Welcome to the Mood Disorders Forum. Questions in this forum are being answered by Peter Forster, MD and topics covered are anxiety, bipolar, depression, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and stress.
Hi, about 2 months ago I started having this weird head pressure. Almost like fullness, but very full. Mostly around my temples. I was dx with a sinus infection. The pressure really worried me. I went to the first doc who said if I just had the pressure, I needed to go to the er immediately to get a ct scan. That scared me, a lot. After she said this, she says, "well let's try zyrtec for a week, and if the pressure gets worse or doesn't go away, go to the er for a ct". Ok... So what do I do... I come home and research... Find out that this could be a symptom of an aneurysm or brain tumor. I go to the second doc who says it's most likely a sinus infection, and put me on antibiotics. About three days after this, still researching, and more symptoms pop up. At this time I had weird headaches, almost like cramps in my head. Behind my ears, in the back of my head, in front of my ears, temples... I went to the er one night bc my legs started shaking. .
Thanks for writing in.
I am not really sure why one of your doctors hasn't ordered the MRI. It seems as though there is plenty of justification for the test just to reassure you... but since I can't order a test for you I will have to move on...
I think that it would be useful to try to put together a list of signs and symptoms. A sign is a physical manifestation of an illness. A symptom is a subjective (meaning you are the only one who experiences it - like pain) manifestation.
Here is a start -
SIGN: Sweating. Shaking.
SYMPTOM: Head pressure around the temples. Headaches. Inner shakiness. Feel pulse in back of head. Eyes dry. Anxiety. Neck stiffness.
NORMAL FINDINGS: Normal neurologic examination. Normal blood work (I assume including a complete blood count).
Maybe you could reply with any other signs or symptoms I might have missed.
Next, I think that we should divide this problem into two parts - physical health issues and mental health issues. Of course this is an arbitrary distinction but in this case it might be useful.
In terms of physical health issues, I would say that your doctors are very likely right, you are very unlikely to have a brain tumor, and even more unlikely to have a brain infection. The best way to follow up on this is to do the kind of analysis I proposed above.
In terms of mental health issues, whether or not you have a physical condition your worry about this is having a pretty significant negative effect on your life. So I think that you need to do something about that worry. Buspirone is a reasonable treatment, you might also want to talk to your doctor about a low dose of a serotonin medication like Lexapro or Celexa.
You might want to scheduling worry time - if you have a thought or worry write it down and then go through those concerns at a scheduled time. And return to what you are doing after you write it down.
You definitely need to increase the amount of pleasure or fun in your life. I find that how much people worry about illness or death is often inversely related to how much they are enjoying life. If I am really enjoying life I tend not to think about dying much at all, but if I am pretty miserable I worry about dying because it would be horrible to be unhappy and then to discover that I won't have a chance to really have a good life. So... the solution is to add more fun, do things that you would have enjoyed in the past, even if they may not be fun it will be good to try.
Finally, I think that you might want to ask your doctor about a referral to a psychiatrist or therapist.
After waiting 16 hrs, I was told it sounded like a stress reaction, and if I do have a sinus infection, that I shouldn't really need the antibiotics bc I had no discharge and such. after this dx, I went back to the second doc and had blood work done. He said everything looked normal. Between this time, I had gone to the dentist and found out I needed 3 wisdom teeth removed and a pre-molar. Still feeling crafty, I went to another doc, all in hopes that someone would find something or order a ct scan. She stated I had a Lil post-nasal drip and said to get on claritan for the winter. I went back to the dentist b/c over thanksgiving my pre-molar started breaking off. No pain... He said that there was a minor infection in that tooth. I had aLl of the teeth removed on Monday. Went back to the doc and he did a neuro exam and said all is well with my brain. Bc at this point I think that it's a brain abscess or some other brIn infection, a brain tumor, or a brain aneurysm. I've never suffered from health anxiety before, but he states this is what it is. I've had all sorts of symptoms, some have gone, but some still stick around and others pop up. I've had sweating on my chest, head and neck at night, sweaty palms and feet, still weird headaches, a bit of dizziness (after tooth extraction), hot neck and upper back every morning, inner shakiness, and sometimes feel my pulse in the back of my head, sometimes I shake outwardly, my eyes seem to get very dry. Also, after the tooth infection dx, is had sinus problems and a sty... Which convinced me that the infection was indeed spreading to my brain. I have been doing nothing for the past 3 months but sitting on my phone researching what this could be. I'm still scared and think I need an MRI, but my doc stated that he doesn't and won't give me one bc there's no need to be exposed to the radiation with my symptoms. He started me on buspar, and I am still taking amoxicillin for the tooth infection. The buspar seems to help a bit, but todayi woke up again shaking and feeling very anxious/ nervous. I cannot convince myself that this is anxiety due to all the symptoms and all the new ones that keep popping up. Today I have neck stiffness... Not really stiff just a bit achey (achy)... I can move my head fine. Someone told me to contact this forum for some help. I'm just really scared that it's something fatal and I'm ignoring it. My neck and upper back is still hot, but with no fever. I've honestly kept my son home from school so I wouldn't have to be alone. Very selfish and sad, I know. I haven't worked or done anything for 3 months and I'm so scared. My relationship with my fiancé is definately on the rocks due to this. I want to know if I had a brain tumor/ infection/ aneurysm, or a blood infection would I know... Would these be the symptoms??? How do I know that this is anxiety??? Please help soon, I'm scared... And worried...
