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Avatar universal

Hypochondriac, obsessed with heart, life is becoming a hell of anxiety again

I have had anxiety ever since I can remember and I had my first panic attack at age 11.  Throughout my life, I have become obsessively worried about various things - first it was nuclear war, then the world coming to an end (these worries were going on when I was a kid), then it became my health.  I have been obsessed with the belief that I have a heart arrhythmia that is going to kill me for a long time now, I started fearing this because I have heart palpitations which doctors and cardiologists have all told me aren't dangerous and there is nothing wrong with me.  It got to the point about 2 years ago when my heart was all I thought about, all day every day.  I almost failed out of a top 10 college and my life was miserable.  I went through an intensive therapy for health anxiety and got better for a while but now I'm getting bad again.  I am starting to think and worry about my heart 24/7 and I have massive, horrible headaches, too (probably from the stress and worry).  I have been offered every medication under the sun by too many psychiatrists to count, but I am scared of taking anything but a beta blocker and Xanax.  What can I do?  I can't afford to go thru therapy again right now - plus it didn't help all that much to begin with.  I am TERRIFIED of the thought of taking an SSRI - I'm scared of the weight gain and the heart palpitations it may cause.  I don't know what to do, I can't let myself spiral out of control again.
14 Responses
165308 tn?1323190145
I know that you are afraid of an SSRI, but I swear by my paxil.  Without it, I don't know where my life would be.  There are other types of therapy like behavior and cognitive...not sure about them, but heard that it can be beneficial.  Recently I purchased the Linden method...yet haven't gotten to it.  Those who have used it swear by the results.  Do what is best for you...if you can't self talk, or afford therapy, I suggest getting the SSRI...start out slow and take it in baby steps.
Avatar universal
Just take the medication!  I've been on meds for five years now.  I HATE taking meds, but if I am miserable, what is the point of not taking them, so you can just suffer needlessly???!  I have been taking SSRIs - especially Zoloft and I'm 5'5" 117lbs.  I didn't gain weight, and besides - who cares!  I did gain 30lbs on Remeron (an antidepressant, don't think it's SSRI) and I was CURVY and HAPPY.  I'd rather be bigger and happy than skinny and miserable ANY DAY.  My heart was my focus for years too - turns out - it's NORMAL after echos, stress tests, etc etc etc.  So please,  stop it:)  I take Toprol sometimes if it really bothers me with PVCs.  I've been for sure I was going to kick the bucket with an arrythmia.  Not going to happen.  I swear by Zoloft, Ativan, Valium, I've taken it all and just change up sometimes to avoid them losing effectiveness.  I even went for ten months without taking anything 1.5 years ago!  On Cymbalta now, not sure about it yet but doing fairly well.
Avatar universal
Hey there,
wow you sound like me. I've also had anxiety most of my life or atleast what i can remember- i worried about the same things as a kid war, armagedon, etc. also what i worried about more than anything was dying- this fear stuck with me and created the hyphocondriac i am today. It's hard going through life like this i know where you were because im there now- i'm a freshman at a great school- Suffolk University- but classes,work, and general life functions are all becoming more and more difficult because of my belief that i have this horrible disease or that horrible disease. I have never taken medication for my anxiety/depression/panic disorder but i have gone in and out of "talk therapy" along with cognitive. I've realized that i need to stick with it but again it's hard to afford- the best thing you could do if your hesitant about meds is look for a support group in your area- there hard to find but if  you look you maybe able to find a free or inexpensive one.

Other important things for you to remeber is - look you said yourself you have anxiety, you even said "hypochondriac" in your title- so look at it this way- you have someone who knows you really well telling you "you are ok, your anxietys just making you think your not" and next to that person (yourself in case i wasnt clear ;) ) are doctors and medical professionals also telling you your ok. I know how hard it is  but when u get nervous try and keep that in check.

