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First time with health anxiety & a few questions

Guen

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Joined
Feb 25, 2019
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#1
Hello everyone,

Just a little history before my questions for you all. I've have GAD for about 6 years or so, diagnosed in my early twenties. I saw a counselor and cognitive behavioral therapy really worked for me so whenever I had anxiety attacks I went to my usual tools of exercise, mediation, and other distractions to bring down my anxiety.

Recently, I'd been having night sweats for about a week or so. I went to see the doctor, even after they'd stopped for a few days, just in case. The doctor I saw, not my regular one, terrified me out by mentioning that night sweats can be a sign of cancer, such as lymphoma. After reviewing my medical history plus the fact the sweats had stopped and there was no other symptoms, the doctor diagnosed me with a hormonal fIair up, but ordered blood tests just in case. I had a panic attack in the office and when I got home was a complete wreck. The blood test came back completely normal and the doctor stated she felt I was fine.

It's been a week and I am still having anxiety attacks about the possibility of cancer. I have also been having symptoms such as neck, arm & chest pain which is only adding to the anxiety as I know there are lymph nodes there (I have a MS in biology so I know a good bit about anatomy). My questions for you guys are:

1. Has your anxiety ever created fake symptoms to fit whatever diagnosis you fear? I'm fairly sure the neck & chest pain are coming from muscle tension (my shoulders were in pretty nasty pain the other day due to stress), but it would be a comfort to know others have experienced things like this. Also, all of these symptoms only appeared after the doctors visit.

2. What are some techniques you use to deal with health anxiety? I feel like I have a toolbox of things to use for other anxiety flair ups (fear of failure etc), but nothing that really gets at the source of this new type of anxiety.

Thanks!
~Guen
 
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triceps

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2018
Messages
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518
#2
Hello everyone,

Just a little history before my questions for you all. I've have GAD for about 6 years or so, diagnosed in my early twenties. I saw a counselor and cognitive behavioral therapy really worked for me so whenever I had anxiety attacks I went to my usual tools of exercise, mediation, and other distractions to bring down my anxiety.

Recently, I'd been having night sweats for about a week or so. I went to see the doctor, even after they'd stopped for a few days, just in case. The doctor I saw, not my regular one, terrified me out by mentioning that night sweats can be a sign of cancer, such as lymphoma. After reviewing my medical history plus the fact the sweats had stopped and there was no other symptoms, the doctor diagnosed me with a hormonal fIair up, but ordered blood tests just in case. I had a panic attack in the office and when I got home was a complete wreck. The blood test came back completely normal and the doctor stated she felt I was fine.

It's been a week and I am still having anxiety attacks about the possibility of cancer. I have also been having symptoms such as neck, arm & chest pain which is only adding to the anxiety as I know there are lymph nodes there (I have a MS in biology so I know a good bit about anatomy). My questions for you guys are:

1. Has your anxiety ever created fake symptoms to fit whatever diagnosis you fear? I'm fairly sure the neck & chest pain are coming from muscle tension (my shoulders were in pretty nasty pain the other day due to stress), but it would be a comfort to know others have experienced things like this. Also, all of these symptoms only appeared after the doctors visit.

2. What are some techniques you use to deal with health anxiety? I feel like I have a toolbox of things to use for other anxiety flair ups (fear of failure etc), but nothing that really gets at the source of this new type of anxiety.

Thanks!
~Guen
Hi and welcome Guen. I've had GAD for 50 years or so and had my usual night sweats again last night. I wear a t-shirt to bed just so I don't have to change the sheets as often. Sorry you're going through such a tough time with this. The answers to your specific questions are thus: 1) Anxiety can create symptoms to whatever health issue you're afraid of. And 2) You can use your CBT techniques as you would with any irrational thinking if you can categorize your health anxiety as just irrational thoughts that happen to be related to your health.

All of the symptoms you describe (especially the night sweats) are very common anxiety related symptoms. Just try and approach this incident of health fear as any other fear your GAD produces. Most importantly, believe the testing that says you're fine, with "normal" test results. AND, don't go to that particular doctor again.
 

Steven

Active Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
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#3
Guen,

All the issues you are describing are classic anxiety symptoms. If the doctor did a blood work and they are confident you are healthy then I believe you are. I’ve also had the night sweats that will last for weeks and then once my anxiety cleared up they cleared up as well. Anxiety definitely loves playing game with our mind and coming up with symptoms that match our fears.
 

