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Anxiety and Chest Pains/Headaches
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Anxiety and Chest Pains/Headaches

About a year ago out of no where I had a panic attack, and ever since then I have not been the same.  I would worry all day every day that im dying, having a heart attack, or about to have a stroke.  Certain times it would be better and go away for a few weeks, then it would come back.  I have been to the ER 3 different times with them telling me its anxiety and my Doctor has told me its anxiety.

Well about a month ago my symptoms started acting up again.  These symptoms last ALL DAY, EVERYDAY.  Horrible chest pain/tightness in the center of my chest up to my throat.  Severe headaches with vision that is blurry.  And sometimes I get terrible heart burn.  I also have terrible stomach cramps most days.  When I wake up in the morning it is not as bad, but throughout the day for NO reason it gets worse.  I am 25 years old, 6'1 and 300 pounds.  I know I am over weight, but only 5 years ago I wieghed 200.  So in 5 years I have gained 100 pounds from being depressed and having a child and life and such.

I constantly worry every day that I am dying or having a heart attack.  These symptoms of no joke.  They don't go away.  I tried zoloft during the summer for about 2 weeks, and they gave me horrible diarrhea and my body would shake all the time, so i stopped taking them and have not tried anything since.  This is damaging my marriage.  My wife is sick of hearing about it.  Most days I just don't even tell her about the symptoms, but sometimes it hurts so bad that I have to.  I feel like my life has been stripped from me.

Is this really anxiety or is some underlying issue at hand?  i cannot come to terms with the fact that its anxiety.  Maybe its a mix of anxiety and depression?  I fear death alot.  I am scared to die and think about it alot.  i am just so sick of feeling this way.  Each day I feel like going to the ER because I feel like I am dying, but I get enough strength to make it through the day and fall asleep.  I am a stay at home father so I am not that busy and being in the house with a 4 year old and my thoughts probably doesn't help.

What do you guys think?
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Avatar_m_tn
Hi,
    I think it's purely anxiety related. Trust me, I live the same situation than you since more than one year now, everyday I feel like I will die, I have chronic chest pain, chronic headache with pulsating veins on the left side, previously I had headache all around my head all the time with a numb scalp of my head, it was really weird but now my symptoms change.... my blood pressure don't stop to be up and down for no reason, my pulse is also very weak with a too slow or very high rate and when I write high, I mean 200 beats per minute or more... when I do a panic attack it can reach the 220 and more... I remember that one time I go to the emergency and my pulse was so fast that the Doc and the nurse wasn't able to take my pulse rate.... my lower legs hurt and they are red, I have jaw pain, eyes pain all the time, blurry vision, can't tolerate the light, see strange things in the dark also... and the list goes on... it's like that 24 hours a day since more than one year and i'm still there... Add also the fact that I do at least 2-5 panic attacks a day (they are all trigger by my heart symptoms!!! Can have one in my shower cause my heart beat will be too fast, can have one when I watch the TV cause my chest hurt...can have one when I smoke my first cigarette in the morning (I know I have to stop!!!), I also have insomnia, especially when I know that I have to get out of the house for my Therapist appointment every week, i'm tired all the time and can't do anything in the evening cause my anxiety reach a high peak (always worse in the evening for the panic and all my symptoms),  can't exercise cause it's increasing my chest pain BUT have the chest pain even at rest, I have legs and hands tremor all the time also, numb left arm, cold left hand, pain in the veins on my left side of my neck, tinnitus with hearing loose in my left ear, just to name a few...

First of all, just to be sure, take an appointment with a Cardiologist, he is the one who will tell you if it's anxiety or you're heart... I had a stress test with an echography of my heart and they find no problem, just a mitral valve prolaspe, who is very common and not dangerous at all...but can be linked to my anxiety... Also had a holter monitor for 24 hours... the Cardiologist say my heart rate was normal and when I had chest pain  or anything else, I had to wrote it on a small paper with the hour when it's happen and they say each time I notice a heart symptoms, they hear nothing wrong with my heart... anyway... when I had those tests done last year, my anxiety level was lower than now and my heart symptoms was also lower... now it's 10000000 times worse than before...

