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What are the Different Kinds of Stress?

Many people feel stress after dealing with the loss of a loved one, while going through a divorce or even after a tough day at work, but most people don’t realize is that there are different kinds of stress. The types of stress relate to how the stress comes on or what symptoms are associated with the stress, but psychologists typically differentiate between the different types based on how long the periods last. Learning more about the different types and periods of stress can help individuals learn how to battle stress.

Physical Stress

A common type of stress is physical stress, which refers to actual physical activities and events that wreak havoc on the human body. One good example is travel. Traveling frequently can send you to different time zones, which makes sleeping and waking difficult. Physical stress also includes stress brought on by sleeping too much, not getting enough sleep, spending too many hours on your feet or working long hours. If you ever spent a day chasing your kids around an amusement park or stuck in an airport and dealing with flight delays, you have likely experienced physical stress.

Emotional Stress

Out of all the different kinds of stress, emotional stress is the most common. This can occur after you go through an intense break up or divorce, lose a loved one, have a fight with your spouse or experience any other problem that causes you to feel depressed or anxious. Emotional stress often manifests in the same way that depression does. You may experience weight changes, changes in how you fall asleep or how long you sleep, feelings of isolation and mood swings. Emotional stress can also occur when you feel overwhelmed at home or at work.

Traumatic Stress

When thinking about the types of stress, many people don’t think about traumatic stress. Traumatic stress is a type of stress that occurs because of some type of trauma to the human body and may lead to intense pain, coma or even death. It often relates to some kind of physical change that occurs. If you went through an operation, your body may experience stress until you recover from that surgery. A car accident, second or third degree burns or even a case of pneumonia may all cause traumatic stress.

Acute vs. Chronic Stress

In addition to the different types of stress, psychologists differentiate between acute stress and chronic stress. According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress refers to an extended type of stress that impacts people every day of the year and can last for years or even decades. Acute stress is a type of stress that only occurs for a set period of time or only because of certain factors in the environment. This may include the stress you feel after a fight with your kids, a meeting at work or an encounter with another driver on the road. The APA also identifies something called episodic acute stress, which refers to intense periods of stress.

Stress can wreak havoc on the human body. It causes people to feel sick and tired and may lead some to contemplate suicide. Psychologists can help you learn more about the different kinds of stress, show you how to combat that stress and learning coping mechanisms for use at home and work.