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HealthInfo Canterbury

Overview of stress

Stressed man at desk Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between stress and anxiety. The physical symptoms are similar. But with stress, most people can work out what's causing it, while anxiety can be more of a general feeling with no obvious cause.

Most of us have symptoms of stress at some stage. Overcoming challenges is just part of life. But when the stress doesn't let up, or we feel out of control and unable to cope, stress can start to damage our health or the health of those close to us.

Different people have different symptoms, but there are three broad types.

Physical symptoms

Stress can make our body react in ways we can't control.

Emotional symptoms

When we're stressed we often have upsetting feelings or thoughts that we can't control. Emotional symptoms can include things like:

Behavioural symptoms

When we're stressed, we can start acting in ways that we know are harmful but feel that we can't control our behaviour.

On the next page: What causes stress?

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2018. Page updated August 2019.


See also:

Anxiety in adults

Page reference: 111510

Review key: HISTS-111503