While some stress can be good for the body, some stress disorders can cause major health problems and some types of stress can even be life threatening. Stress is a natural function of the body but understanding the different types of stress can help you better understand how to deal with the stress you encounter in life.
Major Types of Stress
While stress may have many subcategories, the major types of stress can be broken down and categorized into four types of stress: Eustress, Hyperstress, Hypostress and Distress. Let us discuss each type of stress further.
Type of Stress #1: Eustress
Eustress is one of the helpful types of stress. But what is eustress exactly? Eustress is the type of stress you experience right before you have the need to exert physical force. Eustress prepares the muscles, heart, and mind for the strength needed for whatever it is that’s about to occur.
Eustress can also be applied to creative endeavours. When a person needs to have some extra energy or creativity, eustress kicks in to bring them the inspiration they need. An athlete will experience the strength that comes from eustress right before they play a big game or enter a big competition. Because of this type of stress, they immediately receive the strength that they need to perform.
When the body enters the fight or flight response, it will experience eustress. Eustress prepares the body to fight with or flee from an imposing danger. This type of stress will cause the blood to pump to the major muscle groups, and will increase the heart rate and blood pressure to increase. If the event or danger passes, the body will eventually return to its normal state.
Type of Stress #2: Distress
Distress is one of the negative types of stress. This is one of the types of stress that the mind and body undergoes when the normal routine is constantly adjusted and altered. This type of stress can actually be subcategorized into two types: acute stress and chronic stress.
Distress Type #1: Acute Stress
The first type of distress is acute stress. This type of stress comes immediately with a change of routine. It is an intense type of stress, but it passes quickly. Acute stress is the body’s way of getting a person to stand up and take inventory of what is going on, to make sure that everything is okay.
Distress Type #2: Chronic Stress
The second type of distress is chronic stress. Chronic stress will occur if there is a constant change of routine for week after week. Chronic stress affects the body for a long period of time. This is the type of stress experienced by someone who constantly faces moves or job changes.
Type of Stress #3: Hyperstress
Hyperstress is another negative type of stress which comes when a person is forced to undertake or undergo more than he or she can take. When you’re faced with a stressful job that overworks you, this causes hyperstress. A person who is experiencing hyperstress will often respond to even little stressors with huge emotional outbreaks. It is important for a person who thinks they might be experiencing hyperstress to take measures to reduce stress in their lives, because hyperstress can lead to serious emotional and physical repercussions.
Type of Stress #4: Hypostress
The final of the four types of stress is hypostress. Hypostress stands in direct opposite to the third type of stress: hyperstress. Hypostress is basically insufficient amount of stress. That is because hypostress is the type of stress experienced by a person who is constantly bored. Someone in an unchallenged job, such as a factory worker performing the same task over and over, will often experience hypostress. Hypostress effects are feelings of restlessness and a lack of inspiration.
Stress can cause a number of physical stress symptoms and these physical stress symptoms can actually help to identify and timely address the problem. A correct diagnosis is the key to overcome stress.
It is believed that more than 50% of all visits to doctors are initially caused by stress. Many health care professionals consider stress as one of the fundamental reasons for illnesses such as cancer and heart attack.
Others have already proved that humans under stress are more vulnerable and not resistant to trivial diseases such as the simple flu. Numerous couples all around the world and especially Europe and USA are struggling in having their own babies because of stress. And because stress may accumulate slowly, it may be difficult to notice it and if not relieved it may seriously affect your overall health. Thus stress accumulates day by day and the physical stress effects may show up unnoticed by you.
Stress and Its Physical Effects on the Body’s Internal Systems
Stress and the Nervous System
Whenever we are stressed out, either physical stress or psychological stress, the body suddenly shifts its energy resources to combat stress, the perceived threat. When this happens, the sympathetic nervous system signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol in what is known as fight or flight response and these make the beat faster, raise blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose levels in the bloodstream. Once the crisis passes though, the system usually returns to normal.
Stress and the Musculoskeletal System
Whenever stressed out, the muscles tense up and the muscle contractions that extend for periods of time can trigger tension headaches, migraines and various musculoskeletal conditions.
Stress and the Respiratory System
Whenever one feels stressed out, your breathing becomes harder, causing rapid breathing which can bring on the panic attacks in some people.
Stress and the Cardiovascular System
Acute stress, a type of stress that happens momentary due to being stuck in traffic for example can cause an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle. Blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscles and to the heart dilate, increasing the amount of blood pumped to these parts of the body. Repeated episodes of stress can cause inflammation in the coronary arteries, thought to lead to heart attack.
Stress and the Endocrine System
Stress affects the adrenal glands which happens when the body feels stressed, sending brain signals from the hypothalamus which then causes the adrenal complex to produce cortisol and the adrenal modulla to produce epinephrine or what is sometimes called “stress hormones.”
Stress also affects the liver. This happens when cortisol and epinephrine are released, causing the liver to produce more glucose which would give you the necessary energy to fight or flight in an emergency.
Stress and the Gastrointestinal System
Stress affects the esophagus by prompting you to eat more or much less than you usually do when under stressed. If you eat more foods or increase your use of tobacco or alcohol whenever you are stressed out, you may experience heartburn or acid reflux.
Ever hear of ‘butterflies in your tummy’ expression? That’s stress. When you’re under a lot of stress, it can also cause nausea or pain in the stomach which can make you vomit under extreme stress.
Stress can also affect digestion and which nutrients your intestines absorb. It can also affect how quickly the food moves through your body. As a result of stress, you may have diarrhea or constipation.
Stress and the Reproductive System
Chronic stress in men can impair testosterone and sperm production, which can cause impotence. In women, stress cause absent or irregular menstrual cycles or more painful periods. Stress can also reduce sexual desire.
Stress and the Immune System
Under stress your body needs energy to run or fight which changes the body’s chemistry to suppress the immune system. So whenever we experience workplace stress or stress in school we feel ill.
Stress and its Other Physical Effects
There are also other physical effects of stress such as:
Numbness is a physical effect of stress wherein you can’t feel anything in a particular body part such as arms or legs.
Headaches might be caused by different reasons, one of them being chronic overwork and stress. In addition tensions and deep disappointments can also result in stress and terrible headaches.
Hot and Cold Waves are physical effects of stress wherein you feel hot and cold, irrelevant of what the temperature of the air is. Whenever you feel stressed out, you may first feel hot and immediately afterwords cold.
Sweating is another physical effect of stress wherein you sweat for no reason even if it is cold. Sweating caused by stress starts from palms and armpits and can show up on face and the whole body.
Most of the stated things above may be normal reactions to changes in the surrounding environment but they become stress signs – physical effects of stress if they manifest persistently in the course of time and we can’t restore completely to our normal physical condition.