How Stress Shows Up in Children and Adults

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A close up of a child hugging their parent with a stressed expression. Learn how stress counseling in Hillsboro, OR can offer support by searching for online anxiety treatment in Oregon. A Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR can tell you more info.

By Julie Daum, M.A., LPC

Stress is defined by one source to be, “…the body’s reaction to harmful situations — whether they’re real or perceived.

When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as “fight-or-flight” or the stress response.” Many of us have heard of the fight or flight response, I remember hearing about it back in middle school and high school science class and learned about how when danger happens our adrenaline rushes and helps us to survive, such as running away or fighting an attacker off. There is also the third part of this reaction that has been added to this reaction and it’s called “freeze,” which is when we can become numb emotionally and cut off from discomfort when stressors happen. But what is also known about fight/flight/freeze is that it can be a reaction to day-to-day life stressors as well. So, how does this reaction show up in children and adults?

Children and Stress

A close up of a hand moving wooden letter blocks that spell "stress free" and "stressful". Learn how a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR can offer support with stress management by searching for stress counseling in Clackamas, OR. Online anxiety treatment in Oregon can offer support from the comfort of home.

One key element is that children show stress through their actions rather than through their words. This is because kids are still growing and don’t have the ability to “talk things out,” like adults do. Many times, kids will take things personally and begin saying negative self-statements like “I’m dumb”, “Everyone is mean” or “I hate school.” They make statements like this because they don’t know how to be more specific about what is really bothering them and say how they are feeling. 

According to a recent article, some of the symptoms in children can include: 

  • Physical symptoms (stomachaches and headaches)
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Acting irritable or moody
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Routinely expressing worries
  • Complaining more than usual about school
  • Crying
  • Displaying surprising fearful reactions
  • Clinging to a parent or teacher
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
A man covers their face while sitting at the end of a couch. This could represent the stress of anxiety that stress counseling in Hillsboro, OR can address. Search for anxiety counseling in Hillsboro, OR to get in contact with a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR today.

Adults and Stress 

Adults show anxiety in a variety of ways and these symptoms can vary from person to person. One advantage for adults is that they can use their words more clearly to help others around them know what they are thinking and feeling, but this doesn’t make it easier. Life can be full of all sorts of stressors for adults, financial pressure, relationship problems, health issues, etc.

Another recent article shows that stress can show up in adults in several ways: 

  • Emotional Symptoms (feeling agitated, frustrated, moody, overwhelmed, and low self-esteem)
  • Physical Symptoms (headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, insomnia, dry mouth)
  • Cognitive Symptoms (constant worrying, racing thoughts, forgetfulness, poor judgment, and pessimistic) 
  • Behavioral Symptoms (changes in appetite, procrastination, increased use of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, increased nervous behaviors like nail biting) 

Some anxiety can be good because it can help children and adults get things done and protect themselves when needed, but it’s not good for the body to have long-term stress with no solution or relief. There is research that shows that unresolved stress can lead to a bunch of different mental health and physical health issues. There are many opportunities to get help when anxieties in life are not resolving. This can include getting professional help from a counselor and using tools like Emotional Freedom Technique and the Butterfly Hug (Bilateral Tapping) to reduce anxiety in the body can be very helpful (Lots of free video demonstrations of these techniques on the web).

Begin Stress Counseling in Hillsboro, OR

A close up of a person writing notes while sitting across from a person gesturing with their hands. This could represent the support that a Christian counselor in Hillsboro, OR can offer. Learn more about stress counseling in Hillsboro, OR by searching for child counseling in Clackamas, OR today.

Learning to manage anxiety in both adults and children often requires external support to fully develop effective coping skills. Our team of caring therapists are happy to offer support from our Hillsboro, OR-based practice. You can start your therapy journey with Life Discovery Counseling by following these simple steps:

  1. Contact us by calling 971-808-2686 ext. 700 or email
  2. Meet with a caring therapist.
  3. Start coping with anxiety in healthier ways!

Other Mental Health Services at Life Discovery Counseling in Oregon

If you are in Clackamas, Happy Valley, Damascus, Hillsboro, or Beaverton, we can help you in person at one of our comfortable therapy clinicsChristian counseling is the cornerstone of our approach to therapy. We see both adults and children in counseling. We also work with depression treatmentanxiety therapytrauma therapy and PTSD treatmentrelationship issuesmarriage problems, and postpartum counseling. No matter where you are in the state, we can provide the support you need with online therapy in Oregon. Once you’re ready to start, we’re ready to meet you. Let’s connect!


Web MD, “Stress Symptoms,”

American Psychological Association, “Identifying signs of stress in your children and teens,”

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