Health Topics

Warning Signs of Emotional Stress: When to See Your Doctor

Signs of Stress

Signs of stress include:

  • Apathy, lack of energy
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty "keeping track" of things
  • Feeling on edge
  • A change in eating habits
  • Sleeping more than usual or difficulty getting to sleep
  • Being more emotional
  • Using alcohol or drugs to relieve or forget stress

Symptoms of stress

Symptoms of stress include:

  • Chronic back pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems (pain, diarrhea)
  • Palpitations

When to seek help

Seek assistance if you:

  • Experience a marked decline in work/school performance
  • Have excess anxiety
  • Misuse alcohol or drugs
  • Are unable to cope with demands of daily life
  • Have irrational fears
  • Have an obsessive preoccupation with food and fear of becoming obese with no relationship to actual body weight
  • Experience significant change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Have persistent physical ailments and complaints
  • Have suicidal thoughts or urge to hurt others
  • Engage in self-mutilation, self-destructive or dangerous behavior
  • Have a sustained withdrawn mood or behavior

Where to get help

  • Family physician
    • He or she can help determine if your stress is due to an anxiety disorder, a medical condition, or both
    • He or she can help refer you to a mental health professional
  • If you feel your situation is an emergency, call a crisis hotline, or go to your nearest emergency room