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Is anxiety destroying my heart and mind?
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th3techgirl posted:
For over a year and a half, I have been having anxiety/panic attacks. The attacks would last for two maybe 3 hours at the most with my symptoms of rapid heart rate (110 - 125 bpm), nausea, hot flashes, gag reflex flaring up, loss of appetite, chest tightness, dizziness, shortness of breath at times, extreme irritability, etc., being present during the attacks. Once the attacks fade, I have frequent urination (which I know is from the adreneline rush) fatigue, and brain fog and I am usually pretty much quiet for awhile after an attack.

I haven't been able to get to the doctor to have this problem taken care of due to the attacks happen all the time and has now controlled my life to where if I even attempt to go anywhere, I have an attack.

One big attack in 2012 landed me at the ER where the nurses even freaked me out. My x-rays, EKG, and urine came back fine but my blood work showed my potassium was real low and they got me started on potassium.

Here recently, in fact last week, I had several bad attacks to where I just didn't have an appetite to eat anymore (I forced myself to eat something bland but had lost 5 pounds in one week because of my appetite) Now, since this last anxiety attack I have noticed that I am always tired, my heart feels like it skips a beat and my blood pressure, once ran anywhere between, 110/68 to 120/80 has now dropped to anywhere from 98/72 to 87/64 and my heart rate stays anywhere from 53 to 64 bpm. Also, my new other symptom is since this last anxiety attack, is the feeling of not being myself. It is like a brain fog but my head don't feel the same. Kind of like when you run a high fever from the influenza and it just leaves you feeling like a zombie. (best way of describing it)

Now today, I just feel, not myself. I am a paranoid person. Especially when it comes to my heart as heart problems ran in my family on my late moms side (she passed away from a heart attack that could have been prevented if the hospital monitored her better and watched what they gave her)

I just fear that now with the new blood pressure levels I am having that it is my heart. I am only 33 and have lost 38 pounds since my anxiety which I now weigh 145 and I am 5'6" tall.

But, I am not urinating as often either and I wonder if my blood pressure could be because of not drinking enough water and not getting the proper nutrients (I do drink Ensure at least twice a day because of my appetite)

Since my anxiety, I keep to myself in my bedroom. I do try to get outside and walk around the yard a bit. But, I am pretty much in my room, watching movies and playing video games on my computer.

Can anybody give me any suggestions on this? I feel....alone a lot. Scared often, and if I get startled (easy to do now) I cry.

I know I need to been seen by a doctor, but until then, I am open for suggestions and I hope the details I provided in this was enough to help. Sorry for it being so long.
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Reid Wilson, PhD responded:
I don't really think there should be an "until then" here. Toughen up, get a grip, get yourself to a doctor (and you will have to go more than once) and get to the bottom of this. I'm sure this sounds harsh to you and others. And I get that you are having panic attacks and that they are awful. But your current approach is failing you and will continue to fail you. Find a friend to help. Ask a family member to fly in from out of state if you have to. But get your healing process started. And it begins by ruling out any physical problems.
 
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bonhill responded:
Many of the symptoms you are describing fit into various known symptoms of panic/agoraophobia, such as 'derealization (e.g. 'brain fog.') You are not truly 'paranoid' - people use that term too lightly. Use the term 'fearful' instead, or you might be labeled by an ignorant doctor as psychotic. Do you live close to a University with a dept of psychiatry? It's not good for you to be alone. Can you call a friend or relative to stay with you. Despite how badly you feel, you might have to force yourself to get to a psychiatrist who will probably refer you for testing regarding your blood pressure, etc. You always need to rule out physical causes before assuming it's JUST panic/agoraphobia? I know how difficult it is to leave home (or your bedroom) 'been there, done that'. At least you're drinking Ensure. Please get some help. If you can order these books (some about $2 online) - The Anxiety Disease, by Dr. David Sheehan, Panic Disorder, The Medical Point of View, by Dr. Wm Kernodil, or Dr Claire Weeks books, like Hope and Help For Your Nerves, these might be conforting. Could you also ask a local family dr to put you on Xanax or clonazepam for short time so you can get out to see a psychiatrist? You shouldn't have to be suffering like this. Gosh, do I know- went thru similar problems for 14 years... you will get better.
 
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bonhill responded:
Another thought - at your age - 33- anxiety is not destroying your heart or mind - it just feels like it and the scarey feelings are so real. So many of us have had similar thoughts/fears/terrifying experiences. You are not alone. Reading the books will help. No matter what, GET TO A DOCTOR, preferably a psychiatrist.
 
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sw3tflower responded:
Please listen to Dr Wilson and get to a doctor now. The sooner you go the sooner you can start healing.
Long term stress (including panic attacks), can have a negative impact on your health. I'm talking about chronic stress. People who suffer from chronic stress are more prone to heart disease, stomach problems, hypertension, stroke...and lowered immunity against diseases, then people who have a normal amount of stress in their lives.
You are young and healthy and want to stay that way for a long, long time.
Get help before it becomes a chronic problem.
Take care
 
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bonhill responded:
Please do yourself a huge favor, go on Amazon or other site and order these books, about $2 each, used- The AnxietyDisease by Dr. David Sheehan, Phobia Free by Dr.Harold Levinson, and Panic Disorder, a Medical Point of View by Dr. William Kernodle - all are MDs, not psychologists. Also Dr. Clarire Weekes books are helpful, tho' somewhat outdated. If you can afford therapy, which many cannot, insist on cognitive/behavioral therapy, including systematic desensitization... but make sure the therapist is very familiar with panic disorder... not many are.
 
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bonhill replied to Reid Wilson, PhD's response:
For Dr. Reid to say 'toughen up, get a grip...' - doesn't he realize the sufferer wouldalready have have done this if she could??? It is very very harsh. Not all family members will just fly in from out of state... support people are hard to come by... doesn't Dr. Reid realize this??????

Having been a mental health professional, as well as a sufferer for years, I continue to be astounded at the heartless type of responses I hear from 'therapists' about this problem.


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