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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Could my symptoms indicate something other than anxiety and panic attacks?

    I suffer from anxiety/panic attacks, depression and social phobia. Most days recently i have felt all tensed up. i feel in a way really spacey in my head. it is very hard to explain the feeling. I'm worried i have more than just anxiety/panic attacks and depression. Is this possible?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • It is possible, in the sense that generally anxiety points to something else, either a reason or a cause.  The first step is always to check that there is not some medical cause of the anxiety.  Secondly, if there is no such cause, then some good counselling/therapy might help you to unveil some reason for the anxiety (and your other symptoms).  Coming from an existential perspective, I often find basic fears about, and struggles with, the tensions of living are present in my clients when they are anxious.  A psychodynamic therapist might recognise some long-term interpersonal patterns that are behind how you got into this state.  A cognitive therapist might help you uncover disfunctional thinking that arouses it.

    I suggest a visit to a GP, for both an assessment and possibly a referral to a counsellor or psychologist.  Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 can suggest a local GP who is sensitive to mental health concerns.

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    I am in no way trying to invalidate your experiences but sometimes panic attacks can have purely physiological causes (hyperventilation).

    Often a breathing exercise can help:

    (1) Sit in a chair, both hands around your navel, fingers just touching.

    (2) Breathe in deeply so your stomach expands and your fingers move apart.

    (3) Count to five.

    (4) Breathe out so your stomach contracts and your fingers touch again.

    (5) Count to five.

    (6) Repeat (2) - (5) for 15 minutes or so.

    This usually works.

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    There are some medical conditions that may cause some of these symptoms, so it's always good, if you're getting symptoms like the above, go and visit your GP. Get a check-up and rule out the medical conditions that might contribute. At the same time you can get a Mental Health Plan to get treatment for the anxiety conditions with a psychologist because cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent treatment, and it has very clearly demonstrated effectiveness for anxiety symptoms. Some of the medical conditions that need to be ruled out are hyperventilation, that can bring on dizziness and light-headedness. Hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, that can bring on some anxiety-like symptoms. Hyperthyroidism can bring on heart palpitations, sweating, anxiety. Mitral valve prolapse can be a factor in heart palpitations. PMS sometimes can be linked to anxiety-like symptoms. Inner ear disturbance and sometimes drug reactions to cocaine and marijuana, in particular. It's a good idea to see your GP and rule out these medical conditions, and then you can treat the anxiety symptoms with CBT.

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