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Stress causes physical changes in the body designed to help you take on threats or difficulties. You may notice that your heart pounds, your breathing quickens, your muscles tense and you start to sweat.
This is sometimes known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. Once the threat or difficulty passes, these physical effects usually fade. But if you’re constantly stressed, your body stays in a state of high alert and you may develop stress-related symptoms.
Whilst all of us can have anxious thoughts and feelings from time to time it can be very distressing if these continue over a significant period of time or prevent you enjoying life. It is thought either intense and / or prolonged periods of stress can lead to anxiety and panic attacks.
Symptoms can include low mood, problems sleeping, feeling uncertain about making decisions, low confidence, feeling frustrated and angry, not wanting to socialise or go to work. Whist experiencing these occasionally is normal, experiencing these persistently for a prolonged period can be very discomforting.
Bodily responses can include increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, feeling very frightened, out of control and panic. Whilst panic is natural its presence can be very confusing when there is not a dangerous situation to hand. Sometimes people recall a traumatic event that might have triggered the attacks, for many there is no immediately apparent cause.