Symptoms & Warning Signs

Awareness

Step 1 – Learn How To Recognize The Symptoms And Warning Signs

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How Could We Possibly Not Recognize The Symptoms And Warning Signs

With everything we hear about stress and mental illness it might seem absurd to think anyone could miss that they were suffering from stress until it was too late.   By that, I mean that their stress had either manifested into something like anxiety, panic attacks, burnout and agoraphobia, or that it had started to affect other areas of their health, or lives in general.  But if you look at the way stress is often talked about in the media and especially in the “mental health circles” then it should come as no surprise that the topic is causing a little bit confusing.

One of the reasons we often miss the warning signs that we could be suffering the effects of stress is because conditions such as stress, anxiety, panic attacks, burnout, depression and agoraphobia are usually talked about, and considered to be, or at least labeled as “mental” illness.  This label implies that, or at least leads many of us to believe that this is an illness of the brain or the mind.

However, if you look at the typical symptoms associated with stress, and with what I’d rather think about as stress related conditions, as opposed to “mental illness”, you will notice that most of the symptoms are actually physical.  And it is usually these physical symptoms that we notice first when we are suffering from stress.  So, since we are more tuned into the “physical” symptoms, and not the “mental” ones we usually go looking for the cause of that “physical” symptom, and may end up completely overlooking the fact that the symptoms could have been a warning sign of stress.

A good example of this was when I used to suffer with chronic neck, back and should tension and stiffness that was so painful and knotted that I actually went to the doctor because it felt as though I was only breathing through one lung.  At the time I was also having great difficulty falling or staying asleep, and had thought that the physical pain I was experiencing was a result of being so tired, and restless when in bed, and at the same time it seemed as though my sleeping difficulties were a result of the pain I was in.  As a result I went to the doctor who referred me to physiotherapy where they attempted to treat this chronic stiffness (the symptom) which of course could not be relieved because of the stress (the cause of the stiffness) had been completely overlooked.  And this is not an uncommon thing to happen at all.

Now, since so many of the symptoms are actually physical (as in the body), and since stress is considered to be a mental illness (as in the mind or in the head), then not only are we missing many of the actual symptoms or warning signs of stress but there also seems to be a real disconnect in understanding the whole issue, and what seems to be even more obvious is this very real contradiction of terms.  And it is because of this that I think that in order to gain a real sense of awareness about what stress is and how it affects us then we really need to be looking at stress as a whole mind body experience.

Another problem with the label of mental illness and the average person’s ability to identify with it is the fact that this label is being used as a one size fits all label where anyone, whether they are suffering with stress, anxiety, panic attacks, burnout or agoraphobia, or if they have psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies can all be deemed as being mentally ill.  It’s no wonder so many people still have a problem with the stigma that has long been attached to mental illness, and which leads many to believe that mental illness is something that you either have, or do not have, whichever the case may be.  And sadly, this sort thinking could prevent a person from realizing that conditions such as anxiety and panic attacks could actually manifest as a result of prolonged or acute stress.

By being aware that stress could potentially manifest in such a way could act as a great motivator to learn how to become more aware and manage our daily stress so that we can prevent it from spiralling out of control and becoming anything more than just that, STRESS!  Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to arm ourselves with the right knowledge.

Following you will find lists of symptoms that I recommend you familiarize yourself with. These lists are here for the purpose of raising awareness of some of the symptoms and warning signs of stress.  Please use the lists only to familiarize yourself with the symptoms, however, do not use them as a means to attempt to diagnose yourself.  Arming yourself with such knowledge will also allow you to better prepare yourself if you do find yourself suffering with stress in which case you need to take a step back and look at what is really causing the stress in your life.  And, start taking extra special care of yourself, and that may well include a visit to the doctor.

 

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Recognizing The Symptoms Of Stress

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This list is not necessarily exhaustive. 

Constantly Worrying About A Particular Problem

Change In Sleeping Patterns, Either Sleeping Too Much Or Having Difficulty Falling And Staying Asleep

Abnormal Eating Habits, Either Overeating Or Not Eating Enough

Tension – Especially In The Neck, Jaw, Shoulders And Around The Eyes

Headaches Or Stomach-aches

Irritable

Tired Or Lethargic

Pessimistic Outlook

Easily Upset

Hypersensitive

Feeling Overwhelmed

Negative Self Talk

Negative Or Scary Thoughts

Problems Concentrating

Obsessive Thinking

Avoiding Social Situations

Feeling Blue Or Rundown

Learning How To Recognize The Symptoms Of Stress Could Prompt You To Take The Right Action At The Right Time.  This Could Also Prevent Your Stress From Manifesting Into Anxiety, Panic Attacks Or Agoraphobia.

