What is Perceived Stress and How to Measure It


Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is a widely used psychological tool for assessing an individual’s perception of stress. It is a precise measure of personal stress.  It measures the extent to which one views life situations as stressful, focusing on factors like unpredictability, uncontrollability, and feeling overwhelmed. It is an assessment of the degree to which situations in one’s life are perceived as stressful. It enables you to comprehend, assess, and eventually overcome stress. 

In this blog, you will get to know about the perceived stress, what PSS is, and what it is used for. Most importantly, this article will assist in providing complete information for managing stress. So, let’s begin.

What is perceived stress?

It is the feelings or thoughts that an individual has about how much stress they are under at a given point in time or over a given period. It often stems from a deficiency in emotional regulation, and the perceived intensity of stress can surpass the actual stressors at hand. Most often, our mind starts getting various puzzled thoughts about the future. Such thoughts are the most common signs of perceived stress. Stress is not caused by overthinking.  Negative brain activity can negatively affect your overall physical, mental, or emotional well-being. 

It is a serious issue, as it can cause a lot of serious illnesses like:

  • Tension,  headache,  pain and fatigue 
  • Anxiety, disturbance 
  • Gastric issues, digestion problems 
  • Eating disorders i.e., amenorrhoea,  dysmenorrhoea.
  • Sleep issues I.e Insomnia 
  • Depression, and  panic attacks 
  • Lack of brain  function i.e., focus and motivation 

Some of these factors are direct causes of perceived stress.  It is important to keep your mental health in control for the prevention of these underlying illnesses.

What is the perceived stress scale?

It was discovered earlier in 1980. It is a measure of the degree of stress for individuals. This test consists of a self-reported questionnaire that was designed to measure the degree to which situations in one’s life are appraised as stressful. The PSS-10 determines how unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloaded respondents find their lives. 

A total of 10 questions are required on this scale.  All are specially designed to check the calibre of a person’s mind. Let’s have some examples of the questions of the scales :

  • What is the number of times you have felt distress in the last month?
  • What are some times in the last month when you felt you were on top of things?
  • During the past month, how many times have you felt useless or incapable? 

These are some common questions that elaborate on how effectively this scale is designed. By measuring every minor detail, we can easily highlight perceived stress. Total scoring depends upon 10 questions and 40 scores relatively.  If your score is between 0 and 13, it means you have low stress. If it’s between 14 and 26, it’s moderate stress. A score between 27 and 40 indicates high stress.

What is the difference between the Perceived Stress Scale and the General Health Questionnaire?

The PSS and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) are both psychological assessment tools, but they serve different purposes. Here’s how they differ:

Perceived-Stress Scale (PSS):

  • Focus – Measures the perception of stress by assessing how individuals appraise situations in their lives as stressful.
  • Design – Specifically designed to tap into feelings of unpredictability, uncontrollability, and overload in one’s life.
  • Applicability – Intended for use in community samples with at least a junior high school education.
  • Time Frame – Asks about feelings and thoughts during the last month.

General Health Questionnaire (GHQ):

  • Focus – Assesses overall mental health and detects psychiatric disorders in a general population.
  • Design – Covers a broader range of mental health issues, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, social dysfunction, and loss of confidence.
  • Applicability – Used as a screening tool for identifying individuals at risk of developing psychiatric disorders.
  • Time Frame – Typically refers to the current state of mental health at the time of assessment.

In summary, both assessments deal with mental health; however, the GHQ is a more comprehensive tool designed to identify a range of mental health issues in the general population, whilst the PSS concentrates on the perception of stress and its components.

What is the Perceived-Stress Scale used for?

The PSS is used to assess the perception level of an individual. In any stressful situation, the extent of emotional disturbance is majorly measured by this. Individuals who are at the major risk of perceived stress can be identified by this.

Take the test

For the evaluation of stress degree, take the PSS test. For this purpose, find a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus on your emotions. Take quality time together and answer your questions


In part 1, you’ve to answer the questions. The answers should be honest and considered emotionally. The scale uses a Likert-type response format, indicating your emotional well-being


In this part, you will get your results. It might help explore stress, management techniques, or support. 

