Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, see our mental health web guide which can point you to expert advice.

Feeling physically ill with anxiety

(27 Posts)
Stupidlyanxious Mon 08-Apr-13 15:55:24

Have n/c'd for this post. I am too embarrassed to post under my regular MN guise.

For over a year now I have been experiencing a variety of symptoms: breathlessness, chest pain, loss of appetite (altho no weight loss), bloating, insomnia, shaking and shivering. Doctors seem to agree that although the symptoms are physical the actual problem is psychological and I have some kind of anxiety disorder.

This all came out of the blue in as much as I have nothing to be anxious about. I cannot find any trigger - either from the initial episode or subsequent occurrences. This is now ruling my life. I don't feel safe to drive, I worry constantly about symptoms (which of course exacerbates everything). I just feel like I am barely getting through each day. I don't feel able to care fully for my DCs.

I can't imagine what "normal" feels like anymore.

I have gone from being a happily busy mum who would not think twice about taking DCs on all kinds of adventures alone here and overseas, having a good social life and rarely going to the doctors to becoming an isolated basket case who rarely leaves the house.

I have an appt with psych this week but I am just at the end of my tether. I'm not sure what I expect from this post really. I just want to stop feeling so awful. Sometimes I notice that I am almost holding my breath or at least not breathing easily/naturally so I guess perhaps it is all my own doing.

DH is supportive but since doctors have given up on medical investigations I fear he is secretly thinking I should just pull myself together.

stripeyjimjams Mon 08-Apr-13 16:14:43

You poor soul, you're not a basket case. This can happen to anyone, it doesn't discriminate and it's very tough. Have you seen the psych before? If not, they'll hopefully be far more helpful than GP. They're a lot more experienced in the range of therapies you might try. Whether this means meds (which you shouldn't worry about taking, as they can help and needn't be forever), therapy or alternative methods, they can advise you. Just hold on until the appointment, and maybe write down your symmptoms - physical and emotional - as you've done here, so they can get a decent picture of where you are. Good luck x.

Stupidlyanxious Mon 08-Apr-13 17:51:22

Thank you for replying.

I'm not too worried about seeing the psych - I just want to have my life back so I will try anything.

I think it has been such a shock to become ill in this way. I have been told "you just need to learn to relax" which is pretty bloody hard to do when you are breathless and feeling weak sad. In fact the level of fatigue has been as bad as the anxiety itself.

Fragglewump Tue 09-Apr-13 10:05:13

I think a course of antidepressants that are also good for anxiety would help. Add in some cbt to discover how to deal with the anxiety and you should start to rediscover yourself. It's always amazing how many physical symptoms can be caused by anxiety!!!!

Allysunflower Tue 09-Apr-13 13:46:31

Hi I'm I'm a very similar situation so I feel for you I'm in a terrible state, under mental health team and gp, having a terrible time, they were meant to be ringing me back today as I've seen gp and he's told them I'm suicidal, I feel so bad, he's changed my tabs to escitalopram from citalopram, Im feeling so sick all the time and can barely eat, terrible anxiety and agitation, I just feel I can't go on anymore, it's been too long nowsad the gp is at a loss and doesn't really think the escitalopram will be much better! And the mental health team haven't rung backsad

stripeyjimjams Tue 09-Apr-13 14:43:44

Oh gosh, "you just need to learn to relax." That's a good one, isn't it? wink If only it were that easy, eh? But you're on the right track, Stupidly (sorry, I feel mean calling you that). The psych is such a positive step in the right direction. The physical symptoms can be hellish, but they'll work with you to get you feeling better.

Ally, that's a rough situation to be in, have a hug from me. The GP can't be "at a loss." That's a hugely unhelpful idea for them to put in your mind. Can you consult another GP? And can you call the MH team back yourself in the meantime? I know it's hard.

patienceisvirtuous Tue 09-Apr-13 14:53:21

I was once the same as you OP. I took beta blockers for my anxiety and they were a godsend for me personally. I came off them a couple of years later and I don't suffer from anxiety now.

