Gerd and anxiety

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New Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/20/2011 1:30 AM (GMT -6)   
Hello everyone. I suffered a severe panic attack on 12/31/2010. I thought i was having a heart attack, as i was having some left side chest pain for several days before the attack. I was in the hospital overnight and most of the following day, undergoing every cardiac test known to man, which all came back negative. I followed up with my regular doctor, who diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder. I was a fairly heavy drinker, and had smoked about a pack a day for the last twenty years. After my initial attack, i quit both. After leaving the hospital, i began to eat right, cut out unnecessary fats, cholesterol, etc., and started an exercise regimen which i followed for about a month before the chest discomfort and feelings of impending doom returned. I went back to my doctor, who put me on two different antidepressants, and when those did nothing, prescribed Xanax, of which i started with .25mg 1-3 times daily, and am currently on .5mg once daily. I started having some symptoms of acid reflux about 6 months ago, and while seeing an ENT for an unrelated issue, mentioned this to him and was prescribed Prilosec 40mg once daily. I finished a six month course of this, which does not seem to be having much effect, and i am now into my first month of yet another 6 month course of the Prilosec. I have absolutely no heartburn, and have only regurgitated acid i can taste 3-5 times. However, my anxiety attacks have increased, and these are accompanied by a constant feeling of a lump of phlegm in my throat, difficulty swallowing food, minor to moderate chest discomfort, what feels like palpitations, and an overall feeling of fatigue. I think i have GERD, or maybe Barret's esophagas, but i'm just not sure. There are so many things i find on the internet i'm not sure what to believe. Anyhow, i'm finally going to see a gastro tomorrow to see if he can shed some light on this. I don't know what this is, i just know that it has affected my quality of life, and i can't enjoy alot of the things i used to because i just don't feel up to it, and i'm tired of feeling this way. This seems like a decent forum, with alot of experiences and information shared. I look forward to hearing anything that might help me from those that have more experience with this. This is affecting my quality of life to the point where my wife is telling me she wants her husband back, and after a year of this, i feel i'm approaching my wit's end. Thanks for letting me vent. confused

Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2010
Total Posts : 395
   Posted 1/20/2011 12:18 PM (GMT -6)   
First of all let my say Congratulations on quitting smoking!! I also quit right after a scary panic attack that I thought was a heart attack for sure but was just the Panic attack thank goodness. I know how scary they are and how hard it is to quit smoking but it is for the best we all know that.
For me anxiety and the GERD go together. When I don't feel quite right or well, my anxiety kicks in big time and makes everything that much worse.

Your symptoms sound like GERD and it seems as if you are reacting to your symptoms and this is adding to your anxiety. I can also tell you that when I was on Prevacid(i know you are on Prilosec) i started having the panic attacks again. I certainly think that the Prevacid was causing them so you might want to look in to what meds you are taking. I switched to Zegerid, the only thing that has really helped so far and does not seem to make me more anxious. Sometimes we have to find the right diet, medicine or whatever before we start feeling better and usually then the anxiety is somewhat relieved. You might need to try something different in order to get your reflux under control. I had silent reflux and my only symptom was burning, nausea, lack of appetite, and sinus/ear pain, weird isn't it? Anyhow everyone is different and so are our symptoms sometimes but the goal is to start to feel better!!

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 175
   Posted 1/20/2011 2:21 PM (GMT -6)   
Sometimes GERD can trigger anxiety, since it can have a lot of mysterious and at times painful symptoms. The chest pain is often confused with a heart problem, but now that your heart has been checked out and is fine, you can stop worrying about that.

Rather than go down the anxiety pill path, you'd probably do better in the long run to just understand that GERD is often a life long problem, but not life threatening. That might help you to relax about it and not overly stress yourself out with worry. Just think about it, you thought you were dying on 12/31, but you are still here, so chances are you're going to be around for a long time to come.

Exercise is a very good stress reliever, but if you have GERD, you have to be careful how you exercise, or else it can worsen your symptoms. Basically you should only exercise on an empty stomach, and don't bounce around or bend over when exercising. So you might try something like riding a stationary bike for exercise to get you started again.

You should do the usual lifestyle changes that help control GERD symptoms, like modifying your diet, elevating the head of your bed, not eating close to bedtime, etc. And equally important is to stop worrying so much since that just creates more acid, and that will feed into your anxiety in a vicious circle.

You should consider seeing a gastroenterologist to treat your GERD, since they are much better at that than ENT doctors. They will probably put you on something better than Prilosec to help control your symptoms.

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/31/2011 5:04 PM (GMT -6)   
25 years ago I too suffered from panic attacks, acid reflux, dizziness, overall malaise etc... You name the discomfort, I felt it. All brought on by stress and my bodies way of coping. I had test after medical test thinking there was something seriously wrong with me..., cancer, tumors, anything that would justify how I felt. CAT scans, spinal taps, EKG's... everything came back negative. After years of tip toeing through life, always focusing on how badly I felt, I had to move on. Twenty five years later I still sometimes feel dizzy but have learned to cope. I still exercise, don't drink, never smoked and stay away from the foods that make me feel worse. I force myself to do things that I would otherwise avoid. Mind over matter is a difficult adage to live by but a necessary one when feeling the way we do. When you've ruled out the major health issues, I would suggest to stop searching for what else is wrong. You will eventually learn that this is your physical make-up and you have to learn to forget how you feel and know that you're not going to die. Unfortunately the side effects from medication for GERD or panic attacks can be as uncomfortable as the symptoms themselves. If you feel the horrible onset of a panic attack, be strong and fight it off. I did and so can you. I know it's easy to say and difficult to do, but stop worrying and be positive.

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 131
   Posted 1/31/2011 9:24 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi sparks40,

I understand your frustration. The thing with gastro problems and anxiety is that you have to find out if it is gastro causing your anxiety, or your anxiety causing gastro symptoms. I'd suggest letting your doctor know how you feel and perhaps both of you could work out a solution together.

Take care.

"Don't just think positive, BE positive."
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