Can Stress Cause Physical Pain?

Everyone knows that excess stress isn’t good for you. But can stress cause physical pain?

Actually, yes. Stress can wreak havoc on your body in a wide variety of ways.

Most people have heard the saying “depression hurts.” Depression is a specific form of ongoing stress that is well known to cause physical pain and mimic other physical illnesses. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that ongoing, excess stress, regardless of the cause can lead to physical pain.

Although healthy levels of stress are normal, when you start feeling pain due to stress, things have crossed the line of what’s good.

When prolonged and significant stress isn’t properly managed it can lead to a negative stress reaction known as distress. A myriad of potential physical pains could result.

Stress can present itself in virtually every imaginable ache and pain. Some of the more common ways stress expresses itself in bodily pain include some of the following:

  • Upset stomach, stomach ulcers and pain
  • Migraines
  • Tightness of the muscles, especially in the neck
  • Chest pain
  • General aches and pains
  • Pain associated with digestive problems

The Dangers of Pain Caused by Stress

These aches and pains shouldn’t be ignored. They’re really a blessing in disguise.

Much like thunder and lightning serve as a warning to take cover as a storm approaches, these pains are indicators of bad things to come if not properly dealt with.

High levels of stress can literally kill you but that’s not the goal. The goal is for the sufferer to identify life stressors and then problem solve to resolve the stress.

Not only can stress lead to a shortened life, it can lead to the pursuit of risky behavior such as drugs and alcohol.

When you feel poorly on a consistent basis, there often is the attempt to feel better synthetically. This only compounds the problem.

Although escapes like substance abuse may cause short-term relief, the overall consequences obviously aren’t worth it.

I’m In Pain—What Should I Do?

You first want to rule out any physical problems by seeing a physician. Don’t just assume your pain is stress-related.

If you already know you’re under heavy amounts of stress and your physical-health diagnosis keeps coming back normal, your pain could be stress-related.

Do what you can to step away from stress whether that means a sick day (or two) or distancing yourself from people who increase your stress. Get good sleep, exercise and eat healthy and see if your problems resolve.

Also, consider therapy. A caring professional can help you identify stressors and what to do about them. Sometimes even simply admitting stressors can help immensely. If it is time for you to schedule your couples counseling appointment online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 220-3211, or text us.

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