Manifestations of stress...


======= Date Modified 29 00 2010 02:00:10 =======
Hey everyone,
I'm just wondering how everyone else copes with the stress and anxiety associated with the PhD. I don't know what's going on with me, but even as I come to the end and I am proofreading and getting ready to submit my symptoms are just getting worse and worse!
The problem is, I generally on the surface feel less stressed, but underneath I can feel anxiety bubbling up inside me. Does that make any sense?

I have always suffered from insomnia on and off, and usually when I go into a depressive episode. At the moment i'm up and down everyday I feel almost manic....! However, its not my usual depression as I have been dealing with some personal issues and for the first time in a while feel better about my life and my past. For the last few months I've been suffering from night sweats, so bad I wake up drenched and I think I almost repulse my partner :-(
I've been thinking it is stress etc, and have started getting back into exercising, have quit smoking :) and also cut my caffeine down to 1 coffee a day and then just tea (which is prob no better, but doesn't affect me the same). But it makes no difference.
The more it goes on i'm worried that it's actually a health issue, but then the internet is scary cos just tells me about illnesses related to night sweating. Which results possibly in my subconscious being more stressed about it, making it worse! I can hardly sleep and when I do, my partner says my breathing is funny and irregular and I sound like i'm being drowned in my sleep.....!
I'm going to go to my doc this week if I can, but I just wondered if anyone else had experienced anything like this, or had any other weird stress/anxiety manifestations so I don't feel completely alone in this.

Maybe we can have a wee stress relief thread, although i'm sure there's been plenty before this!

Cheers, AL

Avatar for sneaks

I definitely think you should go to the docs.

I do find that I have weeks where I can't get to sleep - everything I think about leads me back to my PhD and stressing over it. I find I lie there stressing for hours as hubs snores away next to me 8-) I bought a sound asleep pillow though and listen to audio books now at night to take my mind off it.


Quote From alpacalover:

======= Date Modified 29 00 2010 02:00:10 =======
For the last few months I';ve been suffering from night sweats, so bad I wake up drenched and I think I almost repulse my partner :-(
I can hardly sleep and when I do, my partner says my breathing is funny and irregular and I sound like i';m being drowned in my sleep.....!

My boyfriend is exactly like this. It was worse when we first got together, it was in at the start of his 2nd phd year and it was a little unnerving I'll admit cos he did the funny breathing thing and twitches like crazy when he's falling into a deep sleep. He even whacked me in the face one night cos of a particularly large arm twitch. It's not as bad now that he's finished, although he still goes through phases of night sweats. I don't think he's ever gone to the doctor (cos that would be a sensible thing to do..) but health wise he's in great shape, eats well, trains, doesn't smoke, hardly drinks..rather boring really! ;-)

I think it's most likely due to stress though AL, you've had a massive amount going on lately and you are getting so close to the finish line! I'm like you in that I feel less stressed on the surface, but I have a theory that it's like pain in the body - you know how when you have a constant pain you kind of get used to it, or when the pain gets so bad you go unconscious so your mind doesn't have to deal with it (or something like that!)? Well, I think that nearing the end, I am so stressed that my mind has blanked it out cos if I was to actually accept how stressed and anxious I am I would have a nervous breakdown. So, on the surface I feel tense and stressed but not too bad. However, I'm having trouble sleeping, my skin is starting to break out, I'm irritable and the mood swings are epic. Plus my writing seems "panicked" according to my sups. Which doesn't help the stress.

Anywhoo, sorry for the essay! Hope you are feeling better soon, we are nearly there!


Hi there, it may well be worth getting checked out but it does sound like massive amounts of stress, stress can cause massive physical manifestations! I find when I'm badly stressed (like all the time right now) my teeth hurt (due, according to my dentist to really clenching my jaw in sleep), I get what feels like a physical lump in my throat, so much so its hard to swallow, and yes, the night sweats, in the summer when I had other stuff as well as the PhD on my mind I was waking drenched! Horrible :-(
We really do need to try to control stress though if possible as it can lead to physical illness - if nothing else broken fillings ;-) but cancer, bowel diseases, heart disease, all sorts are linked in some reports to stress. If you find a way to sort it please let me know and maybe I can then change my screen name ;-)


Sounds like stress to me too, but I suppose in a way it is a different kind of stress, partly because it is self inflicted- it is a choice to do or not to do a PhD :-) but at the same time stress is delivered in bucket loads from others right from day one - which is where it meets extreme  'normal' stress, if there is such a thing of course. Plus it is stress over quite a long time, with masses of highs and lows that are directly related to it, some of which again is self inflicted, but some, like deadlines etc. is partly controlled by those outside, sometimes those who are supposed to be helping, but are, in fact just adding to the stress because of the way they behave (making demands about changes, then changing their mind for example). there are fewer touchstones along the way that mark real milestones, it isn't like a masters, where once you have finished a module it can be ticked off, as even when you think you have finished a chapter you know that you will have to go back and redo it endlessly right up until it is finally handed in, and maybe then some too. The outcome is also rather less certain because it relies on someone's reading of the whole thing, you are putting yourself and your ideas up for someone else to knock down and that is scary for everyone. So a trip to the docs may be of use- as long as they really understand and don't just do the 'pat on the head' thing. I have found exercise helps, as does watching, or going to see some comedy, laughter is a good thing for getting rid of stress. I find Eddie Izzard very useful, but that depends on your taste of course!


Stress at the moment in response to needing to finish my current MSc dissertation while working shifts full-time. This is all before the end of September, when I will be enrolling on a new MSc as part of 1+3 funding I have gratefully secured. It would be insane to find myself come October trying to juggle two Masters at once... but that is the risk!