Thank you so much for your response. My doctor did give me a good cbt to call, unfortunately he can't see me until after Christmas. I'm assuming that they didn't order an MRI, b/c all of these symptoms weren't always present. For instance I started out with just head pressure... And I'm almost sure that my worrying has caused all of this other stuff. It's hard to admit, and almost scary to say that. Is it possible for my OCD to be causing this "hang up" on my health??? I mean, the constant searching and such??? Do you think I should see another doc or go back to my current one and beg for an MRI??? I am definitely going to try what you mentioned above. But, with the worry time, I'm afraid I worry constantly about this. Do you suggest that when I'm worrying I try and think of something else until it's "worry time", or just let the thoughts go and try my hardest to do daily tasks??? I really appreciate your response, and I hope to hear from you soon. Also, besides what you mentioned above, is there any other homework that I can do??? Again, I can't put into words how much I appreciate you talking to me a out this.
The idea of scheduling worry time is that you can tell yourself at other times that you don't have to think about it now because you have time to devote to it later.
Three techniques -
1. STOP - this technique involves mentally shouting (not making any sound) STOP to yourself to stop thinking about the worries when it isn't your scheduled time.
2. Mindfulness - almost the opposite approach... this involves practicing detachment... letting go of the emotional connection to thoughts and worries. Imagine that you are watching these worry thoughts pass right on by you like bubbles in a lake rising to the surface... notice the patterns of the worry thoughts... words that repeat... but without being "attached" to them... oh there is another one... now it is going away...
3. Distraction - focus on something else... perhaps try to return to what it was that you were thinking about before the worry thought.... remind yourself that you don't have to think about the worries right now...
I would suggest going to see your regular doctor not going to a new one. Just say that you know there is probably nothing going on but tell him how hard you have been trying to get rid of those thoughts and worries and how you have made an appointment with the CBT but he can't see you for a few weeks and meanwhile your life is being consumed by worries.
Hello again... First, I want to say thanks again for your response. Second, I don't have insurance, and I'm scared that's why the doc won't order and MRI. Again, he did the neuro exam... I know this isn't the best way to determine what I'm concerned about. I've been concerned about this a lot lately... Are they not doing tests bc I don't have insurance??? Thanks again...
Sorry, I did see the post but my reply got lost in the wilderness of the internet somewhere.
Anyway, I am pretty sure that your doctor's decision is not made based on your insurance. Many studies have been done and, for good or ill, the conclusion is that doctors don't practice different ways based on the individual insurance status of their patients.
Hello again. I'm out o state right now visiting my family, and I truly am not convinced this is anxiety. I usually am relaxed here(at home), but right now I am totally edge. Even my nieces and nephews (whom I adore) are getting to me... These head "pains" are driving me crazy. Last night we were all playing dominoes, and every time I would lift my arms I would feel like I was shaking in my neck and head... Inside my head, like my brain was shaking. I woke up twice last night, it felt like I was just falling asleep, and I was shaking all over. I also have noticed red spots/ bumps on my chest and upper back. I break out a lot in these areas, so that might be it... Not sure... Everything scares me these days. My neck is feeling crazy too. It feels like i should keep my head down bc it feels better, instead of my head up bc my head feels almost heavy... I don't know... I'm so scared that this is a brain tumor/ aneurysm/ infection or a heart/circulation problem...
First, would the doctor be able to see through a neuro exam if a brain tumor or unruptured aneurysm or infection was present??? Would the symptoms be different if one of these were present??? Second, are these symptoms anxiety related, bc in my head it doesn't seem like it... I'm terrified, everyone keeps tellin me to just relax, but I can't...
I do think that you should get that MRI, but at the same time there is the fact that there is always uncertainty in every diagnostic procedure. And by focusing on the fact that there is not complete certainty, rather than on the much larger probability that you do not have a brain disease, you can become very afraid.
"Just relaxing" is usually impossible to do at times like these. Some folks can, however, do progressive muscle relaxation when they are scared like this. And anything that does help you relax is worth doing. Try googling those words to find some guides to that technique.
Hi there. I know this post is a bit late, but hoping you will receive it anyway. I have had anxiety disorder for 16 years of my life and I am 38 years old now. You would not believe the stuff that anxiety does to us, mentally and physically. I have had so many symptoms that i know for sure I am dying of something. but truth is, we are not dying of anything. Stress does a lot of bad things to us, and worrying is stress. I have had shakiness on the outside of my body, the inside, dizziness, being short of breath, pressure in the head, and the sinus area, and all kinds of other symptoms. I almost guarantee that your having anxiety and it *****. Seek help from a therapist about generalized anxiety disorder, and possible panic attack disorder. I wish you the best and hope you get to feeling better soon. By the way I take celexa(citalopram - generic) for depression and xanax for panic attacks. works really well and i also have a fear of taking prescriptions. I will get a panic attack thinking of what a new drug will do to me. Sounds silly but it is true. take care.....
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