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Health anxiety - is it dementia?

(14 Posts)
twolittlekings Sun 04-Nov-12 17:47:33

I've posted on a couple of threads but am driving myself mad. Long story but always been highly strung but never thought of myself as stressed until last 2 years. Moved house and mum died and then got house done to accommodate dad coming to live with us (83) plus spent the summer clearing out his house on my own (only child) and then selling his house, doing mums will and moving dad to us. All this since April 2011. All here under one roof with Dh and 2 x DS (one of them tricky and stubborn) and I work full time.

For last year I have developed chronic health anxiety - first I thought I had breast cancer due to pain, then could not swallow and ibs so had investigations. Then i had a kidney and lung scan as I was convinced i had cancer. Then I thought my son was unwell, then ovary problems which are real (benign tumour) and I've discovered I have a mitral valve prolapse after having investigations for chest pain but cardiologist says pain not related to the MVP.

Anyway now I'm becoming very forgetful and making mistakes at work. Spelling is awful and I feel like I have brain fog. I have read chronic stress can elevate cortisol and damage the brain causing Alzheimer's and I'm now convinced that I have this due to years of being stressy.

I have finally decided to take Escitalopram after a false start with sertraline but I'm still terrified it's no use since I have early onset dementia. I'm 43. The GP has referred me to a psychiatrist urgently but worried me by saying they can do blood tests to eliminate other causes. I know ally bloods are fine so now I'm thinking it's possible I do have it.

Is forgetfulness common with anxiety? Please can anyone make me feel better than I do!

EdgarAllansPo Sun 04-Nov-12 19:15:23

Yes, being forgetful is common with anxiety and stress.
also with underactive thyroid, and a lot of other conditions. It is commonly diet related.

EdgarAllansPo Sun 04-Nov-12 19:18:44

It sounds like you need a break, and a good long rest. Find ways to relax. Followed by building in a bit of enjoyable 'you time' which has nothing to do with doing anything for anyone else.

lucyellenmum Sun 04-Nov-12 20:08:44

Google is not your friend, seriously - you are now banned from google <stern>

Anxiety absolutely can make you forgetful, in fact it is a major problem when anxious. Lack of concentration also common symptom of anxiety. In fact you would be surprised just how many things are a result of anxiety.


I suffer from anxiety which all came to a head with health anxiety - its very common. Have you been offered any counselling at all?

twolittlekings Sun 04-Nov-12 20:18:17

Yes I'm doing CBT and the doc has referred me to a psychiatrist, within the next 2 weeks. This was when I was battling with my inner self over whether I should take the SSRIs and was not in medication. I have now started on cipralex (escitalopram) 5mg a day. I sometimes feel calm but it's weird I feel more anxious in the evening but I have no problem
Sleeping (fortunately). I have been on it 3 days. I'm desperate for it to work so I can stop feeling like this. I have constant butterflies in my stomach, hate loud noises (my DS x2 are so loud sometimes I have had to leave the room). At dinner tonight this happened but I could not take it.

It's the forgetting that's making me so scared. I drove off the other day with the passenger door still open.sad

lucyellenmum Sun 04-Nov-12 20:28:54

It is because you are so stressed sad Anxiety is a bastard bastard illness and it does make you feel physically ill! I am glad you are on some medication, it may take a week or so to kick in, that seems like a low dose, i was on citalopram 40mg, but escitalopram may be different.

I sympathise with the general feeling of anxiety too, i get this and my DP gets infuriated because i can't tell him what im worried about, i don't know!! I am having CBT too, jury still out on it for me. Funnily enough i don't have the health anxiety anymore, it is just general anxiety and i have managed to overcome the health anxiety.

I will NOT allow myself to google anything, i wont read anything in general health on here and force myself to put things out of my head. Its not easy though as once something is in your head, it niggles. I think i have had every diesease known to man confused.

How long have you been on the meds?

EdgarAllansPo Sun 04-Nov-12 20:47:44

It's not surprising, considering all you have been through in the last couple of years.

I've tried to drive off with passenger door open. With a cup of coffee on the car roof. Walked off without paying for parking in car park (several times in a couple of months) and even forgot where I parked in a particularly stressy/anxious time of my life.

