I was diagnosed with panic disorder when I was 26. I was a healthy, athletic person who never had any medical problems. I became engaged to my now husband and my doctor (GP) thought the stress of planning a wedding caused my panic attacks. He prescribed Xanax and sent me on my way. After the wedding (a year later), I tried to stop taking the Xanax. Unfortunately, I was never warned by my doctor that this could cause withdrawal. Needless to say, it took me almost a year to wean off the Xanax, but I did it. Over the years I would have flare-ups of anxiety attacks which then became more constant. I would basically go to work and then stay home. I was afraid to go out or enjoy social events. I went to a CSW for help and obtained biofeedback sessions. This helped for a while, but then my physical symptoms started to come on worse with sweating (especially in the palms of my hands), heart palpitations, hyperventilation, feeling of "going crazy" and the feeling that I was going to die.
In the past few weeks, I have had to deal with the stress of my mother being in the hospital for 3 months with various ailments and she came close to death a few times. She started out with a bladder infection which eventually lead to MRSA and this created a vegetative growth which damaged the mitral valve of her heart. She underwent mitral valve replacement surgery and spent many weeks in and out of ICU as she kept developing "C-DIFF". I went to see her every day after work and got home so late that I either did not have dinner or ate too close to bedtime. She is back home now and doing wonderful. It is a miracle she survived. The bad side is that I think this stress put a subconscious toll on me. My husband and I are also having our share of financial difficulties as many people are today.
I am now 45 years of age. My last physical was 6 months ago, and I was fine. I need to lose some weight like many Americans, but otherwise I was told I was healthy.
Now, in the past 2 weeks, I am experiencing thoracic back ache (not pain, but ache), achiness to the chest area (center breast bone section to be exact) and achiness to the right shoulder and neck area. I am trying to attribute this to physical exertion from household duties, etc....but now my anxiety is triggering in that maybe I am exibiting signs of a heart condition. It stays in my mind almost constantly to the point where I am breaking out into sweats again and having heart palpitations after years of no attacks. I saw a new cardiologist a few days ago as I feared the worst. He was very thorough and I told him of my concerns. My prior cardiologist had moved to another state, so I did not have a good cardiology check-up for 5 years. This doctor listened to my heart and said he could hear the mitral valve prolapse, but did not express too much concern about it. He then had blood drawn. I was then given an echocardiogram test. Since I was allowed to leave, I tried to assure myself that nothing serious was found or they would not have let me leave. I am now scheduled to take a nuclear stress test and then wear a 24 hr halter monitor in another week. I am familiar with all these test. I will then have consult to get my results on 8/5/10.
The doctor is also going to obtain all my records from my prior cardiologist for comparison. He said my EKG was "abnormal" which sent my brain into overdrive. I cried like a baby and said "I'm going to die". He was very nice and told me that he did not see anything serious and to try to stay calm. Most likely the achiness in the chest and neck are from a musculoskeletal strain related to stress. I have since put a heat pack on my back and it seems to help a lot. I am not having any shortness of breath or dizziness. I am so embarrassed by these panic attacks as I feel like a freak of nature. The Klonopin does make those symptoms dissipate for a few hours, but I am back to having that constant fear of another attack forthcoming. I am not going through menopause and walk everyday for a few miles to get excercise. I seem to feel better when I go for a walk. I feel so alone with this and like a freak. My older sister does not have this problem. My father had panic attacks, but was able to control them very well. Am I just over-reacting to the aches? Today is the first day in a week that my heart is not palpitating as I am trying to realize this may not be as bad as I am making it seem. Also, I will be getting answers on my heart shortly. I have no sharp chest pains or arm pains. I think my brain just goes into a frenzy and puts my body into a flight response mode. It is making me crazy!!! I go to work every day and fight to keep my life. I don't want to be a house-ridden person afraid of everything. Please give any advise you can to this scared and stressed out person. Thanks very much!!!
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