Health Anxiety or Valid Concerns?

Posted , 6 users are following.

I'm worried about my health; I started having symptoms a few weeks ago and they have continually worsened. I would like to know if I need to go talk to my doctor again or seek a second opinion or if all of this sounds typical and I do not need to worry. I am only 21, but after seeing one of my best friends die of bone cancer two years ago I am not convinced of the hardiness of youth towards illness.

About three weeks ago I was walking to my car after getting out of my evening classes when my heart started racing and I became lightheaded. A trip to an urgent care facility an hour and a half later showed no symptoms at all, and they sent me home saying not to worry unless it happened again.

Two weeks later (one week ago), I was driving on the highway when it happened again. This time it didn't go away - the racing heart and lightheadedness continued happening, even after I arrived at urgent care. They did an EKG and immediately called an ambulance to take me to the ER, where they did more EKGs and ran all sorts of tests. The tests came back negative but they said my heart rate was concerning -- while I was laying in the hospital bed it would go from a resting rate of 70 all the way up to 150 and then not go below 120 for nearly half an hour -- but no palpitations, as far as they could see. They gave me a 24 hour holter EKG and sent me home after giving me a referal to a cardiologist and instructions to schedule an appointment.

Symptoms worsened; I spent the next couple of nights with little to no sleep, experiencing the lightheaded-ness, racing heartbeat off and on with little relief. Parts of my body, mostly my head, would go numb/tingly with the episodes. If I finally drifted off to sleep I would wake up twenty minutes later with what felt like a lightning bolt going through my mind, and then a return of symptoms.

After that, new symptoms came as follows:

- A spasming vein on the left side of my head in the temple area (2 days later)

- Numbness/tingling in the area of the vein and extending to the portion of my cheek just under my left eye, forming an L shape (3 days later)

- continuing of numbness and tingling, sometimes being less extreme and sometimes extending down to my mouth. Cessation for the most part of racing heart and lightheadedness, except for one major episode after which I felt a pressure in my head for about 5 hours (4 days later)

- Continuing of numbness and tingling, a minor headache that lasted for about 5 hours (today)

I am afraid of having a stroke; are these symptoms signs of TIAs (ministrokes)? I am afraid that I have some sort of brain or brain stem tumor that is causing all of this. 80% of my symptoms seem to be relegated to the left side of my body.

I saw the cardiologist prior to the numbness developing and he said the issue was possibly related to my adrenaline system going whacko and has ordered an echo and a stress test. However, my GP has diagnosed this as anxiety and prescribed me an SSNRI (Cymbalta). I am not generally an anxious person; I am a full-time student with a part-time job and an internship on top of that, but I have a good home life that balances it out and I am a very low-stress, low-worry person. I have handled a workload more intense than this in the past and exhibited no symptoms.

Should I seek out a second opinion? They have not done a CT scan of my head region. I feel like I will continue to worry that I may have a brain tumor as long as my symptoms persist and the possibility is not ruled out.

Thank you very much for any responses! I don't have anyone I can talk  frankly about this with in real life.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    It could very well be anxiety friend sad anxiety is the worse ever. I'm glad you were seenot though. I went to the ER bc of a weak arm (turns out it was a nerve) and my left side of my throat to face felt numb. I could move it and speak but it felt weird. It still does sometimes. I was told it was stress. I'd follow up with your Dr. Be detailed and explain What's up. Try some chamomile tea. No caffeine or drugs or alcohol. Try reading a book. Relax. I know it's hard. I've had this for 1 year & it feels like it's been a blur. You can do this. Breath.?

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  • Posted

    Hi Dakota I agree with Tiff, it can well be anxiety thats causing all these symptoms. I have the same thing happen almost everyday, my tongue always feels weird and my cheeks are pulling. I live in constant fear because of this anxiety, my mom and sister constantly is trying to help me get over this. I have been to the ER several times and they always say i'm ok and send me home. Anxiety will make you think the worst is wrong with you. And yes try some chamomile tea, stay away from any with caffeine. Take care

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  • Posted

    Hi Dakota,

    I sometimes have the lightning bolt thing as I'm dropping off. I used to be scared of it cos I thought i was gonna die in my sleep if I carried on sleeping.

    Haven't had em for a few years now I have theory it's ur brain releasing stress cos as ur body and mind relaxes it kinda comes out as a release. I used to see it as a good thing even tho it wasn't nice. My anxiety is a lot better these days although I still have dr and dp. But I've been taking the meds now religiously for nearly 15 years. Not saying urs will last that long. I was as bad as u cud get tho Dakota. I messed round with skunk and weed on top of my already bad anxiety.

    I developed psychosis .

    I doubt u have tumor but persist to get a scan cos that wud set ur mind at rest to some degree.

    I understand what ur going thru.

    Oh yeah forgot to mention when I was real chronically anxious, my adrenaline was rushing thru me daily.

    Severe anxiety can change ur brain chemistry and make u feel unreal but I believe it's reversible.

    Hope this helps

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  • Posted

    A bit confused. Are you still seeing the cardiologist? Have you seen an endocrinologist to make sure your hormones arent imbalanced. Before you can settle in in it being anxiety it really is important to rule out other stuff. Im wondering if you have ptsd as well. 
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  • Posted

    Hi You describe yourself and not an anxious person and yet the whole post is about health anxiety. The proble with anxiety is has such nroad effects on our bodies and the way we think it can mimic virtually any disease state. You have to remember anxiety is a normal feeling and it has a job to do, that is to keep us safe. Its not just the physical symptoms, if you feel anxious and there is no obvious "Threat" we go onto a high alert state and actively try to identify the cause of these feelings, we even sleep with the proverbial "one eye open".

    One of the most obvious effects of anxiety is that it speeds up the heart & strengthens its beat, its preparing us for action. The trouble is that these are times that we become much more aware of our heart rate, its much more noticable. This can be worse when its quiet and there is nothing to distract you.

    If your looking for signs of danger and then become aware of your heart its instantly focussed on and labeled as dangerous. Then if you think you have a serious heart problem the anxiety gets worse as do the symptoms. These things are not very rational and its difficult to feel reassured if you still feel in danger.

    Of cause young people are not invulnerable but things like heart attacks and strokes are highly related to age, the risk is very low and you have had multiple investigations which havn't really shown anything.

    If you think about your "symptoms", a spasming vein, some tingling sensations, a mild headache, these are things you have picked out, most people probably wouldn't even be aware of them, they are common and meaningless. You seem to be really looking for things and giving them a significance they simply don't warrant. While its always useful to get new symptoms that can't really be explained checked out, these all can be explained. Getting an increasing number of investigations can end up being more damaging than helpful. Do a search on the web for health anxiety and free self help resources there are lots, understanding the condition may help and there will be lots of things you can try which might be useful.

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