I'm referring to mental stress - state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.


4 Answers 4


It really depends on the situtation but genearlly speaking I think a lightening bolt striking through a brain (or possibily a heart for specificly emotional stress) would work quite well in most situations.

  • I like where you're heading with this but it could be mistaken for a stroke or a heart attack. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 15:12

Muller-Brockmann did some excellent designs for a sleeping medicine before. I couldn't find them online, but they are a book that I have at home. Will take some pics and add them later.


There is a notion of tensile stress in materials, enter image description here

perhaps that would work?

  • How does that relate to emotional stress, care to explain?
    – Luciano
    Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 12:43
  • It doesn't, really, but it is the same word. Lots of 'stress' can cause the material/person to break. The symbolism is similar to why we still use Floppy disks as icons to save on a computer - noone uses floppy disks anymore, but everyone understands the symbol. Commented Mar 29, 2017 at 19:58
  • Yes but floppies (floppys?) used to be used to save files, hence the connection. It's not the same as just using the same word.
    – Luciano
    Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 8:39
  • Sure, but consider the other image with a light-bulb appearing above a persons head to indicate an idea - that never happens IRL. It is symbolism. The word 'stress' as a psychological term probably stems from the physical description above. Commented Mar 30, 2017 at 10:08

Perhaps a face with excess sweat drops, or a person sitting with their elbows on a desk with hands touching temples of the head. I like the above idea too.

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