Types of Stress: Why You Need To Know The Difference Between These Three Types of Stress

Emotions can be confusing.

They can come all at once, or not at all. They can seem completely reasonable or completely out of place. In order to become better able to control our emotional responses, we must first understand where they are coming from. Most people think that stress is a singular type of reaction, when in fact there are many types of stress that can arise in response to different emotions and external stimuli.

In this article, we’ll be investigating the different kinds of stress and a common treatment plan for each. We will dismantle stress into its component parts and carefully define each one. Our hope is that if you are suffering from any of these types of stress, you can identify your symptoms and experience stress reduction in the future.


Of all the different types of stress, acute stress is the most common among the general population. This form of stress is usually short-term and specific. The cause of acute stress is often immediately apparent. Acute stress will be triggered by an imminent emotional or physical threat, such as demands on your schedule or the pressure that comes from being in an upsetting situation.

In most situations, small doses of acute stress are normal and beneficial. For example, if you are handed a major project due at the end of the day, you may be exhilarated as the rush of stress pushes you to get things done. Negative stress occurs when it becomes too frequent, affecting your psychological and physical state.


  • Tension headaches
  • Muscular tension, such as in the back, neck or jaw
  • Emotional distress, such as feeling agitated, anxious or depressed
  • Stomach irritation, such as heartburn, constipation or diarrhea
  • Sweating, especially your palms, underarms or forehead
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations


Most of the time, the symptoms you experience with acute stress will be brief and easily manageable. The key to acute stress management is learning how to control your emotional response. It’s not about trying to stop acute stress, as it is too quick to prevent and some stress is healthy. Instead, it’s about managing your psychological responses to the acute stress. Stress management techniques might include stepping away for a minute and doing breathing exercises, or taking an hour a day to practice yoga.


While a certain level of acute stress is normal, for some people, acute stress becomes a regular facet of life. If you constantly feel like you are one step away from absolute disaster, you could be dealing with episodic acute stress. Even though episodic acute stress is most often created by taking on too much at one time and doing things that put you in repeated stressful situations, the symptoms can be just as alarming, and this ongoing stressful lifestyle can lead to physical and psychological problems.


  • Constant feelings of being on edge
  • Irritable
  • Chronic fatigue or difficulty sleeping
  • Migraines and tension headaches that happen on a regular basis
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat and elevated blood pressure
  • Personal relationship problems
  • Depression


Treatment of episodic acute stress can be tricky because many people who struggle with this form of stress are not aware that something is wrong. Long-term episodic stress can put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and mental illnesses. Most often, treatment for episodic acute stress is not a one-and-done thing, but rather a multi-faceted lifestyle adjustment. Treatment can involve instructions on stress management, time management and responsibility delegation. It may also bring in family members and friends to help sufferers feel supported. These steps are often enough to decrease stress levels to a reasonable amount.


While acute and episodic stress can be fleeting, chronic stress is persistent over a long period of time. This long-term stress usually comes from life situations like an unhealthy relationship, living in long-term poverty or any other miserable situation. Chronic stress usually sets in when you can’t see any way out of a stressful situation, so you stop trying to find a solution to your problems and choose to deal with the emotional turmoil instead.

People who suffer from chronic stress are most at risk for developing medical conditions related to the long-term problem and can be at higher risk of attempting suicide. The biggest problem with chronic stress is that some people can get so familiar with this lifestyle that they sometimes don’t even recognize that there is still a problem. Some don’t realize there is an issue until physical symptoms start to show up and their doctor brings up the idea that chronic stress could be a factor in their health condition.

Health risks of chronic stress and other types of stress


People who struggle with chronic stress can face a lot of health issues. This is partially because those dealing with chronic stress often don’t take care of themselves and may partake in behaviors that are unhealthy, such as overeating or smoking.

  • Lung disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Drug and alcohol dependence
  • Some types of cancer
  • Suicide
  • Accidents
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss
  • Stomach aches


Treatment of chronic stress most often involves therapy with a licensed psychologist to help you learn how to effectively deal with the common types of stress you face in your life. In many cases, people have spent so long dealing with a chronic stress that it takes a lot of therapy for them to see where the stress stems from, which makes the problem that much harder to resolve.

In some situations, chronic stress treatment can involve medicinal treatments to combat the symptoms of being stressed. While this does not get rid of the stress itself, it can help you better control your emotional and physical reactions to the problems you are facing.

Regardless of the stress that is plaguing your life, Spire is there to help you manage it properly. Spire helps you identify when you are stressed, and armed with the information in this post, you can be better equipped to dealing with the stress at hand. Since Spire tracks your wellness information over time, Spire makes it easy to identify if you are afflicted with chronic stress, and need to make some more drastic lifestyle changes.

Managing stress can become a source of stress in and of itself. This is especially true when you are confused about why you are stressed and why it happens. When a clearer understanding of stress is developed, a clearer plan can be created to deal with it.

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Spire is dedicated to helping you live a happier, healthier lifestyle with an easy-to-use device for mindful breathing techniques. Learn more about the benefits of breath-tracking at Spire.io.


Anxiety, Spire, Stress

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