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Author Topic: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore  (Read 338 times)

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Offline cameronj

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So I am a 21 year old male, I exercise regularly, and eat healthy. For some reason, I have been absolutely terrified about having a heart attack for 3 days now. It all started when I had a sharp dull pain in the center of my chest (my parents said it was just indigestion, but I disagree). I've been obsessing over it and my left arm has been bothering me and my pinky finger and ring finger are somewhat numb on my left hand. I can breathe deeply without any pains - for the most part. I went for a long run yesterday and sat in a hot jacuzzi for 45 minutes and my heart held up. I had an EKG about 15 months ago and complete blood work and a physical about 3 months ago. Despite the fact that all the evidence seems to point that I am healthy, I just can't get over this obsession. I slept maybe 4 hours last night because I was convinced that I was going to have a heart attack in my sleep. My uncle and a friend's dad had heart attacks in the last two weeks, so I'm not sure if that is what is causing this. My uncle is fine, but my friend's dad passed away from his.

This obsession is driving me crazy. I am constantly checking my heart rate (resting has been between 60-80 bpm for these three days, which I know is normal) and debating whether or not I need to go to the ER to have tests done to just have conclusive evidence. A part of me knows that it will be a complete waste of money, but I just can't shake this fear. I swam for 20 minutes today and didn't have any issues with my heart. I think I might just be entirely ignorant about how people end up with heart attacks. Can they only occur randomly or do you have to have a genetic predisposition (congenital heart issue) or heart disease to have one???     

Can someone please give me some advice about what I should do and/or share some knowledge about heart attacks so I can better understand it. I honestly don't know how much longer I can go on with this obsession. It's driving me crazy because I'm convinced that I am going to drop dead at any minute.
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Offline doug65

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2014, 05:28:53 PM »
Why are you posting this again?  Go find a place to sit and relax and take deep breaths and let them out slowly.  Your chest muscles are tight (chest pain).  Also, anxiety can cause your left arm, pinky, and ring finger to "feel numb"
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MOST anxiety happens at the subconscious level.  JUST because you don't feel consciously anxious or had a day or two of calm doesn't mean your mind & body are relaxed.  It can take months of reduced anxiety before a body goes back to a more non-reactive state.  - AnxietyZone member Sixpack

Offline Kmj023

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2014, 05:55:05 PM »
Back in the days where I thought I had a heart problem I got the aching left arm and numbish feeling many times and the aching was real cause if my arm got cold it would ache. And I would get scared. You are ok. The more you worry, the more you will feel. I get pains in my chest when anxious sometimes.
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"The only illness that we can't accept is hypochondria."

"Never Google, everyone will catch an invisible tumor!"

"Anxiety is not a doctor. Neither is the internet."

Actual diagnosis : chronic sinusitis.
Google diagnosis : brain cancer.

Symptoms : dizzy head feeling.

Offline cameronj

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2014, 06:25:45 PM »
Well for some reason, regardless of all the data, I still think that I am in danger of having a heart attack. I've done the deep breathing and found it relaxing (especially since there was no pain), but I still somehow get worked up over it.

I just don't understand why I can't accept the fact that I don't need to go to the ER to get it checked out. Even when I'm busy doing something, the thoughts slowly creep back and I have a sudden terror of "oh god, this must be it." 

What did you do to get over your anxiety regarding your heart??
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Offline Kmj023

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2014, 06:29:52 PM »
I had a heart fear for a few months years and years ago. What got over mine was just finding other distractions. I stopped checking my heart rate, I had a busy life and it just went away. And it was a great feeling!
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"The only illness that we can't accept is hypochondria."

"Never Google, everyone will catch an invisible tumor!"

"Anxiety is not a doctor. Neither is the internet."

Actual diagnosis : chronic sinusitis.
Google diagnosis : brain cancer.

Symptoms : dizzy head feeling.

Offline cameronj

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2014, 06:36:57 PM »
My biggest fear is dropping dead from one, but I guess there really isn't anything I can do about it and I assume it's highly unlikely at my age considering what I've been doing for these past several days.

I guess I need to stop checking my heart rate then as well because I really want to get over this obsession and get on with my life. It's been a nightmare living in fear of having a heart attack and my parents are getting frustrated with me because of how it's pretty much impossible for me to have one
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Offline Worrier1978

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2014, 06:39:38 PM »
You're ok. The chest pains probably were either indigestion or muscular. If you've been able to exercise, run, sit in a hot jacuzzi (jealous of the jacuzzi, btw!), without any chest pains, you're fine. I think knowing 2 people that just had heart attacks is definitely making you worry.

I'm in my mid-30's & chest pain is what started my health anxiety 6 months ago. I was pretty sure it was muscular from excessively carrying around my then 20-lb daughter while she was sick (while I was sick, too). But it freaked me out to the point that I ended up in the ER having cardiac tests done just to be sure. I was fine -- completely healthy. It was muscular. I strained muscles not only in my chest, but in my back, shoulders & neck. And stress, anxiety, worrying only makes it worse. And as far as numbness or tingling in your arm or fingers, it could definitely be anxiety, but it could also be tight muscles in your shoulder (which stress can also cause). This happens to me when I'm really stressed or I overuse/strain shoulder muscles. I have a friend who's a massage therapist & when she worked on my shoulder/underarm area, the tingling went away. Now when it happens I massage either my elbow, my shoulder or my underarm area (where the underarm meets the chest) until I find where the tightness is. You'll know when you find the right spot because the tingling will stop.

