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Stress Symptoms

Workplace Bullying is One of the Primary Causes of Dangerous Levels of Stress at Work

Possible Physical and Emotional Stress Symptoms Caused by Bullying

Physical Symptoms of Stress

Emotional Symptoms of Stress

Common Symptoms of PTSD and Complex PTSD


Possible Physical and Emotional Stress Symptoms Caused by Bullying

Workplace or school bullying resulting in extremely high stress levels can cause a whole range of anxiety stress symptoms and health problems, some manifesting themselves as physical symptoms and others as psychological effects.

If you catch your situation early enough you may well get through the situation without any damage to your health; we would not want anyone to believe that some of the severe health consequences mentioned here are inevitable. Though, as Dr. Gary Namie says of targets of workplace bullying, the personality type most likely to be bullied are also those who are likely to 'stay longest and get most damaged'.

What follows is by no means an exhaustive list - just some of the most common stress symptoms due to bullying.

Generally the worse you are being bullied and the longer it continues, the more anxiety stress symptoms you will have. The degree to which you experience any or all of these symptoms of stress also depends on the intensity of the targeting, and your social support structure.


Physical Stress Symptoms from Bullying:

Many of these physical symptoms of stress can be serious. If you are experiencing a serious symptom of stress do not delay in seeking professional medical attention.

  • Reduced immunity to infection leading to frequent colds, coughs, flu, glandular fever, etc (especially on days off, eg weekends and holidays)
  • Chest pains and angina
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Loss of appetite (although a few people react by overeating)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Reactive vomiting before, during or after meetings (or at the site of a "triggering" incident, person, place or thing or from just the thought of going to certain locations ie workplace)
  • Skin irritations and skin disorders (eg eczema, psoriasis, shingles, internal and external ulcers, urticaria)
  • Hormonal problems (disturbed menstrual cycle, dysmenorrhoea, loss of libido, impotence)
  • Unusual clumsiness (such as an inability to grasp small objects, separate sheets of paper or tendency to drop cups,etc.)
  • Sleep problems including nightmares and waking early
  • Disturbance of balance
  • Panic attacks, feelings of nervousness and anxiety, excessive sweating, trembling, palpitations
  • Joint and muscle pains with no obvious cause
  • Back pain
  • Excessive need to bite or teeth grinding
  • Tics
  • Scratching
  • Physical numbness, especially in fingers, toes and lips
  • Eye problems, such as new prescriptions needed "virtually overnight"
  • Dislike of loud noises and bright lights
  • Development of new allergies


Emotional Stress Symptoms from Bullying:

Many of these emotional symptoms of stress can be serious. If you are experiencing a serious symptom of stress do not delay in seeking professional medical attention.

  • Bewilderment and confusion, an inability to understand what is happening or why it happened
  • A strong sense of denial, an inability to convince yourself that the experience was real; your denial is reinforced by the denial of those around you and especially of people in authority
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability, short-temperedness, sudden intense anger and occasional violent outbursts
  • Hyperawareness, an acute sense of time passing, the seasons changing, distances when travelling
  • An enhanced environmental awareness, a greater respect for the natural world, a feeling of "wanting to save the planet"
  • Hypervigilance, which feels like but is not paranoia, and which may be (sometimes deliberately) mislabelled as paranoia by those around you
  • Flashbacks and replays which you are unable to switch off
  • Impaired memory, forgetfulness, memory which is intermittent, especially of day-to-day trivial things
  • Difficulty in learning new information
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Hypersensitivity - almost every action or remark is perceived as critical or threatening, even when you know it isn't
  • A deep sense of betrayal
  • Obsessiveness - the experience takes over your life, you can't get it out of your mind
  • Depression (reactive, not endogenous)
  • Excessive shame, embarrassment and guilt
  • Undue fear
  • Low self-esteem and low self-confidence
  • A deep sense of unworthiness, undeservingness and non-entitlement
  • Emotional numbness, anhedonia, an inability to feel love or joy
  • Sullenness (a sign the inner psyche has been damaged)
  • Detachment, avoidance of anything that reminds you of the experience
  • Physical and mental paralysis at any reminder of the experience
  • Increased reliance on drugs (caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, sleeping tablets, tranquillisers, antidepressants, other substances) resulting in further compromised health
  • Comfort spending (and consequent financial problems)
  • Thoughts of suicide and in some cases homicide

In addition to these stress symptoms, increasingly researchers are suggesting that diabetes, asthma, allergies, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis (MS), chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), hydradentitis supurativa (painful skin disorder) and even some forms of cancer are caused or aggravated by stress.


Common Stress Symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD

Many of the symptoms of post traumatic stress anxiety can be serious. If you are experiencing a serious post traumatic stress disorder symptom do not delay in seeking professional medical attention.

  • Hypervigilance (feels like but is not paranoia)
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Tearfulness
  • Irritability
  • Sudden angry or violent outbursts
  • Flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive recollections, replays, violent visualisations
  • Triggers
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Exhaustion and chronic fatigue
  • Reactive depression
  • Guilt
  • Feelings of detachment
  • Avoidance behaviours
  • Nervousness, anxiety
  • Phobias about specific daily routines, events or objects
  • Irrational or impulsive behaviour
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of ambition
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel joy and pleasure)
  • Poor concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Joint pains, muscle pains
  • Emotional numbness
  • Physical numbness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Loss of libido
  • An overwhelming sense of injustice and a strong desire to do something about it

This information was compiled and used with permission.
Special thanks to Tim Field - Bully OnLine and to No Bully For Me.

See Also:

Exercise and Stress: Is Stress Ruining Your Health?

Hypnosis for Stress and Anxiety: Can Hypnosis Help You Cope?

How to Stop Panic and Anxiety Attacks


Return from Stress Symptoms to Stress Management

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