Consequences of stress


Stress shows itself in a number of ways. For instance, an individual who is experiencing a high level of stress may develop high blood pressure, ulcers, irritability, difficulty in making routine decisions, loss of appetite, accident-proneness, and the like. These can be subsumed under three general categories: physiological, psychological, and behavioral symptoms.

Physiological Symptoms

Most of the early concern with stress was directed to physiological symptoms. This was predominantly due to the fact that the topic was researched by specialists in the health and medical sciences. This research led to the conclusion that stress could create changes in metabolism, increase heart and breathing rates, increase blood pressure, bring on headaches, and induce heart attacks.

The link between stress and particular physiological symptoms is not clear. There are few, if any, consistent relationships. This is attributed to the complexity of the symptoms and the difficulty of objectively measuring them. But of greater relevance is the fact that physiological symptoms have the least direct relevance to students. Our concern is with attitudes and behaviors. Therefore, the two other categories of symptoms are more important to us.

Psychological Symptoms

Stress can cause dissatisfaction. Job-related stress can cause job-related dissatisfaction, in fact, is “the simplest and most obvious psychological effectâ€? of stress. But stress shows itself in other psychological states — for instance, tension, anxiety, irritability, boredom, and procrastination.

The evidence indicates that when people are placed in jobs that make multiple and conflicting demands or in which there is a lack of clarity about the incumbent’s duties, authority, and responsibilities, both stress and dissatisfaction are increased. Similarly, the less control people have over the pace of their work, the greater the stress and dissatisfaction. While more research is needed to clarify the relationship, the evidence suggests that jobs that provide a low level of variety, significance, autonomy, feedback, and identity to incumbents create stress and reduce satisfaction and involvement in the job.

Behavioral symptoms:

But moderate levels of stress experienced continually over long periods, as typified by the emergency room staff in a large urban hospital can result in lower performance. This may explain why emergency room staffs at such hospitals are frequently rotated and why it is unusual to find individuals who have spent the bulk of their career in such an environment. In effect, to do so would expose the individual to the risk of “career burnout�.