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Panic attack or heart

Thread starter #1
Lately I've been experiencing some awful symptoms that feel heart-related. I've had chest pain, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, difficulty swallowing, and nausea. They come in episodes and are horrific. The Xanax I take on a PRN basis for panic attacks doesn't touch it, even when I double the dose. However, since I have the diagnosis of panic attacks I run into the unfortunate circumstance in which each medical provider automatically assumes that my symptoms are panic related. This stuff is real and I believe the physical stuff makes me anxious. I just want to be taken seriously. The doctor stated 2 weeks ago that she was ordering several tests to be done, but I've never heard back and have left several voicemails. Tomorrow I'm driving to the office to get to the bottom of it. But, I'm concerned that they just think me to be an anxious person and it will only further that. Has anyone experienced this? I'm feeling really depressed and sluggish now. I'm exhausted.
This probably isn't useful, but one really bad time when the pain didn't relent after my go-to's, I chewed 2 regular or extra strength aspirins (can't remember) and voila- miraculous instant relief. In that case I didn't think it was anxiety, since I can't see my anxiety cured that way, though I'm sure it has a physiological component. But I have a very bad back so I also assume most pain and even difficulty breathing is related to it, and certainly can be so. I don't recommend you mess around with it, but if it occurs again maybe keep them on hand- I think they recommend baby aspirins?, I can't recall- and then follow through with that dr or another. Tell them it immediately abated with the aspirin (if it did), and they should follow through without dismissing it. Needless to say, even if it is anxiety it needs treatment as well.

Good luck tomorrow. :hug:
Several things come to mind with what you have related.

Firstly I agree with @Tinyflame - if it's anxiety it needs treatment because it's not being managed well enough right now.

But of course you have to ascertain whether or not it is anxiety or your heart. That's a big problem if nobody is listening or wanting to investigate.

An ECG and a decent physician should be able to do some tests to eliminate most heart conditions.

So absolutely you must follow through with these investigations. If you have these symptoms you must eliminate all physical causes - especially the big ones like heart conditions.

I wanted to comment on your use of Xanax to treat anxiety/panic. I used it for a while and I know it's hard to believe but it was the reason I began to feel sick. I was having palpitations, feeling nausea and other symptoms, all easily attributable to heart conditions too. I ended up in emergency one night because the pain was quite severe & I was convinced it was my heart.

After my psydoc became aware of my admission he told me that in the absence of a diagnosed heart condition he suspected Xanax. I hardly could believe him but I really did want to start feeling better asap so I stopped taking it on his recommendation.

I was taking 1 mg per day... a incredibly small dose compared to what some people are taking. But I tossed them and I felt like crap for about three weeks but the chest pains subsided without any medical intervention as did the palpitations and other symptoms.

So, I can say without doubt it was the Xanax and there seems to be a fair bit of noise about it creating more problems than it fixes. So it's definitely not a drug to dismiss when you start feeling unwell and please don't take a double dose.

I know how terrible you can feel with the out of control anxiety/panic - it's truly horrible and quite believable that you do think it is your heart. The only things I can suggest are be very aware of your current environment and shut it down if there is too much going on. Reduce stimuli, practice anything that is calming and rest. It will subside - all on it's own if you give it a good chance.

Best of luck for tomorrow. I hope it's not your heart. Let us know. :hug:
Thread starter #4
After several tests, the doctors have determined that it is not my heart or gallbladder. I'm still having daily symptoms and sometimes and afraid to sleep at night. I experience a lot of fatigue and lightheadedness. They've scheduled an endoscopy as I am now having difficulty swallowing, on top of all the other mess. I've been fighting depression lately as this seems like a hopeless cause, but I know I cannot continue to live with these physical symptoms. Also, all along the way, people have wanted to pass the buck off on anxiety. I wish they never knew. It has made me feel like a crazy person, especially as each procedure and blood test comes back negative. I'm not overly anxious. Promise. But I am feeling along, trapped, and scared.
I'd recommend you stay away from people who are not supportive, they can be toxic or just drag you down with their doubt.

So did you get an EKG? If that is fine, it might be stress. I get atypical chest pain from stress, it's common for me.

You're not crazy, hang in there! Is there some type of PTSD hotline you could call? Would that help?

Use the doctor to help rule out physical problems. In the mean time have you tried meditation, deep breathing, or have you found something that calms you? This might take some trial and error.

