Aa
A
A
A
Close
Neurology Community
45k Members
183202 tn?1219857259

Panic Disorder/Attacks...but could there be SOMETHING ELSE???

Hey all. Perhaps I should introduce myself first:

My name is Crystal, and since October 31st around 3 am, I have been in a constant struggle with problems ranging from clenching chest pains, heart palps, increased heartrate, head jitters/electrical vibrations/sensations through head and spine (like a painful electrical current that radiates up and down my spine), I have had my limbs go tingly, and even one time my right leg went numb and it kind of cocked up a little and went limp, so I was unable to move it...

I went to the ER numerous times, where they did a CT with contrast of the chest, thyroid tests, electrolyte blood test, etc.

I have also gone to Psychiatrists, Neurologists, Cardiologists, etc. The only real physical thing they could come up with was my Mitral Valve Prolapse, but said it was too minor to be causing any problems.

The doctors issued a 20-min. EEG, another echo (I had one 2 years ago), EKGs and haltar monitors, ya name it. I have had bloodwork for my B-12 levels, thyroid tests I can't even count anymore, Lyme Titer, ANA Titer, etc...

They concluded possibly anxiety and panic attacks, but these problems are too PHYSICALLY severe to possibly be. Many doctors are still scratching their heads at me and don't know WHAT's GOING ON!!
36 Responses
183202 tn?1219857259
I am just at wit's end, and am in DIRE need of help/reassurance/assistance!! It started when I started on Zoloft to take for my anxiety/panic attacks, that were mostly chest-related at the time....

I at first thought I was going INSANE when I had my first vibrating/electrical sensation. I thought for sure I was going insane, and I didn't know WHAT to expect. I thought for sure it would lead to a seizure, I would black-out, or something!!

I was initially told that I was suffering from Panic Disorder/Panic Attacks. since I at first was getting the typical attacks of the heart palpitations, clenching chest wall pain, lightheadedness, and freaking out that I was going to die or have a heart attack.

So my doctor decided to try putting me on Zoloft, in the SSRI class of anti-depressants since she thought for sure it would do me wonders and eventually get rid of and eliminate my symptoms. My GP promptly wrote me a script for Zoloft at 25 MG, and told me, "take this, you will be fine and it will do you wonders!"

So I left, of course stupididly believing every word she said. I went and filled the prescription, and the next day popped my first pill...

About a few hours into taking it, I had the WORST feeling in my life (well, it only got WORSE from there). I felt severely woozy and lightheaded, and had to sit down to balance and keep myself together. It felt like the entire room was spinning, and my head just felt BLAH all together, like I was getting a head illness or something. I was in a store that day, since I assumed everything with the med. would be fine, and was getting ready to check out when it just HIT me like a ton of bricks. Now, I have had lightheaded spells TONS of times in the past as well as Panic Attacks and Chest Pains, and it was NOTHING like those I had experienced before!!  

After that ONE day of taking the pill, I deviated away from taking it again! My symptoms improved, and I no longer had any more of those light headed spells after that one day..

However, as I was STILL suffering from the severe heart palps, chest pains and anxiety/panic attacks, my mother convinced me to give the med. another try, since my "sis was on an SSRI for her GAD and it was working her WONDERS." Still skeptical about taking the med., but DESPERATE to get rid of my other symptoms, I again popped the med...

Now, the first day I was fine, and this was on a Friday. I was back in the apartment with my fiancee, and it was late one Saturday night, and I was just lying in bed waiting for my man to finish getting ready for bed so I could follow up as well. I then all of a sudden felt this ELECTRICAL SURGE seem to VIBRATE throughout my head/brain, along with a ten-fold pins-and-needles feeling that surged through my head. I then felt the electrical surge feeling continue to surge through me, even going up and down my spinal cord. I PANICKED, of course, not knowing WHAT was happening to me. I started seeing blotches, and I PANICKED that I was going to pass out, have a seizure or SOMETHING!! I ran around the apartment, the feeling still going on through my head. I then tried sitting on the bed to calm myself down and regain myself, and it seemed like it started to pass. Then, I felt ANOTHER attack, worse than the first, which truly caused me to have blotchy vision and just go into utter chaos.  

My fiancee drove me to the hospital in case by the time we got there my symptoms worsened or progressed. Eventually, the off-and-on symptoms DID pass, after about 45 min. to an hour of pure hell and off-and on VIBRATION FEELINGS and ELECTRICAL FEELINGS surging through my brain.

