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New Member Just Diagnosed With Pots - Does Stress Make It Worse?


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Hi everyone,

I was just diagnosed with POTS today. I am very thankful to know what is wrong, and I have a very mild case, but I am still rather overwhelmed. I will search through the forums before asking all my questions, but quickly if I can get any input I would appreciated it.

Does stress make POTS worse? I am a PhD student, so my life is pretty stressful. I take classes, teach a class, and also have research projects (60+ hour work weeks). I had an extremely stressful semester last semester, including taking a huge exam, and during that time my symptoms became worse. They did not get better after I passed my exam or during the winter break, so I'm not sure how the correlation with stress works.

Does anyone else work a stressful job and how do you deal with it having even mild POTS? Can stress cause my POTS to get more severe? Could "pushing through" the symptoms make things worse in the long run?

I'd appreciate any input those of you with more experience may have. Thanks!


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I'm not sure if I have POTS.
Yes, stress does affect me but worst of all, a tiny bit of stress can't sometimes trigger symptoms.
I might feel crappy, sometimes hands feel cold and weird, chest tightness (the area of the chest tightness differs but it is always on the left side), sometimes I feel tightness under my arm (again on left side)
I do technical support for employees on the phone for a company. The thing that bothers most is that you don't know what kind of call you are going to get.

I have tried Vick's on chest, cold water helps a little. I am taking venlafaxine 75 mg but I don't think it is helping. Clonazepam helped but they only prescribed once and then switched to venlafaxine.

I've seen the same message on other boards as well, from people who have IST. A bunch of people say stress makes it worst.

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Welcome to the forum.

Patients do report stress to be a trigger, as well as allergies, changes in temperature etc, elevation, hormonal changes. etc. From my experience on the forum over many years, however, for many patients symptoms wax and wane with no clear trigger. Definitely for me not getting enough sleep can make my symptoms worse. So I would say, for me, that if "pushing through" meant not getting 8-9 hrs of sleep per night, my symptoms would worsen. Taking in more fluid and salt on days that I have not had enough rest, can help, for me.

Hope you feel better soon!

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Hi katyroq, and welcome. I do find that stress tends to make my symptoms worse, especially with anxiety making me tachycardic. If I push myself over a period of days it will get to a point where my body begins to let me know that I need to ease things up, I've had to adopt more of a balanced approach to life even though its not exactly what I would like. Pushing through for me is typically very difficult because it is a double edged sword, sometimes it's okay, other times I'm asking for trouble.

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I'm glad you have a diagnosis, I finally got one as well recently (though had been pretty confident for awhile that POTS was what was going on per the suggestion of my father who is a cardiologist). You and I sound quite similar - I do have times when my heart rate is exceptionally high and I'm super sensitive to positional changing and standing still/exercise; in general, though, it is relatively mild as compared to some others. I do notice, however, that mine is EXPONENTIALLY worse when extreme stress is involved! I also have panic disorder and major anxiety disorders, and during the times when that flares up, my POTS is terrible. I first felt as if something was going on with my heartrate during one of those flare ups! (But of course everyone just told me I was anxious haha as it's super similar in how it presents itself physically). Turns out I wasn't crazy!

I would assume the correlation between stress and POTS has to do with adrenaline levels which increase with anxiety anyways and which our bodies don't regulate properly (or at least some of us); I also have GI issues related to it, and notice that is worse when I'm stressed and therefore when my heart rate is wacky. I just recently started a Beta Blocker, and it has helped SO MUCH! I feel like a normal human again! Haha. I hope you get some relief! Just remember, even though it's frustrating, and makes you feel ******, it won't kill ya ;) We just have super human hearts that like to work out a lot! Lol.

Good luck!

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For me emotional frustration, or trying to do any exercise and hold down a full time job, or lack of sleep with the combo will result in high heart rates and GI issues( abdominal spams)... I am finding my old 'normal' doesn't fit in too well with the new body and it's delicate self....too much of trying to do it all and being super women....leads to a day or so of not so great....its frustrating when you want to do it all and your body says ' OH NO YOU DON'T'... Trying to learn to pick and choose and take it a bit slower is a challenge....

Some things you just NEED to do....

We are hitting out busy season at work which means 60 hours a week, that doesn't include the paper work I handle for my husbands business.....so this should be interesting to get thru...if you find any tips and tricks do share!

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Thanks for the responses.

bigtrouble - I can relate to the small amounts of stress triggering symptoms. My body seems to be over-reacting to even small stressors right now. As shathaway mentions, it probably is due to adrenaline. It seems like if adrenaline levels are high anytime we are upright, then maybe that small increase due to normal daily stressors is pushing me over the "edge"...quite inconvenient.

Finding a "new normal" (hopefully temporary) sure isn't fun, especially when you're used to pushing yourself to the max. My normal mode is "mind over matter". If pain/illness/etc is not going to kill me or cause a bigger problem, I will push through it (I have chronic pain issues), so this year my new year's resolution is to take care of myself. I have read some of the posts on stress on the rest of the forum and it seems to be very individual how much stress our bodies can take. I suspect I've had POTS for a while, so I'm hoping that even though I need to push myself this semester, making it a priority to get enough rest, salt, exercise, etc. will help.

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big trouble,

I have near constant diarrhea (meaning my bm's are rarely normal) and I have nausea and cramping quite frequently; I also have acid reflux issues and spasms in my esophagus every time I eat with early satiety. Essentially my digestive tract is always a mess. I've been referred to a GI place for an endoscopy per the suggestion of the physician I saw who diagnosed the POTS; she suspects it's related and that I may also have ulcerative colitis.

My normal is essentially an abnormal digestive system haha. I've had these issues since I was in middle school, and it was always dismissed as anxiety. However, it has become apparent (finally) to my physician parents that it is more than that and they have advocated me investigating.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For me, stress makes it way worse. I think part of it is trying to do too much for what your body can do and being frustrated. I've had to let go of a lot of things I "used" to be able to do in order to feel somewhat functional. It's helped me actually move forward a bit in life to recognize the limitations and work around them.

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I run a company and have managed to grow this over the six years from when I was first diagnosed with Pots. I have found so long as I don't do too much outside of work i could work quite hard. But i often cannot take stressful phone calls or deal with some conflict - this will make my heart race. Even on a good day this will increase my HR and that can sometimes make me feel aggressive - I suppose that is the adrenaline.

It is important to have people around you that understand that the symptoms are erratic - sometimes without warning I know I am too ill to keep an appointment with a client. But I have carved out what I can and can't do and this expands and contracts with my health. I was initially told to stop working but I am so glad I didn't, i would have become just my illness, instead i used the time to grow my business which has given me a lot of pleasure.

Stress makes pots worse but it isn't the cause in my opinion.

Sounds like you are in a great position, maybe reduce the non essentials and then you can keep on track with the bigger picture.

Hope this helps. All the best.

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Hi Katy,

I was recently diagnosed with NCS (neural cardiogenic syncope) and stress accelerates everything for me-to the point where I can not work. I worked as a telephonic health coach but they changed the requirements in Jan. adding additional points needed to make a call earn good points. The stress of meeting the new requirements was intense and I feel that I was triggered or flared from it. On my tilt table I was 50/40 after 23 minutes. All the typical LOL-sorry- nothing typical about these conditions. So I will re-word...something that has gotten worse for me in the past 3-4 months has been my GI function with normal function first thing then 2 diarrhea stools a hour to a few hours later with 2 very embarrassing accidents. No matter what I eat or don't eat it is the same. So frustrating! And now that snow arrived here I have to be very careful because it makes me flare too.

Hope it helps


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