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Causes of stress

Man in stress who needs help.

What is stress?

Stress is healthy response to challenging or dangerous situations.

Circumstances that are the causes of stress are known as stressors and affect people in different ways.

A situation that causes one person to become over-stressed or distressed may not be a problem to someone else.

Stress can be caused by events or situations that happen to us or by our own thoughts, attitudes or expectations.

The causes of stress include:

Major life events

Negative events (like a death in the family or divorce) and even positive events (like getting married or having a child) can be stressful. Research has shown that some events seem to cause more stress than others.

Routine stress

Routine stress is related to the demands of everyday life and normal responsibilities like work and parenting. Financial issues is one of the leading cause of stress for Australians.

Other causes include:

  • family issues
  • personal health issues
  • trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • concern for the health of others
  • issues in the workplace.

Traumatic stress

Life-threatening or violent situations can trigger an acute stress reaction, but most people recover over time. In a minority of people this can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to a recent survey, financial issues were the leading cause of stress for Australians, affecting more than half the population.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage mental health issues, try healthdirect’s symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: August 2015

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