I feel for you - anxiety is awful to live with.

I second a course of cbt too. Worked wonders for me.

Wishing you luck - hope you feel better soon.

wfrances Tue 09-Apr-13 15:01:27

hi stupidly
have you tried distraction techniques?
ive always got to be making /decorating/baking/cleaning/sorting through
how long have you been feeling like this?

Allysunflower Tue 09-Apr-13 18:05:23

I've had to ring the mental health team back myself! can't get to see the psychiatrist till next week, the nurse said I don't know enough about meds!! I'm having to start the escitalopram tonight but I'm still un sure of dosage do going to start with 10mg? the nausea is so bad has anyone else had this symptom that has lasted this long? And has anyone been on escitalopram instead of citalopram? I'm at such a loss and the anxiety is worse than ever, not sure if that is what is making the nausea worse the anxiety? Or both? I'm having to take more diazeprams now toosad there has been a mention of the crisis team but not sure what to do? help anyone please x

Knittingninja Tue 09-Apr-13 18:16:59

Allysunflower, side effects including nausea are fairly common when starting this type of medication, but should reduce- you can get information on medications at However if you are anxious this can cause nausea too so try doing something (slightly) relaxing for a bit and see if this helps. If you are not sure of the dose you should be taking then check- it should be on your prescription how many tablets to take per day, and if in doubt then call the prescriber- your GP should have some kind of out-of-hours cover.

I know it seems really hard but you will get through this. Try to take slow calm breaths xx

Allysunflower Tue 09-Apr-13 18:26:17

The other problem is I don't know how to cope or put in coping mechanisms with the nausea and anxiety? how can I relax or do something when I feel so sick all the timesad?

Knittingninja Tue 09-Apr-13 18:40:53

The thing is, the more you worry about feeling sick, the worse you'll feel. So, rather than pay lots of attention to the nausea, is there something else you could do for a bit? Talk to someone, go for a walk, do a wordsearch, read a magazine etc?

The mental health team should be able to help you figure out long term coping strategies, but obviously that doesn't help you right now! Call them if you need to, or you could try the Samaritans- very helpful to have someone listen to how you are feeling and help you work through it. MN have link to mental health web guide at top of page. Best of luck xx

Stupidlyanxious Tue 09-Apr-13 18:42:33

Ally sorry to hear you are having such a rough time. It's not good enough that you are being left with so little support particularly wrt to meds dosage.

Stripey - yeah the "just relax" line has made me want to scream. I practice yoga, took ADs for 6 months last year and none of it made a difference. I try and talk myself down from my anxious state and reassure myself I am fine. The worst times are when I am driving and I just end up feeling dizzy and light headed and as though I will pass out. The last time I tried driving on the motorway I ended up stuck at the services because my hands, arms and legs were shaking so badly and had pins & needles - presumably from some kind of adrenalin/anxiety reaction.

wfrances I do try to distract myself with different activities - I'm a very arty person. One of the problems is that my chest aches continuously so I find it hard to enjoy the activities.

I am so grateful for the support on here already. It is helping to just be honest and offload. I have days where I am sure I will die - even though I know the doctors have checked me for all kinds of things, I worry that the stress I feel will give me a heart attack. I feel such a mess. I just want my lovely care-free life back again.

Stupidlyanxious Tue 09-Apr-13 18:51:47

Ally you could try massaging anti-nausea pressure points. This has worked for me. Information here . The first one in that article also works to calm the mind too.

Second knittingninja's suggestion of calling the Samaritans. You can also email them (although you may wait for a reply). They can't give you any answers but they are trained to listen and ask questions which may help you find your own way. I used to volunteer with them (in my good old anxiety free days) and we would take lots of calls from people feeling unsupported by MH teams.

