I'm 43 years old and suffer with an anxiety disorder. In February 2015 I was sitting at my computer and I started to feel a bit dizzy. I didn't think too much of it. Anyway, later that evening I was out having dinner with family and I started to feel a little dizzy again, this time also feeling somewhat scared. I couldn't understand what was wrong with me. I got up the next morning and went to work. On the way in whilst I was driving I started to feel unwell, like I had a virus or something. I started sweating and feeling light headed. When I got to work I really wasn't feeling well but in a strange way. Hard to explain. I went home after an hour and for the next two weeks I made attempts to go to work but always ended up returning home after a couple of hours. I saw my GP and explained the symptoms to her and she said it was most likely I had a post viral condition but she thought some blood tests would be a good idea. Then one evening I was watching TV and I started to shake, sort of trembling. By this time I generally still didn't feel well and knew that I had something seriously wrong with me! (Or so I thought). I awoke that night with the same shaking once more.
I saw my GP again a few days later and I was a trembling wreck! She was alarmed at my state but said that my blood tests were normal; no thyroid issues, no blood count issues and was checked over for blood pressure (which was a bit high), oxygen levels which were normal but heightened heart rate. She prescribed me some diazapam and said that it was still likely that I was suffering from some sort of post viral condition that my body was dealing with it but it would take time to clear. And so for the next 4 months I was suffering these symptoms but also started to experience other symptoms too such as abnormal heart rhythms, a feeling of fluttering in the chest - not like a skipped beat but as if I had lots of moths flying around in there! Other problems included continued dizzy spells, odd sensations in my throat, feeling at times very unwell with anxiety, a tense fizzing sensation in my limbs, sudden skipped heartbeats with dizziness, strange sensations in my chest, etc.
By this time I was going to see several GPs and having all kinds of tests:
3 ECGs - normal
1 24 hour ECG - normal
Extensive blood tests for all known conditions and linked problems that could indicate any underlying causes including HIV, Hepetitis, thyroid and liver function, kidney function, full blood count, blood sugar, etc - all normal.
By May I was able to work again full time but did not feel right. I was experiencing these varying symptoms on a daily basis and just generally didn't feel well. By this time I had forgotten what it was like to feel healthy. All of this lead to a feeling of depression. I was convinced I would never feel well again and also thought that the doctors were missing something. By July I had started to feel a bit better in myself but still had recurring anxiety like symptoms so was prescribed Citalopram. I lasted 3 days on this med as it made me feel just awful! I was away in Scotland on holiday and spoke to a GP over the phone about it. He gave the OK to stop and so I gladly did. I felt ill for a few days after and anxious but these feelings soon subsided.
From August I took up running in an attempt to strengthen my body and mind. This helped a lot but the intermittent anxiety feelings still lurked. In November I had an accident and broke several ribs and was off work for another 8 weeks. Then around Christmas one of our treasured dogs got very ill and was hospitalised for 3 weeks. Luckily she got over it and no sooner than she was well, our other dog fell ill suddenly which turned out to be cancer and we lost him at the end of February this year. Both of these wonderful dogs watched over our kids whilst they were growing up and to lose one after 13 years really affected me hard. I continued to experience anxiety and health anxiety too. It just plagued my mind constantly and by March I knew I had a problem as I was getting palpitations, feeling nervous, having strange electrical pulses in my head, not feeling well and all for no apparent reason. My running was going well though and I entered in the Bath Half Marathon for charity and completed the event.
In April I was invited on a trip to Las Vegas for a music festival weekend. I thought sod it, I'm going! Well, from the first day I had feelings of anxiety that came and went. The symptoms worsened over the course of the trip and I was having new symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, a feeling of falling, tenseness in my body generally, a shivering in my spine/neck. On the last day I was walking back to the hotel and suffered a panic attack - so scary. I thought I was going mad - just felt so ill and frightened. I took some diazepam which helped a bit but soon after I was left feeling just horrible and nervous and just ill with the whole thing.
I saw my GP on my return and he finally diagnosed me with anxiety disorder with depression and prescribed me an anti-depressant called Mirtazapine. Since then my dose has been increased and I decided to attack this problem on a number of fronts and so I read books, started a meditation programme, continued exercise, attended a stress and mood management course, undertook counselling and psychotherapy (on-going), adopted a healthy diet and joined various online forums. I am glad to say that with all these things combined, I now for the most part feel well again, I have less anxiety and I'm starting to really understand the problem. I have learnt that avoidance and withdrawal are not the answer. Exposure therapy is a good way to learn about how you deal with the problem when it's controlled.
So all in all I still am not sure what started my whole situation but I can only guess that perhaps it was a virus to begin with - such a prolonged illness that fuelled my anxiety. I am a business owner and have had a lot of pressure and some hard times in the 13 years that I've been doing it and some have said that my anxiety was waiting in the wings and the virus was the catalyst. I don't know if anyone else on here has experienced anything similar to me but I can only say that when I first got ill I had never felt so strange with the initial illness and had never experienced such bizarre symptoms and sensations. It was like even when I was starting to recover from the virus, my body was overreacting, sort of going haywire.
I still have bad days but they are not as severe. I still suffer some symptoms. These are not what you'd call traditional anxiety symptoms such as palpitations, increased heart and breathing rate, sweating. etc, but more like an acidic feeling in my limbs, sometimes with some sudden light-headedness which leads to a feeling of tight tension and unease. It's manageable but still lurks.
I'd love to hear from anyone who may have had something similar with the onset of their anxiety. My initial symptoms had the doctors stumped! It was just so weird.
All the best for now.