Why aren't I happy? :(

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Basically i'm 22 and i've had anxiety for around 2 years now, it affects people in different ways and gives different symptoms - my main and biggest symptom is chest pain. This might turn in to a long post so apologies for that.

When I first got anxiety I had chest pain and dizziness but I managed to convince myself that it was anxiety after 2 ECG's and one stress ECG, both coming back clear and it went away for a couple of months, I even remember thinking 'been ages since those chest pains haha' but then one day they come back again and since then I havent managed to shake them off. The chest pains started to happen when I was doing excercise, i went for one run and at the end it felt like I had a stitch in my chest. I went for another ECG and another stress ECG and both come clear again, like all the doctors told me 'its nothing, its just anxiety get on with your life' so I tried to get on with things but I just couldn't get it out of my head about these chest pains, especially while I was excercising, when im running i'd be constantly concentrating on my chest, waiting for any little pain to happen.

So I went back to the doctors again, this time it was a student doctor around 25 years old but he was really good, told me that I was his last patient and that we could spend as long as we wanted going over what's happened. I explained to him all that's happened and he said I can't see it been anything at all, but we'll do a physical on you anyway. So I laid on the bed and he listened to my chest like every other doctor has who i've seen, he tells me to sit down but he says 'ill be honest, i didn't expect to find anything when I was doing the physical but you've actually got a heart murmur' Now i've got bad health anxiety, and to hear a doctor say that to me just nearly sent me over the edge, I was so scared i just went bright red and my body just went like jelly. He said there's only 1% chance there's something wrong at my age but it's worth checking out anyway just incase so we'll refer you to a cardioligist, with my anxiety that just went straight over my head, i've got all these chest pains now ive got a murmur, i've 100% got something wrong with my heart at the age of 22, gutted. 

It took 2 weeks to see a cardioligist and for those 2 weeks I just couldn't function, at work I was just at my work like a zombie not doing anything. I was so close to crying a few times devasted that i've got something wrong with my heart at 22 and that it's going to change my life forever, i can't do this and that anymore. I was googling stuff like I always do and i diagnosed myself with Mitral valve prolapse, which is a prolapsed heart valve, i was 100% certain i had it and warned my girlfriend to expect that diagnosis. She told me that i was been stupid and that if this comes back clear im off to see a specialist to sort my problems out because i'd self diagnosed myself like 10 times before with something serious and it's always come back clear. My chest pains increased big time over these two weeks, me and my girlfriend had a weekend away planned which we had to go to but i just couldn't wait for it be over, I just wanted every day to pass till I saw this cardioligist. I slept like 6 hours every night, never got a full nights sleep, couldn't lay on my left hand side because it gave me palpitations. Exhausted was an understatement, but the day finally come to see the cardioligist, he didn't seem too bothered about the whole thing, maybe it was because of my age? As i understand it theres different murmurs, different sounds different loudness etc, so maybe thats how he knew but he listened to my chest, confirmed I had a murmur but said hes 'almost certain its an innocent one' but he said be for an echocardiogram and a 72 hour ECG just incase, he said 20 years a go i'd listen to your chest, work out if i think the murmur is innocent/harmless and that would be it but he said its so easy to do that tests now that we do it anyway. He did a quick ECG there and then and it was all fine again. I told my girlfriend and she was over the moon that the cardioligist said hes almost certain its nothing, but to me i was still in 100% panic mode, that meant nothing to me, all that mattered to me was those test results, which i suppose is my anxiety.

So I went for my echocardiogram yesterday morning, slept about 4 hours the night before, so nervous. I was telling myself I'd be the happiest person in the world if this woman said my echocardiogram was normal and that she backed up what the cardioligist said with the heart murmur been normal/innocent. I walked into the room and laid on the bed etc and the test got under way, i was that nervous the woman even asked me if my heart was always quite high but i said its just because i'm anxious. It's a wierd test, you can hear all your blood flowing through your heart bubblign away and your laid there thinking 'is that normal?' But she completed the test and at the end I asked if everything was alright. She said 'I'm not meant to tell because the cardioligist see there arse a bit, they like to be the one to tell you but between you and me, there was nothing wrong there, from a structural point of view your heart is fine' 

So my echo was all clear, the heart murmur is innocent and my heart is structurally fine, i should be the happiest guy in the world after 2 weeks of worrying hell i've had? I had a 5 minute burst of happiness but now i'm still worrying about my heart, i still dearn't sleep on my left hand side last night. I'm absolutley exhausted sad I feel like I just went to sleep for days and forget about everything, I've now had 6 ECG's, 2 Stress ECG's and echocardiogram, everythings come back clear so why can't i just convince myself my heart fine and that's anxiety causing all these symptoms sad I've still got the 72 hour ECG to go this friday so we'll see if that picks anything up but the heart murmur is diagnosed with the echo which come back all clear but like i say lets see what this 72 hour ecg comes back as. Ive got a follow up appointment with my cardioligist booked for the 3rd September where he'll run through my results with me and i'd like to think i'll get better hearing it from him that my hearts fine and off I go, but I know deep down that any normal person would be happy with the echo coming back fine, blaa 

That turned out to be a lot longer post than i thought! Thanks to anybody who takes the time to read it all, it's much appreciated. My girlfriend is now telling me to go talk someone about my anxiety because she says im been stupid and i'm starting to think thats a good idea.

Cheers.

