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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Anxiety and Stress Disorders
Heart Related Stress
Hi im 38yold female with 2 children 5 and 9 and my parnter in a wheelchair with a brain injury. I suffer panic and anxiety attacks which I am trying to deal with at the moment. My problem is the kids are driving me up the wall and I seem to be really stressed out. I get a heavy feeling in the middle of my chest which eases over time. I am just a little worried that this is not anxiety stress and it is heart related I saw a cardiologist in 2005 who said my heart was healthy. Any suggestions?
Any time you are concerned about a serious medical problem (such as your heart) it is always important to seek professional advice (as you did, when you were concerned about your heart). But, from your letter, it sounds like you didn't seek advice or treatment for the other serious problem you may have -- Anxiety disorder. This is a major medical problem, that thank goodness, is highly treatable!!
There have been several posts to this site about anxiety disorder and panic attack and I encourage you to read them, and the weblinks to anxiety.
Anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety and panic disorders, have an underlying chemical imbalance in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that are then made worse by life stressors like you describe. People can be anxious without serious life stress and people with serious stress are not all anxious, but it is especially difficult when both occur. Chest discomfort is a common symptom of anxiety, as are palpations, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, tremors and shortness of breath.
I encourage you to see both a primary care physician (who can assess you for both cardiac disease and anxiety disorder) as well as a mental health specialist. I would imagine that you may need both counseling and medications, but only your healthcare providers and you can make that decision.
Good Luck. Remember -- anxiety can be treated successfully, but you need to make the first move.
Nancy Elder, MD
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati