It might seem surprising, but often times panic attacks are simply a symptom of another medical condition. While they do occur by themselves, in many cases, they accompany other mental illnesses or even life-threatening medical conditions. That’s why it’s important to get checked out to rule out other conditions like;
Coronary artery disease – In one study completed, nearly 44% of emergency room patients who were suffering from panic attacks had a history of coronary artery disease. This is likely due to the fact that chest pain from anxiety is often confused as a heart attack by many patients. In addition, medical conditions like Angina, where the heartbeat becomes irregular, can make a person feel like they’re having a panic attack when they’re really having heat palpitations. In most cases, before diagnosing a panic disorder, doctors will rule out other conditions to do with heart and respiratory problems.
Social Phobias – Another common misdiagnosis for panic disorder is social phobia. Social phobia is a disorder that is much like anxiety, but only occurs in social situations. When misdiagnosed, the person might find themselves over-medicated. Social phobia is usually only treated when someone is going to an event, while many people with generalized anxiety are medicated all the time.
Schizophrenia/Bipolar Disorder – These two are serious conditions that often require lifelong treatment, but are often misdiagnosed all the way to adulthood. This is because these conditions usually don’t start or get severe until someone is in their early thirties. With these conditions, a person will often not see significant improvement with anxiety and panic medications because those meds do not treat the right chemical imbalance.
Adult ADHD – Adult ADHD is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are similar. Despite that, the treatments are polar opposites. A person with ADHD will be given stimulants to stem their issues with concentration. People with panic disorders will be given depressants to calm their system. When misdiagnosed, someone with Adult ADHD will often get worse as they are getting the exact opposite of the treatment they need.
People who have panic disorders are generally treated with anti-anxiety meds, and these meds do not work for all conditions. In order to best determine if you’re accurately diagnosed, you should keep track of your symptoms, while being as specific as possible. When considering these symptoms, you should note the time, the environment, exactly what you felt and any physical symptoms as well. This will help your doctor to determine your exact diagnosis, to be sure that you get the right treatment for your condition.
It never hurts to ask for a second opinion as well, as two heads are better than one. Getting the right diagnosis is imperative for getting the right treatment.
Stress is a body’s normal reaction to certain situations. It helps us determine what to do in a given situation and helps us react to protect ourselves. You might feel stress when studying for a test or meeting a deadline at work, but this stress actually helps you to accomplish what needs to be done.
Anxiety disorders come in when that stress stops being normal stress, or when the person feels stress when they shouldn’t. When this happens, you might suffer from an anxiety disorder. Here are some signs that you might be suffering from a disorder.
- Your reactions to stressful situations are often severe and leave you paralyzed with fear or uncertainty.
- Your anxiety keeps you from doing normal things, like going to parties or gatherings, because you fear the stress of the situation
- You have trouble sleeping and are frequently exhausted
- You have muscle aches when you haven’t done anything physically strenuous. These muscle aches are often a sign of tense muscles due to stress
- Your worries are excessive or unreasonable. You might fear things that normal people wouldn’t or believe something terrible is going to happen when you have no evidence to believe that’s true.
- You suffer from frequent indigestion or no appetite. One of the first things affected when someone is anxious is their appetite. They might not eat at all or eat too fast, resulting in frequent upset stomachs.
- You become very self-conscious. People who are anxious often feel like the center of attention when they’re really not. They might think everyone is looking at them or judging them.
- You’ve become obsessed with perfection. Panic disorders and type A personalities often go hand-in-hand. If you’re suffering from a lot of anxiety because you can’t meet your own standards, this could be a sign of a disorder.
- You start having compulsive behaviors. These behaviors might include doing things like washing your hands frequently or turning the lights on and off again. If these compulsions become rituals, they might be symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
While everyone feels stress sometimes, those who suffer from anxiety disorders usually feel it all the time, or at least most of the time. Someone who regularly suffers from any of the above symptoms for an extended period of time might be suffering from an undiagnosed panic or anxiety disorder.
If that is the case, you should consider seeing a doctor to treat your condition. You might benefit from anti-anxiety medication or therapy to help get your symptoms under control. The worst thing you can do for an anxiety disorder is ignore it, so it’s best to treat your condition as soon as possible.
As marijuana becomes more socially acceptable, as well as used in medicinal practice, many people with anxiety and depression disorders are wondering if medicinal marijuana might be the best way to deal with their condition. While in some cases, it has been proven to help, in others, it can only hurt. While many people in the medical community support marijuana in medicine, those considering using it should understand that it is not a one size fits all medication.
In some cases, marijuana has been shown to increase depression, though no solid studies are available. However, proponents of using it argue that it is an ideal form of long term medication, especially for those who would normally take narcotics.
If you’re considering medical marijuana, you should try to determine if you are a good candidate before you talk to your doctor. Some things to consider.
- Marijuana is not a cure-all. There are certain mental illnesses that marijuana is not recommended for. While it might help in the face of anxiety or panic attacks, it is often not ideal for people who suffer from more serious disorders like schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. In some cases, it’s also not been recommended for individuals with depression, though most studies were inconclusive.
- It’s not available everywhere. Chances are, if you’re searching for marijuana for mental illness, you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal. Check your state’s laws carefully, as we would not encourage you to use marijuana illegally. Nothing causes more anxiety than an arrest record!
- How will you use it? Marijuana is no longer just a smoking substance. Capsules, candies and oils are available to reduce the potential of throat problems due to inhaling smoke. Keep in mind that smoking is often the cheapest method and the most readily available.
- Do you have a history of substance abuse? While marijuana is physically non-addictive, people do become emotionally addicted. This is a substance that you will use as needed. As a result, it’s easy to overdo if you’re not sticking to a controlled schedule.
- Are you comfortable with the stigma? Marijuana is the most commonly used recreational drug in America, with an estimated 1 in ten adults using regularly. This popularity has giving marijuana a disreputable reputation and some people won’t believe that you’re using it strictly to control an illness. Are you able to deal with people who think that you’re using your illness as an excuse to do drugs?
- Can you afford it? For many people, prescriptions are covered by insurance. This is a good thing, as these anti-depressant or anxiety prescriptions could cost a lot of money. But marijuana is rarely covered under health plans, do to the controversy. Going on a medicinal marijuana regimen can be costly with no insurance.
If you are considering using marijuana for your mental illness, then you need to consider all the variables. This is a drug that comes with much more of a stigma than any other drug, and might not be ideal for all illnesses. If you are thinking about it, you should discuss the possibility with your medical provider.