Difference between stress, eustress and distress

Difference between stress, eustress and distress

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Today it is evident that people do not have enough time to perform their activities, this sometimes produces a stress reaction. StressIt is a phenomenon that affects mental health and increases every day. For this reason this time we will touch on the theme of Stress, Eustress and Distress, to educate us in their manifestations and know when to ask for help.


  • 1 What is Stress?
  • 2 Types of Stress
  • 3 Symptoms of negative stress or distress.

What is stress?

Stress is a psychological construct that means physical and mental fatigue of a person, which produces a reaction in the organism (that is, it functions as a defense and response mechanism to the "threatening" situation). In general, there may be different stressors or causes that produce it, some of them can be individual (eg personality traits), others are linked to psychosocial factors (eg social behavior) or can have bioecological origin, that is, the response of Stress varies according to the functioning of the organism (i.e. the body's reactions) and environmental factors.

In Stress there is something known as “General Adaptation Syndrome”, Which refers to set of biological and physiological mechanisms that allow the individual to prepare for adaptation, defense or attack which promotes survival in an environment of hostile or threatening characteristics, which will determine what type of stress will occur. It is classified in 3 stages: alarm reaction which works as a preventive measure against exposure to novel stressors, then occurs resistance (generating negative stress) or adaptation (generating positive stress); finally when a resistance reaction is generated produces exhaustion or imbalance in the person.

Let's see a little more about the characteristics of each type of stress.

Types of Stress

The Eustress

The Eustress also know as positive stress it relates directly to the happiness hormone (called dopamine), based on the interaction between stressor and maximum body experience. It refers mainly to the coping capacity of an individual, that is, all the set of actions that allow an improvement in performance to perform a certain task. Let us get our comfort zone taking certain risks that are not dangerous in nature to reach personal self-realization.

The Distress

On the other hand the Distress also known as negative stress, which at physiological level is associated with the production of cortisol (hormone responsible for releasing in the presence of stress), this type of stress produces a physiological and psychological imbalance and is what we commonly know as "stress" (while positive stress is not very distinguished by people). A general level it is activated by a threat either internal or external that involves excessive effort. In certain extreme cases, it can trigger symptoms of an anxiety disorder and / or depression. Recall this type of stress is harmful to health and for this reason we see below the basic symptoms of negative stress.

Symptoms of negative stress or distress.

In general they are subdivided into 4 categories:

  • Cognitive Symptoms: memory loss, concentration problems, poor judgment (that is, the ability to understand things is impaired), thoughts that produce constant concern and perceive only the negative.
  • Emotional symptoms: mood swings (irritability, symptoms associated with depression - isolation, perception of loneliness -) and agitation.
  • Behavioral Symptoms: changes in habits (eating, sleeping), irresponsible behaviors (eg, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs).
  • Physical Symptoms: headaches, dizziness, constipation, nausea, chest pain, increased heart rate and respiratory rate (eg, hyperventilate, i.e. breathing agitatedly which can cause oxygen to enter through the mouth but not reach the brain, sometimes fainting); in addition to this sometimes produces consequences at the sexual level (decrease / loss of desire).


In conclusion, remember that if there is an unexpected situation that we do not know how to drive, it is preferable to move away and request support from family members, friends, even from a psychologist in order to have the positive strategies to solve it; instead of having an inappropriate reaction harmful to our health, which can lead to negative consequences for those around us and our environment. Remember that the idea is to prevent and not have to regret!

You may be interested:

  • What is stress, symptoms and treatment?
  • How to cope with stress
  • Cortisol, the stress hormone
  • How to relieve stress from economic concerns
  • Test on vulnerability to stress
  • Test on stress coping skills


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