The Symptoms and Causes of Stress

Stress occurs when the demands put on a person are higher than their ability to cope with those demands and the symptoms can differ from one person to the next. According to a study carried out by, 85% of adults in the UK suffered from stress regularly in 2018. Taking in to account these rapidly changing times and the recent pandemic, it’s safe to assume, that in 2020, these figures have risen significantly.

The Symptoms


The emotional response to stress is very varied depending on the person and can include feeling angry, irritable, anxious, frustrated, overwhelmed or unable to cope. Feeling “reckless” or uncaring are also indicators of too much stress.


The mental effects of stress include but are not limited to, racing thoughts, negative outlook, low self-esteem, difficulty in quietening or calming the mind, loneliness, despair and in worst cases can even lead to depression or other mental health difficulties.


The physical symptoms of stress can present themselves as tension or physical pain in the body including headaches, tightness in the shoulders, back or across the chest, jaw clenching or grinding, upset stomach and the recurrence of other minor illnesses due to a low immune system. In some cases, prolonged stress can lead to long term heart disease or high blood pressure.


Moving more quickly or seeming jittery, angry outbursts, using drugs, alcohol or other mind-altering substances to cope and withdrawing from social activities, responsibilities or commitments.

The Causes

Money and Responsibilities

In reference to the study mentioned above, it was discovered in the poll that money and work are the two biggest causes of stress for adults in the UK. Lack of money, debt, an underpaid or unfulfilling job, lack of career or education can all be contributing factors in developing stress.

Family and Personal Relationships

Trying to balance relationships with life, a job and other commitments, turbulent relationships, divorce and the ill health of a loved one or children are all known causes of stress. Someone suffering with stress might also keep their worries to themselves to avoid stressing their loved ones.

Existing Health Concerns

Health concerns including mental health and physical conditions are known to have a detrimental effect on the stress levels of a person depending on the severity of their health worry.

Inadequate Diet or Lifestyle

A less than optimal diet or lifestyle can have a profound effect on a human being’s ability to cope with life stressors. Eating lots of unhealthy food, a lack of exercise or healthy mental stimulation are well documented. There is more and more evidence to suggest that gut health is an important factor when it comes to taking care of mental health and symptoms can be alleviated with the increase of healthy gut bacteria in the form of probiotics. Taking a supplement or a natural probiotic has been shown to positively affect the areas of the brain responsible for processing emotion. To discover more on the link between the gut and mental health, click (here)

Disclaimer Always consult a GP before changing your diet or taking probiotics, especially if you have a medical condition.

© Triangle Mental Health Foundation 2022