Could it be a panic disorder or something else?

Follow
Share

I'm a new caregiver.

My mom's been diagnosed with Panic Disorder + Major Depression recently and we're all suffering because of it.

She has symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, blurry vision, etc etc. We went to the ER tons of times but all the doctors said she was fine. Did ECG, CT scan, LOTS of blood tests, holter monitoring, MRI etc and the reports came back negative.

To date she's seen about 10 doctors, taken LOTS of different heart medications (none worked), BP medications (none worked), and is currently on Lexapro + Xanax and one BP medication (not working either). Nothing seems to be working and her complaints seem endless.

Right now we're beginning to suspect that it may be something else and not something psychosomatic that's causing this.

I'm sick of this! No doctor is giving us a proper answer to why this is happening! They're all "nothing is wrong. You may be discharged" and that's it! The only diagnosis we got right now is Panic Disorder but really! the SSRIs should work shouldn't they? But her heart is still pounding and she's still dizzy. WHY?! Is there a physical explanation to this? I'm extremely tired and stressed out just trying to find out what's wrong!!!

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
23

Answers

Show:
1 2 3
This time your mother may well be right, ali. It does run in families. Your doc will likely test your TSH, Some docs won;t treat till it is way off. Hopefully if you are borderline your doc wil try meds.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Timely conversation for me, as my mother sidled up to me Thanksgiving day and said softly "You're at the heaviest I've ever seen you." Hah! I knew what she meant. My weight really hasn't increased all that much in past couple of years, but I'm puffy - it's a different look for me. And my hair is... falling out, falling apart, in ways that never happened before. The texture is increasingly very dry and delicate.

I'll be making an appointment to see my GP and see if he will agree that trying a low dose of thyroid meds may help me, even though my thyroid doesn't test low enough to be considered officially "low," but I think after everything I've been though he may agree to let me try a low dose of thyroid meds. My mother takes medication for low thyroid. She thinks I'm showing some symptoms.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

ff - my daughter, my mother and I have had trouble getting proper diagnosis and treatment for hypothyroidism. It is fairly common in women and can show up around menopause - hair loss, weight gain, hearing problems, constipation, dry skin, depression, lethargy, under eye puffiness, water retention, and more all of which could be attributed to menopause and "aging".. When I taught biology, I often had a student in class who was having these problems and would urge them to talk to their doctor. When the tests are borderline it is recommended that the individual be started in a low dose of meds to see how it affects symptoms and how the person is feeling. I found I started feeling better quite quickly. Do let me know if your doc treats you and if it works.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

golden23, oh my gosh, thanks for the info on low thyroid. I checked the symptoms and I have quite a few of them... plus my doctor said I was borderline low. Wish she would have put two and two together because she has been treating me for panic attacks. Of course, maybe this has nothing to do with it, but to me it is worth investigating :)
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Cottoncandy - I had heart palpitations/panic attacks for years and it turned out to be due to borderline low thyroid. The thyroid tests were not off enough for doctors to diagnose and treat me for hypothyroidism, but, eventually, I looked up symptoms and had 19 out of a list of 20 and insisted that a doctor try me on a low dose of synthroid. He was very surprised that, as treatment progressed, I needed much more than a low dose of meds and the panic attacks and heart palps went away. Like your mother, all tests they did on me came back normal. I was 53 at the time too. I had very heavy monthly bleeding which was the symptom that pushed me to push my doctor for treatment. I know otherwise they would have referred me to a gyn for a hysterectomy which would not have solved anything, but would have stressed my body even more. Many doctors do not recognize the symptoms of and need for treatment for borderline thyroid disease. Not sure that the specialists are much better. Endocrinology is a relatively new area compared to, for example, cardiology.

My mother in her 80s was tired and getting weaker. Her doctor did not find anything wrong. Many would think it was "normal" at her age. She visited me and I noticed her symptoms and told her to mention thyroid to her doctor. Hypothyroidism runs in our family. She was put on thyroid meds and is 104 now.