i wish you the best
Avatar universal
Hey i know exacetly how you feel & what your goiing threw. im 19 and got anxiety when i was 14/15. i had to drop out of highschool because it was so bad. i didnt get to go to prom , have a graduation and all those fun things. now im stuggling to get my GED to i can go to college and make something of my life. im better then i was then but still have really really bad anxiety and panic attacks. ive thought since then that i had a brain tumor and lately ive been worrying about it, i get a headache or dizzy its automatically a brain tumor. so i know what your feeling. but it will pass. just try not &think about it. get your mind off stuff and NEVER look online for sypmtoms its the WORST. be around people you love :) good luck and best wishes.
Avatar universal
I can so relate!  I remember after watching the Day After and War games totally freaking about nuclear war.  I have PVCs which sounds like what you have, and I am always worried about having a heart attack.  I went to cardio last week and he said everything looked good but wants me to do a stress test, which by the way has me totally stressed!  About 10 years ago when these PVCs started I had EKG, echo, etc and it was all normal.  These harmless arrhythmias get in your head and totally screw your life.  I hate going anywhere when they are acting up and I am always wondering if I will just collapse and die and scare the hell out of my 4 yr old.
Avatar universal
hi there ... i know private counselling is expensive and doesnt always work, because what you find is they repeatedly go over the same old ground about youre past, and i beleive its the future what counts and how to deal with everyday life...........

I know exactly how you feel i am now earning less money and finding it difficult to work with the same symptoms ,i just feel so deppresed because of it.im thinking of going to the doc and asking if he could put me on medication as im finding my anxiety/panick difficult.  i tried fluowetine 20mg   but it maid me feel awfull ...i  dont know about you but i find i try to hide my fears etc from people cus i dont want them to assume im lazy or cant be bothered...

try to see if youre local MIND shop holds a drop in centre for people of all diff anxietys....it helps ive just joined(and its free). give them a ring for more details! let me know how you got on.

p.s soz for spell mis
Avatar universal
Totally with you on the heart front.  And somewhat on the med front too.  Here's me:
34 next week, and "heart!" is the first thing I worry about when it's bad for me.  
Never had a problem, all tests always fine, last one even had my cholesterol in a good range.  Food scares me because of the fear of "junk" in it, meat in particular, because of the cholesterol/fat.  Going vegetarian helped, but now I have fallen off that wagon.  Mostly I get low levels of anxiety all day long, with the occasional panic attack when things are super stressful for me.  My number one fear is my heart, and meds worry me too. I worry about passing out, never have though.  I now know to watch my diet, get good sleep, and treat myself well in my head.  This helps, but some days, ka-blowie!  Anxiety ambush!  Sometimes just hearing or reading words like 'coronary' or 'heart' freak me out.  IT IS NORMAL!  and  IT CAN GET BETTER!  I learned one thing important while reading this board: "Anxiety takes the form of your worst fear" (THANK YOU WHOEVER SAID THIS), and this accounts for why I'm afraid to get on planes now too.  Death is my number one fear.  So I am constantly looking to control my environment to prolong my life.  Heart attacks and plane crashes are two circumstances I could do nothing about, so they are manifestations of my greatest fears.  Knowing that has somehow freed me a little bit further down the path towards relief.  It's soo true for me.

You probably know by now the things that trigger your episodes, and what feelings hit you.  I found that just reassuring myself by coming to these forums, and other places is very helpful.  Part of what helps is believing in the harmLESSness of your symptoms, and knowing that I'm more 'normal' than 'crazy' (and crazy and embarrased is how I feel after a doctor says I'm fine), information is power, and reassurance has no price!  Shop around to cardiologists who specialize in spotting anxiety vs some other type, or doctors that do.  Seek the best, and as you find more and more giving you the same answers, eventually your brain will have enough reassurance and evidence to help you believe too.    

I haven't tried head meds yet, but I'm about to.  I have a good life, dammit!  I am ready to enjoy it.  If my head is in the way, it needs a little help is all, and there's no shame in that.  I'm going to mention to my doctor my concerns about heart-related side-effects, and work with a mental health person too before picking the one I think might help.  Sounds like Xanax or Klonopine for the bad days, but we'll see what they say later today (wish me luck).  Hell, even the half-ambien I sometimes take for sleeping gives me a wierd enough feeling in my chest to worry me.  So, I figure I gotta be careful, but I am still going to try.

So, I say shop around for the doctor, try different meds, but do try them.  You can always stop taking them, or switch to another one.  The peace of mind is worth the pursuit, and you can get there!  Hang in there, brotha!
Avatar universal
Dude, I am 36 and way with you here.  BIG TIME!  5'9" 177 lbs here.  Italian.

I went to doc after not feeling well after running NYC 1/2 Marathon in August 2006.  I returned to New Orleans, granted it sucks here, and went to PCP.  Listen to these tests since my PVC's after the race.  Nevery really had them before.  Again, they are normal "they say."  

