Health anxiety - I can hardly function

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percycat
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 4/3/2008 11:18 AM (GMT -7)   
Greetings, all.
 
I used to "lurk" on this board two yeras ago when I first started having some shortness of breath and throat tightening symptoms.  After my doctors convinced me that it was only stress and anxiety, I was able to pretty much ignore it and get back to not obsessing over my health.
 
But in the past couple of months, I've had some real set-backs that have made me unbearably anxious again.  It's the same old symptoms, but this time I listened to an ENT who suggested GERD, and when his treatment seemed to be working, I thought "whew - it was never just anxiety at all!"  However, at my followup appointment with him last month, he was unable to answer several questions I had - didn't even seem to know what I was asking about.  Now I'm completely freaked out again, thinking that my throat is going to close up and stop me from breathing.
 
I should point out that I've had lots of allergy tests (all fine), EKG, EGD, stress test, sleep study, echocardiogram, and they've ALL come back fine.  Tomorrow, I see another ENT to address this issue, and I'm seeing a pulmonologist next week.  I'm terrified that there's something genuinely physical going on, but that I'm not describing it well enough to these doctors for them to be able to diagnose it correctly.  Obviously, anxiety has itself become a big issue again, to the point where I can barely function in my job.
 
Please help!
 
percycat

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 4/3/2008 11:45 AM (GMT -7)   

Welcome to Anxiety & Panic. This is a great forum. I look forward to getting to know you better. 

People with health anxiety live in the constant fear that they have a serious disease. Although your  suspicions may be  unrealistic, the very fact that you  possess such incessant thoughts is reason enough for you  to seek professional medical help.
Unfortunately, medical reassurance does not always comfort you as you posted;  instead, you  feel  that more tests be ran or that a second opinion should be sought. Needless to say, disagreeing doctors and patients almost always ends in frustration for both parties involved. about one in ten patients believe that they are inflicted with a terminal disease despite confirmations from their doctors.

I have read some articles that are suggesting cognitive behaviour therapy is being used with good results for health anxiety. Do you have a therapist?  That would be my best suggestion for learning how to deal with your anxiety.

Please stay with us and I am sure you will hear from many of the  members.  Glad you took the leap of faith to share with us.

Hugs

Kitt


 


 
Kitt, Moderator: Anxiety ~ Panic  ~ Crohn's
Not a mental health professional of any kind
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.~Mahatma Gandhi~
 


percycat
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 4/3/2008 11:56 AM (GMT -7)   

Kitt,

 

Thanks so much for the welcome.  I found the forum to be very helpful even during my long ago "lurking" days.

 

I do have a therapist.  Fortunately, one of the outcomes of my earlier bout with anxiety was that I linked up with a cognitive behavioral therapist.  I think I did have some success working with her, but took a hiatus for about two months recently while chasing around to doctors about the resurgence of physical symptoms - and their new diagnoses.

 

I am back to seeing her once a week, but I feel like we're having to start over, and also that I'm stretching her patience.

percycat


nyliz
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 167
   Posted 4/3/2008 1:50 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey Percy,
 
I am also a health anxiety sufferer and I know exactly what you are going through!!!  If your therapist is truly good at her job then she will not allow her "patience to be stretched" as it is typically a long road for most people afflicted with this problem. 
 
My anxiety runs in cycles and often seems to have no trigger but the malaise and panicky feelings last for quite a while depending on what illness I've convinced myself I have.  I too have many tests done and believe that either the Dr's are wrong or that they are hiding something from me... it's not paranoia as much as it's over thinking everything... 
 
Trust that medical professionals see people like us everyday and they would not allow something serious to pass through undetected.  The anticipation of a catastrophic illness is probably worse than the actual illness would ever be.
 
Mind you, I have been in a serious anxiety bout for @ a month now and can't seem to follow my own advice so take it for what it's worth.  I do know that the more physical symptoms you feel the harder it is to realize that the majority of our sufferings are there as a result of the stress our worrying is putting our bodies through... Good luck to you, and we are hear to listen (or read... lol) anytime you need us!!! 
 
