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Difference Between Seizures & Panic/anxiety Attacks
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6 posts in this topic

I just want to know if anyone here can give me a clue. My docs I've seen look at me strange when I ask if my "attacks" are really seizures.

My symptoms look just like a regular attack. However the pre-symptoms vary from attack to attack.

Sometimes I get an immense pressure feeling behind my temples. Then I get lightheaded and things start closing in and then my heart rate increases quickly and reaches on avg 175 bpm. I can't get scary thoughts out of my head and I break down and cry throughout the attack. For instance I don't ever know whether to call 911. I don't want it to be a false call. Then I don't know if I'm really having a heart attack or stroke...so I figure I'll just sit down. Then I'm scare I'll pass out and not wake up. So I think about sleeping, then I get scared that I won't wake up. These, to me, are legitimate panic attacks.

Sometimes I will have tingling or prickles in my left arm (once it was just my pinky) and then I get light headed, things start closing in, etc...

Sometimes I will just feel rushes of cold or warm like water is being run over my arms, sweaty/clammy then cold palms. Then a general unwell feeling, things start closing in, etc....

Sometimes I have warm and cold flashes, then my chest feels heavy and my heart rate gradually increases. These seem to be the more mild attacks.

Or sometimes, and this is the strangest, a feeling will start anywhere in my body...the last time it was on the sole of my foot. It was a warm feeling like I stuck my foot in warm mashed potatoes or something and immediately my heart starts racing...no other warnings...from the start of the feeling and the heart rate jumping up is literally just a few seconds.

Now with the ones that start out with a feeling somewhere in my body, I always have strange head sensations. Parts of my head will feel tingly...my left eye will feel droopy and always feel like I'm on the verge of passing out. I'm not very coherent. I've had three that were like this. These last the longest and I will have mild chest pains with these. I think it's because they last so long and my heart is racing for so long that my body just can't cope. It's during these that I pray to just pass out so I don't have to experience it. I'm not so much in that scared type of situation like the others either. These last no less than an hour. Immediately when the attack starts subsiding I get the shakes...real bad...can't stop (as if I'm really really cold). Then I get extremely exhausted like I've not slept in weeks. I get like this with all of them, but these are more extreme.

With all these symptoms and inconsistencies with each type of "attack", it would raise concern in my eyes if I were a doctor.

I've asked for an MRI or Cat scan. They know my history of migraines with aura's too. I feel they think I am a hypochondriac...however I hardly ever go to the doctor.

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The VAST majority of things you list there are classic panic attack symptoms. (List of panic attack symptoms on WebMD)

Drooping eyelids and incoherent speech are not. But, these DO apparently go along with a subtype of migraine, not just a stroke. (Not that you want to have this subtype of migraine, of course! It's not healthy either.)

But, I would encourage you, the next time you talk to your doctor, not to say "I'm worried about these attacks. They're usually like this, this, and this [listing those normal panic attack symptoms]." I would say, instead, "I'm worried about new symptoms I've been experiencing [with increasing frequency, if that's true]. The panic attack symptoms I'm used to, even if they're quite frightening. But the drooping eyelid and complete inability to speak coherently is totally out of the norm for me(optionally:, and doesn't fit my understanding of panic attacks). What do you think has changed?"

It's not that you ignore the other symptoms, but you frame your question to VERY carefully express your BIGGEST concern.

When I read your post, it was hard to find anything that looked like "not a normal panic attack" - because there was SO MUCH information/talking about normal symptoms. You're doc already knows those - heck, if you've been in for it, they already know it's in your file. But they don't know the heart of the matter.

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I just want to know if anyone here can give me a clue. My docs I've seen look at me strange when I ask if my "attacks" are really seizures.

My symptoms look just like a regular attack. However the pre-symptoms vary from attack to attack.

Sometimes I get an immense pressure feeling behind my temples. Then I get lightheaded and things start closing in and then my heart rate increases quickly and reaches on avg 175 bpm. I can't get scary thoughts out of my head and I break down and cry throughout the attack. For instance I don't ever know whether to call 911. I don't want it to be a false call. Then I don't know if I'm really having a heart attack or stroke...so I figure I'll just sit down. Then I'm scare I'll pass out and not wake up. So I think about sleeping, then I get scared that I won't wake up. These, to me, are legitimate panic attacks.

Sometimes I will have tingling or prickles in my left arm (once it was just my pinky) and then I get light headed, things start closing in, etc...

Sometimes I will just feel rushes of cold or warm like water is being run over my arms, sweaty/clammy then cold palms. Then a general unwell feeling, things start closing in, etc....

Sometimes I have warm and cold flashes, then my chest feels heavy and my heart rate gradually increases. These seem to be the more mild attacks.

Or sometimes, and this is the strangest, a feeling will start anywhere in my body...the last time it was on the sole of my foot. It was a warm feeling like I stuck my foot in warm mashed potatoes or something and immediately my heart starts racing...no other warnings...from the start of the feeling and the heart rate jumping up is literally just a few seconds.

Now with the ones that start out with a feeling somewhere in my body, I always have strange head sensations. Parts of my head will feel tingly...my left eye will feel droopy and always feel like I'm on the verge of passing out. I'm not very coherent. I've had three that were like this. These last the longest and I will have mild chest pains with these. I think it's because they last so long and my heart is racing for so long that my body just can't cope. It's during these that I pray to just pass out so I don't have to experience it. I'm not so much in that scared type of situation like the others either. These last no less than an hour. Immediately when the attack starts subsiding I get the shakes...real bad...can't stop (as if I'm really really cold). Then I get extremely exhausted like I've not slept in weeks. I get like this with all of them, but these are more extreme.

With all these symptoms and inconsistencies with each type of "attack", it would raise concern in my eyes if I were a doctor.

I've asked for an MRI or Cat scan. They know my history of migraines with aura's too. I feel they think I am a hypochondriac...however I hardly ever go to the doctor.

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I'm so confused! I don't have a helpful reply, but I have been having the same problems...not as severe, perhaps. I recently went to the ER after my heartrate was hanging around 195 for almost two hours! Then I was exhausted the whole next day. And, of course, now if I just 'think' my hearts taking off, I get anxiety and have to go through the mental process of talking myself out of it. I was given some beta blockers in case it happens again, but have not taken any. I've been having these racing heart episodes every now and then for the past 18 months. I was diagnosed w/ celiac in August. Are these things related???? No one ever mentioned that to me. I have an appointment w/ a cardiologist in two days. Do most cardiologists know there is a connection between rapid heart rates and celiac disease? I just thought these were seperate things wrong with me. I'd really like to know since I'm considering ablation surgery to stop the tachycardia attacks. I have so much to learn!! And it really does suck when you know people suspect you're a hypochondriac!!

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Bump...

I forgot I posted this.

But thanks tarnalberry, for the advice. I suppose it would raise more of a concern if I explained "new" symptoms rather than the classic symptoms of a "normal" anxiety attack.

I am planning to get an electrocardiogram done when I get back home and I'll also discuss the "new" symptoms.

I will update as I get info. Hopefully me and other's can benefit from it.

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True panic attacks are physiological symptoms, like what you describe, plus cognitive/emotional symptoms: a sense of doom, fear, you feel like you HAVE to escape, you feel like you may die or go crazy or your legs will collapse, etc.

One thing to consider: panic attacks aren't necessarily 'just in your head' - there's some correlation between panic attacks and mitral valve prolapse syndrome. There can also be other physiological reasons your autonomic nervous system is a little more touchy. So even if your symptoms meet all criteria for a panic attack, that doesn't mean you stop there.

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