as any disease – it may even become a disease such as heart disease, cancer or any number of conditions. Take these symptoms seriously as they can be fatal. Stress management / stress reducer tools and techniques are available and effective – do your research.

  9. Bev

    Your symptoms don’t sound too good, you seem to have a lot of physical symptoms of stress and stress although different to depression can be related. SUggest you see your doc soon as possible

  10. I have headches, severve chest pain at times, stabbin gpains and then dull aches mainly lying down, aches in arms, collar bones, IBS, i am 30 year old, been on anti depression tablets twice b4


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