Peace to you
Liz

Anxious soul
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 69
   Posted 4/3/2008 4:32 PM (GMT -7)   
I am confused about the term "health anxiety". Is health anxiety an overexaggerated concern of health with no apparent symptoms or is it something that health symptoms appear but test results come back negative and you can't buy into the results. For instance, when I get my yearly bout with bronchitis I am a basket case thinking surely it will progress to a horrible disease and no one could possibly feel as awful as me. I get several brain zaps to my head each day thinking a stroke is around the corner with each one. I get the feeling of skipped heartbeats and throat flutters and think I am going to have a heart attack or cancer. Obviously, I was under dr care each time I have had bronchitis. It runs its course and is gone. I recently had yet another holtor monitor test on the heart and all checked out fine. Drs do not even address the zaps in my head or the throat flutters. Hmmm, maybe an ENT is next on my visitation list LOL. Anyway, just wondering about this term health anxiety. Anyone in their "right mind" would be concerned and seek medical help if their brain felt like a cattle prod was being applied to it, their heart was turning summersaults, and their throat felt like they swallowed a butterfly DAILY.

I try to blow the symptoms off, but sometimes rather than thinking enough is enough (on testing) I find myself questioning when is it really enough? I don't want the apitaph on my gravestone to read "I told you so".

-Soul

nyliz
Regular Member


Date Joined Jun 2007
Total Posts : 167
   Posted 4/3/2008 6:52 PM (GMT -7)   
Ahhh Soul,

Sounds like you have a bit of health anxiety... it is as you described it, although different for everyone as well. Sometimes the fear of what our bodies are doing actually makes our bodies to more of it... for me health anxiety is the fear that every ache and pain is forshadowing impending doom... catastrophic illness causing a slow painful death...

God I feel like I should be dressed in black listening to the Cure.... ha ha ha. It comes and goes for me. Good Luck

Liz

nervymeg
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 4/3/2008 11:26 PM (GMT -7)   
Percy, welcome to HW.  It sounds like you are having a yucko time of it right now.  When things start to interfere with work and life and everyting in between, life starts to, well, yuck!
 
I'm glad you've come back to post with us...all those tests must have set you on edge (they would with me)...sometimes it's just anxiety (a really powerful force).
 
I'm sure your therapist doesn't feel like you are starting over, maybe just coming from a new place..I feel like a constant burden to those around me and I haven't yet come up with any good advice for that one...just know that you are not alone, that we really value what you have to say and hope you keep posting (yeah!!)..xxx m
 
Soul..I get that, I really do..get major things checked with your doc but let.the.rest.go....I'm such a catastrophiser I've had every disease/disorder and I've imagined every death, in the end it just started ruining my life, use you beautiful imagination for something more special xxx
 
Liz..ahh the cure..that's me lol!!

Co-Moderator Anxiety/Panic Disorders

Weekend Warrior Princess


percycat
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 4/4/2008 12:25 PM (GMT -7)   
I have some good news as a followup now:

Today I saw a second ENT doctor for another opinion about my throat tightening and choking awake that have always provoked the start of my anxiety. She did a throat scope (the first ENT doc had not) and clearly saw signs of LPR (throat acid reflux). She has put me on medications for it and assures me that there is no reason for me to fear that my throat will close or that I'll choke and not be able to breathe. She is also sending me to another clinic at the research hospital for further consultation about the tense muscles in my throat. That's in three weeks.

I'm feeling more relaxed now. I know that I will still have lots of anxiety - any time my throat feels strange or I feel short of breath, I can't help but have it turn into panic. But at least now I can focus on dealing with the anxiety by knowing that what I'm feeling physically cannot kill me, only scare me.

percycat

Maenad
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 20
   Posted 4/4/2008 12:49 PM (GMT -7)   
Welcome, Percy!   :-)   (I can say that even though I'm brand new myself, right?)
 
I'm so glad you had the endoscopy! As I read this thread, I wondered why your original doc never ordered that. I think it's pretty standard and pretty reliable to diagnose GERD and similar problems.
 
Now you can get some treatment and then reduce the symptoms and then -- I hope! -- the anxiety will diminish too.
 
Sometimes I think docs just go deaf if (a) they can't figure out what's wrong and can blame it on anxiety, or (b) hear the word "anxiety" and pretty much assume every symptom that comes after that is no more than a manifestation of the anxiety.
 
Docs are human too, of course, but over the years I have had to become rather good at making a pest of myself until I get answers. And I'm afraid I've learned not to bring up the anxiety unless I have to/need to.
 