We just went back to the apartment, and I went to bed that night.

The next morning, I woke up, and probably a mix between me having the attack that night and due to the fact I didn't get much sleep, I felt completely SLOW and BLAH the entire day. I could barely bring myself to speak, I dragged myself slowly across the room, and I just overall felt like a complete pile of ****!!  

I called the doctor-on-call (since it was a weekend) and told him about my horrific experience. You know what he did?? He "Poo-Pooed" me away and told me "Oh, it's not the medicine, just you. It was probably just a bad Panic Attack." I was SO mad....he also told me to "continue on the med."

I continued taking the med., and that following week, on a Wednesday, I had ANOTHER milder, but more PROLONGED attack that lasted off-and-on for about 2 HOURS!!   It kept me up until like 1:30 a.m., so needless to say I slept in late the next day...

The problems FINALLY seemed to dissipate, for about 2 weeks. However, after those 2 weeks were up (and I was still on the med.), I AGAIN began getting the weird head attacks!! Most were not as severe as the first, but they were still attacks nonetheless. Now, I have had Panic Attacks, and know what those were like, and sure these caused me to have Panic Attacks also, but moreso since I didn't know WHAT THE HELL was going on!!!

I was then getting head-related zings/buzzings/electrical sensation attacks EVERY DAY, sometimes mild and bearable and other times not.

I eventually STOPPED the med. after having it in my system for a month, but my stupid GP (she is a good doctor, but NOT for things like this) told me to QUIT IT COLD TURKEY!!!! O_O She said I should not experience too much side effects, if any.

Well, needless to say it made my head attacks TEN FOLD!! Sometimes they were mild and bearable, like before. And there were days I went without attacks. But when the bad ones struck, they left me PARALYZED in certain limbs, my head felt like it was going to go into CONVULSIONS or something, and it was just like PURE HELL!! I was completely conscious during these attacks, so you can imagine the FEAR I was under during this time.

I had an attack that was SO BAD once: I was just sitting on my computer, and then I all of a sudden felt this WEIRD sensation in my brain, particularly on my RIGHT side, and it felt like my brain/head was going to go HAYWIRE!! It physically felt like I was about to have a stroke, seizure or SOMETHING, even though I never did!! Well, of course I PANICKED, and I called the ambulance in fear it was in fact a TIA, stroke, or seizure about to happen!! I walked downstairs from my apartment, and as I stood on the stairwell by the doors to my apartment complex, I could feel my WHOLE RIGHT LEG BUCKLE UP, GO NUMB, and I COULD NOT EVEN MOVE IT!!! I was PETRIFIED!! What the HELL was going on with me?!?!  The ambulance came, and before they came I could feel the feeling return in my right leg, it went "erect" again and I was able to regain control of it. I had to BALANCE myself by holding onto the railing of the stairs while it happened. Yet I remember every speck and detail of it perfectly...      

After about a month 1/2 or so, and after starting on a mult-vitamin since I thought maybe I had some vitamin deficiencies that were attributing to my problems, my problems not only began to dissipate, but the head zings almost vanished COMPLETELY!! I still get the dizziness/lightheadedness and my head will feel quooky/odd still at times during some of my Panic Attacks, yet NOTHING like I had to endure before!! And sure, I still get heart palps and anxiety, but NOTHING like the torment and torture I had to go through getting ON and then OFF the Zoloft!!!  

I am now seeing a Psychiatrist, who prescribed me with Lorazepam and also prescribed me with Lexapro, even though I TOLD him about my reaction to Zoloft. He was STILL convinced, however, that it was just Zoloft and that another SSRI should do the trick. Well guess what happened???

I took it on a Saturday, and for most of the day I was fine (aside from feeling a little tired). I thought maybe I was HOME-FREE and found a med. that would work GREAT!! I took it at NOON along with the Lorazepam, which I take 2-3 times daily. After 6 HOURS of the med. being in my system (Lexapro), I got ANOTHER head-related attack of the electrical vibrations, ten-fold pins and needles feeling, and getting sweaty and clammy, then cold. I immediately called my doctor, and STOPPED taking the med from there on out.

I am still taking Lorazepam, for the panic attacks, but I still get the head zings and vibrations, lightheadedness/dizziness, sweatiness/clamminess, I get cold hands and feat easily, tingling in the head during the day, as well anxiety and Panic Attacks. I started at .5 mg 3X daily, and am now up to 1.5 mg going up to 2 mg 3X daily. I have still not seen any improvement since being on the .5 MG....and am AT A LOSS!!! :( :(

I mean, my doctors assumed it was part of my Panic Attacks, but how could it make my LIMBS GO NUMB like that and UNABLE TO MOVE, let alone those painful electrical surge feelings I used to always get.