For the Zoloft, I also understand you... It's not easy to start a SSRI antidepressant, especially when you have a lot of cardiovascular symptoms... Same thing happen to me now, can't start the Paxil, who is the only one antidepressant med who work to block the panic, agoraphobia and OCD (cardiophobia = taking my pulse rate more than 200 times a day and also often my blood pressure)... I tried almost 10 times to be back on it since 1 year but each time I had worse panic and  heart symptoms... can't even take 1/10 of the normal dose now... that's suck!!! Sorry...

See a Therapist can help also, but you have to find the good one... some peoples don't answer well to the usual CBT therapy use to treat the anxiety disorders...

I also think that staying home don't help... if you have plenty of time for yourself  in your house and you do nothing and just worry about your health and your heart, you will end up with more anxiety and more heart symptoms... BUT I know it's not easy, I live the same situation than you, I don't work, anyway can't work with that anxiety problem...i'm almost homebound at 99% now because of the agoraphobia and panic, can't be in a car because each time I do severe panic attacks BUT I have an appointment each week with my Therapist and it's a pure physical and mental torture to get out of the house and be in a car ...

Also, some peoples around me and the 2 previous therapists I had last year told me to start looking for a job. not a full time one, but just to get out of the house... and I tried to explain to them that I can't work for now, I have no concentration because of the anxiety and can't focus on something more than 10 minutes without having a panic attack... can't imagine to work... not now...

For the panic attacks, how many panic you have each week? They are trigger by your worries about your heart (like a fast pulse rate, chest pain...) OR they are out of the blue (happen anytime, without any reason)?

Well, I know it's hard... each day for me it's like the last one... I also fear about dying, I think about it all the time... I fear the unknow...

That's not easy but a lot of peoples on this board heal from their anxiety disorders, so don't give up and keep the faith!!!

Take care of you!

Vince ;-)
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Avatar_f_tn
The first thing you need to do is get a thorough check-up to rule our all other causes, maybe include a cadiologist in this.  Anxiety can and does cause the type of symptoms you are having, but rule out other causes first via doctors and not the ER.  Anxiety feeds off our fears and worry, so the less you do of this....the better.  Having our first panic attack can set up our anxiety out of fear of having another one, which is easily done since they scare us so badly.  Anxiety can rob us of our life and that's why we have to fight back with all we have.  It is often trial and error with the type of medications used to treat anxiety as to what will work for us, so don't give up on medication.  Therapy is also very beneficial along with exercise.  You've developed an irrational fear and need help in over-coming it, and that's okay.  We all need help at some time.  Knowing that a panic attack is a normal response coming at the wrong time can help.  It's our brain sensing fear and floods our bodies with adrenaline so we can protect ourselves......it's our "fight or flight" mode.  Since we're not in danger, all this adrenaline has nothing to work on and it's just our bodies responding to the overload of adrenaline, it won't hurt us just scare the heck out of us!  You are young enough to not only turn this around but your overall health which will eventually catch up with you.  A young father with a young child, it's time to get serious about your health.  It sounds like you may be an emotional eater, this is very common and we all have our "comfort foods" but we have to limit our intake of them.  If you see a psychiatrist the two of you can discuss medication again, and he can refer you to the proper therapist.  Medication gives us our lives back once we find the right one, and psychiatrists are the most knowledgable when it comes to these types of medications..  If you start another medication and have any problem always contact your doctor right away, don't just stop taking it.  It may just be your body adjusting to the medication.....the dosage needs to be tweaked, or it may not be the right one for you. Get out and get moving, walking is the best exercise you can do!!  When you want something to eat, stop and ask yourself "am I really hungry, or am I just wanting to eat?"  I'm not lecturing you, I want to see you get healthy emotionally and physically, not only for you but for your child and wife.  They love you and want you to be around for a long time.  Go to the mall and walk with your little one, he/she needs to burn off some of their energy anyway and will enjoy being out.  When it warms up, go to the park and play games that keep both of you moving, walk whenever you can, park out from where you're going so you have to walk farther.  In the evenings (when it warms up) you and your wife can take a leisurely stroll while your little one rides their bike or whatever they want........just get moving.  Staying focused are getting and staying healthy will not only benefit you physically but emotionally. It will give you a new purpose and goal while not allowing yourself to worry so much. You don't want to wake up an old man one day, and wonder where the years went....you will have worried them away.  I hope this helps, and we're always here for you!  I wish you all the best, and take care!
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