“In my naivety, I thought it was only people who were seriously mentally ill who experienced the symptoms that I experienced when I was stressed, it just built and built until I was like a volcano and then I exploded"

What is stress?

Stress occurs when pressure exceeds your perceived ability to cope. So, it isn’t just external pressure such as reaching deadlines but whether you believe you can cope with a situation that you perceive as important or threatening.

Everyone is different and each of us can take different amounts of pressure.

People experiencing stress have higher levels of the various stress hormones in their blood stream than people who feel merely challenged. At the right level and amount of pressure we work at our optimum. We will be effective, creative, decisive, alert and stimulated.

Too much pressure can lead to anxiety and burnout. Too little pressure, and we become bored, apathetic, depressed and finally may even reach the opposite of burnout.

What are the symptoms

Research has shown that stress can be responsible for a variety of ailments;

  • Heart attacks/ strokes
  • Hypertension/high blood pressure
  • Ulcers
  • Diabetes
  • Angina
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Anxiety and depression

Psychological symptoms

  • Anger
  • Anxious, apprehensive, frightened, worrying thoughts
  • Ashamed, embarrassed
  • Depressed or feeling low
  • Guilty
  • Jealous
  • Mood swings
  • Reduces self-esteem, self-worth
  • Feeling out of control, helpless
  • Suicidal idea
  • Paranoid thinking
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Intrusive images or thoughts
  • Negative images of things going wrong
  • Nightmares


  • Dry mouth
  • Clammy hands
  • Frequent colds or other infections
  • Palpitation or thumping heartbeat
  • Breathlessness
  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Feeling faint or fainting
  • Migraines
  • Vague aches and pains
  • Tension headaches
  • Backache
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhoea
  • IBS
  • Constipation
  • Skin complaints and asthma
  • Excessive sweating
  • Change to the menstrual patterns
  • Rapid weight change