Stress Management Effects on Health Common Signs and Symptoms of Too Much Stress By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on July 15, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Medically reviewed by Rachel Goldman, PhD, FTOS Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Rachel Goldman, PhD FTOS, is a licensed psychologist, clinical assistant professor, speaker, wellness expert specializing in eating behaviors, stress management, and health behavior change. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print altrendo images / Getty Images We all experience stress in our daily lives from different sources: jobs, relationships, finances. And whether you’re dealing with a daily stressor, chronic stress, or a major life challenge like illness or divorce, stress can take a significant toll on you both physically and emotionally. How do you know when you’re dealing with a level of stress that’s unhealthy for you? The answer to this question can be tricky for a few reasons: Wide variety of effects: Stress affects the body in many different ways. Some of these are obvious, but others may not be as noticeable or easy to detect until they become more severe. Personal differences: Different people are affected more or less intensely and in different ways. Ambiguity of symptoms: The effects of stress often look like symptoms of other illnesses (partially due to the fact that stress lowers immunity and makes us vulnerable to many things), sometimes people mistake symptoms of illness for stress and vice versa. Habituation: People who thrive on stress tend to feel it as their natural state, making it more difficult to discern stress symptoms until after much of their stress is alleviated. Feeling too overwhelmed to notice stress: Ironically, when under high levels of stress, people often find it difficult to stop and notice their body’s responses. It seems counterintuitive that someone could be "too stressed to feel stressed," but it does happen. Common Signs That You're Highly Stressed While stress affects everyone in a unique way, there are certain factors that are common. If you are experiencing any of the following, it could be a sign that you’re being affected by stress: Headaches Certain types of headaches can be related to stress. Tension headaches tend to feel like you have a band wrapped around the sides of your head and that band is slowly tightening. If you’re experiencing more headaches, especially tension headaches, stress could be the culprit. More Frequent Colds or Flu There’s an inverse relationship between stress and immunity, meaning the greater your stress levels, the lower the effectiveness of your immune system, generally speaking. This is true for stress that is greater in severity or stress that is more chronic. Decreased immunity means you're more susceptible to everything from colds to more significant health issues, so if you’re under too much stress, you may be getting sick more often. Sleep Problems There are many ways that stress affects sleep. Stress can make sleep come less easily and can lead to wakefulness throughout the night. Too much stress can rob you of sleep and make the sleep you get less restorative. General Anxiety Anxiety does serve an important function for survival, but if you’re feeling anxious much of the time, it could be because you have too many stressors in your life, or it may indicate a mental health condition like generalized anxiety disorder. If you experience an increase in anxiety, you may want to talk to your doctor. Fuzzy Thinking Your body’s stress response pumps your body with hormones that make it possible for you to fight or flee quickly. It was built for infrequent stress, however, and stress that is short in duration. When triggered in excess, this stress response can actually cause you to think less quickly. Feelings of Frustration If you’re faced with many demands at once, the natural result for many people is increased frustration and irritability. This can lead to more difficulty in relationships as well as in personal happiness. The trick is to find ways to prevent frustration and calm down quickly. Lowered Libido Stress can affect your libido in several ways. If you’re too tired for sex, or can’t seem to find the time for your partner, this can be due to stress in your life as well. This lack of sex drive can also create more stress in your romantic relationships, leading to yet another example of poorly managed stress leading to greater levels of stress to manage. These are just a few of the many ways that stress can affect your body and mind. 6 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. MedlinePlus. Tension headaches. Cohen S, Janicki-Deverts D, Doyle WJ, et al. Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109(16):5995–5999. doi:10.1073/pnas.1118355109 Choi DW, Chun SY, Lee SA, Han KT, Park EC. Association between sleep duration and perceived stress: salaried worker in circumstances of high workload. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(4):796. doi:10.3390/ijerph15040796 NIHM. Generalized anxiety disorder: When worry gets out of control. Yu R. Stress potentiates decision biases: A stress induced deliberation-to-intuition (SIDI) model. Neurobiol Stress. 2016;3:83–95. doi:10.1016/j.ynstr.2015.12.006 NHS. Loss of libido. By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.