These 5 Strange Symptoms Are Linked to Stress

MARJAN APOSTOLOVIC/SHUTTERSTOCK

We could all use a little help coming to terms with our stress and figuring out how to handle it. It’s time to talk about the lesser understood ways that stress shows up in the body.


You can’t keep your eyes open

Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you find yourself taking a nap? It’s possible you’re simply exhausted, but it’s also possible that you’re experiencing stress-based fatigue, the body’s urge to try to shut down stress through rest.

According to The American Psychological Association, 50 percent of people experiencing stress reported fatigue as a symptom, ranking higher than changes in appetite, muscle tension, and headaches.

Extreme tiredness can manifest through three essential forms: Stress-based fatigue can feel emotional, similar to how you are spent after an intense argument with a friend; it can be physical, like how worn out your body feels after a long run; and it can be cognitive, similar to how your energy fades after a marathon meeting at work.

Napping can be healthy in many cases, but if you find yourself snoozing every time you feel stressed, it’s important to see the difference between a rejuvenating cat nap and using sleep as a psychologically unproductive crutch.

One symptom of depression is oversleeping, so if your fatigue feels like more of an ongoing form of mental distress than seeking therapy might help. Otherwise, enjoy the benefits of rest every once in a while.

You’re a ball of emotions

When you’re experiencing many emotions at once—rage, frustration, loneliness, fear—this can feel like an onslaught to your system. Perhaps your chest feels heavy, your thoughts are racing, and you can’t focus on the moment.

You might be riddled with worry about the future or stuck on pain from the past. This is referred to as flooding. Everyday life is full of emotional experiences, but emotions that feel impossible to manage, such as frustration that arises in a heated, unprecedented argument with a spouse, falls into the flooded category.

Arielle Schwartz, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, explains, “Flooding is the amount of emotional reactivity someone is experiencing in any given moment that feels beyond what they have the capacity to respond to effectively.” The antidote is to focus on the here and now.

You’re frozen

In some stressful situations, fear can immobilize us, in what is known as a freeze response. This manifests as a sense of stiffness, restricted breathing, and feeling stuck in some part of the body. In the case of serious threats such as physical attack or during a natural disaster, our body might go into dissociation mode, an attempt to block out the reality of life-threatening risks.

The freeze response doesn’t just show up in extreme circumstances but also in cases where we perceive a sense of helplessness either due to our age (think of a child who is still learning how to cope with the world) or our state of mind (perhaps we are in recovery from trauma or have undeveloped emotional resources).

For Psychology Today, Leon F. Seltzer, PhD, wrote, “You’re stymied by inappropriate, exaggerated fear, you’re in no position to act sensibly to whatever might be menacing you.” He goes on to say, “Ironically, this self-paralyzing response can in the moment be just as adaptive as either valiantly fighting the enemy or, more cautiously, fleeing from it.”

You go with the flow

According to Curtis Reisinger, PhD, a clinical psychologist at Zucker Hillside Hospital, another less-recognized stress response is fawning, a desire to cooperate or submit oneself to one’s threat or captor. This variation of appeasement is rooted in an evolutionary response.

Think about a robbery: we may react by compiling with the requests of the person who can do us harm. In an emotionally fraught sense, fawning is similar, although the threat may be lower. Traditionally, the word fawn means to show affection or attempt to gain favor in a situation through exaggerated flattery.

If you get into an argument with a loved one, you might withhold your true emotions to avoid conflict. This could be an example of responding to stress through fawning. In a watered down sense, fawning can be likened to people pleasing, a behavior some of us are all too familiar with.

You feel like you might faint

If an episode of stress is accompanied by a dizzy fog that blurs vision or induces nausea, there’s a good chance that the faint response is taking place.

Dr. Schwartz says that in cases of complex post-traumatic stress, the result of long-lasting stressors that are particularly intense, many clients experiencing faint-like symptoms report experiences that left them in a state of needing to shut down in order to survive.

She says, “Many learn to disconnect from emotions and needs.” She attributes a sense of learned helplessness to this stress response that can remain even after the circumstances of the intense stressors have passed. For this, she recommends a somatic therapy approach such as EMDR, which is also a treatment for PTSD.

Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp
Pinterest
Reddit
Delicious
LinkedIn
Facebook
Twitter
WhatsApp

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

READ NEXT

These Are the Worst Hereditary Conditions

We inherit a lot of who we are from our parents and extended family, some good and some bad. Unfortunately, in some cases, serious and potentially debilitating diseases are passed

Here’s How Sleep Can Impact Your Skin

Whether it’s sun exposure or certain diets, a lot of things can impact your skin’s health and appearance. And as you may know, how much and how well you rest

11 Body Odors You Shouldn’t Ignore

Body odor, from head to toes, can alert doctors to potential health issues—even cancer. Find out what those distinctive smells may signal.

6 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Beans

Don’t cut beans out of your diet just because they make you gassy. It’s recommended to consume up to 3 cups a week and the good news is the more

12 Frozen Meals You Should Avoid at All Costs

Gluten-Free Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese Just because it’s gluten-free, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. This apparently delicious option, for example, contains 31 grams of mostly saturated fat. The problem,

8 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Minimize Your Pain

When you’re dealing with a condition that causes inflammation, you should change your eating habits. Yes, medication is important, but many doctors say that embracing an anti-inflammatory diet can help,

6 Vitamins You Really Need As You Age

Vitamins allow your body to grow and develop. They also play important roles in bodily functions such as metabolism, immunity and digestion. There are 13 essential vitamins, including vitamins A,

6 Easy Ways to Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

If your blood sugar number is creeping up, these science-backed diet, exercise, and wellness tweaks can help you return it to a healthier level. Enjoy Mediterranean meals According to studies

8 Signs Related to Cancer Most People Ignore

If your cough insists to persist, you should visit your doctor for a second opinion. Many people experienced this annoying cough and after, they were diagnosed with lung cancer. Try

A Doctor Explains What Causes Your Salt Cravings

Salt isn’t “bad” per se, says integrative medicine physician Pooja Amy Shah, MD. “It’s one of the most important components in our bodies,” she says. Sodium, the primary component of

RELATED POSTS

Scroll to Top