How do you interpret the Perceived Stress results?

The interpretation of the PSS majorly depends upon the score. The score falls into 3 subcategories that help to understand the degree. 

Low stress 

A low perceived stress score falls in the 0-13 range. This indicates that you have low self-control and confidence. It shows the low management skills of a person. Maintain healthy coping methods and continue to manage stress efficiently.

Moderate stress

Moderate perceived stress score falls in the 14-26 range. Even when managing stress effectively, there are still some areas that require your attention. To overcome this, Investigate stress management skills, consider obtaining help, and address specific stresses if possible. 

High stress 

A higher score is between 27 and 40. This means you’re feeling a lot of stress, and it might be helpful to use a comprehensive approach to manage it. Taking proactive steps for stress management could involve seeking help from experts, trying stress-relieving techniques, and addressing the main reasons causing stress

Remember that, while the PSS can provide useful information, it is not a diagnostic tool. If you are concerned about your stress levels or overall well-being, speaking with a healthcare professional or mental health expert can provide you with tailored advice and assistance.

Benefits of Measuring Perceived Stress

Various benefits of measuring Perceived Stress are acknowledged, which are as written below:


The PSS measures perceived stress to improve self-awareness. Understanding your stress levels allows you to discover potential triggers and areas for improvement in coping techniques.

Early intervention 

Regular evaluation allows for early detection of rising stress levels. This early detection enables proactive intervention, preventing stress from progressing into more serious mental health problems.

Customised Coping tactics

Knowing your stress levels allows you to personalise coping tactics to your own needs. Understanding your stress allows you to choose successful remedies, whether it’s mindfulness, relaxation techniques, or seeking social support.

Burnout Prevention

Monitoring perceived stress is critical for burnout prevention, particularly in high-stress workplaces. Recognizing when stress levels have reached a critical level allows for changes in workload and self-care routines.

Improvement of well-being 

Measurement of stress promotes a proactive approach to mental health. It enables people to take charge of their well-being. Encouraging a positive attitude and resilience in the face of adversity can help a lot. Maintaining mental health ensures quality life-most importantly a stress-free life. It can include meditation, yoga, gym, and cardio exercises.  Following a structured 20-minute daily routine can develop discipline and focus. 

How to Prevent Stress

Preventing stress is as crucial as managing it. We’ll share practical tips on how you can keep stress at bay in your daily life.


Regular physical activity releases endorphins. It might reduce stress hormones and provide a sense of well-being. Moreover, such activities develop your focus by enhancing brain functionality. Incorporate activities you enjoy, such as walking, jogging, or dancing, into your regimen.

Eat well

A balanced diet promotes general health, including mental well-being. Nutrient-dense diets aid in optimal brain function and stress reduction. Include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins in your meals. Healthy eating habits also enhance the quality of life. This step eventually reduces stress and leads to a better lifestyle.

Seek social support

Sharing worries with friends or family provides emotional support. It lowers the feelings of loneliness and stress. Maintain social contacts, and plan regular get-togethers. Don’t be afraid to express yourself. Furthermore,  you can contact a therapist if you want to rent out.  Taking therapy sessions from psychologists can be beneficial. 

Don’t forget to breathe

Deep breathing exercises promote the body’s relaxation response, lowering stress and boosting mental peace. Practice deep breathing during stressful situations or add mindfulness activities into your everyday practice. According to psychologists, deep breathing has helped a lot in patients who are facing depression. As our brain needs pauses, while performing this activity, it gives proper space.


To wrap it up, the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) assists us in determining what the level

Or our stress. With the help of it, individuals can take control of their stress levels. It is a valuable resource for individuals sееking to manage their stress lеvеls effectively. By understanding thе scalе and following our tips for strеss prevention, you can enhance your ovеrall wеll-bеing. Take control of your strеss and prioritize your mental health.