I'm a mid-twenties male, and I've recently been having anxiety attacks. I am usually able to control them. It is not general anxiety, as I do not feel anxiety most of the time; they are discrete incidents. I am, however, preoccupied with the chance that I may have an attack. (Should I go to the mall? What will happen if I have an attack here? etc. etc.)
I've been seeing a psychologist. I am not on any medication.
I have 3 big problems I am encountering in overcoming the anxiety. If anyone has any tips on how to deal with them, or similar stories they'd like to share, I'd be grateful.
1) I am not 100% convinced that it's anxiety. I mean, consciously, yes, I know that it is anxiety. I've had a battery of tests, all of which indicate that I'm fine, and the attacks go away with special breathing techniques, so what else could it possibly be? But whenever I have an attack, my mind latches onto the small nagging doubt that it might be more serious, that this time is the time that my heart will race faster and faster, that I'll have to go to the hospital, etc.
2) I am now obsessed with my heart rate. I measure it all the time, particularly when I'm eating (see 3)), by putting my hand to my chest. It's because the racing heart that occurs when I have an anxiety attack scares the hell out of me, more than anything else.
3) I am scared to eat certain foods. Chocolate, grapefruit juice, anything with caffeine in it, refined sugar, campbells' cream of broccoli soup, others. Some I associate with anxiety attacks because I (coincidentally) ate them prior to an attack; others are irrational. For instance, I won't drink tea anymore because of its fluoride content. Stupid google. I mean, I know these things won't hurt me, that this is a silly phobia, but I'm still scared of eating them.
I definitely know how you feel. I am afraid of consuming certain foods too. For a variety of reasons. But it is reasonable to not want caffeine because it can make a person very shakey and nervous. It does to me. I used to be fine with it!! One day I got very sick from it and now I am afraid to have ANY. But I still can't resist chocolate so I panick after I eat it if I feel the least bit shakey!! I am not afraid of heart attacks but I AM afraid of how the anxiety makes me feel, so I am right there with you. I think I have every illness known to man.
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Zenmarko. I know exactly how you feel!! I thought I was the only one with a food phobia but I guess not! I too won't eat anything with caffeine in it, for obvious reasons. Grapefriut juice, I won't touch it! I'am also afraid of refined sugar, and seafood. I always worry that I'm going to get an severe allergic reaction to seafood, because everytime I eat it I convince myself that I may be allergic to it, and give myself a panic attack. Isn't anxiety great!!!!! Ha! Ha! I think it's kind of funny that we are phobic towards the same foods! Hang in there!
I find that anything with caffeine messes me up pretty good, but just regular food can cause a stomach ache which can trigger an anxiety attack for me, so I avoid spicy foods when I can and really greasy stuff. I think the rule of thumb is, the healthier you eat the better. Not only will it help with your anxiety, but also keep you in better shape and healthier. I definitely avoid alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, and all mind altering drugs. Bad news for me. Anyway, I think it is a normal anxiety and fairly common and may even be a benefit of anxiety as it makes you watch what you eat a little better.
what is it about the grapefruit juice? just curious?
Nothing really, it's arbitrary. I stopped drinking it because it I read somewhere that it is bad for upset stomachs (my stomach is really wonky ever since I began having anxiety attacks) and I guess my subconscious put it on the 'scary foods' list. I am drinking it again now, slowly increasing the amount I'm drinking every day. Seems to work. But chocolate and sugar...those are harder.
So: what can we do to overcome this food phobia thing? I'm having a rough time eating chocolate. I mean, I'll eat a small portion every day, but I'm always a little apprehensive after I eat it, and I can't seem to up the dosage. I tried eating a whole bar at once because I was so sick of avoiding it, and then I really panicked.
Anyone have any tips? I'd really like to work past my anxiety.