 

================================
Often she hid at the sight of wild beasts,
forgetting what she was; and, though
herself a bear, shuddered at sight of other bears.
   -- Ovid, Metamorphoses


Anxious soul
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 69
   Posted 4/4/2008 3:37 PM (GMT -7)   
Percycat,
What type of medication did they put you on? I have prilosec at home for heartburn. Wondering if it would help with the throat flutters I feel.
-soul

percycat
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 4/4/2008 6:26 PM (GMT -7)   

Anxious Soul,

 

My doctor prescribed Nexium 40 mg once a day (before dinner) and Zantac before bedtime (I'm not sure of the dosage).  From what I've read online, this is fairly standard treatment for LPR (acid reflux in the throat).  However, I've also read that just the Nexium twice a day is the "gold standard."  I don't know where Prilosec fits into the scheme of things.

 

My doctor didn't indicate that my larynx inflammation was very far along at all, so that may be why she's taking it easy on the Nexium.  At any rate, I think I can deal with waiting a bit to see how well this works for me.

 

I'm sure my main difficulty will still be the anxiety I feel when my throat feels squeezed or lopsided.  I can put in a plug for cognitive behavioral therapy.  That was helping me some before this latest bout of intense fear over my health kicked back in.  Now that I have some plan of attack for the symptoms that weren't from anxiety, I can concentrate better on all the ones (many more, it seems!) that are.

 

percycat


nervymeg
Veteran Member


Date Joined Jul 2006
Total Posts : 2721
   Posted 4/4/2008 6:38 PM (GMT -7)   
Percycat...I'm so happy that you are feeling better and that they have found something to fix! It's a relief to know what's causing a terrible feeling like choking.  I hope everything goes well with the medication and the consultation in a few weeks..
 
I find that when I'm anxious everything in body tightens up..have you tried any relaxation techniques on this?? just a thought....(you may already be a genius at relaxation!!)
 
Hope the anxiety continues to lessen xxxx
 
Maenad...welcome to HW!!!! I really hope you like it here..and I look forward to hearing more about you xxxx :-)

Co-Moderator Anxiety/Panic Disorders

Weekend Warrior Princess


wen4003
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 1193
   Posted 4/6/2008 9:03 AM (GMT -7)   
Percycat,
 
Although having a health problem isn't great, at least you now know what the problem is and it can be treated.  As you said, knowing what the problem is will help with the scary feeling of wondering if this is going to kill you.  Now you know that it won't, hopefully you'll feel a little better.  Please keep us up to date on how you are doing.
 
Take care,
Wen

Co-Moderator Anxiety/Panic Disorders

Every little bit helps, please donate to HW if you can!   http://www.healingwell.com/donate 

I am in no way a medical professional, any advice given is purely on an amateur level.

Please seek professional advice from your doctor.

Dx: Agoraphobia, Anxiety/Panic Disorders, Barrett's Esophagus, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Essential Tremors, Fibromyalgia, I.B.S., Mitral Valve Prolapse, Narcolepsy, PTSD, Restless Leg Syndrome, Acid Reflux, Sleep Apnea, Social Anxiety

Rx: Abilify, Flexeril, Lamictal, Lunesta, Neurontin, Nexium, Requip, Ritalin ER, Valium

“People have two ears and one mouth for a reason; you need to listen twice as much as you talk.”

Top Fuel pro - Bob Vandergriff, Jr


wen4003
Veteran Member


Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 1193
   Posted 4/6/2008 9:07 AM (GMT -7)   

Maenad,

Welcome to the Healing Well family - we are very happy that you have found us.  You'll find that we are supportive, caring and that many members here can relate to the same issues you deal with.  We look forward to getting to know you better.

Take care,

Wen


Co-Moderator Anxiety/Panic Disorders

Every little bit helps, please donate to HW if you can!   http://www.healingwell.com/donate 

I am in no way a medical professional, any advice given is purely on an amateur level.

Please seek professional advice from your doctor.

Dx: Agoraphobia, Anxiety/Panic Disorders, Barrett's Esophagus, Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Essential Tremors, Fibromyalgia, I.B.S., Mitral Valve Prolapse, Narcolepsy, PTSD, Restless Leg Syndrome, Acid Reflux, Sleep Apnea, Social Anxiety

Rx: Abilify, Flexeril, Lamictal, Lunesta, Neurontin, Nexium, Requip, Ritalin ER, Valium

“People have two ears and one mouth for a reason; you need to listen twice as much as you talk.”

Top Fuel pro - Bob Vandergriff, Jr

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