Introduction to Toxic Stress

Imagine something that can decrease your chances of making good grades in school, performing well in sports, having fun, or making friends. Imagine something that can increase your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, liver disease, depression, and anxiety. Imagine something that can even accelerate the aging process. This “something” is known as toxic stress.


Everyone experiences stress in life, but toxic stress is different from everyday stress. This type of stress is referred to as “toxic” because it is harmful or dangerous to your health. Toxic stress occurs when you experience something extremely stressful over and over again for a long period of time without the emotional support of adults or caregivers.



You probably have known someone who had many bad things happen to them during their childhood. For example:

•  They had to leave behind family in another country.

•  Their parents couldn’t find work.

•  Their parents fought a lot.

•  One of their brothers or sisters did drugs.

•  One of their parents drank too much.

•  Their parents’ fights turned physical.

•  One of their family members was taken to jail.




Maybe you have had similar experiences. Toxic stress occurs when things like that happen to us and we don’t have anybody to protect us from them.


The good news is that there are things we can do reduce the negative effects of toxic stress. This website will provide you with resources to help you learn how to deal with toxic stress and minimize its negative effects.


Did you know?

Keeping problems to yourself can make you feel worse. Even though talking about a personal problem can be hard at first, talking will usually help you feel better.  It is important to find someone you can trust and ask for help.

Need More?

In addition to checking out our ebook and resources page, consider talking with your doctor, school nurse or guidance counselor if you are having a hard time dealing with a problem.

Sponsored by Florida State University College of Medicine

© Copyright, Florida State University.  All rights reserved.