10 Surprising Signs & Symptoms of Stress

Stress can impact you in many ways, not just mentally but physically, and can have a significant negative effect on your body, mind, relationships, happiness, work, and your overall health and well-being. While a little bit of stress can be healthy–it can safely push you to put in more effort in both your personal and professional life–and likely won’t cause any severe problems, being stressed out all the time or feeling huge bouts of stress regularly, is detrimental to your health. There are some common emotional and mental symptoms of stress, like panic attacks and headaches, but there are also a lot of uncommon symptoms. Being aware of and considering lesser-known symptoms and their possible connection to stress is important, so don’t sweat it, but be on the lookout for these ten surprising signs and symptoms of stress…

  1. 1

    Bizarre and Recurring Dreams

    Vivid and bizarre dreams or experiencing the same dreams night after night, could be sign of stress. Whether you enjoy or easily tolerate weird dreams, it’s important to examine any potential reasons behind them.

    Recurring dreams can take a toll on you mentally–especially if they’re upsetting–but even if they aren’t. Bizarre dreams can make you feel tired and on edge, which ultimately impact other areas of your life, like work and family. If you’ve started dreaming a lot, and if they’re bizarre and / or recurring dreams, take stock of any life changes or added stress to see if there’s a trigger.

  2. 2

    Jaw and Tooth Pain

    Stress is something many people sweep under the rug and pretend everything is fine. But at night, your subconscious might not keep it at the back of your mind, and you could start grinding your teeth–once you’re asleep, you can’t help what your body does.

    It’s common to “grind the stress out”, which can cause permanent damage to your teeth, as well as a cause a sore jaw. You could grind your teeth during the day too, but you might not notice it if you’re stressed. If your jaw, gums or mouth are sore, try to analyze how your body is reacting to stress, and whether or not you’re tensing up and clenching your jaw.

  3. 3

    Hair Loss and Changes

    Many men and women lose quite a bit of hair during and after showers, and when using a brush or comb. But before you excuse it as your age or just the way your body is, stress could be causing your hair loss. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can put your hair follicles into a resting stage, causing those strands of hair to fall out a few months later.

    The good news is, your hair might not be lost forever if you gain control of your stress. On top of hair loss, it’s common to go gray early, especially if it runs in your family, or to see a new grouping of gray hairs when you’re mentally unstable.

  4. 4

    Stomachaches and Intestinal Problems

    How your stomach feels, digestion and intestines are closely connected to and can be impacted by your emotional and mental state, specifically your level of stress. You might simply feel butterflies and an uneasiness in your stomach, but you could also experience more serious issues, like constant stomachaches, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers and food allergies.

    It might be the last thing you want to do when you’re experiencing stomach problems, but getting out and exercising will help your mental state and in turn, your stomach.

  5. 5


    Muscle twitching, especially around the eyes, is something that you might not realize is connected to your stress level, but it’s actually quite common. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause eyelid spasms. While twitching isn’t painful, it can be really annoying and distracting, and could go on for just a few minutes or for several months.

    If you suffer from spasms and twitching, track when you experience it – you may see a pattern that aligns with your stress level. The good news is, if your eye is twitching from stress, properly managing your stress should completely stop it.

  6. 6


    Have you ever had a breakout seemingly come from nowhere? Whether you typically have no acne, mild acne, or severe acne, stress can make it a lot worse and for breakouts to occur regularly. Stress causes inflammation and oily pores that trigger acne in adults.

    If you’ve tried acne creams, cutting out certain foods, and other acne cures, but you’re still breaking out at what seems like random times, your acne could be a sign of stress. While some topical acne treatments may work for you, if your acne is linked to an unhealthy amount of stress, it should be addressed–it could drastically help or even completely cure your acne.

  7. 7

    Regular Illness

    The common cold and flu passes through every town, office, school and family at some point. But if you’re getting sick a lot, catching every virus that you cross paths with, the real culprit might be a sign of stress. Getting sick right before an important life event – like a big presentation at work that could land you a promotion – could likely be caused by stress.

    Stress lowers your immune system, making you more susceptible to getting sick. While getting the recommended amount of vitamins and nutrients and regular exercise will help prevent and combat illnesses, a high stress level will lower your immune system, making it important to manage your stress.

  8. 8

    Irregular Periods and Severe Cramps

    Monthly periods, complete with cramping, cravings and hormonal changes, can already be unpleasant and inconvenient. But if you’re stressed, your period can become more than a hassle, with severe cramps that make you unable to do much but lie in bed, and irregularity that keeps you guessing and paranoid about when your cycle is going to come.

    Stress can even cause your period to completely stop, a condition called secondary amenorrhea. The imbalance of hormones when you’re stressed is unhealthy for your body, and could even cause infertility problems. Exercising will help ease the pain and reduce some of your stress.

  9. 9

    Itchy Skin and Rashes

    If your skin is moisturized and you’re still constantly scratching it, or if eczema that you got under control years ago comes back more severely, it could be a symptom of stress. Feeling anxious or wound up tight can make you feel itchy, and if it goes on for long, you’re likely to feel even more stressed because of it.

    Rashes are also a surprising but common reaction to stress because stress lowers your immune system, making you more susceptible to skin infections or irritants that aren’t usually a problem for you. And stress or hive rashes can also occur, and are kind of like having an allergic reaction to stress.

  10. 10

    Abdominal Fat

    It already seems next to impossible to blast that dreaded belly fat through exercise and healthy living, and stress can add to this difficulty. Chronic stress can cause abdominal fat and make it extremely difficult or impossible to trim it down and get rid of it – unless you decrease and manage your stress better.

    When you’re stressed out, your body tries to protect itself by releasing adrenaline and cortisol, making you feel hungry. And the hunger and cravings are often for carbs and fat, which go straight to your waistline. It also causes loss of muscle mass, adding to your soft belly.

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