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The Difference Between "anxiety" And Pots Attack


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I definately know stress makes our symptoms worse. However, how many of us have gone to the ER with a pounding heart, tremors, gagging, dizzyness ect., then told you must be anxious? You get this look like, why don't you just relax? I'd like to see some of them get one of these, they would crawl into a fetal position and suck their thumb and cry for their mommies. Actual anxiety feels so much easier, and it's never made my heart race like it does when my sympathetic NS goes wild.

Our ANS doesn't work right, and the sympathetic nervous system gets overstimulated--------------even a brightly lit room, loud TV, or just pushing myself too far in a short amount of time will make me crash. Adrenaline is running rampant everywhere....... I often wonder if this is how some of us end up with adrenal fatigue.

I also know the I have a train wreck at the top of my spine causing all kinds of neural and spine compression....recent MRI states narrow subarachnoid space, and also every disk from c2 to T-3 is herniated/bulging with nerve root impingement and spinal cord compression. Pannus growth on the odontoid process is also listed, and said a possible factor on the narrow subarachnoid space. This can also affect the sympathetic nervous system......most definately, as the ANS originates from this area. The instability at the cervical cranial region has caused the pannus growth. The neurosurgeon I saw in Bethesda MD. said I have an angulation problem in this area.

I know many of you have been misunderstood my Doctors, friends, family, ect. that your suffering from stress induced anxiety------rather then a very disabling illness that messes with our body relentlessly.

Where IS that study of POTS patients verses normal subjects on anxiety?

I'll have to look for it in my long list of saved articles.

Maxine :0)

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I don't know of any research or studies etc in this area but I definitely know what you mean. I have ME'/CFS as well as suspected POTS and I've not found many people who understand my attacks are NOT panic, even other ME people don't seem to know .

My attacks very often come on while I'm a passenger in a car because the visual stimulation seems to push me over the edge. The symptoms are similar to anxiety, persumably because of the release of adrenaline, but they're definitely not panic. I agree stress can contribute or make them worse though. When I go into an attack it is the most dreadful sensation I have ever experienced and I actually called it "adrenal shock" even before I knew what was going on. My heart pounds, I shake and tremble all over, I feel sick and faint like I'm going to die. And of course people who don't know will say it's anxiety! It's so hard. When I get an attack in a taxi I feel like screaming for help but I'm frozen, just wanting the feeling to pass.

I do hope there will be some studies into this. With growing recognition of POTS I am optimistic that it can only be a matter of time.

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Guest tearose

Clearly, we all have moments in our life of anxiety but anxiety and POTS are not the same.

In my body, I feel anxiety differently than I feel pots.

To me and in me, ANXIETY is an emotionally rooted experience when I have am worried about something and have not worked through it.

To me and in me, POTS is a physiological cascade rooted in a physical abnormality that happens when I have physically taxed my body.

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I am reading a book on mindfulness so I am going to try to apply the methods during my episodes.

The idea is that we not fear things and that we be aware of where the sensations are originating from the body and stay calm.

Also that we don't avoid activities for fear of having an episode.

I'm going to take this at a slow and easy pace.

It talks about many conditions of the body triggering a cyclical fight or flight state and once that is triggered it being difficult to get out of it.

I am going to work on my thoughts during my episodes too and I guess in between.

Try to be more aware and present in the moment.

This is going to take a lot of work.

I wish there was someone in the area that did mindfulness therapy but I highly doubt there is anyone close to me.

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I have to add that something amazing happened as I was reading my book I usually have my laptop on at my side.

A guy from New Zealand happened to befriend me on another group named Ruhari.

When he found out what I was reading he referred me to a website right away and told me to make sure I didn't focus any energy around my heart or lungs and throat area that I try to keep my focus away from that area-I thought that was interesting. I didn't ask why at all.

I had just told him I wanted to learn to slow my heart rate down when I get worked up and stay calm.

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Thanks for those links earth mother-I'm really excited about approaching this through awareness.

Well I had my first "experience" just making lunch for my kids.

I started feeling a little funny and out of it as I stood there.

I really had trouble staying with cutting potatoes-my mind was clearly bored with that activity and I felt myself slipping away.

I focused on what I was feeling without adding anything to it and it did last maybe 10 minutes or so where I just felt floaty?

No other feelings besides just maybe some restlessness.

It didn't feel normal-like I didn't feel totally alert.

Could be I wasn't getting enough oxygen to my brain or I wondered if I was disassociating? and started to wonder how much I do this? I know that I get the spaced out feelings when I drive and during my episodes become very out of it so I don't know if I can get more comfortable with this feeling or not.

It is over now.

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Has anyone found ANY meds that are helpful with these adrenalin shocks? My son has found xanax to be helpful, but his EP is reluctant to prescribe it as it is habit forming. He suggested taking a short acting beta blocker (on top of the Toprol XL that he normally takes).

The EP also suggested trying an SSRI, but wondering if taking a drug every day is useful for a problem that arises only occasionally.



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momdi - I take clonidine when I start to get tachy. It helps to calm everything down for me. I have to say though that even after a tachy event I feel like complete crap for hours to days even with medication.

