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Avatar universal

First post with Anxiety symptoms and history - please help.

Here is my history, for any and all who care to read and respond.  I hope there are a lot of you.

I'm a male, 27 years old, about 5'11 and 135 (on the low end) to 145 (on the high end), depending on my weight variances - a pretty skinny guy.  I also have a moderate case of pectus excavatum (funnel chest), but I've had it my whole life - I've always been a runner - and it has never caused me any issues.  The doctor's now tell me that it doesn't cause me any issues, and I recognize that I am simply hyper aware of it these days.

I would love to say that all my symptoms are anxiety related, because I have a huge trigger - I've had a very stressful marriage that came to a head when my wife moved out last December (2012).  In January 2013, I started having some slight symptoms of being on edge, difficulty swallowing and "missing a breath" from time to time.  I'd go to swallow, and not be able to - it would send me into a panic, and I would have to concentrate on that next swallow.  This was never with food - it was just swallowing for the sake of swallowing.  It was bearable at that point, until one fateful night in June 2013...

I awoke in the middle of the night gasping for breath with my heart racing.  I'm 27 years old, but I called my mom, because I had no clue what else to do.  I thought that I was going to die right there on my floor in the middle of the night by myself.  Somehow, after talking for an hour or two and praying, I was able to get back to sleep.  But nothing since that day has been the same.

Two days later, at a friend's birthday party - I completely fell apart.  Chest was tight and pounding at the same time.  I was shaking, sweating, feeling like everything was about to end, but I somehow got through it.  It's now October, and these last four months have been the worst of my life, and I don't see a sign of them stopping.

I've been to the doctor.  I've had a chest x-ray, two or three EKG's, an echocardiogram, I've worn a heart monitor - all of these things have come back clean.  When leaving my cardiologist the last time about two months ago, his words to me were "Feel good about your heart".  I only wish that I could.  I'll just have pain in my chest all the time!  It's almost always on the right hand side, which I have been thankful for that it is opposite of my heart, but even just today, I've started feeling some more on the left hand side, which just scares me.

I'm a very factual person, so the most frustrating thing is that even though the signs point to anxiety (and I have a good reason for it) and the doctors haven't found anything wrong, I still can't kick any of these physical symptoms!  How is this possible?  I don't have many "panic attacks" per say - I simply just don't feel good on a day to day basis.  I'll just be checking my pulse all the time, even when I try not to (it sometimes gets up there close to 100 even when nothing stressful is going on, but it'll usually hover around 80 or so, and sometimes even less).  I just always want to go to the doctor and get checked out.  I wish that I had a cardiologist at work that, once or twice a day, I could just go to the back and have him hook me up and do an EKG so I could see how everything was.  Another strange symptom is my burping.  I'm not a guy who ever used to burp just "for the heck of it" or anything else, but now I feel as though I'll just many times have a pressure in my chest, and burping will be easy for me to do, or on the opposite end, be very hard for me to do, and I have to try to drink water in order to burp to help get rid of the pressure.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.

I'm not sleeping well either.  I'm terrible at staying in a house by myself, for fear that I'm going to have some sort of medical emergency, that the pain in my chest or the tightness in my throat is going to flare up, and that's just going to be that - and they'll find me the next day on the floor when I don't come into work.  

I don't really think these things are going to happen - it would be surprising to me if they did!  But I can't shake the feeling that something else is wrong.  I'm really trying to stay away from daily medication, but I'm open to it now at this point, just because I want to feel better.  The doctor did give me 2-mg pills of valium, which I know is an extremely low dose, that I can take on a case-by-case basis whenever I feel like it.  I think they help sometimes, but other times i'm not so sure.  

The divorce also isn't over - it will be in about two months.   I'd like to think that once it gets taken care of (it wasn't a mutual decision either - I didn't want one, but she did - but even with that being said, we don't have lawyers...it's not hard "legally" for us to take care of), that some of these symptoms will go away.  I just hope I make it until then, and something doesn't happen to me.

