Overview

Most people feel stressed sometimes and some people find stress helpful or even motivating. But if stress is affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help.

Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with stress.

Symptoms of stress

Stress can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically, mentally and also how you behave.

It's not always easy to recognise when stress is the reason you're feeling or acting differently.

Physical symptoms

  • headaches or dizziness
  • muscle tension or pain
  • stomach problems
  • chest pain or a faster heartbeat
  • sexual problems

Mental symptoms

  • difficulty concentrating
  • struggling to make decisions
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • constantly worrying
  • being forgetful

Changes in behaviour

  • being irritable and snappy
  • sleeping too much or too little
  • eating too much or too little
  • avoiding certain places or people
  • drinking or smoking more

See a GP if:

  • you're struggling to cope with stress
  • things you're trying yourself are not helping
  • you would prefer to get a referral from a GP

Call 111 or ask for an urgent GP appointment if:

  • you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency
  • 111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.

Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you or someone you know needs immediate help
  • you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose

A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.

Find your nearest A&E

Causes of stress

Stress is usually a reaction to mental or emotional pressure. It's often related to feeling like you're losing control over something, but sometimes there's no obvious cause.

When you're feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

This can be helpful for some people and stress might help you get things done or feel more motivated.

But it might also cause physical symptoms such as a faster heartbeat or sweating. If you're stressed all the time it can become a problem.

Identifying the cause

If you know what's causing your stress it might be easier to find ways to manage it.

Some examples of things that may cause stress include:

  • work – feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement
  • family – relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone
  • financial problems – unexpected bills or borrowing money
  • health – illness, injury or losing someone (bereavement)

Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of stress.

You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.

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The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website nhs.uk
Last Updated: 15/07/2021 15:35:24