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8 Replies

  • Posted

    Oh and there mixed opinions on google on whether anxiety can cause heart murmur's, although it looks like it can on most websites although it's quite rare. But it doesn't matter either way, its been found to be innocent so whether anxiety has caused it or not it has no relevane, just a wake up call that my anxiety is that bad that's caused a murmur, aka blood rushing through my heart turbulently
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  • Posted

    It does definitely sound like you need to speak to someone about your anxiety. If you speak to your GP, they will be able to provide you with resources and contacts to help with your health anxiety. I hope you feel better soon! 
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    • Posted

      I admit i need to see someone about my anxiety, you don't realise yourself how bad you are until you type out and read it back haha. But been I had a heart murmur just shook me big time, think this is the worst i've ever been anxiety wise and i suppose the only way is up. 

      Cheers.

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  • Posted

    I've posted this quite a few times with regards to anxiety and it seems to have helped people so feel free to use it if you wish:

    The best thing to do first is become aware of your physiology, or the very real physical symptoms you're experiencing. They are there. It isn't necessarily a symptom of anything else but if you fear it is, you should consult your GP. If you have physical checks and they eliminate the problem (ECG for heart, etc) then you should put it down to anxiety.

    Anxiety comes because your brain is creating a 'fear' in your mind, and as with anything that creates fear, you become anxious.

    The anxiety, usually, starts in your chest, so you begin to breathe faster and your chest becomes tense (as a muscle would if it is being exercised). Your lungs need more oxygen and no greater way of getting oxygen around your body is by blood. Blood gets to your lungs faster when your heart pumps it quicker, so your heart rate increases.

    The lungs are working hard now. They are communicating with your brain asking for more help. Your brain helps by asking your heart for support. So the heart is working harder than it normally would to the point where it needs help from your brain again.

    Your brain can't cope with both having a go at it asking for support - you get symptoms such as perspiration, pains in your chest, tingling in your arms, toes and fingers. So your brain panics and makes mistakes.

    Your brain then tells you to react accordingly – panic.

    The panic says, “focus on your heart; why is it faster? Why are my arms tingling? Why does my chest hurt?”. Your brain says, through duress and under pressure, “I'm having a heart attack; I'm going to die!”

    You're not. Just stop and think before your lungs tell your brain that they need oxygen, fast. Focus on your breathing.

    How to deal with anxiety is subjective and it depends on how disciplined you are in being able to set yourself space and time to be able to perform breathing exercises rather than rely on medication being there for you to help you. 3 things I've found are the most helpful - 1. Guided Meditation, 2. Mindfulness and Awareness, 3. The '7 to 11 Breathing Technique'

    Guided meditation, first of all, is quite structured and disciplined in the sense you have somebody there guiding you through the process of meditation (obviously) and you don't want to disturb others doing it at the same time - but similarly expect others to respect you whilst you do it.

    Mindful and awareness can often come hand in hand with guided meditation. Through mindfulness and awareness, you become aware of where you are and most importantly what your body is physically experiencing. In focusing on these feelings (chest pain, shortness of breath, pins and needles) by breathing them in, in a controlled manner, by breathing them out you are effectively telling your brain and body to breathe these pains out too, and they will eventually go away.

    The 7 to 11 breathing technique is when you breathe into your lungs through your mouth, nose or both, until your lung capacity is completely full - it may even hurt; you may use parts of your lungs you've never used before - and hold your breath for 7 seconds. Following this, you purse your lips as though you were blowing out a candle and gradually exhale until your lungs are empty. You hold this for 11 seconds and don't take another breath.

    Keep doing this for as long as you want. The longer, the better. During the exercise you might experience forms of euphoria; your fingers may tingle, your head may feel slightly dizzy - this is good; this is tension unburdening itself off you; don't worry about it. Instead, focus on it and treat it as a good feeling.

    With all of this, it will not be an immediate cure. Mindfulness and awareness courses, and meditation classes take time to book and when you go to them, both take patience to master. The 7 to 11 breathing technique you can perform whenever you want.

    My advice would be to understand for the first two you won't get anywhere this week but if you take steps now to look into them and how practical it is to do them, by the end of the week you may be on the right track.

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    • Posted

      Thanks boing333, i'll take all that on board, it's not going to be a quick fix but i'm going to have to try and gradually work my way up there. Just gutted how it all spiralled out of control considering two years a go I was just a normal lad enjoying his life, now bang all this and the last two years have mostly been spent worrying about some health problem. 
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  • Posted

    Hi, yeh i had a panic attack and went to hospital the other day. I had same symptoms as you. I got Heart Palpatations, Numb skin, Nausous, Dizzy, Faint. I started to panic so bad i collapse on my kitchen floor and had to crawl to my livingroom 2 rooms away to phone an ambulance. They rushed me to hospital where i had 3 ECG's and they were all fine. Nothing wrong with me, it was just the anxiety playing tricks on my mind. Those are some of the symptoms you get from a panic attack. Also about the excercise thing, you should never excercise when you are in a panic or reallly really anxious. This can actually make you worse! I found that out when i had my first ever panic attack. I felt something was wrong (obviously panic) so i had a crazy thought that i should do some excercise to make me feel better. Excercise actually makes you produce more stomache acid and stomache acid is not good because when you panic you produce more stomache acid aswell. So this can give you muscle spazms, chest and abdominal pains. Best thing to do when panic attack arises is get into a warm bed, breathe into a pillow to stop you from breathing too much air and try to calm your mind by thinking of good things, happy things. Untill your panic goes away.
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    • Posted

      Thanks aiden, crazy what your mind can do once you have something like anxiety, they always say your mind is very powerful but you don't realise until something like this comes a long. Your symptoms sound very similar to mine, once i get the all clear from the cardioligist i can hopefully push past the chest pains etc, as long as i know its not my heart causing these pains then i can do it but it's just worry/anxiousness that your hearts on its last legs that makes you stop 
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