Stress Types

A Model of Health including Five Stress Types

Since symptoms of distress can be overwhelming, the Lifetrack model categorizes stress symptoms (including psychiatric symptoms) into 5 broad categories and teaches us how to recognize them as escalating warning signals that the mind is overwhelmed by the challenges it faces.

According to Dr. Yukio Ishizuka, stress is not a disease or the cause of suffering but a natural and inevitable consequence of the interaction between one’s pattern of personality and life’s challenges.

Stress signals us that our ways of thinking, feeling and acting — our personality — is inadequate to handle the challenges we currently face.  The symptoms of stress often will persist and escalate until we are forced to pay attention.

Five Stress Types

At different moments in life, one may encounter symptoms of stress. One can experience anxiety, anger, physical symptoms, depression or psychosis — or a mixture of all of them. They can be triggered by an event, or our perception of an event, in our self, intimacy or achievement spheres.

All signals of stress have the same mission: to force you to reach out for help.  It is important to recognize that regardless of how bright, strong and resilient you may be, if the challenges you face are more than you can handle at one time, any of the five symptoms may manifest. Which symptoms you experience depends on your innate characteristics, vulnerabilities, and earlier experiences of successful or unsuccessful coping.


Anxiety can mobilize you to do what needs to get done. However, when you are constantly anxious, you may be getting a signal that something is wrong.


If you are forced to do what you feel too difficult or uncomfortable, irritability and anger may join or replace anxiety. While anger can mobilize you to take action, when out of control it becomes counter-productive.

Physical Symptoms

If you are unwilling or unable to accept that you are under stress, physical symptoms may be the only way to force you to slow down. Even if you believe that your illness is psychologically induced, it is always important to seek medical advice.


A depressed mind shuts down, protecting itself much like a fuse designed to blow when overloaded. Depression usually forces people to reach out. Efforts to achieve “the impossible” are replaced by preoccupations with the distressful symptoms of depression.


When other distress signals such as depression are ignored or not tolerated, psychosis may be triggered. Thoughts, feelings and actions become incoherent, confused, inappropriate, ambivalent or paralyzed.

Someone who experiences psychotic symptoms loses his or her capacity, to think, feel and act coherently and would not be able to recognize the symptoms of psychosis nor to rate himself or herself until medication has returned the mind to normal functioning.

Psychotic symptoms must be treated by professional help.  Medications are essential to control such symptoms.  Once controlled, the individual can then return to the same challenge of becoming closer to another human being, developing a sense of self or achievement.

The Hierarchy of Stress

The five stress types (anxiety, anger, physical-symptoms, depression and psychosis) can sometimes be experienced as a hierarchy of stress.

Hierarchy of Stress

Hierarchy of Stress

As a first defense the mind may experience anxiety.  If anxiety is not heeded, the mind may then experience anger.  Should that too not be heeded, physical symptoms may develop.   For some depression could follow.  And for others, psychosis.

Not all individuals experience a hierarchy of symptoms.  Some have a mixture of the five. Others have a clear ‘preference’ for one of the five stress types that seems to effective in slowing them down.  Each time a symptom works in the past or is successful at stopping us from a stressful situation, it may become embolden, and re-occur at times seeming to manifest itself as a disease.

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