Feeling stressed about your work is normal in most companies. After all, no one invited you to a tea party - you were hired to do a job, right? But when stress gets out of control, anxiety can occur. Contrary to popular belief, folks who suffer high amounts of stress and anxiety aren't necessarily the weak or less talented people in the workplace.
Why do bright people like this get stressed at work? Because the modern corporate work environment is designed to reward and advance people who engage in stress inducing behaviors on a regular basis - e.g., obsessing over details, arriving early and staying late, shifting priorities, being concerned with political subtexts, seeking and responding to feedback, and driving oneself hard to achieve results and bigger opportunities, etc. Very often the people who suffer from stress overload at work are some of the best and brightest - they have high energy and high intelligence. They tend to be very perceptive and can spot trends and connections faster than most.
Does this mean that I think every corporate leader is a stress junkie and has closet panic attacks? Of course not - you can only go so high when yo are fraught with anxiety, and only those who have truly learned to deal with the ambiguity and competitiveness of our current corporate climate in a zen-like fashion will achieve true success. But, I do think we would all be surprised to know how many corporate leaders take anti-anxiety medication. One article I read referred to it as the secret little tool executives use to get ahead. When other leaders are stressing over the latest bad news from the market, everyone loves the leader who can calmly take the news in stride and get back to work.
My point is simply this: if you feel stressed at work, and if you have the occasional panic attack, you are perfectly normal. Don't beat yourself up for feeling that way. You'll only add to your stress, which will make you feel worse and so you'll beat yourself up some more and ....on and on... It's a negative cycle that gets you nowhere fast. The key is to take all that energy and intelligence and use it to help you work smarter, not harder. Lucinda Basset and the folks at the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety have done some great work in this area. Check them out and learn how you can start turning your intelligence and energy into productive accomplishments and a healthier life today!