Grief alone can make you like this, but you have had to work as well, and deal with your DF and your parent's house, as well as being a parent and putting food on the table. You have achieved a huge amount! Give yourself a massive big reward, tell yourself you are a great mum, and a great daughter (you are) because all these individual things are hard to do and you have managed a great deal. However, your body is telling you that you cannot keep it up, so now is the time to delegate some of your responsibilities to your DH and any other reliable support around and allow yourself some head space. Well done as well for going to the doctor and getting some help. Also for posting here.

twolittlekings Mon 05-Nov-12 08:04:22

Thanks everyone. I just feel so awful at the moment and have constant butterflies. I'm terrified I've done irreversible damage to my brain as I've been stressed for so longsad

I'm desperate for the pills to start working - how long does it take as its my 4th day. Will these awful butterflies stop soon?

twolittlekings Mon 05-Nov-12 08:05:28

Also I'm finding it really hard to speak properly and my tongue feels thick and like it won't work properly sad x

MrsMuddyPuddles Mon 05-Nov-12 10:34:57

Drink lots and lots of water for your tongue/speaking issues- dry mouth is a common side effect with Escitalopram.

I'd suggest an Omega 3 suppliment to help your brain, and maybe try meditating/mindfulness expercies- the brain is an amazingly flexible thing and can change just through meditation. You've only been stressed for about 2 years- the people who will have the cortosol thing going on will have been stressed for decades.

Sorry to say, but it takes 2 to 6 weeks for things you ingest daily to improve your brain, though if it's going to work for you it'll start to feel tiny bits better quite quickly. It's also normal to get a bit better, then back down, then better again, then down, then even better, then down, etc but the downs won't be as bad and one day they will be tolerable- so don't freak out if you have a crash (and lucky you if you don't!). At least, that's my experience with depression.

Oddly, things where you change your thinking, tellnig yourself "it's all in the mind", going to a safe space, etc basically mental (and not chemical) things work nearly instantly. I'm not sure what relaxation techniques to suggest, maybe meditation or mindfulness (like when you feel anxious, focus on how your breath feels as it enters your nose, goes down into your lungs, how your lungs feel as they go in and out, and how the breath feels as it goes out)

A very funny lady with anxiety issues is ; reading her stuff might help you not feel so alone.

twolittlekings Mon 05-Nov-12 12:08:24

Thanks do much for the reply. I've had the tongue problem for weeks so it's pre- drugs but I should drink more water.

I've actually made the decision to get signed off work. It's a huge risk as I may lose my job but I'm more important and something has to give.

Re prolonged stress, I thought I was not a stressy person but my husband says I'm a stress carrier and I've always been prone to anxiety. But I certainly never hot the overwhelming anxiety I get so regularly now. I thought I was a fairly happy person!!!!! But it worries me that I have killed my brain sad

Thanks for the blog link - funnily enough I'm thinking perhaps I need to write one as therapy x

twolittlekings Mon 05-Nov-12 16:07:51

Just to update - I have been signed off. I'm so relieved. One less thing to worry about. The GP says 3 months minimum but I'm starting at 3 weeks to see how I go. Tbh I don't think 3 weeks is enough either. I feel unwell in so many ways and I know I will need longer. Thanks for all your support x

EdgarAllansPo Mon 05-Nov-12 18:59:03

I'm glad you have got signed off. if the doc says 3 months, go for that. You don't want to be going back too soon and not being ready. Stress can bring down the happiest, strongest people, and you have had other health issues to deal with as well (the ones you listed in your first post) so you have really kept it going for a long time. Time to rest and heal. xx

Charleebird Mon 12-Nov-12 21:42:36

Hiya just read this. I couldnt remember something i had done in the week and this led to my anxiety being worse and i convinced myself i have or am getting demntia! Im 26. I dont forget but i havento constantly go over things to test my memory. I also have constant butterflies. I was perscribed propranalol which takes the nervous feelings away for a while. Ask your gp about it. As for the blood work that may just be routine. Dont worry. I find if i worry more i get worked up and panic. Ive suffered depression since 2008 so i blame my crap memory on that! But i do worry, its hard not too.
Keep me posted xxx

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