Do you listen to meditation music on Youtube? It's free. Try it. Learn to empty your mind, this can take some practice, but practice every day for at least 20 minutes. :)
Also, all along the way, people have wanted to pass the buck off on anxiety. I wish they never knew. It has made me feel like a crazy person, especially as each procedure and blood test comes back negative. I'm not overly anxious. Promise. But I am feeling along, trapped, and scared.
^To me, as each obvious physical cause for your symptoms is eliminated it makes me think it is likely anxiety. You really don't have to be crazy to be crippled by symptoms from anxiety.

Perhaps if you can do a little bit of research into what anxiety actually is, how it works within your body and why it is so serious. Maybe then you would stop and have a decent look. Anxiety doesn't mean you are running down the street tearing off your t-shirt, making a galah of yourself. Perhaps the complete reverse really.

I do understand what you mean in respect that you want other causes eliminated but what if it is anxiety all this time?


Not Active
As someone with very physical symptoms of anxiety (I have a GAD Dx in addition to PTSD) as well a history of doctors dismissing my concerns, I just wanted to add that I do emphasize with your distress.

I have chronic problems breathing because of a very tense back. I can’t take deep breaths and my entire upper body feels very constrained.
I am very aware of palpitations and get them often. So far no pain though (knock on wood)
I also have a tendency to bloat, which further exacerbates the breathing issues, including to the point of lightheatedness.

I only very rarely have the “typical” anxiety symptoms of hyperventilation and extreme restlessness, for example.

What you describe is very much in line with possible anxiety symptoms.

However, I share the fear of physical causes for symptoms. Very much so. Hence, doctors not listening makes it just so so so much worse.

But, if potential physical causes have definitely been checked and eliminated, there indeed is a good chance it is “just” anxiety. And really, scratch the just... anxiety is a severe mental disorder for a reason and physical symptoms can be very very different for everyone. Including actual legit pain (I have chronic neck/back pain courtesy of constantly tensing up due to anxiety. Like, actual real bad pain).

I also wouldn’t dismiss what other’s have said re Xanax.


Yes I've went through this and it still happens sometimes, especially with exertion. I've even had the pain spread from where my heart is to my left arm and neck, it's scary. They done tests on me last year and it all came back quite normal although my iron levels were low. I've been told it's probably a mix of that plus anxiety plus maybe costochondritis. It's not hugely reassuring though! I do take an aspirin when I get the pains and it does help so I agree about carrying some around with you just in case. The last time was 2 weeks ago and I was in a shop and felt it but I had been walking 2 hours with no resting and I never do that so I put it down to that and it did actually go away when I went outside and got some fresh air. I hope they find a solution for you.
Thread starter #11
Thanks everyone! Yes, I'm addressing anxiety by trying to do more rest and relaxation and trying to de-stress in general. That has been helpful because I have been able to calm myself and pay closer attention to what's happening. So some of the same symptoms have continued, but more recently I started having what looks like seizure activity. Often times in the evening time I will forget where I am. I was driving home at night recently and briefly blacked out. I awoke gasping for air and realize that I was driving up the highway but I didn't know where I was. it was downright terrifying and it took me a while to get my bearings and understand what was going on. I difficulty talking after that. I've had a few other episodes like that recently. The episodes I was having during the night have continued but I have learned to stop and calm myself to know that nothing is happening that is going to kill me. That too present similarly. My overall anxiety has decreased surrounding these things, but I don't feel like it's necessarily done. Anxiety is a real jerk and I wouldn't be surprised if it is really the culprit for all of this.
Since you've experienced moderate or even slight improvement in some of your anxiety levels it may be possible to build on that.

I used to have trembling and palpitations that were so serious and exhausting my doctor decided I needed to be admitted hospital for complete rest amongst other things.

I look back on those days and honestly thank God I am not still enduring that. But it took a lot of work. I also know that I'm susceptible to events causing my body to fast track back to my out of control anxiety. I can slide into deep depression too.

So I'd encourage you @Overcoming to do the research & experiment with & find out more. Diet, exercise, yoga or whatever it is need to be explored thoroughly.

In respect to blacking out whilst driving. That's not good at all - the blacking out and the driving together is terrible. Please take care and pull over before you black out, feel unwell or become disorientated like that because there is no way you are competent behind the wheel with that going on.
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