Stress and Anxiety

As a therapist this is one of the areas I treat on a regular basis. This phenomenon is nothing new and is known as the fight or flight response.

Fight or flight

The fight-or-flight response (also called hyper arousal or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.

The Effects of Stress


Reading this could be hazardous to your health.

This is just to highlight the condition, as humans we all

tend to identify with symptoms, ‘talk ourselves ill’

You can always jump straight to the end of this, in fact I

advise you to, and just read the good stuff.

There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been

linked to stress, for example, depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke,

hypertension, disturbances to the immune system that increase

susceptibility to infections, a host of viral linked disorders ranging from

the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, as well as

autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Stress can have direct effects on the skin e.g. rashes, hives, atopic and

dermatitis. The gastrointestinal system can be affected: peptic ulcer,

irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. It can also contribute to

insomnia and degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s

disease. In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot

play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected. This

list will undoubtedly grow as the extensive ramifications of stress are

increasingly being appreciated.

50 Common Signs and Symptoms of Stress

1. Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain. 2. Gritting, grinding

teeth. 3. Stuttering or stammering. 4. Tremors, trembling of lips, or

hands. 5. Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms. 6. Light headedness,

faintness, dizziness. 7. Ringing, buzzing or “popping sounds. 8.

Frequent blushing, sweating. 9. Cold or sweaty hands, feet. 10. Dry

mouth, problems swallowing. 11. Frequent colds, infections, herpes

sores. 12. Rashes, itching, hives, “goose bumps.” 13. Unexplained or

frequent “allergy” attacks. 14. Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea. 15.

Excess belching, flatulence. 16. Constipation, diarrhoea, loss of control.

17. Difficulty breathing, frequent sighing. 18. Sudden attacks of life

threatening panic. 19. Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse. 20. Frequent

urination. 21. Diminished sexual desire or performance. 22. Excess

anxiety, worry, guilt, nervousness. 23 increased anger, frustration, and

hostility. 24. Depression, frequent or wild mood swings. 25. Increased or

decreased appetite. 26. Insomnia, nightmares, disturbing dreams. 27.

Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts. 28. Trouble learning new

information. 29. Forgetfulness, disorganization, confusion. 30. Difficulty

in making decisions. 31. Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed. 32.

Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts. 33. Feelings of loneliness or

worthlessness. 34. Little interest in appearance, punctuality. 35. Nervous

habits, fidgeting, feet tapping. 36. Increased frustration, irritability,

edginess. 37. Overreaction to petty annoyances. 38. Increased number

of minor accidents. 39. Obsessive or compulsive behaviour. 40. Reduced

work efficiency or productivity 41. Lies or excuses in order to cover up

poor work. 42. Rapid or mumbled speech. 43. Excessive defensiveness

or suspiciousness. 44. Problems in communication, sharing. 45. Social

withdrawal and isolation. 46. Constant tiredness, weakness and fatigue.

47. Frequent use of over-the-counter drugs. 48. Weight gain or loss

without diet. 49. Increased smoking, alcohol or drug use. 50. Excessive

gambling or impulse buying.

As demonstrated in the above list, stress can have wide

ranging effects on emotions, mood and behaviour.

Equally important but often less appreciated are effects

on various systems, organs and tissues all over the

body. It’s a trap once in it is difficult to see a way out.

However a lot of these symptoms may be due to other

reasons or medical conditions. If you don’t feel stressed

then you probably aren’t so don’t go looking.

It is difficult to think logically and apply steps when you are troubled so don’t be put off just persevere and if that doesn’t work see a good therapist.

Good News

Stress is just a reaction to the over production and retention of

Chemicals which are produced during the aforementioned Fight

or Flight system. We don’t need this system as often as we

used to and some people find it difficult to turn it off or even

perversely, enjoy the initially rush of Chemicals: catecholamine’s,

especially norepinephrine and epinephrine the hormones estrogen,

testosterone, and cortisol, as well as the neurotransmitters dopamine

and serotonin. The body then instructs the autonomic system to

accept this and so the circle continues.

There are a lot of things you can do to alleviate this


Firstly recognise that what you are feeling is normal, for example policemen, night club doormen (Bouncers) can be alerted to an incident but by the time they have run over to where it is happening they just have to sit down, it’s called the Adrenalin Dump, similar to how you feel

after the stress has passed.