Stress is stress, right? While that may be true to an extent, there are actually different categories of stress which vary depending on what you are currently dealing with in your life. Celeste Campbell, PsyD said “Stress occurs when there is a gap between the current task demands and the resources you have to meet those demands.”
Before you try to search for different types of counseling (shared in this post) based on your stress, take a look at the three categories of stress and their definitions below.
- Acute Stress
Acute stress is the type of stress that you experience when you are dealing with a situation that scares and exciting or when you are doing a great many things in a short time period. For example, acute stress is the type of stress that you may be dealing with when you are talking to a crowd for the first time or when you have to put together a presentation that will be due the next day.
While acute stress typically isn’t harmful to the body or the mind, there are some exceptions to the rule. This includes people who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. These people experience acute stress in the moment of whatever traumatic situation they are going through. This experience then prevents them from functioning normally because they are still trapped with the fear and the memories of going through that event. However, this is a severe example and is not a typical result of the type of acute stress that you will be dealing with throughout your life.
- Episodic Acute Stress
Episodic acute stress is the type of stress that you experience if you are dealing with acute stress frequently. For example, let’s imagine that you have a highly-demanding job that requires you to perform large projects in short time periods quite often. Let’s also imagine that you are prone to procrastinate until the last minute. You would most likely deal with episodic acute stress because you are constantly putting yourself through stressful situations.
Some examples of other people who may experience episodic acute stress include:
- People who are always disorganized
- People who see themselves as the victim in every situation
- People who have negative mindsets
- People who must be perfect and do everything perfectly
- People who worry that everything in their lives will go wrong
Unlike acute stress, episodic acute stress is more likely to have negative effects on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Also, people who experience episodic acute stress are more likely to see themselves as not having a problem as this stress is common to them.
Susan Albers, PsyD says “Stress causes some people to ignore their hunger cues and refrain from eating for long stretches. For other people, stress turns them into emotional eaters, who mindlessly munch.”
- Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is the type of stress that you experience when you are going through a long-term, negative or traumatic situation. Some examples include being in an abusive relationship or not being able to make enough money to get out of poverty. These types of people are often the sufferers of chronic stress as these situations constantly put them in harm’s way and prevent them from finding happiness or hope in their lives.
This type of stress will make the victims feel as though they cannot relieve themselves of their stress, as the stressors are often major life problems and have complex solutions. These victims will also often forget that they even are dealing with stress as they become accustomed to their lifestyle and their situations. Like episodic acute stress, chronic stress can have severe negative effects on your physical, emotional, and mental health. However, this type of stress takes it one step further and can cause mental illnesses such as depression, physical reactions such as a heart attack, and can even go as far as giving the victim suicidal thoughts.
As pointed out by Christine Holding, LMFT “There is a widely held belief that anxiety is only real if you acknowledge its existence.”