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"Its never too late to be who you might have been."
George Eliott


Stress is created when outside forces or stressors in the world interact with an individual. We respond physically and psychologically to those stressors and depending on how we think, feel and behave, those stressors can have a significant affect on how our body works. When situations are recognised by the body as stressful the body strains to cope with the stress.  Early warning signals such as a sense of urgency, yawning or sighing, tiredness, irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches or low sexual libido try to tell us that we are under too much stress. However, because of the life-style which most of us live, we ignore these early warning signals, believing them to be a normal part of our busy lives.  What is happening, however, is that the body is constantly revved up due to stress hormones being released.   The body is forced to operate on higher arousal levels which can, over time, lead to more obvious and severe physiological and psychological consequences such as high blood pressure, allergies, gastro-intestinal problems, drug and alcohol dependence, short term memory problems and anxiety conditions.


Anxiety is a symptom of prolonged stress.  It is the body's way of telling us that the stresses placed upon it are taking their toll.  Anxiety often manifests itself firstly in negative thought patterns such as negative anticipation of events, negative scanning (looking for what is wrong), judgmental thinking (judging our own and others’ behaviour harshly), mislabelling events and worrying over trivial details and events.  Secondly anxiety manifests itself physiologically. Uncomfortable symptoms slowly emerge over time such as tiredness, apathy, mood swings, headaches, gastro-intestinal problems and sleep disturbances which are often ignored until more distressing symptoms emerge such as constant nervousness, pounding or racing heartbeat, chest pain, weakness in limbs, over- emotionality, depression, sensitivity to noise and a feeling of a loss of control in one’s life.  Learning to recognize and deal with negative and distorted thoughts and inappropriate belief systems is one way to reverse anxiety. Using various techniques for lowering one's arousal level through relaxation, exercise and diet changes, as well as learning other new, more appropriate behaviours is helpful in ridding the body of anxiety symptoms.


Agoraphobia is an anxiety condition. It is the body's way of telling us that it has had enough stress and anxiety and is going on strike!  The hallmarks of Agoraphobia are that a person experiences panic attacks - severe agitation such as a pounding heart, a feeling of unreality, jelly legs, an overwhelming sense of dread or doom, hyperventilation, blurred vision and an extreme need to leave the situation for a safe place.  Often the person thinks they are having a heart attack or are going crazy - neither of which will happen.  Whilst in its intensity a panic attack is terrifying, the body is in fact performing a normal flight or fight response to what it thinks is a danger situation.  Agoraphobia can be an insidious and debilitating condition if not treated correctly.  The avoidance response can lead to a person becoming homebound, however this is not common. The object of avoidance differs from person to person and ranges from avoidance of shopping centres, driving, movies, social situations and leaving home without a support person.