Therefore I have two involuntary eye twitches at the mo. One in each eye, each in a different place. Oh joy.

Keep going, everyone!



======= Date Modified 29 Aug 2010 17:05:29 =======
Oh dear Ogriv... that sounds like fun :-( :p (NOT)

I agree, with the PhD there is so much uncertainty and you never get a chance to reallly tick things off your 'to do' list, as the time goes on that list just grows and grows and then *shudder* write up with the spectre of the viva looming and what I can only at this point think of as the horror of corrections. Its just never ending, and yes, I suppose in a way it is self inflicted lol. I do wonder if I was back at the end of the BA again and deciding whether to accept a GTP position and go into work or take the funded MA and then PhD route if I'd do the same thing... probably.... right now though I think I'd quite fancy McDonalds - they give you free McFlurrys or so I've heard :p(up)

The other thing that for me really doesn't help the stress is the opinion of others, the constant query as to why I don't have a 'real' job, why I'm sitting on my bum at a computer, financial stress (that's a huge one with 3 kids) etc etc. Add all the normal stuff of daily life which is enough to push many over the edge to the constant uncertainty and shifting workload of a PhD and its amazing we aren't all in secure units really....


Evening all.

AL, just to put you and your b/f minds to rest a visit to the Doc is a really good idea but after years of work and heading to this final push you're bound to be juddery i guess its fight or flight mode. very well done for giving up smoking during this time too, thats one heck of a good thing.

Having read this thread I realise how lucky I am, i have nothing twitching at all ;-)

I have insomnia though.. but its great i can do a few hours work before work. I'm p/t, working f/t.

i look like death and am probably hell to be around but its only a few years and i wouldn't miss this experience for the world.


======= Date Modified 29 Aug 2010 19:54:23 =======
Hi everyone!
Thank you so much for all your responses and making me feel less alone. Ogriv, i'm sorry to hear about your eyes, i've occasionally had eye twitches too, and it's really annoying, and weird. I hope it goes away soon.
I do agree that it is probably all stress related, I already have serious IBS, but just hate that it seems to be getting worse in other areas of my health. AQ, i'm breaking out in spots too, so you're not the only spotty PhD student out there, i'm a mess! even treating myself to nice clarins things doesn't work! :(

I think i'm going to go to the docs anyway just to check everything is ok, as (sorry any males on here), my periods are all messed up too, i'm in agony, and with the nightsweats, occasional hot flashes and serious mood swings I keep worrying there is something else wrong! however, prob just also stress affecting my hormones, but would like peace of mind!

You're so right Joyce, I always feel this way. My partner is just starting final year of p/t masters, and he does work so hard and gets very stressed. But after the module is over, that's it, he gets a holiday and that's that one ticked off the list. I feel right now even though every part is written, I keep going back to each chapter over and over again, and until I submit, or more likely, after corrections, I will still keep going back to parts i've been doing and worrying about for 4 years! I see parts of my work and think 'oh god, what are they going to ask me, will they agree with my thoughts and ideas on it, will they slag off my methodology etc etc......'! Until the final day after viva and corrections and hard binding, it's not over, and even now when i'm this close it feels like it will never happen!

Anyway, sorry, i'm bubbling with stress and babbling at you all. But thank you for your support and understanding, and making me feel less alone in this.

Looking back i'm not sure I'd put myself through this again, but it has proven to me what I can achieve, although has also ruined any self esteem I had - that sounds contradictory, but it's true!

Chuff,i'm glad through it all you're glad you are doing it. I've been working full time and writing for the last year, and although I love my job and i'm glad I took it, I think it has severely contributed to the stress i'm under. So just pace yourself and don't let it all get on top of you!

AQ, I always relate the experience to a bad car crash or accident of some kind. Your brain just blocks it out cos it has to, and I think once it is over I will probably completely block it and just concentrate on fact its done. I think for my own sanity i'll have to try and forget the worst parts and pretend to myself that it wasn't so bad!! :) Lets see in 6 months whether it's true....! :)

My partner is being an angel and proofreading chapters for me right now, i'm sat with a pot of tea, my hot water bottle and come dine with me! And tomorrow night, i hope to compile final corrections from proofreading, compile the pdf's,send to sup to just check the final look of it etc and make sure he's happy with all style, and then get ready to send to printers!!! ARGHHHHH!!!
I'm going to enjoy my relaxation tonight before the final onslaught!

oh, and I start lecturing again at my local college tomorrow! A collaboration with my current job, so I'm back to kinda 3 jobs again. When I think about it, there's no wonder i'm a complete stress head!

Just keep going everyone and one day, when this is all over, our bodies will collapse in a heap before we recover and hopefully find ourselves stronger....?? am i delusional... :-x


I went to the docs this morning and explained my symptoms etc. She took my BP, which is slightly low but normal for me, weighed me (I don't have scales at home just at my sisters), and i've lost a stone in about a month! :( She checked my glands which are bit swollen and listened to my chest which she thought was ok, also throat all red and inflamed.
I have to go back on Friday for blood tests and she's going to do full work up. and then go for a chest x-ray - apparently normal if complaining of night sweats?

She thinks its probably all stress, but wants to check all possibilities, said it could be overactive thyroid?

anyway, we'll see what happens! AL


Ohh I hope it's all ok AL...overactive thyroid could be it with the weight loss and all, but hopefully it's "just" stress - at least once you get the phd over you can relax and hopefully things will get back to normal. Good luck (up)


hi alpaca
A stress relief thread is always a good idea. I've also been stressed myself; under stress I am not able to sleep properly. See now its 3.34am! :-)

Please try not to worry about illnesses etc. Do keep positive thoughts always always.
I hope you're feeling better.
love satchi