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Can anxiety really manifest in physical symptoms?

Hi! I am a young adult female who's recently had a terrible onset of severe anxiety and panic attacks. I've suffered from migraines since I was a little girl, but one Sunday night this past April (after a busy weekend) I was laying down with a migraine about to sleep it off, when all of a sudden I felt like I couldn't suck in air & I felt this very strange/painful drop of pressure in my head. After several doctors/ER trips, everyone thinks it's a panic attack. Ever since then I've found myself to be an extremely nervous person & a terrible hypochondriac. My anxiety is on my mind 24/7 & I'm finding it nearly impossible to relax & it seems to only be getting worse (although I do have good days & bad days). The worst part is my anxiety/panic is accompanied by several physical symptoms including: headache, sinus pressure, muscle pain (in back/neck/arms/legs/hands), increased heart rate, random eye pain, seeing floaters, bloodshot eyes, stomach/abdomen cramps, as well as feelings of doom/depersonalization/detachment from reality, etc. etc. I've been to the ER 3 times & have had 2 EKGs, a cat scan of my brain, a chest x-ray & a blood test, all which came out normal (the EKG was a little high the second time but I'm assuming that was just because I was nervous). In addition I've been to my regular physician twice for these symptoms & they said everything was normal. A neurologist double checked my cat scans & said it looked normal as well. I visited an eye doctor & my levels for glaucoma tested higher than usual (about a 25 when it should be 22 or lower), however my vision tests came back okay other than an increase in my prescription lenses (which I knew I needed anyway). In addition, I see a psychiatrist who prescribed me a very low dose (.25 mg) of Xanax to take as needed & to cut it in half when I take it. I was nervous about taking it, but eventually tried it today because of my feeling of panic setting in. It made me feel very nervous & I was unable to relax. My heart was pounding & I was scared to fall asleep (I'm usually afraid to fall asleep in fear that I will not wake up). I think that I just didn't take enough of it, but I am not sure. Someone please please please tell me that they can relate to any of this! I am terrified something is actually physically very wrong with me even though all of my tests come back mostly normal. My psychiatrist notice a high thyroid level in my blood test last year, which can lead to anxiety apparently, so I hope to get my blood tested again soon. She also set me up with a therapist, who can hopefully help me develop coping methods. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to calm myself down? I'm really in need of some help from someone that has been through this & not just a doctor. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Sorry this was so long winded, I'm new at this.
7 Responses
Avatar universal
BI know exactley how u feelíng hun. For one if you are scared to take the xanax then tell them its to much and put i on kqlonapin sorry spelt wrong .im diagnosed with genarlized anxity disorder major depresstion wih vis and audio hallucinations that last one is someyhing totaly dif therez a reason that happedn it was once eight yrs ago hasnt happend since. Anyway i would b watching tv anf just start crying and thinkng weird crap and that turned into a bad anxity attack one nigjt i was in bed half asleep and woke up freakin out thinkin i was having a heart attack told him. I couldnt go to sleep cause i didnt wanna die i.walked to th er they said i was fine. So i went home i was scarex to go to sleep for a month the dr gave me stuff that made me feel drunk i didnt like it finally i was put on a very low dose od clonipine its .5 mg at night. So for a lil while it was ok but then it slowly came bk and then one day i was sittin in a friends room. Watchin tv i got up to use the bathroom felt dizzy my mouth water then tunnle vision next think i knew i heard call 911 thats when i snapped outta it i told them no all i needed was water so i walked to the door into the bathroom and drank water or so i thought while i was drinkin the water i was being shakin i opened my eyes and i was on the floor next to tje door i asked how i got out of the bathroom so quick they said i didnt make it that far instead of walkin out the door o walked into the walk right next to the door i screamed. For my sister trina she came dwn they told her what happend i told her i was fine i needed a drink she took me into the bathroom put me on the tolite and told them to call 911 i told her i wanted a drink she turned the sink on i put my face under the water and drank it i turned to say thanks but i was all of a sudden. On the front porch. Bein put on a gurney i looked at trina she told me that i blacked out again.sorry this is so long anyway the doctors didnt even do tests they just said it was stress! Stress my foot. Ever since i was younger. I have been doing this i also have the problems of being happy then for no reason at all being sad depressed to the point of crying and the migrains dont stop. But i have those under control at this moment the migrains i mean im on imatrex and a caffine pill im greatful for that please dont take this the wrong way but u should talk to ur doctor about bipolor meds. Thyroid cancer and diseis.e runs in my fam my gram has thyroid cancer aunt haas disease my mother has a hyper active thyriod and as does my sister i have a hypoactive one they r all skinny im heavy i also had my gallblader takin out at 17 u should try support for all this stuff dont let them tell u oh take this ull b better find a group that ull relate to it will help and ull become comfertable enough after awhile to talk to them just do me a fav ask to b tested to c if u have borderline bipoler its not as bad as u think if u need someone to talk to ill give u my number just message me ok good luck hun i promise itll b ok g
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your feedback, I will definitely take everything you've said into consideration & I will try to get my thyroid tested ASAP. I also was on immatrex for a little bit as well as naproxen for my migraine however I got taken off the immatrex because I found it wasn't really doing much & it has a bad interaction with Xanax apparently. To be honest the naproxen doesn't really help either because the headaches I've developed are stress/anxiety-related rather than hormonal or trigger-related. I will also definitely ask about getting tested for bipolar. I wish you the best & I hope you feel better soon. It's good to know someone understands what I'm feeling & I really do appreciate all of your input. Thank you so much!
Avatar universal
I was having a mirrian of symptoms when my anxiety was at it's best. I think that anxiety not only can cause lots of symptoms during this time but it can even leave you with some health problems..just to keep reminding you that its there.My anxiety has left me with a litle pressent..a skin disease :)
480448 tn?1426952138
Hello and welcome!