I am not saying that this is always the answer for panic attacks and heart palps, but it should be checked out carefully. I agree with cm that likely she is grieving and counselling/treatment for that may help. And keep calm yourself! ((((((hugs))))) 53! I wish. She has many years yet and they can be very productive and enjoyable.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Cotton candy, it's a "known thing" that anxiety/panic disorder can onset during menopause. I'm 41 and my docs have brought that up previously when I said "There's no reason for me to have sudden onset of this level of anxiety when I didn't have it previously," and they'll say "Not true, it's been known to happen during menopause changes." And then I scowl at them and think to myself that I'm far too young to be undergoing menopause... ;-)

While anxiety/panic disorder doesn't happen to MOST women undergoing menopausal changes, it is something known to happen. That would explain even further why your mom's docs went to this diagnosis after tests ruled out other things.

If the psychotropic meds aren't helping your mom after several weeks, ask docs to change to something else. It can take some time and trial-and-error to find the combination of meds that does help.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

53. Really!!??

You mom, whether she realizes it ot not, has many good, useful and hopefully healthy years in front of her. She needs to get to the psychiatrist and the gyn, yes, but she also needs a therapist or counselor who can help her get back to work, whether it's as a volunteer or as a professional.

Look at it this way. When grandma died, mom lost her job and her identity. Viewed that way, panic attacks seem like a reasonable response. She needs a new " job", doing something she enjoys. Get her to a mental health counselor so that she can figure this out with someone.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Cottoncandy, oh my gosh your Mom could be going into menopause, glad you mentioned that. That in itself is enough to make one want to go running into the street screaming.

The mood swings.... those pesky annoying hot flashes.... wanting to cry.... all those sleepless nights.... thinning hair.... and that weight gain. It's enough to put anyone into a panic wondering why is my body mad at me.

Does your Mom have a GYN? I would schedule a visit and talk with the doctor. I have found GYN doctors who are female have a much better understanding of what is going on, especially if they are or have been going through menopause themselves.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

Bloody hell, CottonCandy - I'm 53! But it's still sweet of you to be looking after your "aging" mother..!

What your mother has been through... Oh boy.

The menopause makes you feel like crap, and the symptoms vary enormously both from person to person and from day to day.

What she's been through with your grandmother last year is also something I completely understand, because so did I, also up until last year.

I've discarded my siblings so at least your mother's doing better than me on that score.

Stop freaking out when she has symptoms. Your job is to introduce calm and control into the situation. Your mother needs to learn breathing techniques, she needs to allow herself not to be okay because she's not going to be over the caregiving trauma yet, she needs to talk to her peer group - tell her to join us here! - she may well need grief counselling and the anti-anxiety meds may help so persist with them. I would be surprised if she is not depressed.

Listen up. You, much as you love your mother, can't cure her. There is no way you can understand what it feels like to come through caregiving and be 53, on your own, menopausal and feeling existentially redundant. Your mother will need to find new motivations and new consolations herself, you can't do it for her. And you can't rush it.

Seriously, tell her to come and have a look at AC. She will be very welcome. Sharing her experience, getting it typed out and out of her system, might also be a great relief to her.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Thanks for the reply, all. Was down at the ER again yesterday because my mom had those heart palps and shortness of breath; she was telling me where she kept her money as though she was dying and I didn't know what to do so I called the ambulance :'(

Anyway at the ER the doctor said it was clearly an Anxiety attack. He did another series of tests (all negative and clear) and told me to stop subjecting my mom to further testing because that'd just stress her out more - more radiation, more poking. He said my mom's perfectly healthy physically according to all the tests he's conducted and told me that we should stick with the Psychiatrist's treatment.

Now the appointment with the psychiatrist isn't until 10 more days and seriously I'm freaking out each and every time my mom goes in Panic mode. Not surprised if I get the Disorder myself in future.

My mom is 53. She is still getting periods and I don't know if she's menopausal? She told me this morning that she's in a VERY foul mood. I am an only child and I work and she's pretty much alone half the time. She has a TINY social circle that comprises mainly her siblings who hardly have time for her. She used to spend majority of her time being a caregiver to my late grandmother, who passed away last year. Now, my mom doesn't do anything at all.

My aunt has tried asking her to do some stitch work and craft but my mom's refused. She's pretty much lost interest in everything. I can't get her to go anywhere either - she'd be like "i'm afraid I might have those heart palps again".

She's now saying she feels like an invalid and is mad at herself. I have no idea what to do! She says she feels frustrated and hates everything.

I'm at a loss. I wish there was something I could do!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

1 2 3
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.