Joanna Lumley health: Star left 'badly shaken up' by health condition – symptoms


The 75-year-old, who has won two BAFTA awards for her portrayal of Pasty Stone, in BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, but it was when she first started out, that she hit some troubling health concerns. Previously, the actress and model discussed one incident where she hallucinated that “snipers” were aiming guns at her while she performed. Recalling this episode in her life in more detail, Joanna said that she suffered a “complete nervous breakdown.”

Talking to The Times, Joanna said: “It was six months. It was a complete nervous breakdown.

In order to allow her mental health to recover, Joanna took a six month career break, and in that time went to visit her parents – but soon things got worse for the star.

She continued to say: “I was pretty badly shaken up. My nerves were gone. I didn’t dare go to the shops. I had a really ropey old time. I was spending all day thinking, ‘How will I get through the day?’

“I had those panic attacks when you think, ‘Breathe in, breathe out, just keep breathing in. Study the flowers. What colour are the flowers? Anything to stop your mind going mad. And I thought, ‘I’ve got to get out of this, how do I?’”

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The worrying episode completely changed the star’s outlook on life. Joanna said: “To try and make myself get out to shops to buy food I would imagine the worst thing that could happen at each stage.

“If I fell over on the floor, what would happen? Always the same answer came back into my head. ‘Someone will help you up.’”

Sadly for Joanna, this is not the only time where she has struggled with her mental health. Talking on the Jonathan Ross Show a few years ago Joanna bravely opened up about her depression.

She vividly described her own battle saying: “Occasionally I get eclipsed by sadness or depression, the black dog on your shoulder, and feel lousy for two or three months. And then one morning everything’s thrilling again.

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“You’ve got to have lived life to the full and been grateful.”

The Mayo Clinic describes a panic attack as a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers a severe physical reaction for no apparent cause.

Many people have just one or two panic attacks in their lifetimes, but for some, panic attacks can be recurrent. These unexpected panic attacks lead to the person living in constant fear of another attack.

With many variations, symptoms can peak within minutes. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment.

If left untreated, panic attacks can affect almost every area of someone’s life. This can include developing other mental health conditions, such as depression.

Similar to panic attacks, depression symptoms can be complex and differ for every individual. Commonly, if you’re depressed, you may feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy.

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Having low self-esteem
  • Feeling tearful
  • Feeling guilt-ridden
  • Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • Having no motivation or interest in things
  • Finding it difficult to make decisions
  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself.

The physical symptoms of depression include:

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • Changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Lack of energy
  • Low sex drive (loss of libido)
  • Changes to your menstrual cycle
  • Disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning.

Depression can often come on gradually. In order to diagnose the condition, doctors describe it as either mild, moderate and severe.

Mild depression – has some impact on your daily life
Moderate depression – has a significant impact on your daily life
Severe depression – makes it almost impossible to get through daily life; a few people with severe depression may have psychotic symptoms.

Both depression and panic attacks can be treated in a similar way, depending on how severe they are. A common successful treatment is psychotherapy, or talking therapies.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), is one of the most popular forms of talking therapy. This aims to help the individual understand their thoughts and behaviour and how they affect you. Combination therapy, which also includes the use of antidepressants is also a successful treatment for depression.



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