Stress in Adults – Signs, Symptoms, Management & Prevention

Stress is a normal reaction to difficult situations. But too much stress can lead to permanent mental and behavioral health problems. Stress counseling prevents and treats these effects.

Stress in Adults

Adult Stress Signs & Symptoms

Stress in adults is a normal, biological reaction of the body to challenging situations. Those situations can vary widely. For some adults, growing demands at work trigger stress. Others find it harder to cope with their children screaming while the phone is ringing and dinner is burning on the hob. 

When adults are confronted with any of those challenges, their bodies respond by releasing hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These so-called stress hormones put our bodies and minds at high alert to help facilitate a fight or flight reaction. 

Adrenaline, cortisol, and other hormones prepare the body to face its challenges. They also influence our state of mind. Stress hormones make it easier to focus on the problem ahead, concentrate, and avoid attention drifting elsewhere. 

A healthy degree of stress helps adults pass university exams, perform well in job interviews, and juggle work and family commitments. This amount of stress is not only necessary, but it is beneficial. 

Stress becomes problematic when it becomes a more permanent state that the body and mind are in. A permanent state of alertness leaves stressed adults feeling overwhelmed and tired and largely unable to cope with the demands they are facing. If left untreated, chronic stress can also have physical consequences. 

Stress in adults can manifest in different ways. Some people feel stressed quickly; others can cope with more significant challenges before they feel overwhelmed. Recognizing the signs of stress in adults early can help address them before they become chronic. 

Physical adults stress signs and symptoms: 

  • Muscle tension and jaw clenching
  • Chest pain and a racing heart, often combined with high blood pressure
  • Sleeping problems accompanied by exhaustion
  • Stomach and digestive issues
  • Unspecified aches and pains
  • Weak immune response

Mental and emotional symptoms and signs of stress in adults:

  • Irritability, often toward people who are not related to the cause of stress
  • Feeling depressed and anxious
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Panic attacks

It is perfectly normal to experience some of these symptoms occasionally. An increased heart rate and tense muscles are part of the body’s normal response to stress. Think of it as the physical preparations necessary to face whatever threat is coming at us. 

For a short period, these physical symptoms are not problematic. However, if stressed adults do not find a way of addressing their symptoms and relieving the muscle tension as well as allowing their heart rate to drop to a normal rhythm, they may face long-term problems. 

Causes of Stress in Adults

Causes of adult stress can vary widely. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that inflation and the war in Ukraine were leading stressors for American adults in 2022. In addition, stress related to financial issues was higher this year than ever since the poll began 15 years ago. 

The researchers found that stress levels, in general, were higher than in the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic. They believe Americans are starting to reach a point where a majority will struggle to cope with their challenges. 

Pre-pandemic work stress was one of the most common responses in similar surveys. Adults struggled with an excessive workload or too much responsibility. Some felt insecure about termination or their chances of advancement in their position. 

But stressors can also come from different areas of our lives. Death and bereavement can lead to overwhelming grief [please link to the previous post] and stress. Chronic illness or injury may also cause a person to become stressed beyond their coping ability. Traumatic events like being assaulted or raped are common causes of chronic stress. 

Even ordinary life events, such as moving house or changing jobs, cause increased stress levels, although they do not need to become overwhelming. 

Treatment of Stress in Adults

When stress becomes chronic and overwhelming, it is time to seek professional advice and treatment. Counseling is one of the most effective ways to address stress before it can develop into more significant issues. For this treatment, mental health professionals tend to follow a series of steps: 


During this phase of adult stress counseling, mental health professionals look for the underlying causes of a person’s stress. In some cases, there are apparent life events. For others, stress has built up slowly over time. 


Treatment plan 

Counselors will develop a customized treatment plan based on their assessment. Although it can seem like stressed adults are facing the same challenges, by and large, each person is different. It is why a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works. 


Counseling sessions 

With the agreed-upon treatment plan, your stress counselor will work with you to address stressors and develop coping mechanisms. In some cases, this means adopting more productive stress responses. Alternatively, you may work on reducing or removing stress triggers from your life entirely.



Stress counseling can show positive results quickly. However, the counselor and client must review their progress regularly and adapt their approach, if necessary. 

Effects of Stress in Adults

When stress becomes overwhelming, it affects an adult’s personal and professional life negatively. Adults may be unable to cope with work demands at that stage, and their overall performance may drop. 

At home, stressed adults may be short with their families and friends or avoid socializing altogether. They may even feel that social commitments only add to their stress levels. 

Some adults turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Those may offer relief momentarily but increase their stress levels in the long term. Reaching for alcohol is one of the most common coping mechanisms. While enjoying a glass of wine with dinner once or twice a week is expected, depending on alcohol to relieve stress daily can quickly lead to substance abuse problems. 

Counselors also find that stressed adults tend to cope by overeating or other forms of disordered eating. Apart from these effects, adults may find it difficult to concentrate. They may struggle to sleep despite feeling tired and exhausted. 

Taking the signs and symptoms of stress seriously is essential before they become overwhelming and lead to life-changing consequences. 

How does TrueCare™’s Stress Counseling Help Adults?

TrueCare™’s stress counseling provides adults easy access to qualified and experienced stress counselors across the United States. The platform allows adults with stress to find a counselor near them to help them address their concerns and reduce their stress levels. 

TrueCare™ offers various stress counseling services, including online, in-practice, and in-home counseling. This approach makes it easy to connect with the most suitable counselor. Even if they are not geographically based in a client’s vicinity, it is easy to access their services online. 

Online counseling for stress may have been a necessity during the pandemic years. But these services’ convenience means they remain popular with stressed adults. They can avoid commuting to see their counselor or rushing to an appointment. 

In-practice or in-home counseling will suit those who prefer to meet their mental health professional in person. Face-to-face appointments allow counselors and clients to take advantage of body language and may help build the initial relationship. 

TrueCare™’s approach to counseling is unique and adaptive, allowing clients to choose the process that will benefit them most.

FAQs on Stress in Adults 

Why do adults get stressed? 

Adults can experience stress for many reasons. Work used to be a leading cause, but recent surveys have pointed toward economic and financial reasons and global political instability. An adult’s personal life can also cause stress. 

When does stress in adults become a problem?

Feeling stressed is a normal response of our bodies. However, when signs and symptoms become permanent and overwhelming, it is time to seek professional support from a counselor. 

How does counseling help?

Stress counseling helps by identifying the underlying causes of stress and addressing those. Counselors work with clients to remove stressors or develop effective coping mechanisms. 

Do I need to go to a counselor’s office?

Not necessarily. Platforms like TrueCare™ offer access to online counseling. It is convenient for those looking to fit counseling into an already busy schedule. Another option is in-home counseling, where the mental health professional comes to the clients’ homes for counseling sessions.

How many stress counseling sessions will I need?

The number of sessions needed varies from individual to individual. However, stress counseling tends to work relatively quickly, and many clients improve after just a few sessions. More sessions may be necessary to ensure that new coping mechanisms are effective in the long term. 

About TrueCare™

TrueCare™ is a nationwide Health & Wellness platform for families and businesses providing end-to-end solutions for COVID-19 testing, screening, vaccination, home care, and corporate well-being services.

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