I want to know if there is SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON!! That could possibly be CAUSING ALL THIS!! THe Panic Attacks...severe chest pains...head and spine electrical surges/feelings of going into convulsions, sweatiness and clamminess, ya name it!! My Pysch. is STILL AT A LOSS, and doesn't know what to do with me anymore... :( PLEASE HELP!!! ANY ADVICE WOULD BE APPRECIATED!!!

I don't even KNOW all the bloodwork I had been tested for, but those I CAN remember are for B12, Lyme Titer, ANA Titer, Complete Thyroid checkup, electrolytes, etc....

PLEASE, OH PLEASE HELP!!!! I am sick of all of this...and just want these attacks to go away!! For the love of GOD, if somebody out there can tell me exactly what this is...PLEASE!!!
Avatar universal
I have some information that might be useful to you, but I'd rather discuss it through e-mail than on the message board.  Please send an e-mail to ***@****.

Hope to talk to you soon,

-- Nicole
Avatar universal
Hi Crystal

First of all let me say that I don't know what is wrong with you and it maybe that somebody else has some good answers. However if all else fails my view if your are not getting anywhere with orthodox investigations you may need to look at the less orthodox, and by that I don't mean loony. There are quite a number of doctors, although they are in the minority, who believe that the panic attack type symptoms you experience and others can be caused by relatively minor imbalances in the endocrine system which are not picked up by standard tests. I don't know whether they are right but in your situation it might well be worth investigating and it is not too expensive.

If you want to follow this up your best starting point would be to google "Stop the Thyroid Madness" which is website dedicated to this line of enquiry and I would suggest asking a question in the adrenal section. The key test which might be advocated in your case is the adrenal stress index which is a 24 hour saliva test of your adrenal hormones. This stuff is controversial but I personally know people who have got better and there is stacks of literature on it (written by doctors).

I hesitated to make this post since it is controversial  and I didn't want to send you on a wild goose chase. However, you sounded so desperate  for a way forward that I figured it was worth posting, which lets you make the decision as to whether it is worth pursuing.

I have more info and book references if you wnt and am happy to share my
experiences. However, whatever you decide to do, good luck and I hope you sort it out.

Finally, please excuse the pompous nickname. I stuck it in since nothing else worked and I am still trying to change it.
183202 tn?1219857259
I thank you both for your responses.

Perhaps I did not make some things clear enough as to all the testing I have had done already.

So far, here are the tests that I can recall (bloodwork I cannot even half remember, yet those I DO list I have had tested and came back fine):

Blood:

Lyme Titer

ANA Titer

Pregnancy Tests

B-12 Levels Checked

Complete Thyroid Checkup

Bloodcount

Electrolytes

AMONG OTHERS I CANNOT REMEMBER/RECALL DUE TO ALL THE BLOODWORK FROM HOSPITALS AND DOCTORS

Other tests:

-EKGS I can't count anymore

-Stress EKG test

-Haltar EKG

-20 min. EEG test for seizures

-MRI without contrast of the brain-only asymmetry

-CT SCAN of brain w/out contrast -showed possible calcium deposits and of course normal asymmetry

-CT SCAN WITH Contrast of chest - fine

-DID have a 24 hour haltar EEG, but the DAMN TAPE was broken so they ASKED me to redue it- I told them HECK NO!!!

-Echocardiogram along with EKG: I DO have Mitral Valve Prolapse, which is minor and without regurgitation. It is hereditary, and my biological mother has it along with one of my half-brothers. She also gets SOME anxiety and panic problems, yet NOWHERE near as severe as I do. Hers is just occassional (once a month or so TOPS). I also have a slight heart murmor which I don't even notice.

So there ya have it. ALL of the testing I can remember to date. For a more complete blood workup, I don't have the paperwork on me to tell you more about what else I had tested....those are just the ones I CAN recall...
Avatar universal
Thanks for the additional info. I am no expert but I think these are all orthodox tests. The point I am making  is that there are a significant number of doctors who question the thoroughness of some endocrine tests, particularly for the thyroid and adrenal glands and believe that new style 24 hour saliva tests and urine tests are more accurate. They also believe that a whole range of apparently unexplainable symptoms can be caused by endocrine imbalances which are not dislosed by orthodox tests.I don't know if they are right but there are a great number of patients with previously unexplained symptoms who agree with them.

