Re: Accepting Panic/Anxiety diagnosis: at what point?

Discussion in 'Health and medical' started by Bill, Jun 25, 2003.

  1. Bill

    Bill Guest

    "Oklahoma" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]
    > Preface: I am a 24 year old male, nonsmoker, non-drug-abuser, in
    > generally good health.
    > Once or twice a month, usually after I have just gone to bed, I will
    > awaken with a queer feeling, and I will succumb to what could be
    > described as a "panic attack":
    > My heart rate accelerates quickly from around 65 to around 195+, and I
    > begin to feel "tingles" in my extremities. My mind begins to race at a
    > fever pitch, seeming to scream out vividly "I am going to die now,"
    > and I begin dashing around the house--checking my pulse with the
    > kitchen clock, clutching at the nearest telephone as I fight back the
    > urge to call 911 (I've made this call several times, and they tell me
    > I am fine; very embarrassing). Finally, I often begin dumping cold
    > water on my head, frantically trying to stop my heart from its
    > terrifying, jackhammering gallop.
    > This can go on for half an hour or more: my heart, pounding away, at
    > or near 200 BPM, as "wave" after "wave" of what I suppose is
    > adrenaline surges through my body, driving my heart to beat faster and
    > faster, harder and harder.
    > Eventually, these episodes do seem to run their course. My heart rate
    > comes down, and my arms and legs--which moments before had been
    > violently trembling--calm down and feel, suddenly, leaden. My
    > mind/body in general feels like a blown fuse.
    > I am terrified I am going to have a heart attack during one of these
    > "episodes." I do not think it can be healthy for someone's heart rate
    > to essentially triple within 60 seconds, and then stay at the 190-200
    > BPM level for half an hour.
    > Which brings me to the point of this longwinded (sorry) post: Should I
    > be concerned about these episodes?
    > I have consulted the family doctor, and he has felt all along that I
    > am having a clear cut case of panic disorder. This is supported by the
    > fact that I have been having these "episodes," in varying degrees,
    > since I was 15. (my first panic attack was drug related, and was a
    > "classic" case).
    > Nevertheless, I have "badgered" him into giving me several tests,
    > which are as follows:
    > EKG -- Multiple times in Dr.'s office. Multiple times by EMT's who I
    > have summoned to my house. Multiple times at Emergency Room, when I
    > have driven myself during a particularly "bad" spell.
    > ECG--One Echo test. It turned up very mild MVP with no leaks and no
    > regurgitation. Otherwise, my heart is "sound" according to the
    > cardiologist who read the ECG for my family doctor.
    > 24-hour Holter Monitor--One time. This test turned up nothing, save
    > for the fact that my pulse routinely dips into the low 50's and upper
    > 40's at night.
    > Blood Tests--Various, all normal.
    > 24 Hour Urine Collection--This test is designed to check for tumors on
    > adrenal glands. It came back normal.
    > Chest X-ray--Normal.
    > My Dr. insists that my heart is fine, and as such he never refers me
    > to a cardiologist. I asked him about a "stress test," to which he says
    > in essence, that my panic attacks themselves are functioning as stress
    > tests--which I routinely pass.
    > He prescribed me Paxil, and a small dose of Xanax for emergencies.
    > At what point does one accept a diagnosis of panic disorder?
    > Should I have more tests?
    > If so, what tests do I need to have done so that I can have peace of
    > mind about the health of my heart?
    > Is it safe for my heart to beat as fast as it does during these
    > episodes?
    > One other factor is this: I appear to have dysautonomia (sometimes
    > referred to as Barlowe's syndrome, MVP Syndrome et cetera). In fact, I
    > am pretty well convinced of this. I have been taking 50 mg of Atenolol
    > since I was 18 because my pulse was so sensitive to "adrenaline," (at
    > the time, if I walked up a flight of stairs, my heart would be
    > pounding out of my chest). This drug has been a miracle, but my
    > "attacks" have not been affected by it.
    > Please help.
    > Thank you.

    I don't know the answer to your question, but here are some links that may
    help. See if the symptoms described, fit your situation.

    > Steven

  2. lux

    lux Guest

    Dear Steven,

    I can definitely relate to your story. I was convinced that I had a
    heart problem too: I had been to the ER twice due to racing heartbeat,
    and I'm always aware of my heart when I feel it's beating too hard or
    forcifully. I also "badgered" one of my doctors to give me a Holter
    and an echo, and I saw a cardiologist. Everything turned out fine! I
    was also worried that I would somehow damage my heart when I was
    having a panic attack. My cardiologist told me that there was no way
    that my heart was going to harm itself, or stop beating, or anything
    like that. Apparently it's quite possible for a heart to beat very
    fast, and still be ok!

    > > Should I have more tests?
    > > If so, what tests do I need to have done so that I can have peace of
    > > mind about the health of my heart?

    I'm worried that you will get even more tests done, but still not have
    peace of mind, and then see another doctor for another opinion and for
    more tests, but again not be reassured, and just stuck in a cycle.
    There's nothing wrong with a second opinion, but many people who are
    prone to anxiety still worry after that. I myself have done that 'What
    if the doctor missed something?' 'What if the test was done wrong'?
    etc. Not only is it time consuming for you, but it may keep you in
    that loop of seeking reassurance and worrying.

    It is very common for panic disorder sufferers to have other health
    'problems' (like your MVP, which I have heard is not dangerous) that
    causes symptoms that they worry about. Panic disorder sufferers are
    acutely aware of what is going on with their bodies and many notice
    every little change.

    Please see a psychitrist or a psychologist. I think they could really
    help you! Many panic disorder sufferers benefit from cognitive
    behavioural therapy. Your case really does sound like a classic case
    of panic disorder. It sounds a lot like my case :)