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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Could a diagnosis for Anxiety Disorder be a medical issue?

 Otan_Belgique - Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:11 pm

In the early part of 1998, I had undergone Rhinoplasty to correct a deviated septum (surgery was a failure). By the end of the year, I was having the first of what was called an anxiety attack (have had them for 10 years). Initially, it was thought to have been an allergic reaction from something I had eaten, but these symptoms (disorientation, shortness of breath, numbness in limbs) had continued every day after.

In 1999, I had both Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty (another failure). The following year, I went to visit a top ENT specialist, whom told me that surgery could never correct the damage made by the first 2 surgeries. In the meantime, I still continued to suffer from what was deemed as anxiety. The medications that were given me had no affect on it whatsoever.

In 2003, I suffered a broken jaw and had surgery to repair it. My jaw has never felt normal again and I quite often feel pain and it begins to swell. In 2007, I learned that I had an impacted wisdom tooth, with had been penetrated by one of the screws affixing a titanium plate to my jaw. This tooth was removed surgically, but my jaw continues to hurt and swell, the same as it always has.

That is pretty much all of my surgical history.

In February of 2008, while showering, I had observed that I could not feel the tips of 3 fingers on my left hand (it comes and goes). By April, I was rushed to the emergency room in an ambulance because I thought I was truly dying. The symptoms that I had displayed were said to be the same as a person that is overdosing on drugs. I am absolutely drug-free and healthy. I do not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or anything like that. I was relatively fit and active (37 a the time, 181 cm, 80 kilos). I am a smoker though and I smoke about 1 - 2 packs of cigarettes daily.

At the emergency room, an EKG was done and blood testing. After some hours, I was released in very much the same condition that I had entered. The attending Physician was unable to find any problem with me. The only thing discovered was an elevated WBC, which is approximately double of an average high WBC.

The following month, I was back at the emergency room, again, for the same problem. In addition to the severe disorientation I was experiencing, my motor skills were not functioning properly, and I had extreme lack-of sensation if most of my body. An MRI was done and nothing was found. Again, I was released without treatment.

For the year of 2008, I had went to the emergency room a total of 4 times. I have also done neurological testing, an EKG, MRI, blood tests, and X-rays of my lungs. Nothing has been discovered which can be attributed to these symptoms of which I suffer. Not that I am aware of. I live in Belgium in the French speaking region. I do not speak French at all. What I can say from my experience is that if you are not dying, the Doctor is likely to just send you home.

Since April of 2008, my symptoms have never stopped. They can be less evident to me, but are always there (sometimes all day long). Some things that I have noted, which I should mention, are the following:

1. Shortness of breath / difficulty breathing
2. Lack-of sensation in my body
3. Severe disorientation / confusion / vertigo
4. Affected motor skills
5. Affected balance
6. Blurred vision (comparable of having dilated pupils)
7. Waking from sleep gasping for air (like sleep apnea)
8. Awaking from sleep and having my body paralyzed
9. The feeling that I will lose consciousness / head feels heavy

I have been treated for Anxiety Disorder for 10 years with no success. I have been prescribed a couple of dozen different kinds of medication and none of them did anything for me. Now, I am currently taking Xanax, which doesn't work either. It makes me more calm, but does not make any of the symptoms go away.

I am just worried that I have wasted 10 years of my life trying to treat a condition that I may not have. The problem is that I do not know what else it could possibly be. It is my hopes that someone in the field of Neurology would also be aware of medical conditions that can appear to be psychological and remain untreated.

I feel that my life is crumbling down around me, due to the continuous symptoms. I am just really hoping that any information I may get here will be vital to pointing me in the right direction. Psychiatric medication, EMDR, congnitive behavioral therapy, and counseling has done nothing for me.

Thank you very much for your assistance. I will provide any further information that is required.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:05 am

User avatar Hi there -

While you may suffer from an anxiety problem (you do seem to have described panic attack as having happened on a few occasions) this does not preclude the possibility that you might have some concrete medical condition as well. This is often a problem, as anxiety/panic can cloud other issues and doctors frequently will not the history of anxiety and lock onto it without sufficiently exploring other possibilities.

There is almost certainly something else going on with you. It's difficult to guess what it might be, but it is likely neurological in nature. This leads to the question: Which came first? The neurological disorder of the anxiety? While anxiety won't cause neurological disorders it can accompany them and they can mimick it. Not an easy puzzle to solve.

Your list near the end of your post is helpful, though.

Shortness of breath could be at least partly related to anxiety. There are ways to tell when and if it is. It also could be due to a neurological deficit at least partly.

Lack of bodily sensation could be in part due to anxiety and hyperventilation syndrome. It's possible, but less likely, it could be due to an neurological problem.