This might not be the answer for you but it might be worth thinking about if all else fails.
183202 tn?1219857259
Please listen to me, economist. I am not going to try discrediting your claims, yet I REALLY don't think my problem is Hypo-Thyroid related. I don't have the typical constant fatigue, constant illnesses that many sufferers if this disorder seem to suffer from. I think there is something else going on, whether it be neurological or whatever in nature.

I have had UPTEEN TESTS for Thyroid that I am SICK of getting tested for it, and ALL have came back fine. I have had T3, T4, AND TSH along with probably others checked. I had my T3 AND T4 levels checked COUNTLESS TIMES: EVERY time I went to a cardiologist, neurologist, went to the ER, that was ALWAYS one of the tests they performed. So I HIGHLY doubt it would have missed something as important as that. Let alone the fact my symptoms don't match up at all. Any fatigue I do feel is AFTER I get an attack, from lack of sleep or due to the med. I am on (since it makes me lazy). During the day I am otherwise HEALTHY AND FINE!!! It is just these ATTACKS, WHATEVER they are, that ALWAYS seem to hold me back, and due to the fact that SSRI's just didn't work for me and made my head-attacks BEGIN along with the fact that the benzo's seem to do diddly-squat makes me think there is SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON!!!!

Dunno what, so PLEASE ANY ADVICE WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED!! I AM SICK OF ALL THE TESTING, and JUST NO REAL ANSWERS!!!
Avatar universal
SOrry, one thing I forgot to add is that the tingling and numb sensations that you are feeling may be due to your over breathing during your panic attacks, I use to hyperventilate when I was having panic attacks and that can cause light headedness and the strange feelings in the body.
Avatar universal
I regret that I am now fed up with this. You obviously think I am stupid so do what you like.
Avatar universal
I am not a mediacal professional but it really does sound like an anxiiety based disorder. Anxiety can do the most amazing things to our bodies, and many  a times I myself have thought I would surely die from the symptoms I was suffering and have gone to the ER on numerous occasions also. I myself found zoloft to be the worst antidepressant in the world as it made my body speed up and hence all the crazy thoughts that go through ones head that they are going to die. A website that I have found help is, www.depressionet.com.au, there are so many people on there I am sure you will be able to relate to and who can sympathise with you and experience similar things. Take care of yourself, and if the medication doesn;t seem right for you, don;t take it, it is really trial and error with SSRI's, not all suit everyone.
Avatar universal
So sorry if my comments have antagonised you. I have been ill for seven years and  also got fed up with doctors saying they could find nothing wrong with me. I knew my initial posting would be controversial but made it because there was a possibility it might help.

It has been my experience that if doctors cannot find the cause of a problem with their usual tests then the patient themselves become the problem. The classic example  is ME which for years was regarded as a mental problem since all tests were negative. As I said at the beginning I don't know what is wrong with you but you since have posted a question on this site asking for alternative explanations to anxiety I assume that you are not convinced that your doctors are right. For what it is worth I also don't think you have hypothyroidism but based on my own  experience  there just might be an issue with your adrenals. I may also be wrong.

It is up to you what you want to do but all I will say is that it took me five years of illness before I looked outside the orthodox and I wish I had done it earlier.
Avatar universal
No, it was not me that responded to you in the Undiagnosed Forum.  Apparently someone else noticed the similarities between your symptoms and kundalini manifestations as well.

It does not bother me that you don't believe it; I don't feel compelled to convince you of anything.  

I didn't want to discuss this in the forum because I didn't want to get into an argument or discussion about whether it is true or whether it is complete hogwash.  It might be either.  Like I said, I am not out to prove a particular theory; I just wanted to help if I could.

For the record, I don't think that God or any other "higher being" is "inflicting" punishment and misery upon you.  I think this is a completely natural maturational process that can be explained scientifically.  Psychiatrists such as Lee Sannella and Stanislov Grof have examined this phenomenon within a clinical context.  

It is interesting that you meditate frequently.  That has been known to initiate the process.

Since you brought up the topic in the forum, here is a very brief description if anyone happens to be interested:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kundalini_Syndrome

I didn't intend to mislead anyone.  Believe me, I almost didn't want to tell you this because I figured you would respond in this way.  But you seemed like you needed some answers and, if anything, I thought this may interest you.

