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Stress is the body's natural reaction to external stresses and demands. It can sometimes be useful by adding extra strength and energy when we need to perform at our best level, such as during a job interview or during competitive situations. But if this stress reaction continues for a long time without the possibility of recovery, it can cause damage to the body.

Stress can manifest itself in different ways and give rise to a range of different symptoms. Here are some common physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms that can occur with stress:

Physical symptoms:

  • Muscle tension: Stress can cause muscles to tighten which can cause pain and discomfort, especially in the neck, shoulders and back.

  • Headaches: Stress-related tension can trigger headaches or migraines.

  • Stomach problems: Stress can affect the gastrointestinal tract and lead to symptoms such as stomach ache, nausea, diarrhea or constipation.

  • Sleep problems: Difficulty falling asleep, sleep disturbances or waking up several times during the night are common with stress.

  • Heart palpitations: Stress can increase the heart rate and cause a feeling of palpitations or an irregular pulse.

Emotional symptoms:

  • Anxiety: Stress can trigger feelings of anxiety, including worry, nervousness, and restlessness.

  • Irritability: Stress can make you irritable, impatient or irritable.

  • Sadness or depression: Prolonged stress can lead to feelings of sadness or depression.

  • Difficulties concentrating: Difficulty focusing, forgetfulness and reduced cognitive ability can occur with stress.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs: Some people may try to cope with stress by increasing their intake of alcohol or drugs.

  • Increased irritability: Stress can affect one's reactions and behaviors towards others, which can lead to conflicts.

  • Social withdrawal: Some people withdraw from social interactions and isolate themselves when stressed.

  • Increased eating: Stress can affect appetite, which can lead to overeating or loss of appetite.

Manage stress

Effectively managing stress starts with identifying its sources and develop strategies to deal with them. A helpful first step is to create a list of the situations, challenges, thoughts and worries that trigger stress reactions. By doing this, it becomes clear that stress can have both external and internal causes. Knowing the problem is the first step towards solving it. By identifying the specific sources of stress, whether they are external or internal, one can learn to deal with them in a better way. Stress management involves both reducing and changing the external causes of stress and working with the internal causes, including thought patterns and fears.

When should I seek care?

If you recognize yourself in the symptoms of stress, it is wise to seek help at an early stage. Unfortunately, most people who suffer from stress-related problems wait too long before seeking care. By seeking help at an early stage, you open up the possibility of faster recovery and reduce the risk that the symptoms you experience will be long-lasting. It is important to take your health seriously and not hesitate to seek medical care when you notice that the stress is beginning to affect you negatively.

Related tests and health checks

Hormone tests

Hormone tests

Cortisol stress hormone


  • Measures your level of cortisol (stress hormone).
  • Identifies cortisol deficiency or overproduction.
  • Get increased insight into your cortisol production.

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