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Anxiety, Stress and Panic Attacks and Symptoms

Some life experiences:

Have you just achieved that promotion at work which sounds and feels great until you discover and realise that now you have to do 'Presentations' and that involves 'Public Speaking'. You go into near-panic feelings at this prospect.

Don't you just love those meetings at work where you've all just arrived and are sitting around the conference table. Whoever is running the meeting says, "Let's all introduce ourselves starting here," and points to someone randomly. You are some way around the circle and so you start rehearsing in your mind what you are going to say - and your heart starts banging in your chest, you get those butterflies or sick feeling in your stomach. You start to sweat and your mind goes blank. You don't hear or listen to what anyone says as your mind tries to go into overdrive but just won't work. It comes to your turn and you blab out your piece which is nothing like you have been rehearsing and you sit down wishing the earth would swallow you up, and why couldn't you have been first on and got it over with. You may actually listen to the remaining people.

You have to make a speech at a wedding. You have written it out carefully, time and time again. Your turn is coming closer and the old butterflies start, you get up to deliver and your mouth goes dry. You take a deep breath because you think it will help but it doesn't seem to make much difference to all those feelings of dread and panic. You try and concentrate on what you have written and the words don't make any sense. The hand holding your carefully written speech won't stop shaking. You are making such an idiot of yourself and you start to feel hot and begin to flush. Your jokes fall flat and you only hear one embarrassed titter somewhere but you can't tell where from because of the mush in your ears. God, this is awful let me die now. Everyone else in the room is glad it's not them.

Got an interview coming up? Read Kirsty's Story and see how much you identify with.

I think it may be useful to clarify the difference between Worry, Anxiety, Stress and Panic Attacks:

  • Worry = thoughts. Circular thinking that goes round and round in your head with little relief or respite and can be very tiring, exhausting sometimes, and can make you imagine that things in your life are worse than they really are and prevents you from confronting your fears. You shove it off into the background and try to stop thinking about it, you can't stop thinking about it and so it gradually gets worse and worse and stronger and stronger until it turns into an Anxiety.
  • Anxiety = feeling. Emotional feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread which creates a milder form of the stress and panic attack physiological symptoms. You may be able to identify the cause of your anxiety but some people are unable to do this and have a background unidentifiable anxiety which is 'just there' which causes a permanent cloud over their life and robs them of a happy, carefree existence. As times goes by and the anxiety is not being dealt with it gradually increases to the point of creating a Stress reaction and condition.
  • Stress = physical. This creates real physical responses in your body some of which you may not be aware of but are causing physiological damage. These are many symptoms of chronic background stress (see below) but there are many situations that cause acute stress and lead to Panic Attacks.
  • Panic Attacks = survival reaction - the 'Fight or Flight Syndrome'. This survival reaction is old evolutionary stuff that is well embedded in our genes from over 900 million years of evolution ever since we crawled out of the primordial ooze and developed over the millennia as a necessary part of the survival of the species. The reaction may have been useful to our ancestor caveman but is usually not a lot of use to us now, however we now have the brain power in the frontal lobes of our neo-cortex which develops very good imaginations - imaginations which the old primitive parts of our brain interprets as being life-threatening and so kicks off the 'fight or flight' reaction.
  • palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate

  • sweating

  • trembling or shaking

  • shortness of breath or smothering sensations

  • choking feelings

  • chest pain or discomfort

  • nausea or abdominal distress

  • dizziness, unsteadiness, light-headedness or faintness

  • de-realisation (feelings of unreality) or depersonalisation (being detached from oneself)

  • fear of losing control or going crazy

  • fear of dying

  • paraesthesias (an abnormal or inappropriate sensation in an organ, part, or area of the skin, as of burning, prickling, tingling, etc.)


These days stress is becoming more recognized for the real problem it is. Doctors and health professionals are aware of it, they know the symptoms but find difficulty with treatments because they just don't have the time to spend with patients, no where near long enough anyway.

