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Physical Symptoms of Stress in College Students

author image Elizabeth Wolfenden
Elizabeth Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, health, psychology, mental health and education. Wolfenden holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in counseling from Oakland University.
Physical Symptoms of Stress in College Students
Physical Symptoms of Stress in College Students Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Academic pressure, deadlines, meeting new people, adjusting to a new living situation or simply juggling the demands of work, school and a social life can easily bring about feelings of stress for many college students. Although many college students will recognize the emotional feelings that occur with being stressed, they might be unaware of how many physical symptoms can occur with stress as well.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Upset stomach, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea can be a symptoms of stress in college students, particularly if these occur frequently or seem to be a chronic condition, says Kids Health.

Aches and Pains

Headaches, chest pain, back pain or general body muscle aches can also occur when a college student is stressed. These aches and pains may sometimes be mistaken as a physical ailment, and the student may even seek medical attention. However, simply learning how to manage stress, perhaps through relaxation or meditation activities, might provide relief.

Changes in Weight

Some college students turn to fatty comfort foods to cope with their stress, while others may lose their appetite and skip eating regular meals altogether. These unhealthy habits may lead to weight gain or weight loss, says the Mayo Clinic.

Sleep Issues

Changes in sleep patterns are also a sign of stress. Although some college students may sleep much more than usual as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, many more will have difficulty sleeping and will be kept up at night with anxious thoughts about the source of their stress.

Compromised Immune System

Stressed college students may discover that they seem to be sick more frequently than their friends. This is because being stressed compromises the immune system and leaves a person more susceptible to viruses and illness, say counselors at the University at Buffalo.

Heart Issues

An increased heartbeat, heart palpitations and high blood pressure can also occur when a college student is under stress. If this goes on for a long period of time, it can even lead to heart disease, warns the Mayo Clinic. Students that feel their heart racing or palpitations should consider deep breathing exercises or other relaxation activities to reduce their stress and return their heartbeat to normal, suggests Kids Health.

Fight or Flight Response

The "fight or flight" response is activated when the mind senses the body may be in danger, explains Kids Health. When this happens, the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline flood the body and produce several physical changes. Breathing, heart rate and metabolism increase and blood vessels open to allow blood to pass through more quickly. The senses sharpen, and sweating occurs to keep the body cool under pressure.

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