Hello, my name is Brandy. Recently, I had my first anxiety attack and it lasted about 12 hours hard. Ever sense then I will have kinda like spells of the anxiety attacks. Like I'll be cool for about 2-3 months then ill have a major attack that will last for weeks. Now there are more symptoms of a heart attack that it is driving me crazy. I can't sleep..eat...do anything without it happening .. mind you I have no history of anxiety. I am in a form of Med school and a single mom who works oh and have lots of stresssssss....recently, I went to the doc and he face me 1 mg of generic ativan..and I felt great....bad thingies I only got three but they lasted for about 3 weeks.. I guess my question is...this.. can anxiety realty mimic heart attack symptoms like arm pain cheat and back. Pain extra. And how canine trick mybrain into stop thinking. I'm flipping dieing
For a while I had serious anxiety tendencies as well, including a few episodes of panic and it was absolutely no fun. One of things that makes anxiety palpable is when you begin relating the symptoms of it to other unrelated things like a health condition. Its easy because the symptoms can mimic serious things, which can generate uncertainty, and uncertainty can just increase the anxiety. If you're young, eat healthy, don't smoke and aren't severly overweight I would definately rule out any heart issues.
My recommendation is that you first try to break the thinking cycle that happens when something triggers your anxiety, it can be done, but do know that it takes some work and it take some time at first. When you do, it will surely have a calming effect since thinking about the somatic sensations over and over, will just compound the anxious tendencies and make you more prone to an anxiety attack. Break that thinking cycle. One of the ways to help with that, is to educate yourself on anxiety and the psychology behind it (it really helped me) and there great books on it out there.
From what I have read, the symptoms of anxiety can be hundreds of symptoms, the most common are:
- Activation of the cardiovascular system from the adrenal release
- Shallow, more rapid breathing (too much oxygen, hyperventiliation can make people even more anxiety-stricken as you might know)
- When you become more emotional, the rational centers of the brain quiet down making you feel doused with anxiety and the related stress, essentially, your animal instincts become dominant, you more prone to run or to lash out or break down
- The sympathetic nervous system causes the blood to go to the major muscle groups, which can cause lightheadedness, dizziness since less blood is sent to your brain (i.e. fight or flight / freeze)
- And when you are totally "emotional", you feel isolated in some way, because you are not open to rationality, but this too can be stopped quite easily by practice
From what I have read (and I've done quite a bit of reading on anxiety) severe anxiety and cause chest and arm pain. Pretty amazing how many symptoms anxiety has.
If you only get this when you are anxious or are thinking about things that can cause anxiety to boil up, you are most likely experiencing the myriad of symptoms that anxiety can cause. The problem is psychological as with any other person. So, you need to first learn how to relax and recognize that a symptom is just that, a SYMPTOM, a physical sensation even though they aren't pleasant. This takes practice, as with anything else. I would recommend getting a typical relaxation CD and listening to it once to twice per day. Usually, they involve progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) which is an effective relaxation technique. Do this everyday, trust me, it will make a difference and again, it takes time to get over the anxious tendencies. But that's totally normal.
Another thing that has a HUGE influence on anxiety is nutrition. I was surprised how much it made a difference. Read about foods that are anxiety-provoking and avoid them. Sometimes even lack of a multivitamin everyday (I had a very bad habit of not taking a multi everyday) can make a difference. Other supplements you may want to look into are fish oil (something that has a positive effect on anxious and depressed folks) because of EPA and DHA and Omega-3 as well as St. John's Wort, Vitamin C is very important actually, and B vitamins. I've also heard that low potassium levels are something that contributes to anxiety. You may want to research that.
Exercise is a big part of it also, when I was constantly anxious, I wan't exercising, wasn't eating right, wasn't practicing relaxation and it showed. Doing a half-hour of cardio three or four days per week will pay off, serotonin is released, and so are endorphins. Also, if you do exercise, and you notice no chest pain while exercising, you're problems are probably just mental in nature. Of course if you aren't conditioned for serous aerobic exercise, start slowly, and build up over time. Just start with walking, then up to maybe cycling or jogging or even jumping jacks. Don't start off heavy with it, you'll just tire yourself out, or you might make yourself anxious because of a fast-beating heart. Again, that is perfectly fine, in a book called the "The Anxiety and Panic Workbook" it states that your heart can stay at 200+ beats per minute for days and no harm is done. So exercising will certanily not hinder you, it will do that complete opposite. Do not underestimate how important exercise is.
When it comes to stopping a bad thinking habit, it relies on first understanding that a thought is just a mere though. Its a physical process in our brains, nothing more. Let a thought be a thought, no matter how disturbing or stressing it may be. When someone takes a thought, blows it up into something huge, all they are doing is causing stress from nothing. You know the saying "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill"? Classic example.
And a mental image is just that: A mental image. Nothing more. Remind yourself of that whenever one of the two come to mind. What also helps in breaking thatkind of thought process, is just relaxing. When you relax, you are training yourself to relax, as you practice it more and more, it becomes stronger, and eventually becomes a natural response. Just like driving a car, the first time it may have been difficult, but after a day, two days, a week, then a month and so on, it becomes second nature. The same goes with learning how to be calm, it take persistent practice.
I wish you the best, you can overcome it, just make an effort to do so. Whatever you do, don't stress if you find it difficult to relax yourself, just go day by day.
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