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Advice needed

Hi. First of all, I have to be honest and say I have been previously diagnosed with health anxiety. My previous worries were cancer and HIV, although recently I have became very worried about MS. In brief, I have had a number of symptoms over the last year. 1. A recurring cold patch on my hand 2. Pain above my eye for a few months but no vision loss. This was diagnosed as a neck problem, 3. Widespread twitching all over body. This occurs everywhere, and has done so for about a year. 4. Bladder retention problems, although I have been told i have a tight bladder muscle and a slight stricture. My recent episode did not show that the stricture had reoccurred, but I still had urinary retention although this followed a dose of Imodium. 5. Very occasionally I feel a lump in my throat when swallowing. This has been the case for about 6 years. 6. Strange cold sensations in shins 7. A weak feeling in left leg but no clinical weakness 8. A numb feeling with shivers over the left of my face that started four days ago and has not left me, 9. A tremor when I half smile, which goes back about five years as I recall. Two of my GPs have carried out manual neurological exams and didn’t find anything of concern. They didn’t even suggest sending me to a neurologist and they think it is anxiety related. I also have had blood tests that came back okay. I also have to be honest and say I have a friend who is really ill after an MS attack, and I wonder if this has made my anxiety worse. I have also suffered a bereavement 4 years ago which made me more anxious Despite this, I just feel that the symptoms all add up to MS. Can anyone advise me whether this is something I should take further? I don’t know what to do and I am very worried although I also know I have a history of health anxiety. I just can’t accept this is all in my head. . Advice welcomed, Thanks

Hi Anon,

Reading your history of health anxiety, and that you have become morbidly preoccupied with TWO serious illnesses previously (cancer and HIV), and also reading that your friend has recently been very poorly with MS, I do feel by far the strongest likelihood is that your symptoms are indeed anxiety-related, and not anything more sinister.

However, anxiety itself is not a trivial ailment. Living with the constant belief you have a life-changing or even life-limiting illness must be seriously impacting your quality of life, and stopping you fulfilling your potential. So I’m curious what treatment you are having, or have been offered, for this awful anxiety. It is an illness in its own right, and should be treated. Being told it’s all anxiety-related is one thing, but unless you’re receiving help with that, it’s not very likely to allay your fears.

I don’t personally think you need MS investigations. Investigations provoke more anxiety, and would you even believe them if they came back clear, or would you convince yourself they’d missed something? Or just transfer your concerns to the next serious illness?

I do think, if you are intent on taking anything further, it should be the anxiety. If it was properly controlled, possibly using drugs, or techniques you can learn, or both, you might find a lot of your symptoms went away, and you saw the rest in a completely different light - e.g. as known anxiety symptoms, or as benign things most people get from time-to-time; part of the normal workings of your body.

If you don’t get the anxiety addressed, my concern for you is that this year it’ll be MS, next year it’ll be something else scary - you’ll spend your whole life being terrified of things you haven’t got, which is a tragic waste.

Your post shows the anxiety is not yet so all-consuming that you cannot grasp there IS a problem with anxiety - at some level, you know there’s a good chance this is all just fears. And that means there is something to work with - you can teach that rational voice to be stronger and louder, and start putting the fears in their place.

Please seek help. I don’t think you’ve got MS, but I do think you’ve got an illness that’s ruining your life - and it’s anxiety. The good news is that it’s treatable. Not overnight - it will take time and effort. But you don’t have to just put up with it.

Tina

I think Tina’s advice is very sensible. ‘Health Anxiety’ is not another word for saying ‘nothing the matter’. Chronic, debilitating anxiety is a completely horrible state to be in, and is very much something the matter, and something that needs addressed. It does sound as if this condition is making your life a misery, and that is just horrid for you. I really do think that your GP should be offering you some help in dealing with this very unpleasant condition. I hope that you can get the help you need to ease your mind.

Alison

p.s. I have no medical expertise at all, but, on the face of it, your symptoms do not obviously add up to anything obvious in terms of organic disease. But, as I say, that does not mean that you do not need some help and support in dealing with your very real and troubling fears.

Hello Anon

Would you mind me asking if you’ve had any counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy?

I’m not say that you haven’t got a neurological problem. Its just that you say you’ve been diagnosed with health anxiety so I just wondered what treatment they offered you.

Take care xxx

Hi, Thanks for the advice. I am currently seeing a Psychiatric Nurse, although this has only just started. She is of the opinion my anxiety is being compounded with some post traumatic stress disorder after I lost both parents within months of each other. My mother passed suddenly from a stroke, while my father had cancer. I have had various counsellor but it has only proven useful for so long. I am open to trying new things, but my anxiety about my health seems to be very changeable. Right now I am in a very bad way, and it is affecting my relationships. I will give the CPN my full attention to try and help myself. It’s a very frustrating condition. Part of me knows I have a history of anxiety but part of me is genuinely terrified I have MS. I also feel guilty as it is disrespectful to my friend. I don’t trust myself anymore to know what is real and what it not. I am hyper aware of every bodily sensation and I can’t stay off google. My biggest issue is I can’t believe my mind can cause do much symptoms despite hearing that it can

Hello again Anon

Thank you for sharing that information. You’ve had some real emotional trauma in your life. I’m really glad you have a cpn supporting you.

My advice to you would be to concentrate on your mental health at the moment…give that your full attention.

When the mind is not well anon it can cause all sorts of serious health problems. My husband as bipolar (manic depression) so I have quite a good insight in to mental health matters.

If you do have a neurological problem then that is something that can be addressed in the near future.

I hope you have friends and some family supporting you also.

Take care of yourself

xxx