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Stress + Pots = Horrible Symtpoms?


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I'm dealing with much more than normal stress this week. I usually, of course, have stress of various sources like everyone. But this week I'm dealing with 'more than usual' ... by quite a bit.

My symptoms are much, much worse. Gastro (which I usually don't have). Rates 150s standing (usually 100-125)...Rates 100 sitting (usually 80s to low 90s).

I know in my 'head' this isn't going to kill me. But of course it's adding to my anxiety. Two days of HRs averaging around 100/110 is tiring if nothing else. And wondering 'when will it get back to my baseline.'

Well, I read this on the site:

Stress will often aggravate the symptoms of POTS. The body is continuously adapting to stress, whether it is physical, mental or chemical. POTS patients sometimes lack the ability to correctly process stress due to malfunctioning or excessive functioning of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Patients may also already have high levels of norepinephrine, which is a stress hormone. POTS patients need to avoid stress (when possible) and live life at their own pace.

Does anyone else have this happen? I guess I've never looked into this, but didn't really POTS patients may not process stress correctly. It falls in line with the stress I've been experiencing...(plus the cold weather change which I'm sure has a bit of an influence until I adjust).

Any tips on how to get stress that's out of my hands under control? It is much harder for me to deal with when there is really nothing I can do personally...

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I'm sorry to hear you are having a bad time. Yes, the things you describe are familiar to me.

I'm not aware of any great solutions to the stress/adrenaline rushes and use the usual POTS coping strategies. I just let the feeling happen when I'm stressed. Having a lie down and being in a cool room can help. Eat little and often to minimse the gastro symptoms. The problem only goes away when the stress reduces, but once this happens I quickly get back to normal.

The severity of my response to stress basically mirrors my general state of POTS health, so a general improvement in my symptoms reduces the impact of stress.

There are times when the stress response is appropriate and helpful. But if you are describing a situation where the stress response is unhelpful, can you do something about it? There is lots of (non-POTS) advice around about managing stress and trying to limit the time you spend worrying about situations which are outside of your control. I don't know what stresses you are under and I am not trying to belittle them by saying this. It's just like most things with POTS, it's easier to address the thing that triggers the symptoms than fix the symptoms once they have started.

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There are times when the stress response is appropriate and helpful. But if you are describing a situation where the stress response is unhelpful, can you do something about it? There is lots of (non-POTS) advice around about managing stress and trying to limit the time you spend worrying about situations which are outside of your control. I don't know what stresses you are under and I am not trying to belittle them by saying this. It's just like most things with POTS, it's easier to address the thing that triggers the symptoms than fix the symptoms once they have started.

You know, since the stress is outside of my control - I think I need to learn to 'manage it.' Sitting around and worrying and waking up in the middle of the night panicky isn't going to solve anything, except make me more ill!

I'm trying to accept there isn't much I can do except get through this period of time...I am feeling a bit better. But I do think it was stress making my symptoms crazy the last couple of days. Unfortunate, but at least I found the 'major trigger' for this downturn.

Right now I'm trying to focus on day-by-day and telling myself things have to get better. I need to look into the advice on stress management, though, because I'm not able to handle it nearly as well as before I had POTS. And I didn't realize how bad it can affect me.

You sure learn something with this illness everyday, don't you?

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I certainly share that feeling of stress making POTS symptoms worse (and no it does not mean that POTS is caused by stress!!). One of the things that I am working on at the moment is how to control stress (and I hadn't realised how stressed I was til I started talking to an advisor). I'm trying focusing and breathing techniques similar to those found in yoga. One exercise my trainer has me do is stand with my feet appart, knees relaxed / slightly bent, then put my arms out just below shoulder height. As I breathe in I sweep my arms inwards towards my stomach and think/visualise positive thoughts and healing energy flowing into me. Then I reverse my hands (palms facing away from me) and breathe out whilst pushing away with my hands and pushing out negative thoughts and stesses. Whilst doing this you don't think of the actual things that are part of your stress, just a general "in with the good, out with the bad". Deep breathing can make you dizzy so start gently, and this can be done sitting down. It is a very good way to clear your mind and restore a sense of calmness.

Dealing with or getting rid of stress is good but often not practical/easy to do. Learning to clear your mind of all thoughts gives you time to relax and unwind this is particularly valuable at bedtime as good quality sleep make dealing with life much easier. One simple tip is to keep some paper and a pen by your bed, if you then think of something you have forgotten to do just write it down to deal with the next day - this was you won't lie in bed thinking of all the things that need to be done.

Flop

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One tip I read that struck a chord with me was this. It's designed for short term stresses rather than life changing events. The sort of thing that seems like a big deal at the time, but a year later you wouldn't even recall.

If something is on your mind, allocate yourself 10 minutes to think about it and what the possible courses of action are. Write down each option on a piece of paper. Often there are only 2 or 3 options (including doing nothing) and they are immediately identifiable. Decide which you will follow. Then throw the pieces of paper away, carry out the action (if any) and stop thinking about the other options. That's it. Try to be aware of slipping back into the same train of thought and if you do start mulling over the options again, think about something else.

I liked this idea because I realised I was using up so much energy on going over and over things that were actually quite small problems when they were condensed down to the facts.

Good luck with finding a helpful strategy.

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I can truly say that when I get horribly stressed with anxiety/worry about a situation, my symptoms severely flare. However, Xanax has been a God send, but it is hard to get a doctor to prescribe it so this may not be an option for you. However, if you take it only as needed, it really, at least for me, prevents an even worse and longer flare for me... it seems to help my physical symptoms sooooo much! I get fast heart rates, terrible shakes, chills, sweats, nausea, etc. and this all calms down with Xanax.

Hope your feeling more at ease/calm soon :)

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