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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Illness or anxiety?

 mem933 - Sat Feb 23, 2008 2:32 pm

My husband is 31 years old and normally healthy, although he is under alot of stress. He is in law school and working with a toddler and another on the way. For the past 8 months, once or twice a month he has been waking up during the night feeling that he cannot catch his breath. Then it progresses to body aches and chills, nausea and vomiting. After about 24 hours he still feels weak, but otherwise is much better. I had him get a physical at the student health center and they did blood work that all came back normal. I was reading up on anxiety disorders and wondered if this could be a panic attack, or if he really is sick. If it is a panic attack, why does it always happen at night?
 Debbie Miller, RN - Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:16 pm

User avatar Hello,
It certainly sounds suspicious for some type of anxiety disorder or stress related illness. An evaluation by a psychiatrist might be helpful because antianxiety medications can help. Some can be used only as needed but you want to have them on hand for those times. Inquire about services at the student health center. He may also benefit from some stress reduction exercises which can be learned. Through breathing and thoughts, it is possible to impact the mind enough to prevent these events. Psychotherapy might also be helpful and may be available for students.

The fact that nothing showed up on labs and exam does put the mind to rest as to any serious medical concern and it was an important first step for him to take.

I don't know why this would be at night only unless he just stays so busy in the day that he doesn't process everything. At night, in his dreams, perhaps he gets on overload from the unresolved issues of the day. This is one theory about dreams.

I wish you both the best in your quest for an answer here.
 SoTired76 - Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:37 am

Hi, Being a student sometimes can really take its toll too even on a healthy person.
This place is very helpful, and I hope you can find a way to help your husband out.
It is good just to know that you care about him and want to help him out in any way you can. If this is happening at night, maybe he could see a neurologist too for a sleep study. I am just a person like you, but it could help also to see if there is something else going on along with it. Good luck to you and your family.

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