Why does my heart race when I wake from napping?
by Natbar, Sep 29, 2012
New to this forum. I've had GAD for 5 yrs and hypochondriasis (hand in hand) and notice now that when I nap (not often and not from a full nights sleep) I wake to a racing heart. Is this normal? I've had ECGs, a heart scan and monitor for 48 hrs and just picked up some irregular beats (palpitations) and heart rate dropping when I stand. I check my heart rate most of days :-(
I'm 32, female and average fitness but I hardly exercise because I'm too scared to.
Thanks anyone who can help!
Member Comments (6)
by Gulfstream2, Sep 29, 2012
Hey there, sounds like you have a problem with cardiac neurosis.
Hypochondria is something that can be defeated, but you need to seek out why you are always worrying over your health or your heart. Anxiety disorders, can be largely subconcious when they affect your behavior because you have gotten so used to worrying and fretting or catastrophizing over your health, its become a learned behavior. So if you are worrying, or anxious over your heart racing when you wake up, you find it pounding or racing away - it could actually be your sympathetic nervous system kicking in due to the subconcious part of your anxiety disorder. That's what can cause anxiety to be pathological, it affects behavior again, largely in a sbuconcious way and if you don't identify why you have these concerns (which are most likely irrational) then you will difficulty resolving the hypochondria for good.

Paplitations as you should know are totally harmless, everyone can get them once in a while, some more than others. If you sit or lie down for too long and suddenly rise up, it isn't uncommon to find that your blood pressure drops a bit. Then you may notice heart speeding up rather quickly, and that's normal - it is simply compensating for the decrease in blood pressure and physical movement.

You do need to exercise more, trust me, your heart is just fine - exercise is VERY good for your heart, and important - even just brisk walking does wonders later on down the road. I was worried about exercising too, but when I do I feel great whilst doing it and afterwards. It really can help with anxiety as well due to the release of adrenal hormones and endorphins. Plus, getting your heart rate under conditions you are in control of will teach you that a high heart rate is nothing to fear. Remember we all have a stress response built into us, every mammal does. If your heart rate gets up to 120 BPM, don't worry - that is actually around your aerobic level, which is the same heart rate you should attain while exercising.

Figure out what your maximum heart rate (MHR) is, you can find out about it on Wikipedia, and aim for about sixty percent of that for your exercise. If your MHR is 190 BPM, aim for say 120 BPM and stay at that level. If you find it hard, that's okay. Just slow down to a level that is satisfactory for you. When you exercise, you'll most feel your heart pounding away, which is great - your heart is both beating faster, and increasing the stroke volume (which how much blood it pulls in and pushes out) which can be felt as the "pounding" or "thumping" you sometimes get when you are anxious Over time as you exercise, the stroke volume actually decreases and the rate increases, totally normal. Remember to warm up first, then get up to a pace that achieves your target heart rate and then after that, it is important to cool down. The cool down period should take between five to ten minutes. If you stop exercising suddenly (especially if it is intense aerobic exercise) you may find yourself out of breath or lightheaded, since all the blood is going to your muscles and it can pool there. Doing a cool down avoids this and is the proper way to cease exercise. During intense exercise, over 70% of all bloodflow is going to the muscles, pretty amazing don't you think?

Overall, your problem is psychological. One thing I recommend for you to do (it helped me out big time) is read about the heart, study it. Also, read up on anxiety and the relation of anxiety and your cardiovascular system.
If you can get therapy, try getting some cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, it is very, very effective in treating almost any mental ailment. Something for you to remember is: Feelings are NOT facts.

Also in five years with hypochondria, has anything that you "expected" happened to you? Probably not. You will get over it, everybody can. Lots of people are on here who are very knowledgeable about anxiety (like me) and have had their experiences with it. Keep your chin up!

Best regards and do take care. :-)
by Natbar, Oct 02, 2012
I just wanted to say a massive thank you for such a detailed and descriptive response and taking the time out to do so.  Your points were helpful and it's good to hear I'm not the only one with all these strange symptoms, feelings and thoughts. Soldier through as what else is there?!
Thanks again :)
by Gulfstream2, Oct 02, 2012
You're welcome, glad to hear its helped out.

Some develop a concern over their hearts with anxiety attacks because the heartbeat gets obvious and it can be alarming if you don't know what is going on. But if you really do take of yourself and don't smoke or do drugs and are decent shape than having these worries about your heart are totally unrelated - they are mental in nature, and that's something to grasp at first but once you do, you can begin to get over it.

A lot of people get health worries from anxiety, because the symptoms can be a little worrisome. They key is learning to differentiate between organic symptoms and mental symptoms but know that the brain and body are intimately linked. Hypochondriacs jump to all too obvious (and incorrect) conclusions: If they feel something foreign somewhere, they attribute to an organic problem, failing to realize the where the real problem is: In their head.
I would like to recommend you read a book called "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman. It would probably help out a ton, and I've learned a lot from it. This book was written back in 1996, so there are some things it lacks in terms of recent research but it still is a wonderful book. Very informative.

Yep, just keep on chugging along - things are always bright ahead.

Let me know how you're doing, and if you need to talk about anything, feel free to do so.
by scorpiogirl9, Oct 02, 2012
hello! forst off natbar, i am just like you! I am always worried about my heart, that i will drop dead or tons of things, I am a major hypochondriac with severe anxiety disorder and panic disorder, depression. My father died from a heart anyerism when i was younger, but he did heavy drugs..i see a psych twice a week and i just keep thinking i going to die like that. I am to afraid to work out because of that fear and things ive heard in the past about other people. My doc tells me to just try to walk around the block once a day i dont have to do heavy excersize yet im not ready for it. Thakyou gulfstream2 as weel.. your reply was great, it made me feel a bit better also and i might check out that book! anway it good to know im not alone with these feelings.
by Gulfstream2, Oct 02, 2012
Oh it's a really great book, talk alot about how anxiety attacks can occur.

I'm very sorry to hear about your father, but you said he did heavy drugs? Those drugs can do some horrid damage in a short period of time, I would honestly think that is what caused it. They damage everything, especially the heart, brain and various organs.

Glad to hear that you're fairing up well, keep it up and don't lose encouragement. ;-)
by crazyme843, Feb 11, 2013
Hello all..I'm new to this! I have had GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) and panic disorder since I was 15..I'm now 30.. going on 31 in March. I recently about a month ago started experiencing panic attacks again and severe depression. Well the other day my boyfriend and I were out of town and we had woke up early the next morning.. with not much sleep the night before.. we got ready and we out to eat.. 30 minutes later we went to a mall and i suddenly felt a panic attack coming on.. I told him I needed water and needed to sit down.. as I sat down my heart was racing.. and it got higher and higher.. it would not slow down.. i was freaking out big time and thought I was going to die, seriously. So he came back with water..I began drinking it slowly.. and took a piece of my xanax.. he called 911.. by the time 911 was on the way I began calming down slowly.. the whole attack lasted 10 mins maybe.. or 15. I have not had one this severe in a long time since in my early 20's. I have had ekg done.. blood tests.. been checked out by my doctor and everything is fine. My heart has always raced after I eat all my life since I was a kid so I'm trying to figure out why this attack was so bad.. plus I was just starting my period that day the awful thing happened. I have only been on meds for a week.. but it takes 4 to 6 weeks to notice a change.. any advice would be helpful!