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The Different Types of Stress

Understanding the different kinds of stress helps us to be more constructive in relieving stress...

After all, the more information we have about a subject, the better we can deal with it...


The American Psychological Association identified 3 different types of stress

  • Acute

  • Episodic

  • Chronic

Each kind of stress has its own characteristics, symptoms, duration and ways of treating...


Kinds Of Stress: 

Acute Stress:


This is the most common of all the kinds of stress.

It is caused by things that have upset or worried us in the recent past and by pressures and worries of the future...

Sound familiar to you?...


Acute stress is what we feel when we have a deadline to meet, someone rear ends us in the car, our child has occasional problems at school, we loose a contract, the tax return is overdue...And the list can go on.


Acute stress can be thrilling in small doses but too much of it is exhausting.


Because it is short-term, it usually doesn't have time to cause extensive damage.

Symptoms of acute stress include:

  • emotional distress; a combination of anger, irritability,depression and anxiety

  • muscular aches and pains; tension headaches, back ache, jaw pain and muscular tension

  • stomach and bowel problems; constipation diarrhea, flatulence, IBS, heartburn, acid

  • situations of acute stress can lead to raised blood pressure, increased heart beat, sweaty palms, migraines headaches, chest pain


We all experience times of acute stress - the GOOD NEWS is that it is easy to treat and very manageable!

Episodic Acute Stress:


Unfortunately, there are those who frequently suffer acute stress.

Their lives seem to move from one chaotic episode to the next without a gap of calm in between. They take on too much. They are always in a rush but always late. Things always seem to be going wrong...I hope this is not YOU!


They seem to be perpetually caught up in acute stress, with no gaps in-between.

People in this situation tend to over-react, be short tempered, irritable, anxious and tense. They are always in a hurry and tend to be abrupt and can seem hostile. Interpersonal relationships are affected and their work or home becomes a very stressful place for them.


Another kind of acute episodic stress comes from constant worry. People who are always worrying seem to see the negative in everything, disaster waits around every corner, the whole world is against them and something awful is always about to happen.


These "worriers" also tend to be tense and over-aroused but are usually more anxious and depressed than angry and hostile.


Symptoms of acute episodic stress include:

  • persistent tension headaches

  • migraines

  • hypertension

  • heart disease


It is more difficult to treat and relieve this kind of stress. Often lifestyle and personality have become so ingrained that it is difficult for the person to see that they need to make any changes. In fact, sometimes they think that the way they conduct their lives is "normal" and part of who they are.


Treating episodic acute stress may need intervention on a number of levels and professional help.

So, my advice is to take control of your reactions and stress symptoms before it reaches this stage.

Be mindful of how you feel and how you make others feel!

Chronic Stress:


Acute stress can sometimes be exciting but chronic stress is not. This is the stress that grinds away at people and wears them down day after day, year after year.


Chronic stress damages bodies, minds and emotions.

It is the stress caused by poverty, dysfunctional family life, unhappy relationships or feeling trapped. It is the stress felt by people living in war-torn countries.


Chronic stress is caused by unrelenting demands and pressures that never seem to end. It is feeling miserable with no visible means of release. Chronic stress comes from feeling hopeless and giving up. Chronic kinds of stress are difficult to alleviate.


Some chronic stress comes from childhood trauma that becomes internalised and affects how you feel about yourself for the rest of your life.


Sometimes our belief system and world-view (that the world is a threatening place and you have to be perfect all the time) causes chronic stress. With active self-examination and professional help, recovery is possible...


Cognitive therapy has proved to be very helpful in dealing with negative emotions.

The worst thing about chronic stress is that people get used to it. They get to think that it is normal.


Chronic stress can lead to suicide, violence, heart attacks and perhaps, even cancer.

Chronic stress wears you out mentally and physically and it takes commitment and hard work and time to recover.

Stress and Anxiety Counselling online

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