Severe disorientation/confusion/vertigo certainly could be a combo platter of things, and vertigo is not caused by anxiety, but can aggravate it. Vertigo can, itself, sometimes cause feelings of confusion and disorientation, but those need to be sorted out separately by a neurologist. A trial of meclazine (anti-nauseant and anti-vertigo medication available over-the-counter as generic or Bonine or Dramamine Non-drowsy Formula at least in the US) should help clarify this issue.

Affected balance could be part of vertigo, could be due to peripheral neuropathy, or could be due to a more obscure neurological deficit. Rule outs needed for all this, and certainly warranted.

Blurred vision is almost always a neurological symptom, although sometimes secondary to onset of diabetes as well.

Nos. 7 & 8 (waking gasping for air and waking feeling paralyzed) comprise a syndrome well-recognized and quite real, but not nearly as dangerous as it feels. It is called sleep paralysis and is more often reported in anxious persons but can also occur independently. This is something that everyone seems to have a pet solution for, but the most common outcome is that it slowly becomes less frequent and, as the patient begins to recognize and understand it is benign, he/she is often able to accomodate it and when this happens it tends to break up and slowly resolve. Very disturbing experience, tends to recur a lot at first, then become less frequent. Not dangerous, but one of the most peculiar and unpleasant phenomena, and of no well understood cause.

Feeling you may lose consciousness/head heavy : This is extremely common in people who have had nasal surgeries, sinus work and rhinoplasties, especially when not fully successful. It is also common among anxious people. While your doctor has said this can't be improved with further surgery, I'd be willing to bet you can find someone who believes (rightly in most cases) that it can be improved. Meanwhile, this as well as the vertigo may be related and may well be related to the unsuccessful nasal surgeries. Again, meclazine may well help these symptoms a great deal. If not, neurological consult is certainly appropriate.

Much in the way of anxiety/panic of new onset is related to inner ear and sinus problems and associated symptoms such as you've described. Much of what's going on may be tied in to the failed surgeries. Consult in this area is also appropriate, but you'll need to locate a large and sophisticated center of specialty to get a good answer to this.

I hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck with this, and please do follow up with us as needed.
 Otan_Belgique - Wed Apr 15, 2009 2:52 pm

For the last 13 months, life has been very difficult. It started with being brought to an emergency room in an ambulance. The medical personnel had described my symptoms seeming like I was overdosing. All the doctor did was give me a sedative and send me home. Afterwards, they sent the results of my urine test, which showed that I had an extremely high WBC. I think it was about 16,000.

I have been to the emergency room a total of 5 times. In addition, I have undergone neurological testing with no significant discoveries to be made. I have also done a CT scan and 2 different types of MRIs. I do not know the result of any of these tests, but I am assuming that there was nothing, since I received no follow-up notification from any doctor. What I do know is the results of one of the blood tests, which showed that my WBC was not more than 18,000.

Since about 3 weeks, I have felt an extreme pressure in my head. At least once, I felt like I was going to lose my vision. My eyes were so blurry and I was completely unable to focus them. This particular incident had motivated me to go back to the hospital, despite not having ever received a diagnosis or treatment.

In the last 2 days, I have done a chest x-ray and blood tests. I am also FINALLY scheduled for a CT scan of my sinuses. This will happen in a week.

The doctor called me today with upsetting news. He told me that the blood test results had several abnormalities and that I would need to see a hematologist. He also said that my WBC was over 20,000.

I am very upset. I feel the medical system has completely failed me. I have continuously sought treatment and always told all of my symptoms. I further expressed concern that the elevated WBC could cause me to get Leukemia.

It is my opinion, based on everything that I have read, that I must have a serious sinus infection. I think that because it has not been treated, it may have spread. I am hoping that it has not penetrated the bone. I won't know anything more until I get more tests done.

In 13 months, I have been to 4 different hospitals. Every emergency room visit ended the same way. I was sent home with no diagnosis or medicine. The last time I went, the doctor would not even do an exam. Fortunately for me, I had my blood test results with me, but even though he saw it was over 18,000, he said just take an aspirin a day, then sent me home.

Any advise or speculation would be welcomed. I do not know what to think anymore.
 Otan_Belgique - Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:00 pm

I just wanted to say that I have finally received a correct diagnosis for my condition and it isn't Anxiety Disorder.

It would seem that I have a systemic infection of Candida Albicans. I don't know how long that I have had it, but it is likely that it has been around 2 years.

I have an appointment with a very famous dermatologist, next month, but in the meantime, I will be taking goldenseal (2 weeks on, 1 off) and garlic (daily). There are also other herbs and vitamins that I am taking to increase my level of healthy bacteria, as well as strengthen my immune system.
 Otan_Belgique - Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:15 am

Thus far, my attempt to treat myself at home is not working very well.

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