I'm sorry you're going through this, but I can assure you, if anything, you're FAR from alone.  SO many of us have lived through the same thing, and could have written your story, word for word.  Anxiety is a terrible thing to live with, and it's a horrible feeling.  

Basically, it's a big vicious cycle.  You begin feeling anxious, for whatever reason, then your mind runs off on its own, "what iffing"....."what if I'm having a stroke?"...."What if I have a terminal illness the doctors cannot find?"  The more you "what if", the more anxious you feel, and the physical manifestations of anxiety cause you to believe that there is indeed something terribly wrong with you.  Does that all sound about right?

I think you can be very reassured that medically, there is nothing big and bad going on.  You've had extensive testing, and have been seen by several specialists.  The thyroid issue absolutely needs looked into more thoroughly.  Thyroid imbalances cause symptoms that are often identical to those of anxiety/panic.  That needs to be ruled out before you chalk everything up to anxiety.

That being said, even IF you have a thyroid issue, you definitely should seek professional help for the anxiety as well, because at this point, you DO have anxiety.  Just going through anxiety and panic can leave us so traumatized that the anxiety sticks around.  It's almost like a PTSD situation.  So, most likely, you will have to address the anxiety either way (thyroid issue or not).  

The best thing you can do to address the anxiety is to start therapy, preferably CBT, where you will LEARN how to break that anxious cycle of "what iffing".  THAT'S the key to long term effective management of anxiety/panic.  Medicating the symptoms of anxiety with medications can be part of a treatment plan, but it isn't enough.  

I would bet that the Xanax, at the right dose, will give you some (if not a lot of) relief.  My guess is, you didn't take enough of it, and, that, coupled with your fear of the medication, made it ineffective.  Also, when you take an anxiolytic after panic is through the roof, the Xanax won't be as effective.  It's best if you can try to take it before the panic gets to the max level.  Also, an approved route of administration for Xanax is sublingual, where you would let it dissolve under the tongue.  That increases the onset of action quite significantly.  Of course, ask your doc first if he's okay with you taking it like that, but that may help a lot.  

My recommendation would be, after getting the ok from the prescribing doc to try it sublingually, the next time you try it, take it that way, before the panic is through the roof, and take the whole tablet.  I would bet you would get relief (and quite quickly) if you were to take it like that, at a more substantial dose.  Fear of medications is a common thing among anxiety sufferers, which is unfortunate, because often times, the very med the person fears could probably help them quite a bit.  When a person has suffered for a while with anxiety that is debilitating, to ME, it makes perfect sense to include medication therapy in addition to the psychotherapy.  Being able to control the symptoms better will improve your ability to progress in therapy too.

Please keep us updated on how you're doing, and post anytime.  We're here for you, and know what it's like to be going through what you're dealing with.  Just remember that as scary as panic FEELS, it will not harm you, and it IS treatable.  Hang in there!
Avatar universal
Thank you so so much for your kind words & advice! I definitely taking everything you say into consideration & I am scheduled to have another physical as well as a blood test for the thyroid issues early next month, so not too long before all of that can be sorted out. I did try a higher dosage of the Xanax (.25mg) yesterday early evening (about a little before the time when I'm most anxious which is between 7-10 pm) & I let it sit under my tongue for a little bit & that did help. Recently my heart feels like it has constantly been racing & I'm starting to obsessively count my bpm (it falls under 100 even when I feel it's racing at it's hardest, but it still concerns me). I also constantly (but accidentally) keep cracking some bone in my chest or the bone directly behind it in my back, which worries me, but my mom suggested that it might be my poor posture. In addition my throat constantly feels dry & like it's closing up. I feel like my chest/abdomen is empty & I cannot suck in enough air or take a good deep breath as much as I think I should be able to. I've looked these symptoms up as well & they seems one associated with anxiety, as well, but I just find it SO hard to believe that my mind can subconsciously convince me of so much. Also I've been developing acne on my chest, which isn't normal for me. I know that acne is definitely associated with stress & anxiety, but what about a heart condition? Anyway, sorry this was so long (again), but thank you for everything!
Avatar universal
I just wanted to say, I never thought so many people suffered from this on such extreme levels. I don't know about your, but the best thing to help with the what ifs is to have someone there that undersrands cause they deal with it too.
I hope we all find the inner peace we all so Deeply want to feel in life.
480448 tn?1426952138
Very well said.  Certainly makes us feel not alone anyway, huh?

Glad you found us!  
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