By Mia Barnes
Editor in Chief at
November 18, 2020
10 Strange Signs of Stress You May Not Have Considered
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Everyone deals with it a little differently, but you’ve likely tried many coping mechanisms: Relaxing baths, breathing routines and other tips can mitigate how quickly your stress and anxiety rise. Sometimes, though, you’ll experience unsettling physical symptoms related to your angst.
Extreme stress does more than make you irritated or cause you to overeat. These are 10 strange signs of stress you may not have considered.
1. Sudden Hair Loss
While you’re working through an intense project or handling a family emergency, you might notice hair falling out. It usually happens naturally when you use a brush or pull out a hairband, but stress can cause additional loss.
High levels of stress affect your hair stem cells that promote growth and generate pigment. Prolonged stressful periods affect these cells to the point of hair loss and graying.
Your experience may rely on biology, as well. Researchers found that men show two times more hair loss than women when it comes to stress.
2. Decreased Ovulation and Fertility
Women know many things can affect their menstrual cycle, especially stress. It messes with hormone production, which offsets when you start and stop your period. This is a major problem for anyone looking to time their conception efforts with when they’re most fertile.
Men struggle with fertility issues when they’re stressed, too. The body produces stress hormones known as glucocorticoids, which decrease testosterone and sperm production, making conception much less likely.
3. Heightened Sensitivity to Pain
You might feel specific aches and pains more intensely when you’re stressed. As your anxiety rises, your psychological makeup will influence how you receive new information. So, minor discomfort becomes more unbearable. It’s all part of your body sensing danger and forcing you to remain on full alert for your best chance at survival.
4. Lumps in the Throat
The next time you spend a half-hour trying to clear your throat, consider your stress level. Sometimes the body translates stress through muscle constriction. The throat is a common area for this, causing a lump sensation even though nothing’s actually stuck.
After drinking water and ensuring that what’s stuck in your throat is a mental trick, try deep breathing exercises. Slow, prolonged breaths calm your heart rate and ease tense muscles. Follow along with guided meditation videos to feel the immediate effects on your throat and your mental health.
5. New Varicose Veins
Stress and high blood pressure accompany each other. As your anxiety gets more intense, your blood pressure spikes. Your body then puts additional pressure on your veins as it tries to pump blood harder. You might notice new varicose veins on your skin that sometimes itch or feel heavy.
6. Chronic Hot Flashes
Menopausal hot flashes are also known as vasomotor symptoms (VMS). Although stress won’t cause them, it has been shown to affect the intensity of each recurring hot flash. Stress reduction techniques could improve your comfort levels while experiencing menopause.
7. Joint Pain Flare-Ups
Anyone who has musculoskeletal disorders like fibromyalgia or arthritis may feel more frequent flare-ups during stressful periods. Like throat lumps, stress causes other muscles to tense up, leading to pain and tightness in sensitive joints and muscle groups.
8. Frequent Bowel Irritation
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a biopsychosocial disorder because it relies heavily on the state of the nervous system. Stress causes inflammation and can lead to severe IBS symptoms.
Stomach pain, changes in bowel movements and passing frequent gas are just a few of the symptoms you might experience if stress affects your bowels.
9. Extreme and Constant Exhaustion
Your flight-or-fight instinct wants to protect you. It takes control when you’re stressed to get you out of that situation, but life doesn’t always cooperate. Extended stressful situations could cause you to feel extreme and constant exhaustion.
The hormones produced during flight-or-fight moments are intense. Mentally, you’re firing on all cylinders until your brain perceives a safe environment. Months of high work-related anxiety could result in total burnout, which is when you’re exhausted even after a full night’s sleep.
Burnout can also make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. This might be how your body deals with stress if you haven’t had a good day in a while, can’t find joy in life or no longer enjoy your favorite activities.
10. Frequent Bouts of Dizziness
While stress fluctuates your blood pressure, the rest of your body adapts. The muscle in the inner ear that can make you feel vertigo changes when your blood pressure lowers or raises rapidly. Because of this, intense stress may leave you with frequent bouts of dizziness.
Hyperventilating or quick breaths also make you dizzy. The respiratory system will struggle to effectively use the oxygen you inhale and exhale. This results in minimized oxygenated blood flow and affects your overall blood pressure even after catching your breath.
Monitor Your Symptoms
You may not have considered these 10 strange signs of stress before, but now it’s time to monitor your symptoms. Keep a log of what you experience the next time you feel moderate to intense pressure. Reflecting when you’re in a better emotional state will show your reoccurring symptoms so you learn how to effectively manage your anxiety.
About The Author
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer with an interest in writing about mental health and wellbeing. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of BodyMind.com.