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Acute Stress vs. Chronic Stress

By HERWriter
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We all have stress in our lives. But not all stress is equal when it comes to how our bodies react or how well we are able to handle the feeling. Stress is the way your body responds to changes or challenges in life. A stressor is something that causes you stress. There are two basic types of stress:

Acute stress - This type of stress is a new or sudden reaction to a stressor which may be exciting or scary. It comes on quickly and is often called the “fight or flight response” because it triggers the body to be ready for an intense and often quick reaction.

Acute stress can be a fear response to something like a car accident or a gun shot. It can also be an exhilarating reaction to something exciting like parachuting from a plane or a fast ski run. Or it might be a short-term reaction to something that makes you nervous like a job interview or an important presentation.

A random episode of acute stress is usually not harmful to someone who is healthy. But acute stress can cause health issues for people with heart conditions or other health problems that can be triggered by stress. Severe acute stress or repeated episodes of acute stress can result in on-going mental health issues including post-traumatic stress disorder.

Chronic stress – This type of stress occurs when stressors add up or don’t go away. Long-lasting or persistent stress can lead to serious health problems including headaches and problems sleeping.

Common causes of stress include life changes such as getting married, moving to a new town, or starting a new job. Some of these stress sources are under our control. We can choose the timing or make the decision to make a change.

But other stress causes may be out of our control, such as getting pregnant, health issues, financial or work problems, or losing a loved one. Having a family history of stress-related problems, or not having a good social support system may put you at higher risk for uncontrolled stress:

If you are experiencing stress or are concerned about your risk for stress, be aware that these medications or supplements can make stress symptoms worse:

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.