Diagnosis of stress

Metabolism. 2002 Jun;51(6 Suppl 1):37-9. doi: 10.1053/meta.2002.33190.


Stress is defined as a disruption of normal homeostasis. During exposure to stress stimuli, the body responds physiologically by increased activity of both the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the sympathoadrenal system (SAS). Stress also gives rise to a number of characteristic behavioral responses. Diagnosis of stress, therefore, depends on a multitude of factors and is complex. A variety of approaches to the diagnosis of stress have been employed, including the use of questionnaires, biochemical measures, and physiologic techniques. Most of these methods are subject to experimental error and must be viewed with caution. A thorough, stress-oriented, face-to-face medical interview is currently the most practicable way to diagnose stress and its effects. It remains for future research to develop a cleaner methodology to diagnose this elusive, yet, all too common medical entity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Hydrocortisone / urine
  • Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiopathology
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiopathology
  • Stress, Physiological / diagnosis*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiopathology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Catecholamines
  • Hydrocortisone