Stress is something that affects many of us on a daily basis.. It is a psychophysiological state that has repercussions in our daily lives, socially, academically, professionally and health wise.
But there is no single type of stress. Specifically, there are three main types of stress. In this article we will learn about the 3 types of stress: their characteristics, causes and symptoms. First, however, we will explain what stress consists of.
- You may be interested in: “8 infallible techniques to avoid stress”.
What is stress?
Many people talk about stress, but do we know what it really is? It is a response of the organism to the demands or requirements of the environment, which the person cannot cope adequately due to insufficient resources.
Symptomatically it can be expressed in different ways: anxiety, discomfort, tiredness, fatigue, physical and mental exhaustion, migraines, tension, depressive symptoms, sleeping difficulties, irritability, overexcitement, nervousness, etc.
Stress is a risk factor for people’s physical and mental health; that is why it is of great importance to prevent it and treat it properly in case it appears. There are different types of stress, as we will see below.
The symptoms of stress, as we have seen, are diverse. Specifically, the symptoms caused by stress are grouped into four types:
- BehavioralAvoidance, insomnia, difficulties in finishing work, crying, tremors…
- Emotionalirritability, restlessness, worry, depression, difficulties to relax…
- Psychophysiologicalmuscular tension, tension headache, vomiting, constipation, teeth grinding…
- Cognitiveanxiogenic and catastrophic thoughts, difficulty in concentrating…
- Socialtendency to seek out other people or avoid them, changes in the quality of relationships…
The 3 types of stress (and how they can affect you)
In reality, stress is not a unitary concept, but there are different types of stress, depending on There are different types of stress, depending on their characteristics, their temporality, origin (etiology), etiology, etc.origin (etiology), etc.
We are going to see the 3 types of stress that exist; of each one, we will explain its general characteristics, as well as the causes that originate it and the symptoms they provoke:
1. Acute stress: characteristics
The first type of stress is acute stress.The reaction is triggered as a reaction to an environmental demand that is punctual (occasional). This demand can also be a pressure from the environment or people in the environment. This is the most frequent type of stress.
Thus, it can appear in the life of any person; the positive side is that it is a relatively easy stress to treat, unlike the other two.
The causes of acute stress can be very diverse: for example, a new job, a change of city, suffering occasional mistreatment, demands at work, demands at school, changing schools, etc.
All these causes share the same characteristic, which is that the person does not have sufficient psychological, behavioral and/or cognitive resources to cope with the demands or requirements of the environment.
Typical symptoms of acute stress include generalized tiredness, cold hands and feet, overexcitement, depressive and even anxious feelings. On the other hand, generalized tension may appear.
2. Episodic acute stress: characteristics
The second type of stress that we are going to explain is episodic acute stress. In this case, it is an acute stress like the previous one, but also recurrent.i.e. it is repeated over time.
Thus, the sufferer may feel trapped in a kind of stressful “spiral” from which he/she feels that he/she will never be able to escape. This spiral involves such a high level of demands and responsibilities on the individual that they end up generating high levels of stress.
The demands, in reality, are rather self-imposed by the person, in a high state of self-demand.
As in the previous case, the causes of episodic acute stress can be very diverse. Some examples of these are: recurrent but punctual bullying at school, mobbing at work, receiving threats, suffering situations of mistreatment, etc.
As with acute stress, all causes of episodic acute stress share the characteristic that the individual feels overwhelmed and cannot respond adequately to the demands of the environment (due to insufficient resources).
At the symptomatic level, people with acute episodic stress show the following symptoms (or some of them): irritability, nervousness, anxiety, malaise and fatigue. They are people who may blame others for their own problems, because of the state in which they find themselves.
In addition, a marked pessimism and a great negativity appear; thus, these people see everything black and even feel that they will never “escape” from such a situation.
Other symptoms of this type of stress that may appear are: migraines, (tension) pain, chest pressure, vulnerability to heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
3. Chronic stress: characteristics
The third type of stress is chronic stress, which is usually the most severe type.. It is a more prolonged stress; it can last for months or even years. Its level of intensity may vary, but its defining characteristic is that it lasts over time. Thus, the individual suffering from chronic stress suffers great physical and emotional wear and tear, which ends up being constant.
The sufferer also feels trapped, as in the previous case, but this time in a much more prolonged form (since the previous type of stress was episodic).
In this way, the individual does not know what to do to solve his problems and to stop this great source of stress; therefore, on many occasions, he ends up not looking for solutions (he plunges into a kind of learned helplessness).
But what life situations can trigger a state of chronic stress? For example, a situation of poverty, living in a dysfunctional and dysfunctional family, losing one’s job and remaining unemployed for a long time, etc.
Sometimes the origin of this type of stress is a traumatic event experienced during childhood (sexual abuse, psychological abuse, etc.), which ends up influencing the personality of the individual.
Symptoms of chronic stress include: depressive symptoms, fatigue (physical and/or emotional), risk of developing other diseases (e.g. heart disease, skin diseases, digestive system diseases, etc.) as well as risk of developing addictions (alcohol or other drug abuse), insomnia, anxious symptoms, etc.
On the other hand, feelings of insecurity or a sense of learned helplessness may also appear (having the feeling that “nothing depends on us” and stop looking for solutions to problems).
Chronic stress, if maintained for a long time and of sufficient intensity, can end up causing a myocardial infarction or other illnesses (e.g. a stroke).
Suicidal thoughts may also appear when the situation can no longer be endured and “overwhelms” the individual. Thus, the most serious symptom of chronic stress is death, which can come through suicide, violence, heart attack, cancer, etc.