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Is this anxiety?

Hello everyone,

I am new to this forum - I am a 24 yr old male, about 5 ft 8 in and 150 lbs.  I have been a healthy individual for nearly all of my life thus far, but was diagnosed with Panic Disorder in March of 2008.  I had my first panic attack two months before that, which put me in the hospital back-to-back nights thinking the first doctor misdiagnosed me, or at least wondering why I wasn't given anything in case I had another attack.  After the second ER trip, they gave me 0.5 mg of Ativan to take as needed.  March of 2008 was about the time I ran out of Ativan, and ended up taking myself to the ER only because they said they didn't deal with mental health problems at my urgent care clinic.

The ER did a blood test (not sure what they checked for, presumably CBC, liver and kidney function tests, etc) and an EKG, both of which came back normal (my chief complaints at that time were chest/heart pain and chills/tremor, aside from the full blown panic attacks).  I was put on Zoloft 50mg in conjunction with cognitive therapy.  I followed this course for about 5 months, during which time I improved quite a bit (no more full-blown panic attacks, only a handful of "mild" attacks that woke me from sleep and made it difficult to go back to sleep).  I also, however, started to develop some troublesome abdominal pain during this time.  It would come and go throughout the day, nearly every day, and my PCP gave me some samples of Prevacid to take before dinner, which did help a lot.

I weaned myself off of the Zoloft in mid-August, and felt great for the most part (I had also made some important lifestyle changes - eating better, exercising almost daily, getting more sleep, etc).  

During the period from August to mid-December, I was doing very well with no medication.  My abdominal pain was almost completely gone, and any anxiety/panic I had was mild in comparison to what I had faced previously.  Then in mid-December, I had a SEVERE bout of abdominal pain during and after going to the bathroom one day.  Both sides of my abdomen (about where each kidney is located) felt incredibly cramped.  My stomach felt nauseous for the rest of that evening, and I think I might have had nothing more than a coup of soup and some water that evening.

I took the following day off work and laid around, barely having enough of an appetite to eat anything.  I think I finished the day having eaten maybe one cup of dry raisin bran, one cup of soup, and probably three or four glasses of lemonade or water.  By the end of the evening, I was shaking violently, overwhelmingly fatigued and felt basically like I was having one long panic attack that wouldn't stop.  The following morning I didn't feel much better, so I took myself to urgent care and since they couldn't do anything for my anxiety, I asked if they could evaluate my physical abdominal symptoms.  They agreed, and determined that I was dehydrated after checking my pulse in three different positions and performing a blood test.  Everything on the blood test was normal except for a slightly low potassium level (3.4), so they gave me intravenous saline to help with the dehydration.  

I felt fine when I left the hospital, then by the time I got back home and tried to eat something, my appetite was gone again and I started having another panic attack.  At this point I still didn't have any Ativan, so I fought it off as long as I could.  By the following morning, however, I was still feeling horrible and ended up going to the ER just so they could give me Ativan.  I took 0.5 mg again and it calmed me down.

Since December, the burden that struggling with anxiety has given both me and my girlfriend of 2+ years has caused me to go back on the Zoloft.  I've been on 25mg of Zoloft again for about a month now, and while I haven't had any more full-scale panic attacks, I have the following troubling, nearly daily symptoms:

abdominal pain, random muscle tenderness, fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, ocassional back pain.  I've also woken up two or three nights this week on the verge of what I assume was a panic attack (nauseous feeling, fast heartbeat).  I really think that I might have IBS as well, because I fit all the criteria (since the mid-December situation I've had alternating bouts of D and C), but I can't get my PCP to refer me to a GI specialist.  It seems that so many symptoms can fall under the broad canopy of "anxiety" that it's sometimes hard for me to accept that there's nothing else physically wrong with me.  I feel like the tests that were done both times I visited the ER were very limited in what they could have pinpointed (for example, some forms of cancer and other diseases can't be pinpointed by a simple blood test) and I just have so many random symptoms and random pains that it's hard to accept anxiety as the DEFINITE cause.  Am I just being a hypochondriac or should I push for more tests?  I feel like there was a large assumption that I couldn't have something more serious like cancer because I'm only 24, and if I had been 40 the checkups would've been more thorough.

Thanks in advance for any responses, and feel free to scorn me if this sounds like the voice of a hypochondriac.
1 Responses
Avatar universal

You don't sound like a hypochondirac.  There are many different sytems of Anxiety and everyone is different.  Have you seen a Psychiatrist? Just a sugggestion.  When I started having bad episodes if Anxiety/Depression I started with my primary care doctor. While she helped some I just didn't feel that she understood completely what I was going thru and the many systems I was having. I then decided to see a Psychiatrist.  I am so glad I did!  They specialize in this field and know the symptons and medication very well.  

Give a try and hang in there.
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