I can tell a difference between regular anxiety and my POTs. With the anxiety I don't feel like I'm going to pass out, whereas with the POTs I get really lightheaded and feel like I can barely get in bed before I pass out. Also, slow breathing seems to relieve the few anxiety attacks that I have had, it doesn't help at all with my POTs, in fact it usually makes me more dizzy and lightheaded. I also don't tend to realize my heart is racing with the POTs, I just know I'm about to lose consciousness and start to feel like I can't breathe. With the anxiety attacks I have noticeable heart beats, and I don't think I am as tachy as when my POTs flares up.

I think that the anxiety attacks are like a stroll in the park compared to a POTs attack. I wish I just had anxiety and not this horrible syndrome.

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I had a recent experience. I was on my way to a Bible meeting and having a bad day. I was trying to use my walker and not my wheel chair (because I broke my ankle/leg really bad). Every time I would stand up I would start to walk to the car, I would have a POTS attack and lose my breath, feel really faint and go totally pale. My husband sat me down twice and it took about 20 minutes each time for it to pass. Then I felt totally wiped out. I had to get to the Bible meeting because I was committed to help someone do a presentation on stage and we had rehearsed and I didn't want to let her down. I wanted my chair because I was so afraid that by the time, I got up and walked up on stage --- I'd have another attack and wouldn't be able to talk. My husband assured me that I would be okay and able to do it.

I managed to do it and keep myself settled down and survived the stress of it all and was able to talk. We did however, sit on the front row, so the walk was not too long. When I was finished, I got back to my seat and the tremors started in my hand and leg. Stress will set me off. I was so sure I'd have a bad attack and lose my breath and not be able to do it --- but I pressed forward and was told I did a good job.

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Thanks for the replies...........you all have been very helpful.

I think we probably have the strongest minds, as we have had to use them for so long to control our bodies when the adrenaline starts up. It's not always possible, but I think some of the different relaxation exercises can help------------------but usually more useful in trying to avoid a bad pots spell. Once I get an attack, it usually runs it's course no matter what.

I know there's times we feel we're going to go completely nuts, but I know many of the rude and insensitive docs many of us have seen wouldn't be able to handle one of the sympathetic overdrive spells we get-----------not as well as we handle it.

Wishing you all the best.

Maxine :0)

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That is what I love about the mindfulness is part of it is accepting that these bad feelings are going to come and learning to accept them. To learn not to fear them.

I also feel that the reason my panic and anxiety was triggered to such a deep level was the trauma of going through the POTS and the effects it had on my body. It was so so scary and then the cardiac ablation was terrifying as well.

I'm just still not over it all. It may take me til I"m 60 God willing to start being able to relax and take a deep breath again.

I hope I didn't ruin the end of your post Maxine but it's a week later? And I'm as usual feeling differently and recognizing different things than the first time I read this.

Isn't it a miracle that our lives are always changing along with our mindset?

Thank God for that.

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  • 1 year later...

I was having a discussion with someone about POTS and the fact that many times we are diagnosised as having anxiety disorders - when in fact - we have anxiety but it's a side effect of having POTS. It comes with POTS and is a part of it. There are some pretty good articles that were posted here and thought it'd be nice to bring them back up.

Here's a good article on POTS and the different things that go along with it and it shows there is anxiety - but, that's not considered the cause of our POTS.


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More severity (trembling,feeling like I'm fighting for something *my life) Can last longer than an average anxiety attack.

Sorry I wanted to add this since it pertains to ANXIETY :)

I don't know if I would definitely say Anxiety doesn't lead to POTS, it might. I know my life was full of trauma emotionally and physically since childhood a constant state of emotional turmoil, so I couldn't rule it out. And theres no medical way to take blood samples of the chemicals(speaking of neurotransmitters,serotonin,things of that nature) that are causing these dysfunctions thats why all the people with mental illness have to test so many meds before getting it right otherwise you could go to the lab and be told exactly what meds you need. I just knew that along the way of diagnosis being labeled as having Only anxiety was really ticking me off because I knew it had gone beyond just anxiety.

I talked to a therapist not long ago about this topic and what she said made perfect sense to me " after dealing with stress and trauma your body either goes through the initial motions and then goes back to normal but after repeated stresses and not properly handling them the parasympathetic system and sympathetic nervous system can become intertwined and results in problems like these....

Maybe I'm totally off but it works for me:) There are many people on this site that have underlying medical conditions that dysautonomia stems from those illnesses so I am not speaking of those situations. POTS is just a BIG mystery really just look at all the possible causes. Pregnancy,autoimmune,viral, connective tissue disorders, the list goes on and on and ON can we ever get a definite straight answer from OUR top of the line specialist???

Sorry to go on alittle bit of a rant Thanks.

AND BTW its 10x easier to get disability based on your "anxiety symptoms" than dysautonomia.

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I don't know - but, according to the articles that Maxine posted - the thought is that an anxiety disorder and the anxiety that comes with POTS are two seperate and different things. Whether or not being in a fight or flight mode for so long - could CAUSE POTS - I don't know. I've had a very traumatic life myself - but, I've had POTS most all my life. So, whether or not my traumatic life made it worse - I don't know. POTS is not thought to be FROM an anxiety DISORDER though. But, some people who are treated for anxiety - find they feel better.


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