Stress takes many forms and can have a harmful effect on our psychological well-being and physical health. An individual's life can be enormously affected by stress especially when it's excessive and prolonged. Not only their health and working life, but also their relationships.

Unfortunately the sufferer is often not aware of the problem, going through their daily lives in a constant state of background anxiety. The very nature of the problem, being the feeling of an inability to cope, leads many to deny it exists and they suffer in silence.

There are two different aspects to stress - the psychological and the physical.

Psychological stress is most easily described as a feeling of being unable to cope any more, with a corresponding feeling of despondency, a lack of self-worth and value which can lead to frustration and a never-ending circle of gloom and near panic. Activities that once were easy become a struggle. The ability to think clearly or logically becomes impaired. Sleep is affected and the situation worsens. This can result in finding it very hard even getting out of the door to go to work let alone being motivated for good work performance . It causes problems with relationships both at work, at home and socially. 

Physical stress is caused by the body's reaction to the psychological stress making the body run on adrenaline in an almost permanent state of the classic 'Fight or Flight' syndrome. The 'fight or flight' is the normal physical response to danger, which prepared our ancestor caveman's body to either fight or run to save life, stay alive and pass genes onto the next generation. This response would normally have been fairly short-lived, once the danger had passed and the physical body returned to its normal quiescent state. The competitive world that we live in now creates difficulties because the human body's evolution is far slower than the rapid advance of our intellectual capabilities. Whilst this competitive world and the anxieties it creates are not usually life-threatening the primitive ancestral sub-conscious mind doesn't know that they are not life-threatening and so it reacts as though they are stimulating the physical body into the fight or flight response.  The human body and mind is not designed to live with this type of stress day after day, week after week, month after month. If it goes on for too long it produces all the classic symptoms of stress:-

  • apathy

  • backache

  • bouts of irritability or anger

  • comfort eating

  • constant background anxiety for no apparent reason

  • constant colds, sore throat or other minor infections

  • depression

  • erectile dysfunction

  • heart palpitations

  • increased pain in existing conditions like arthritis

  • increased smoking, drinking or escapist drug-taking

  • insomnia

  • irrational behaviour

  • lack of concentration

  • loss of appetite

  • loss of confidence

  • loss of sex-drive

  • low self-esteem

  • missed periods

  • neck-ache

  • odd unexplained aches and pains

  • skin infections and conditions

  • tension headaches

  • tiredness

If you suffer from any or all of these, whether caused by stress at work, at home, socially or something as yet unknown, then go to the Contact page to make an appointment.


Been dumped?
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Cosmetic Surgery
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Morning Sickness
Panic Attacks
Phobia examples:
   ● Flying
Public Speaking
Relationship issues
Regret about the past
Self Confidence
Self Esteem
Sex Performance
Social Anxiety
Student exam nerves
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Taking control of life
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Neil Robinson 2013

Alcohol │ Addictions │ Anxiety │ Been dumped? │ Bad habits │ Bereavement │ Blushing │ Child Abuse │ Comfort eating │ Commitment │ Confidence │ Cosmetic Surgery
 │ Divorce │ Depression │ Driving Test │ Empty Nest Syndrome │ Erectile Dysfunction │ Exam nerves │ Excessive drinking │ Fear │ Fertility  │ Flying
 │ Getting Married │ Giving birth  │ Guilt from the past │ Insomnia │ Interviews │ Laser Surgery │ Morning Sickness  │ Nail-biting │ Overweight
Panic Attacks
 │ Phobia examples:   Bells   Birds   Commitment   Darkness   ● Flying   Needles │ Post-Traumatic-Stress │ Pregnant

 │ Public Speaking │ Redundant │ Relationship issues │ Regret about the past │ Self Confidence │ Self Esteem
Sex Performance
 │ Social Anxiety │ Student exam nerves │ Student Performance │ Smoking
 │ Taking control of life │ Unattractive │ Weight Loss

The contents of this website are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or medical treatment.