Effects of Stress

Impaired performance. Impaired performance, the inability to handle effectively a task at hand, can be a consequence of stress. For example, a student called to the front of the class to demonstrate a geometry theorem on the chalkboard may be embarrassed and not do as well as when working alone.

Burnout. Stress can sometimes result in the complete mental and physical exhaustion called burnout. The emotional state that accompanies it often includes feelings of being trapped, hopeless, and helpless.

Psychosomatic disorders. Psychosomatic disorders are physical disorders that appear to result from prolonged exposure to psychological conflict. Disorders such as peptic ulcers, asthma, hypertension, chronic headaches, and some types of menstrual problems are sometimes classed as stress‐related.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effects of stress may not always be immediately apparent but may occur some time after the stress has been removed, as happened with many veterans of the Vietnam War. Symptoms included sleep disturbances, paranoia, emotional numbing, guilt about surviving the war, alienation, and difficulties with social relationships.

Other stress‐related problems. Other problems associated with stress include drug abuse, sexual difficulties, sleep disturbances, eating disorders, and poor academic performance. Stress also plays a role in major psychological disorders such as depression, some psychoses, and some neuroses.