Fifteen Emotional Symptoms of Stress

symptoms of stress

If we have suffered long-lasting significant stress when we were children it is very likely to have affected the physical development of our brains in an adverse manner which makes it very much harder to cope with the effects of even minor stress as adults. On an emotional level, we react far more intensely to it than those whose brain development was normal (click here to read my article on how childhood stress affects the physical development of the brain).


In this post, I therefore thought it might be helpful to list some of the main emotional symptoms we might have indicating that we are suffering the effects of stress.

Before I do this, however, I should also point out that when we are finding it difficult to cope with the effects of stress it affects other aspects of ourselves, too – not just our emotions. It also affects us physically and how we behave.

It is important to point out that different people are affected by stress in different ways. In some, the symptoms of stress may be obviously apparent (overt), whilst in others they may be hidden or ‘invisible’ (covert). Furthermore, in some individuals the symptoms may be short-term, whilst in others they may be long-term (i.e. chronic). The warning signs that someone is suffering the effects of excessive stress may include headaches, chest discomfort, indigestion, muscle tension (physical symptoms) or behavioural symptoms (e.g. physical aggression, increased alcohol intake etc).

However, in this post I want to focus on EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS, and, in keeping with the title of this post, I list 15 of these below :

– inability to feel pleasure (psychologists sometimes refer to this as anhedonia)

– feelings of aggression towards others

– feelings of frustration

– a tendency to become easily tearful

– feeling constantly under intense pressure

– increased feelings of suspicion

– increased feelings of irritability and increased likeliness to complain

– more easily triggered ‘fight/flight’ impulse and feelings of wanting to ‘hide away.’

– feeling in a constant state of fear

– finding it hard to make decisions

– a feeling of being mentally drained and exhausted

– feeling tense, agitated and unable to relax

– impaired ability to concentrate

– social self-consciousness

– fears of imminent death, ‘madness’ or collapse


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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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