All in last 8 months.  CT scan, 2 brain MRI's, a few X-Rays, Holter monitor, Event Monitor, at least 10 doctor's visits, ENT visits for dizziness and tinnitis, and then the terrible news - a Ultrasound showed I had A BLOCKAGE IN MY RENAL ARTERY!  Jesus and Holy Cow, I was a goner for sure.  The color in my face must have gone 3 shades whiter than Jamie Kennedy in the Winter.

There I was 2 months ago, on the gurney, on MLK Day 2007, thinking what happened?  I was running 5 miles per day, healthy, now I am a nervous wreck 24 hours a day and being rotor-rooted b/c my right renal artery was stenosed!   Guess what, false positive.  Dual vessel was culprit.  However, these jolts have fried my brain to this day.

I was diagnosed with pre-hypertension 138/90 in May 2006.  After trying a myriad of drugs including Lisinopril, Micardis, Diovan and Toprol, my BP is basically still high in my mind.  It even spikes to 160/100 at times, then comes down to 125/84.  The docs know it is not pheochromocytoma, as MRI would have shown that, and I have no tumors (MRI with contrast, etc.) but the thoughts linger.  My Dad and brother are doctors, which helps and hurts too.

I started checking my Blood Pressure (BP) once a day, then twice a day, then 3, 4. 10, 15, 20, 30 times a day.  I was a cuff addict.  I avoided CVS store cuffs b/c they always seemed high.  I was petrified I would die from a sudden heart attack.  I still am working through it.  I check it while commuting for _ sake!

I started on Lexapro in December 2006, but tinnitis and flushing continue.  I am miserable and often lie down in my office as my BP is lower when I lay down.  I have become sedentary, but watch what I eat.  I had 2 good months where I felt better, but the 10mg of Lexapro is not working.

Currently take Lexapro in a.m. and Toprol at night.  I also wear a CPAP mask which sucks.   But it is much better than dying right?

I have constant worries about every flutter, every chest twinge, every left arm or neck pain, and head for the cuff to make sure I am not dying.  Nice, huh.  My life went from normal to total hell in 8 months but we'll all be back.

Funny, all the names for worry were taken on this site, but behappier was available.  Tells you our frame of mind.

Avatar universal
I feel my heart, every beat. I don't think I feel it skip anymore but now i'm more worried about Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Now that i'm enlisted and have to go to basic this summer, it scares me even more. I think i'm just going to fall and die. I feel like I also need to open up my chest and grab my heart for some reason, maybe to relieve some pressure. Any tips?? LOL But i'm just going to do more push-ups and sit-ups and run even more and i'm going to drive all that worrying and pressure right out of me just like a cold. I get it and then get rid of it. Human will!!!!!!!
Avatar universal
you sound like me. mine started to get really bad about 11 and i've had all the same obsessions.

take the meds...it helps. if you have a doctor you trust, then you should KNOW that they will not prescribe anything that will hurt you. also...give them 2 or 3 weeks to work...they really do take that long or longer if your dosage has to be adjusted.

hope you find something that works.
Avatar universal
This sounds exactly like me. I am honestly afraid to even sleep because im afraid I wont wake up because my heart will stop. I have a panic attack everytime my left arm hurts, or even if I get chest pain. Ive been told by literally everyone that I am way too young (18) and active to have heart attacks/failure. It has completely taken control of my life.
2035404 tn?1455173583
This all reminds me of me
Avatar universal
Wow this thread is really old but I am so curious to know what happened to all of you fellow sufferers on this thread after 7-8 years later?!
Avatar universal
I suffer the same anxieties, and have for quite some time. I'm a perfectly healthy and productive 28 year old man. When I was 18 I rushed myself to the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack only to be told i was having a panic attack! Ever since then i have suffered from the over whelming fear that i have heart troubles. I do experience palpitations and live with the fear that my heart will stop one day. These thoughts are consuming and take up a majority of my time and focus everyday. Only when I'm occupied with a task do i not think about my breathing and heart beat.I have a heart awareness of the feeling of my heart beating in my chest and this is very annoying more than anything. I wish that I would have never developed this awareness as it has become a serious burden on me. I know its all in my head and that's the thing that's hardest to get rid of. I wish it would all go away, so i could focus my attention on something else..
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