Baylor College of Medicine

Drawing of a man holding his head and grimacing to represent stress.

Recognizing the silent symptoms of stress

Taylor Barnes


Houston, TX -

Stress impacts us all, both personally and professionally and in a variety of ways. While we are aware of the visible symptoms of stress, the silent symptoms can be overlooked. A Baylor College of Medicine psychiatrist explains how to manage stress and the importance of recognizing the silent symptoms of it. 

“The silent symptoms of stress can be when people lose interest with their life. They’ll stop doing the things they once enjoyed,” said Dr. Asim Shah in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Services. “They will get anxious, nervous or afraid and avoid things they used to do because they are overwhelmed and overburdened by it.”  

The visible symptoms of stress that are easier to identify include irritability or anger toward others, impatience or muscle tension.

“You may not be able to hide those for a long time. Immediately, people will notice it – family, friends and co-workers,” he said.

However, the silent symptoms of stress may take months before others notice.

“If you are isolated and alone, no one may notice except for you,” said Shah.

Other silent symptoms of stress include weight loss or weight gain, purposely pulling out one's hair and biting one's nails. To manage or cope with stress, Shah says to start small with physical activity and relaxation techniques.

“You can try meditation, deep breathing exercises or spend quality time with family and friends. For physical activity, go for a walk, play a sport you love or participate in yoga or tai chi,” he said.

While having some stress in your life is normal, monitoring your silent symptoms is important. If they worsen over time or significantly interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign to seek the help of a medical professional.

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