Guen

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Feb 25, 2019
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#4
Thank you guys so much. It's a relief to know that others have experienced this sort of reaction before and it's not just me. =) I'm going to get a massage to try to work out the muscles which will hopefully help me get rid of the symptoms.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2019
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#5
1. Yes! I’ll have one symptom and I will Dr. Google (which I need to stop) next thing you know every symptom of said condition seems to manifest.... like a self fulfilling prophecy! Great example the only symptom of colon cancer I didn’t have during my scare was blood. Next morning... blood in my stool. Which was actually most likely due to a hemorrhoid caused by my straining and if I wasn’t in the middle of an attack I could easily explain away (hemmies run in the fam). I also notice that I have phantom pains/over fixate on one area

2. Still working on this! I am starting to target my main dysfunctional through pattern influenced by my anxiety- catastrophic thinking. Attempting to apply the techniques I’m learning from my general anxiety self help book to this problem, will keep you updated :)
 

CC83

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Jul 17, 2018
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#6
Oh yes! Your mind is a powerful thing and 100% influences and manifests into physical ailments. I've had so many life threatening diseases from a brain tumor to a major heart defect or disease, still my current fear, to several different types of cancer. I'm at doctors constantly but it's never enough. It's good to know we aren't alone. I have night sweats a lot. I also take sertealine and that is a side effect of it. So if you're on any antidepressant or other drug that could be the cause. Or it's hormones or stress and anxiety. It's very common.
 

Helpme555

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Mar 13, 2019
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#7
I've been dealing with a fear of the c word for almost a year now. I noticed that a lot of my symptoms didn't start until I actually read what they were, for example, fever. A couple of days after reading lymphoma could cause a fever I started checking my temp 50 times a day and constantly felt feverish. Luckily I was able to stop doing that and the feverish feeling completely disappeared. I've had the night sweats on and off and they almost always happen after an extra worried day, but sometimes they would happen when I didn't even feel anxious. Our brains are very powerful and can manifest symptoms in many different ways.
 

Kiara.S

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Mar 15, 2019
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#8
I cannot relate to the health issues, but I can relate to feeling physical symptoms from anxiety. What always helps me is recognizing that it is in fact anxiety, and letting it be. My symptoms typically go away once being recognized.
 

LarryH3

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Mar 16, 2019
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#9
I had my first "heart attack" (panic attack) when I was a sixth grader. I woke up in a panic, my heart racing, and I thought I was going to die. My dad had to calm me down. I've had those tendencies ever since and I'm now in my sixties. I never addressed my anxiety or panic attacks all that time, and when you're older, it's harder to separate the imaginary symptoms from the real ones. I'm now at that age when doctors no longer tell me everything is fine. It's finally time to go through the usual "old people" things and they find blood where it shouldn't be, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, all the usual symptoms of a modern, middle aged, stress filled lifestyle, and all of them directly related to my worst fear from childhood: h____ att___! I don't recommend WebMD if your a hypochondriac, that's for sure! But, today I was told that if you can still take a brisk walk with someone and hold a conversation, then that's good news.

Oh: Sorry, I forgot: Hi, everyone, I just signed up today, so I'm new around here!

By the way, if you're shy like me, but just happen to talk to a coworker or someone you can have a casual conversation with, you'd be surprised to find out how many people you know also get panic attacks, (usually us males), especially when we deal with doctors.

Male response: "Oh, yeah, my blood pressure shoots right up when I see the doctor. I also get panic attacks!"
Female response: "Well, put on your big boy pants and stop being such a baby!"
 
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
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#10
Larry-welcome. I have to correct you on one thing, not all females would respond for you to put your big boy pants on. Some of us females also have panic attacks too. ;) I, too, am almost your age and have been dealing with anxiety over health issues...mostly heart issues, so I understand everything you wrote.
 

triceps

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Aug 7, 2018
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#11
Welcome Larry. I've actually found women to try to be more understanding of my anxiety disorder. Like you, being a young 66 years old, age infuses more physical variables into our anxiety. I have much less mental energy to fight the battle. But again welcome, this is a nice, safe, compassionate place to express the frustrations of our conditions with folks who have a clue what we're dealing with.
 

LarryH3

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Mar 16, 2019
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#12
Knowing full well the dangers of speaking in generalities about large groups of people, I did it anyway, so I apologize for that perhaps unfair statement about women vs. men. It just happened to be my experience, and yet I have at least two women in my life who were very supportive. I am grateful for the strong women in my life (they all seem stronger than me most of the time), even the one who told me to "put my big boy pants on". (It was done with love.)
 

triceps

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#13
No need to apologize Larry. You'll know it's love when they say "take those big boy pants off".
 
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#15
Hey Larry. Sorry that co-worker was such a bitch. (assuming this was a real conversation?) But I wouldn't think all women are like that or anything, even though it is true that women tend to respond favoritely to confidence. Many women are as compassionate as they are biologically wired to want an 'alpha male', so it's often kind of a complicated mixture between wanting us to 'man up' and being understanding. (and of course, some people are just plain cruel and it doesn't really have anything to do with their gender.) Also there's the thing that women are socially pressured to be nice/motherly like that whereas men are not, so it might stand out more when a woman isn't very sensitive to your feelings.

I have discovered that focusing on my breathing helps. And objectively gauging just how serious my symptoms really are. Pay attention to nothing else but your breath, slow your breathing down etc and that should help calm you down naturally. (its way easier to tell somebody else to do this then always be good at practicing it myself but such is life eh)
 
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