I should add that if anyone is experiencing these symptoms, I think it is very important to be examined by a health professional.

I wish you well and hope that you are eventually able to solve your myraid health problems.

Take care,

-- Nicole

183202 tn?1219857259
Thank you, economist, for providing me with the information you have regarding the possibility that I may have a problem with my adrenal levels. However, this in all honesty would come as NO SURPRISE, as anxiety and panic attacks and anxiety levels throughout the day are regulated by the adrenal glands located in the center of the brain. When these two glands overreact/are not releasing their hormones and chemical adequately, it thus causes such panic and anxiety symptoms. It is very possible I could be suffering from adrenal fatigue, especially with all of the stress I was under BEFORE all these symptoms started.

So, perhaps curing and regulating the adrenal glands would help to regulate and eventually cure my panic attacks and anxiety. However, I STILL have some questions for you and OTHERS that need to be answered:

If this IS the case, then WHY did I have the adverse reaction I did to the SSRI's, and why isn't the benzo helping for my Anxiety and Panic attacks?? Yes, the adrenals COULD be the cause and problem of all of this, yet then WHY does my body show NO IMPROVEMENT or reaction even with the INCREASED DOSAGE of the benzo?? And WHY the electrical sensations/vibrations from the SSRI?? And why do I STILL get similar attacks TODAY???

And I did hear back from Nicole. It may have been YOU Nicole who responded to my post in the Undiagnosed Forum. I am sorry, but I do not believe the whole kundalini story. I cannot believe that God or any higher being would inflict such punishment as anxiety and panic attacks and other symptoms in order to "transform" or make a person "reach enlightenment." I myself have done some Yoga and meditation, and I believe that one CAN feel enlightened by the LORD, but NOT through such torturous symptoms as I and others have suffered. I can NOT believe you are misleading many misdiagnosed individuals into this...how sad and pitiful...I have reached enlightenment and had connections with the Lord many times, and it was at those times that I did NOT experience any pain, but felt a complete sense of CALM and REASSURANCE. It was also in those times too that God sometimes actually SHOWED ME (not literally, but intuitively) what it is I was suffering through at the time. Yet please understand. I don't blame you or chastize you, and it is unfortunate many problems have gone undiagnosed. Yet there is a cause for EVERYTHING, and it sure as heck isn't that kundalani.

I KNOW that part of what I have is Panic Attacks and Anxiety. I also have the tendency towards a minor case of hypoglycemia I believe, where if I don't eat anything for awhile then I will get lightheaded, hands will grow cold and numb, I will feel dizzy/faint, and usually eating something ASAP resolves the issue. I have had that problem since I was a teenager.

I also of course have Mitral Valve Prolapse, coupled with my Panic Attacks and Anxiety. I don't deal with stress well AT ALL. I tend to ball out and cry, often running aside and just sulking to myself or if in anger try to go by myself to work it out.

So it is very possible the adrenals could be causing all this. Yet I STILL don't understand ALL of my symptoms and the reactions to the meds. and why the meds. aren't helping at ALL for my anxiety and panic problems. If I at least had SOME relief, or MOSTLY relief with still some problems...well I just don't know what to think any more.

And getting on the SSRI's was a MESS. Yes, I am emotionally unstable at times, and can most of the time remain and be calm and happy, but the minute something upsets me I tend to stress out over it easily. But the SSRI's...it made me calmer for the most part, but there were days where I had bouts where I just got ANGRY for NO REASON or felt ANXIOUS for NO REASON AT ALL, and they weren't panic attacks or nothing of the sort. AND of course it caused the electrical sensations in the brain and spine, and the time where it felt like my leg went limp and numb and I could NOT move it!! I HATED the drug, and I of course stopped it COLD TURKEY, which caused me even WORSE PROBLEMS (psychologically and mentally).

Any other help/advice would be GREATLY appreciated!!
Have an Answer?
Top Neurology Answerers
620923 tn?1452919248
Allentown, PA
5265383 tn?1483811956
ON
1756321 tn?1547098925
Queensland, Australia
1780921 tn?1499305393
Queen Creek, AZ
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
In this special Missouri Medicine report, doctors examine advances in diagnosis and treatment of this devastating and costly neurodegenerative disease.
Here are 12 simple – and fun! – ways to boost your brainpower.
Discover some of the causes of dizziness and how to treat it.
Discover the common causes of headaches and how to treat headache pain.
Two of the largest studies on Alzheimer’s have yielded new clues about the disease