Edlyu Tue 09-Apr-13 19:14:01

I have found that being over tired is a major problem for my anxiety.If i can get enough rest -proper rest that is not just sitting down and trying to relax but in reality making myself just as anxious by NOT resting. Lots of horizontal time and being kind to myself .Not pushing too hard to do things that I previously did without thought.
if you think about how much effort goes into keeping oneself stable you can see how tiring it all is.

Another thing I have found is watching how much sugar I consume. Often when anxious I will start snacking on biscuits etc and this leads to more and more sweet foods and more and more anxiety. Its not hunger that drives this impulse and I hate doing it but sometimes I have to keep on until Im done. I am not bulimic so its not quantity that Im after (if thats what Bulimia is) .I really dont know how the point is reached but when it is I can stop picking and will not eat again for many hours.
But I will then start the shaking,trembling ,headachey, bunched up feeling that prevents me from sleeping.

Often I can find that I feel so much better just by fasting. I feel starving of course but in 'myself' I feel great.

Could this be worth a thought for you too?

deliasmithy Tue 09-Apr-13 23:27:33

Im on the anxious "spectrum" as it were.
I went through a period of having high anxiety and panic attacks and had onky had the odd one or two before. The symptoms you describe are familiar.

I never used to, but these days when I feel stressed I feel a tightness on my chest, tight throat, etc.

I found a short period on meds and counselling helpful as a starting point. Also telling some close friends who I was surprised to discover experienced similar.

I used to fear having anxiety attacks but I came to let go of that by realising nothing that bad happens when you have one. Its unpleasant but thats it. Meditation helped as breathing exercises help loosen my chest up. I found a Buddhist centre that ran classes for a fiver.

Ive not had one in ages now but get anxious from time to time. I dont really know what triggered it all, but used the opportunity to re-evaluate my circumstances and gain more control.

It will get better.

Allysunflower Wed 10-Apr-13 12:58:02

Hi all thanks for your replies, I'm having a terrible day, nausea is unbelievable and I keep heaving lots, anxiety so bad but can't rest properly, can't understand why I'm feeling no better at all in fact worse, took 10mg of escitalopram first time last night, and had to take 10mg of diazeprams earlier but now I'm as anxious as ever, husband just keeps saying eat but it's impossible, I feel like nothing Is helping, and the thoughts of this all the time make me panic so much I'm much more illsad this is hellsad

Dolallytats Wed 10-Apr-13 18:49:58

When people think of anxiety, they think it is a 'head' problem, but the physical feelings are horrendous. My anxiety has been so bad that I have been agoraphobic for the last few years. I am 25+3 days pregnant and the anxiety has increased so much. I have no idea how I am getting my DS to school next week as the physical effects feel so awful.

I have no answers, but sometimes I think it helps just to know you are not alone.

Allysunflower Wed 10-Apr-13 20:39:46

Your right huni I'm forever being told to just try harder, hubby has lost total patience with me, he just thinks I can just stop all this? that I can just eat? He really doesn't understand that I cannot help this and that it's not something i want and I'm so afraid that I'm not getting any better, if it's the tablets making me feel bad or the anxiety as well or both? I'm a mess and the mental health team were rang yesterday by my dr who wanted an urgent appt, they didn't ring back so I had to, to be told next week!! I feel for you esp if your pregnant too, are you taking any medication, I did when I was because the gp agreed it was better and no risk because if I'd sunk further that would be worse? Do you get physical symptoms too? this nausea is horrendous, I'm barley eating? all I get told by the drs etc is we can't give you anything for it, but it's not them having to cope with it for this long, I have 3 children too one is only 2 and it's just so hardsad im
sending you a hug x I've come to realise that what friends I thought I had have not been here for me, people just don't care enough, if they had just one day in these shoes they'd seesad take care x

