Chronic headaches, digestive problems, split sleep, nightmares, profuse sweating, abnormal hair loss, and lack of enjoyment of pleasurable activities are some of the surprising symptoms of stress overexposure.

6, signs, of, stress, you, didn't, notice

You think you know yourself well, know how to detect every sign of discomfort, and can handle the few stressful events of everyday life. However, the body can surprise us. When it detects a potentially dangerous level of stress, it can send us unexpected signals. Here are a few of them that may alert you.

Headache can be caused by stress

Do you have a throbbing pain in your head all day long? It could be a stress headache or a migraine. Stress is a common trigger for headaches. If the pain is sudden, intense, accompanied by a fever or double vision, or if it occurs after a head injury, go to the hospital immediately. Otherwise, try to reduce daily stress. 

Digestive problems, because the stomach is connected to the brain

Our belly may be one of the first places to feel the symptoms of stress and anxiety. The brain has a direct effect on the stomach and intestines. This connection is a two-way street that can cause many symptoms. Stress can cause an increase in stomach acids, leading to digestive problems such as ulcers, pain, nausea and bloating. 

In partnership with WW

Our belly can be considered as our second brain, and in case of stress, our whole digestive system can be disturbed. A balanced diet is the key to getting back in shape and in good spirits. By favouring certain foods rich in magnesium, such as seafood, oily fish, dark chocolate, garlic or whole grains, we can regulate our stress.

The scientific team of WW, formerly Weight Watchers, has developed menus with slimming recipes to lose weight, but not only. Very complete, the site and the application also offer plenty of good advice to learn to better manage stress, exercise and choose the foods that suit us. More than 700 menus and 3600 recipes are proposed and it is possible to personalize them by replacing a food by another one according to our tastes or our state of mind. In times of stress, for example, we would prefer fatty fish to poultry.

Trouble sleeping or having strange dreams

Stress can disrupt your sleep pattern. Hormones such as cortisol can cause your body to stay awake as it remains alert. The stress and frustration of the day can also cause bizarre dreams. Some of the more common ones are falling, being attacked by someone, being locked up, or repeatedly trying to do something and not succeeding. 

Chronic stress leads to hair loss

If you find whole strands of hair in your brush, you may be suffering from stress. This link between hair loss and chronic stress has just been clarified in a study published in March 2021 in the journal Nature. Researchers claim to have identified the biological mechanism by which chronic stress alters hair follicle stem cells. Specifically, they found that a major stress hormone places hair follicle stem cells in a prolonged resting phase, without regenerating the follicle or hair. This mechanism has yet to be confirmed in humans, as these findings were made in mice.

The hair follicle is one of the few tissues that can undergo cycles of regeneration throughout life. This invisible part of the hair, buried 4 mm under the scalp, and which contains the hair bulb, naturally goes through growth and rest phases, a process fueled by stem cells. During the growth phase, these cells are activated to regenerate the follicle, but during the resting phase, they are inactive: the hair falls out more easily. Thus, hair loss can occur if the hair falls out and the stem cells remain at rest without regenerating new tissue.

Sweating, a sign of stress

When the body reacts to an emotion, such as anxiety, stress or excitement, sweat is released by the "apocrine" sweat glands. These glands, located in the armpit, groin and scalp, produce a milky sweat, composed of fatty acids and proteins, but without odor. Exercise, meditation and psychotherapy are some of the interesting options to minimize stress. 

No longer having pleasure in all daily activities

One of the many emotional symptoms of stress is a general feeling of unease. Do you no longer enjoy spending time with your loved ones or engaging in your hobbies? If you no longer enjoy doing things you used to love, you may not only be stressed, but also suffering from depression. In fact, depression can be accelerated by long-term, chronic exposure to stress. If you notice these symptoms, it's time to talk to a health care professional.