I am new here, and could use a little advice. I have suffered from severe panic and anxiety attacks for the last 5 years. This all came to a head about 18 months ago when I was admitted to hospital with an irregular heart beat. After 2 days of tests they could find nothing wrong with me, scheduled me for an echocardiogram, put me on 80mg of Sotalol and sent me home. 4 months later the same thing happened again, this time I was told it was caused by a ventolin inhaler I'd been given for a bad chest infection. During all this and right up until now, I have up to 20 palpitations a day, also recurrent is a bloated stomach, and the feeling of huge pressure in my chest, kind of like I need to burp. I also get chest pains and occasionally am short of breath. I had my echocardiogram in Jan of this year, and there was absolutely nothing wrong that they could see. This leaves me feeling like I have nowhere else to turn. My doctor is insistant that I am ok, and there is nothing wrong with my heart. He says millions of people have palpiations and just live with them. The thought of living with these for the rest of my life terrifies me. Is there anyone out there with similar symtoms who can offer me any suggestions. I'd be so appreciative of any help.
What you need to do is not try to correct your palpitations directly, but indirectly. You're getting palpitations from your panic attacks..which I'm sure you know...but I want to explain something to you that you might find interesting.
With panic attacks, yes they are psychological, but there is an actual physiological reason why they happen. When you are excited, need to fight, need to run, are scared etc. etc. etc. a division of your nervous system called the "sympathetic nervous system" is activated to help you perform better. Your heart starts beating faster, your pupils dilate to let in more light, you breathe faster, there is more blood flow to your muscles etc. etc. etc. As you can see, this is something that you would want if you were in a situation that required physical action; however, with panic attacks, what happens is that the sympathetic nervous system fires at a time where you are NOT in a situation that requires physical action. When this happens, it's very scary because all those changes happen in your body, and you get the feeling that you are about to die.....are you about to die? FAR FROM IT!
Anyway, what makes panic attacks worse is trying to fight them off, or trying to avoid them happening. What you have to do is allow yourself to have the panic attack (as scary as that is), but while you are having it, get used to the idea that the attack will NOT last forever....you will NOT die....you will not get hurt etc. etc. Trust me, they always pass. Eventually your mind and your body will be in sync again and you'll have less and less panic attacks. This is actually how psychiatrists first deal with panic attacks....if these methods don't work, there are certain anti-anxiety agents that you can be put on to help alleviate symptoms.
So what you need to do is not worry about your heart, but worry about a way to solve your panic attacks.
Thanks for your reassuring words, I guess that is what I'm looking for really, reassurance that a) I'm not insane and b) I'm not going to drop dead any time soon. Deep down I know I'm ok, but when it's all happening at once, it's hard to concentrate on the positives, and you're right about just letting it happen, if I could just get over the terror of the palpitations.
You stated that the doctors are sure it is not your heart and that should be a relief to you. If you are having panic/anxiety attacks they are treatable through medication or therapy. Have you had your thyroid checked? Thyroid problems can mimic heart problems. Blood tests will reveal any abnormalities. Many times GPís are not up to date on thyroid profiles, so you may want to contact an endocrinologist. Good luck!