Bottom line:  I just walk around every day thinking, "I wonder if this is the day that something is going to happen to me.  I wonder if this is the day that the pain in my chest will flare up even more and I'll have to think, "This is it - this is the moment that I've been dreading that I always knew was going to happen", and then it'll all be over.  I'll be walking around and all of the sudden I'll go to take the next breath, and it just won't be there, and as I gasp for breath, I'll be thinking the same thing - "I can't believe it, this is the end - I can't breathe".

I just want to feel normal again.  This may sound cocky, but I know I'm a good person who could threat someone right, and I just feel as though I'm never going to have the opportunity to have a wife, kids, a "normal life", because death is going to find me before I ever have the chance.
10 Responses
6424357 tn?1381329871
Sounds like you have anxiety which is causing depression.I know exactly what you mean by living a "normal life". Sometimes our symptoms make us feel like we are not normal.Funny thing is there are so many people who have these "not normal" feelings that its almost normal.lol. I have sweating and my heart is constantly pounding from the anxiety. I just switched from a medicine i was on for 7 years to zoloft and im experiencing those symptoms as i type from withdrawal/the switch.You need to stop worrying about the "What If's".That will get you no where. Been there done that. Its best to live in the present and just know that this too will pass. It may take some time but so many people get through it daily.Have you ever thought of therapy? I think its a great idea to give it a try to talk to someone who will actually understand your symptoms and not feeling normal. If the talks alone dont work there is some great medicine out there to help us get through this.By the way you don't sound cocky at all.Just because you are going through this does not in any way shape or form mean you shouldn't be happy and have the family you deserve.You've been to doctors so its obviously not physical its mind based. Id suggest you talk to someone to get you through this rough patch.Stay positive and never lose your faith!
Avatar universal
This is exactly how I felt. My panic attack came out of nowhere. I thought I was dying and ended up in the ER. I have done a stress test and an EKG and everything was fine. I am 28, and have only had the normal levels of anxiety. After my panic attack, I was afraid to be by myself, and was afraid to go to work. I became so obsessed with the fact that there has to be something physically wrong with me, as I could not understand how anxiety could produce such real and terrifying physical symptoms. Eventually I had to go on medication to calm down and lead a normal life. I came off the medication, and am not as bad as I use to be, but still have issues with anxiety. I found it helpful to get some counseling and some workbooks. Mind over mood is a good one. If you keep all your emotions and stress bottled up, this can be the result. Hang in there. You are not alone!
Avatar universal
Tiffany, thanks for your response.  The doctors have always told me that while depression and anxiety seem like two different things, they are more closely related the more they are studied.  I understand the want to separate them, however, because however I may have come across in my post (about "death is going to find me before I ever have the chance" - I understand that sounded pretty heavy), the truth is, I would say that I am 80% anxiety and 20% depressed - I don't feel as though there is no hope for my future or anything like that!  I'm excited to live and experience all the things that I know will be coming...if only I could beat all these physical symptoms!  It's just that almost all of the symptoms I experience are physical, not mental, which causes me to want to think there is something wrong.  I actually go back to the cardiologist today and I start talking to a therapist on Friday.  As far as the cardiologist goes, he did a stress test on my heart about 2 months ago, but I had to make a follow up, because I'm a runner, and now every time I start to do any "fuller" physical activity, I feel like my heart just starts to pound out of my chest.  
Avatar universal
CMac, thanks.  When all of this started, I was scared to death to go to work the first week or so as well.  I have an easy desk job, to be honest - low stress.  But I was scared to go in there and just sit because I felt so on edge.

The line that you said that resonates with me in a huge huge way:

"I became so obsessed with the fact that there has to be something physically wrong with me, as I could not understand how anxiety could produce such real and terrifying physical symptoms."  

That's me man, 100%.  I have always had a calm head, and been able to look at life logically, so for this thing called "stress and anxiety" to make me physically react the way it has been - its mind blowing to me.  I've never wanted to turn towards medication, but I'm at the point now where I'll certainly take something low dose to "help me get to the other side" of this.
Avatar universal
That is what I did. I took medication basically to stabilize myself until I could get a handle on things. It is not the end of the world to do it, and it can be quite helpful to assist. I was on a very low dose of Effexor for almost 2 years. I started on Paxil, but was having too many side effects. When you feel in a better place you can always come off the medicaiton. I would discourage you from taking Ativan, as it can be addictive.

Maybe your job is too boring? I find that when I am bored, especially at my job, that I tend to start thinking about every little pain or twitch I may have felt and all kinds of other bad stuff. When I am busy I am not thinking about that stuff and usually feel fine.
Avatar universal
You don't mention if you had anxiety problems before the breakup.  Because if not, you're probably suffering from primary depression with anxiety as a result of it -- most of the symptoms you're reporting are signs of sadness, loss, and since you know why, I'd suggest therapy.  What's happening is, you're becoming conditioned to being anxious, and if the anxiety is new since the breakup, it's probably related to feelings from that.  Loss of a relationship can leave a great amount of insecurity along with feelings of loss, and that can lead to anxiety.  If that's the case here, therapy is the best place to go since you know, unlike most of us, where this all started, again assuming this all started with the breakup.
Avatar universal
I didn't ever have any anxiety problems before the breakup.  I probably worried about things (money, etc) a little more than I should, but that's normal.  Anxiety and I didn't even relate - I never even thought twice about it.

It's strange that the breakup happened in January, and even though I started to experience slight symptoms then, for no reason at all, out of the blue, they came into full force on June, just from one night to the next, and I've been battling them ever since.

I am starting up counseling again..actually today.  I was to my cardiologist two days ago, and I told him that I really needed to get something to get my life back on track, because I had just had a horrible week before that.  He wrote me a prescription for a beta blocker - Bisoprolol, because I told him my heart was racing.  Just 2.5 mgs of it.  I am supposed to call him next week to let him to let me know how it is, but to be honest, I don't want to take it - he hasn't found a thing in the world wrong with me, and he thinks that all of my issues are rooted in anxiety and that is what is causing the physical problems.  So I am opening to taking some sort of anxiety meds at this point (which I was opposed to for a long time, but at this point, I'll try whatever I can), but I really don't want to take a heart medication when there really isn't anything wrong with my heart (or so he says!)

Goodness.  I'm in touch with every physical symptom possible.  I know when my chest hurts - when I feel my heart beat - I feel fatigued a lot of the time.  I'm just trying to get back to a sense of normal where I can enjoy life.
Avatar universal
I wouldn't take a heart medicaiton. You should get a medication for anxiety, which is actually a despression medication.

My anxiety came out of nowhere also. I didn't think I was overly stressed or anything and then bam! That was 3 years ago lol and I am still dealing with it.

I know what you mean about physical symptoms. My doctor told me that people with anxiety tend to be very sensitive to bodily feelings and sensations. If I didn't have to work, I would probably be at the doctors office everyday complaining about some physical feeling I had and asking for some sort of test. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to get out of. I'm actually comtemplating trying hypnosis. I'm hoping maybe I can find some deeper issue that is what is causing the axiety, or that they can 'erase' the anxiety and health ocd from my mind :)

I think maybe you should give an anitdepressant medication a try, at least to help stabliize your emotions until you start feeling like you have the tools to control it on your own.
Avatar universal
I have an appt with a psychiatrist at the end of the month, so that would be the earliest that I could really get an anxiety prescription, because my cardiologist did not want to write one for me.  He's a super nice guy, but I understand why he didn't want to - he's a heart doctor.  He doesn't want to write me an order for Zoloft and then have me keep coming back.  That's not his area.  

This whole thing is just so strange.  I don't seem off - I don't feel depressed!  If you came up and had a conversation with me, I would seem just fine! But I'm just so worried about myself and how I feel on my own.  Fatigued, on edge, just...out of it.
Avatar universal
Understandable.

It is good you don't feel depressed! They often say anxiety and depression go hand in hand, but if you are not depressed then I think you have a better chance of turning things around. My doctor told me that aanxiety makes you feel very tired because it takes so much out of you. No matter how early I go to bed I am always tired. I exercise and eat healthy, so I really shouldn't be fatigued.

Do some deep breathing and maybe listen to some soothing music at night time. It might help the next day by making you relaxed before bed. Hope you appointment goes well.
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