My advice to you is to stop taking your heart rate & definitely don't google anything (if you haven't done this, good!). Try to relax, do some stretches, do something to take your mind off of this. I know it's not easy. I'm currently obsessing over a newer health concern & it's pretty much kept me from accomplishing anything useful this weekend. It sucks. But when I do keep myself busy with something, I'm fine. We've gotta keep our minds occupied with non-health related thoughts! Good luck!!!
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Offline Kmj023

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2014, 06:48:08 PM »
Yeah stop checking your heart. You are young and that makes your chances even lower. My doctor told me that when I was almost 20. Find distractions. Ignore the pains. I know it's hard to do. But the more you fear them, the more there are and the more you will fear. Break the cycle. :)
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"The only illness that we can't accept is hypochondria."

"Never Google, everyone will catch an invisible tumor!"

"Anxiety is not a doctor. Neither is the internet."

Actual diagnosis : chronic sinusitis.
Google diagnosis : brain cancer.

Symptoms : dizzy head feeling.

Offline cameronj

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2014, 11:37:35 PM »
Thank you for all of your responses! I'm doing much better now. My dad made me talk to his cardiologist and he pretty much told me that people my age do not have heart attacks unless its from drugs, severe obesity, or congenital and even when they do occur, they are EXTREMELY rare. And that my symptoms are just a manifestation of my anxiety or muscular (exactly what you all said!). I guess I just wasted 3 days obsessing over nothing.

Thanks for suggesting for me to stop checking my heart rate. It's helped a lot
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Offline Kmj023

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2014, 11:40:23 PM »
Glad that you are feeling better!  :)
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"The only illness that we can't accept is hypochondria."

"Never Google, everyone will catch an invisible tumor!"

"Anxiety is not a doctor. Neither is the internet."

Actual diagnosis : chronic sinusitis.
Google diagnosis : brain cancer.

Symptoms : dizzy head feeling.

Offline Lars Thorwald

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2014, 10:49:44 AM »
I'm sure you're fine but if your fear/anxiety remain try watching the Seinfeld episode where George thinks he's having a heart attack. It's a hilarious episode--one of my favorites. Maybe a good laugh will help. Take care.
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"For days after death, hair and fingernails continue to grow but phone calls taper off." --Johnny Carson

Offline Tunnelvisionary

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2014, 11:03:34 AM »
You need to stop all checking and reassurance behaviors. Any time you get anxious about your heart, checking your heart rate, wanting to get reassurance from doctors/other people, googling, and ruminating over this problem are all behaviors that FUEL obsessions. You have to stop engaging in these behaviors completely if you want your mind to settle down. At first, your mind will go nuts because it feels like it is giving up control, but that is okay. Remain resilient and persistent in your effort not to try and reassure yourself. Sometime soon, the anxiety will die down.
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Anxiety disorders in a nutshell.

Anxiety/Uncertainty ---> Checking/Reassurance/Googling behaviors ---> Brief relief but fuels obsessiveness about disease. ---> Repeat

Stop anxiety by stopping the checking/reassurance/googling! Tough at first, but stick with it.

Offline Bocephus

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2014, 11:46:44 AM »
Reminds of of when I bought a blood pressure monitor..  I used that thing every day for a long time..  Started when I used one of those stands in the grocery stores and it was grossly uncalibrated.
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Offline Kmj023

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2014, 11:50:31 AM »
Lol. I had a stethoscope too back on the day when I was afraid of my heart. I would check my heart 3 times a day I think and write down the beats per minute each time lol.
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"The only illness that we can't accept is hypochondria."

"Never Google, everyone will catch an invisible tumor!"

"Anxiety is not a doctor. Neither is the internet."

Actual diagnosis : chronic sinusitis.
Google diagnosis : brain cancer.

Symptoms : dizzy head feeling.

Offline Worrier1978

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Re: Please HELP. I'm struggling and don't know what to do anymore
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2014, 11:56:19 AM »
Thank you for all of your responses! I'm doing much better now. My dad made me talk to his cardiologist and he pretty much told me that people my age do not have heart attacks unless its from drugs, severe obesity, or congenital and even when they do occur, they are EXTREMELY rare. And that my symptoms are just a manifestation of my anxiety or muscular (exactly what you all said!). I guess I just wasted 3 days obsessing over nothing.

Thanks for suggesting for me to stop checking my heart rate. It's helped a lot

So glad you're doing better! I'm also glad that you spoke with a cardiologist because then you're hearing it straight from a professional. Much more reassuring than anything else! And as far as wasting 3 days obsessing over nothing...join the club! (Or wait, don't! It's not a fun club!!!) I pretty much wasted my weekend obsessing over something & being angry/upset over something that isn't going to change. Ugh. Not good when I have a gazillion things to get done! Anyway, glad you're doing better!
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