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Anxiety

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When suffering with anxiety, in addition to the symptoms of stress you may also experience:

Trembling – Internally And Externally – Visibly Shaking

Muscle Tension

Dry Mouth

Shortness Of Breath

Heart Palpitations

Feeling Light Headed

Feeling Dissociated Or Unreal

Sweaty Or Clammy Hands

You May Feel Confused, Overwhelmed Or Have Difficulty Thinking Straight

Feeling Helpless, Hopeless Or Fearful

If Our Body Is Our Temple, Then To Suffer With Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Depression And Agoraphobia Is More Like Living In The Temple Of Doom

 

Recognizing The Symptoms Of Panic Attacks

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Anxiety may be accompanied by panic attacks.  These attacks are much more violent on the body and will usually come on very quickly, in what may seem like an instant, and they can last up to a few minutes.  They are usually so intense that they can leave you feeling exhausted, bewildered, dissociated or disconnected.  A panic attack may include some or all of the following symptoms although you may also experience others as well.

Feeling Very Hot – Especially Around The Neck, Ears & Face

Racing Heart

Trembling And Shaking

Feeling Faint

Tightness In The Chest – Heart Pounding

Sweating

Nausea

Numbness Or Tingling In The Face, Hands, Legs

Stomach Upset

Feeling Paralysed By Fear

Temperate Fluctuations – Very Hot, Chilled or Both

Tightness In The Throat Or Feeling As Though You Might Choke

Experiencing A Fear of Losing Control, That You May Pass Out, Or That You Are Going To Die.  Approximately 50% of all suspected heart attacks turn out to be a panic attack.

Agoraphobia

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The entire world can seem like a very scary place when you suffer with agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is an intense fear of having a panic attack, losing control, or doing something crazy while a) either outside in a public place, or b) too far away from your point of safety (usually your home, or possibly your car). This fear is usually initiated by the intense feelings and symptoms of anxiety, panic and fear, and can cause someone to become fearful of public places and avoid going outside altogether.

There are varying degrees of agoraphobia and it can develop so quickly and easily for those who suffer with anxiety and panic attacks. Knowing how to recognize the symptoms, understanding how this can manifest and develop, and learning how to manage your stress could protect you from ever having this happen to you.  To read more about agoraphobia and how it can develop please download your copy of The Stress And Burnout Awareness, Symptoms And Warning Signs Free Report

Social Phobia Or Shyness

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 Social phobia is a label which is often awarded to anyone who is shy, or feels anxious whenever in the company of others, especially of those they do not know.  It is gaining ground as one of the most popular phobias to have and the label is often given, along with a prescription of anti-anxiety medication, to people who lack close friendships, have difficulty making friends or feel anxious in groups.

Stress Is A Mind Body Experience

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I believe that when a person only considers stress to be a mental illness they are missing the opportunity to heal.  After suffering with stress, anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia, and going the route of trying to get well through therapy but not experiencing any relief at all, I realized that part of the problem was that the focus was all about changing my thoughts.  Even recently when quizzing a few therapists on how one should recover from anxiety the answers we unanimous, it’s the thoughts, those thoughts have got to go.  Sadly, I realized the same approach is still being used all these years later.

What I had realized myself which caused a shift in my perception and how I was to deal with getting well, was the fact that I realized that most of the symptoms were actually physical even thought the mental health industry still largely talks about and treats stress as thought it is all in the head (in your thoughts).  The truth is that we are mind body entities and stress is a mind body experience.  Let me explain a little. Consider this every thought whether positive or negative will elicit a certain set of feelings.  This means that everything that we experience in life is a mind body experience.  If we think about a certain thing then it will elicit, or bring about certain feelings and if we feel a certain way, then these feelings, if they are powerful enough, will generate associated thoughts.  There is no getting around this as it is a fact of life.

We are mind/body entities, we each live in a physical body, but we especially in the Western Culture have been trained to think (sometimes way too much) with our minds and in turn discouraged from allowing ourselves to trust our feelings, being our physical feelings and our intuitionsBut I believe that we need to consider both – always!

I like to think of it this way.  We think with our conscious mind, our brain or in our heads, whichever way you want to see it,  and we feel throughout our bodies, or our subconscious minds.

Feelings are about energy, flow and freedom.  Thought is about vision, imagination and planning.  Thoughts can be very powerful, but when used alone they can also be very restrictive.  Feelings can bring integrity to our thoughts and can be a real driving force.

We need to allow our thoughts and our feelings to work together in harmony, after all this is how we experience reality.

Relax And Take Comfort In Knowing That You Can Overcome This

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