Allysunflower Thu 11-Apr-13 13:15:03

I'm in a terrible state, got the mental health nurse soon and I'm so scared shes going to admit mesad I can't go on like this, the nausea is worse than ever and the anxiety if that is what it is is horrendous, I'm having terrible chest pains and I'm struggling to believe this is anxiety and depression, I'm worried to take more diazeprams and I don't know what to do, I just keep crying and don't want to be here anymoresad

jackeroo Thu 11-Apr-13 13:37:27

Ally/Stupidly - Very sorry to hear of your problems - I can relate. I used to suffer from severe anxiety/panic and each symptom or issue you mention was very much present. The constant attention to breathing, the chest pain and sick feelings, and the despair. Wondering 'why me?' and seeing everyone around me so capable and 'normal'. I ended up rarely leaving home as well. I constantly wondered whether all this could really be caused by panic and felt convinced that there were more sinister underlying causes. I was hyper-sensitised to every little twinge in my body. I saw psychs and GP and did a course of antidepressants which helped a little. Gaining an understanding that it was anxiety helped a little, although I constantly questioned this. I started to read about meditation and tried this at home - very hard to do in this state! This also helped eventually. Not easy when you're sick and tired. I can only sympathize and say don't give up hope, and let you know that you're not the only one. Wishing you all the best...

Dolallytats Thu 11-Apr-13 16:28:11

Ally, I'm sorry you feel so bad. You won't get admitted for anxiety so please stop worrying about that. It can be so hard to believe that the awful physical feelings we have are down to anxiety, but they really are. Try and get referred for CBT and whatever you do, no matter how horrible you feel, get out every day. Keep telling yourself it is only anxiety-even if you don't fully believe it at the time. Please don't end up stuck indoors, it makes it so much harder to get over. It's the worst thing I ever did and I didn't even realise I was doing it until it was too late.
You have the strength to get over it, be positive and don't give up x

Allysunflower Thu 11-Apr-13 23:23:44

Thank you all for that, I struggle to get out because of feeling so sick and agitated, it's horrendous feeling and it makes me panic more, if only some of this would subside I could face a few things, it's easy for people to say just eat!! how the hell can you when you feel so wretched and can't physically get it down? nurse today things my anxiety has spiralled and this is what's feeding the symptoms ie nausea and agitation? it might be the case but it's not so easy to stop thinking and to do anything when you feel sick? she suggested a relaxation cd or app to find but one that has a voice to talk you through stages of relaxation and anxiety but it's a mind field to find one, has anyone had any sucess with this idea? I've no other support groups locally it's really poor service heresad I'm desperate, dread each day especially the morning and the immediate sickness and anxiety happens straight awaysad how do I stay positive? they are now talking about adding another med to the mix for the anxiety it doesn't sound too pleasant either but I'm already taking more diazeprams, not sure what I'm going to do? xx

Dolallytats Fri 12-Apr-13 08:25:23

I've got one called 'Complete Relaxation'. Not sure if it's any good, I've only just got an iPod to put it on so I can listen to it in bed. I really need to listen to it because I have been awake half the night panicking about getting DS to school on Tuesday. If you Google or go on Amazon, you should be able to find one. Or try a website like Nomorepanic or Anxiety uk, Mind may also be helpful for books but I don't think they do CD's.
If you Google 'apps for anxiety', it comes up with quite a few options so you could see what suits you best.

Deep breathing helps too. I really hope you feel better soon.

Stupidlyanxious Fri 12-Apr-13 11:54:39

Thank you again to all of you who have come on to this thread to share stories and offer support. I really do appreciate it.

I saw a neuropsychiatrist yesterday. He was great, seems very understanding and I left feeling quite positive about treatment and the future. Basically, he tells me that as there was no specific psychological trigger for this he believes I have a genetic predisposition and that my brain basically needs "re-setting" which we can do by meds and mindfulness techniques. He is not referring me for CBT since I have been using those techniques myself for the last year or so and they have made no difference.

So the meds he has suggested are: Sertraline (Lustral) or Venlafaxine. I'll be speaking with my GP later today regarding the prescription but just wondered if anyone has any experiences on these meds? I will post a separate thread on here too - just to attempt a quick response - so apologies for the duplicate question :-)

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: