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Topic: Anxiety- Hyperventilation to the point where my hands curl up

20 posts, 0 answered
  1. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    3 June 2020
    Ive been suffering from anxiety for the last 2 years. It started after a personal training session and after I had finished my heart rate wouldn't go back down and I ended up hyperventilating in my car alone on the side of the road to the point where my hands tingled and curled up, I went all shakey, my lips tingled and I couldn't move my body properly. I feel like I almost fainted and thought I was dieing. I went to the emergency and they did an ecg and the docs freaked at my ecg. My heart was pounding out of my chest but eventually it went away. I followed up with more tests etc and my heart health is fine (I do have a family history of heart disease) and I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder . I now have been living in fear of that episode happening again for the last two years and any small triggers, negative emotions or nervousness cause my heart to go fast and my hands to go numb and tingly again within minutes and its just a big cycle of fearing these symptoms and waiting for it to happen again. I know about hyperventilation and breathing (health science degree) and each time an attack comes I control my breathing and slow it down and try to ground myself however I am now almost certainly convinced the exaggerated hand curling up and tingling in lips etc is not due to my breathing. I have lost work, friends and my social life because of this fear of these symptoms and can't ever be alone. I have also seen numerous doctors and psychologists even physio for my breathing and completely understand about anxiety and controlling my breathing but the symptoms keep happening and I feel like there is no way out. Has anyone else has something similar happen? please help
  2. geoff
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    geoff avatar
    13475 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hello Beejadee, and a warm welcome to the forums.

    It must certainly be a great concern for you and even though anxiety may be the cause, it's still a worry.

    What the doctor/s have found what happens to me, is that I have 'Atrial fibrillation', which means that I have an irregular heartbeat, one moment the pulse reading is good, then if they do the pulse straight away, once again, my heartbeat is irregular and out of the ordinary, that's what the doctors have told me.

    This doesn't matter whether or not I am suffering from anxiety, however, they have prescribed medication to help control this situation.

    I'm not qualified to say, only talking from my own experience.

    Best wishes.

    Geoff.

  3. romantic_thi3f
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    2781 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hi beejadee08,

    Welcome to the forums and thanks for joining us. To be completely honest with you dear stranger, I winced the moment I saw your post title. This also happened to me too - and while I was driving (worst time!). I'd had anxiety before but never that extreme and I was afraid that something was very very wrong and they'd never go back to normal! So every-time I think about it I wince because I remember how hard and scary it was for me at that time.

    It sounds like when that happened to you you were hyperventilating as well, so what's the reason you think it might not be related to your breathing?

    I can say more of course but I'm curious about your answer to this so I'll leave it there. I hope that by sharing my own experiences with you too it can make you feel a little less alone.

    rt

  4. Mumofnah
    Mumofnah avatar
    20 posts
    3 June 2020

    Hi beejadee08,

    Definitely know what you are saying about the fear if it returning.

    I started with racing heart about 3months ago while just taking out the bins came back inside and my heart just wouldn’t settle! I ended up getting my partner to call an ambulance because I was so scared and thought the worst. As soon as I entered the ambulance my heart settled that was a sign to me that I was having a panick attack. it then returned a few weeks later and I freaked again and took myself to emergency and got seen to right away as I had a heart rate around 138. They monitored my rate and did an ecg I think it’s called and my heart was fine took bloods and urine. All was clear. My heart took a few hours to slow and they put it down to anxiety told me to see my GP the next day to go forward with getting the help I need. I have now only finished my second consult with psychologist and am working through it. She has told me that I am suffering from mild depression and anxiety disorder. I still have in the back of my mind when it’s going to happen again so you are not alone. I am giving this my all as I so badly want to be the person I usto be for myself and my family. I have also found coming onto this forum regularly to read though the post gives me some comfort that I’m not alone. We are not alone!!

    I am wishing you all the best with it.

  5. Jesicca
    Jesicca avatar
    47 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08
    Hi beejadee08,

    I am so sorry to hear that you have been experiencing this. Although I have not experienced this severe form of breathing difficulty and increased heart rate, I have had similar experiences on a smaller scale and have also been to the doctors to seek help but they told me they couldn't really do much because I never went in when it was actually happening. Something I found helped me when I felt overwhelmed by the feeling was telling myself that I had gotten through this before and so I will get through it again. Breathing techniques also really helped me. Have you tried the 8-4-7 breathing technique? This is where you exhale deeply, loudly and through your mouth for 8 seconds, inhale through your nose for 4, hold your breath for 7 seconds and then repeat this 10+ times. I found that this technique would almost stop the pulsing in my chest and then my heart rate would return to normal. However there are sooo many breathing techniques that you could look into if this one doesn't work for you.

    Let me know if you want me to suggest others, this is just what worked for me.
  6. josh1245
    josh1245 avatar
    173 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08
    hi beejadee08 I would like to say I'm extremely proud of you asking for help and sharing your story takes incredible strength and bravery. I want to say that you are not alone I have experienced these issues before in my life and many overs around Australia and the world this is why beyondblue was formed in order to help and provide support for people going through mental health disorders. I have found that a program called mindfulness has helped me remain calm and maintain a positive aura there are a number of apps that you can download on your phone and take through mindfulness. I also suggest going to your gp and talking to them what you are going through and they can refer you to qualified professional.
  7. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to romantic_thi3f
    hi thank you for your response
    My initial panic attack after the gym was hyperventilating for sure but after I learnt how to control my breathing I kept getting the symptoms. If my heart is beating fast and even when I control my breathing and slow it down I still get the horrible symptoms so I don’t know why me correcting my breathing doesn’t work :(
  8. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to geoff

    Hi geoff thanks for your response

    Did you have any tests to confirm atrial fibrillation and were you also experiencing similar symptoms ?

    thanks

  9. therising
    Valued Contributor
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    therising avatar
    1490 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hi beejadee08

    Wondering if you've looked into seeing a neurologist. If there are no obvious heart issues, perhaps you're dealing with the challenges of a sensitive nervous system. There are lots of different factors that can take us from basically sensitive to highly sensitive. Myself, I'm a 49yo female who's observing the fascinating changes a lot of my systems are going through. Personally, I've become pretty sensitive to certain sounds and well as different types of rises in energy (warm environment, a little stress and even excitement can set off the heat factor these days). By the way, something else that used to trigger my nervous system was 'Silent migranes'. The changes in my brain gave me some pretty strange side effects, including intense anxiety. In my mind I'd be completely calm but my body would be having some freaky hyperactive kind of anxiety attack. Very strange indeed. The brain is a quirky thing.

    A neurologist would be able to do a bit of basic testing, including some more specific kinds of blood tests perhaps. Just a thought.

    Something's setting off your systems. Of course, the question is 'What?' Good luck in your investigation.

    :)

  10. Ggrand
    Community Champion
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    Ggrand avatar
    7378 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hello beejaddee,..

    I have also hyperventilated to the extent of my arms curling up and unable to move...It was a horrible and frightening thing I went through....I was taken to the ED not knowing what was happening to me..The Drs explained that I was breathing way to fast and needed to slow it down....They helped me by giving me a brown paper bag to breathe into, and slowly my arms returned to normal...Its something I’ll never forget...That was a few years ago..I haven’t gotten to that state again...

    Im very sorry you had to go through that...For a long time I was afraid of it happening again..It did the year before last while I was having an anxiety attack...I had friends with me who called the ambulance, because I passed out..in the ambulance the paramedics told me to hold one hand out, fingers spread open..with the other hand, using my pointer finger, trace over my open hand starting at the thumb very slowly...and breathe up as I trace my thumb, then breath out slowly before starting to trace the other finger...by the time I got to the hospital (40) minutes away..my breathing was under control....

    Not sure if this will help you or not.. I always say everything is worth a try....

    Wishing you all the best wishes I can...

    My care, kindness and warm hugs..🕊🦋🤗..

    Grandy..

  11. blondguy
    Life Member
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    blondguy avatar
    10784 posts
    3 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hi beejadee08

    I understand your frustration where hyperventilation is concerned. After many heart tests (and a few years) my hyperventilation turned out to be an anxiety response to my ongoing career and family issues

    My symptoms were exactly the same as yours when I had my first hyperventilation episode in 1983

    You are not alone beejadee08

    Great to have you as part of the Beyond Blue forum family too!....any questions are always welcome

    Paul

  12. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    4 June 2020 in reply to blondguy

    Hi paul

    thank you for your response it makes me feel so much better to know others have this same issue. just wondering how you dealt with this and did the hyperventilation go along when you fixed the cause ?

    thanks

  13. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    4 June 2020 in reply to Mumofnah
    Thanks for your response I know exactly how you feel when you say you so badly want to be the person you used to be. I also want to go back to the person I was before all this :( glad to know I am not alone and not crazy.
  14. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    4 June 2020 in reply to Ggrand
    Hi grandy yeah thanks for your response. It’ must of been very scary passing out because of your breathing that is one of my huge fears. It’s reassuring that after you passed out you were able to get your breathing back to normal as I also fear not being able to gain control back after an attack. May I ask How you coped with fearing it happening again?
  15. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    4 June 2020 in reply to therising

    Thanks for your response I have never looked into a neurologist but having a sensitive nervous system does make a lot of sense. I’ll defs explore that pathway thanks

  16. geoff
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    4 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hello Beejadee, all good replies and to answer your question, the doctor/s and nurses could say that I have 'Atrial Fibrillation' by doing my blood pressure, but it was originally found when I fell over and hit my head on the concrete last year and the doctors at the hospital wanted an ECG ( electrocardiogram ).

    I had previously told my GP that I couldn't take a deep breath and prescribed me some medication, fluid tablets as my ankles were half the size they should be.

    Hope this may help you.

    Geoff.

  17. Ggrand
    Community Champion
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    7378 posts
    4 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hello beejadee,

    After the first time..I was so afraid that it would happen again..I didn’t go out in case it did happen...I carried a few brown paper bags in my hand bag for years....just in case...

    I thought about it and was living my life waiting for it to happen...slowly over a few months I stopped thinking about it...I remember in hospital the Drs told me it takes a fair bit of fast breathing to get into the state I was in, and if I did start breathing quickly...Drs told me to slow down my breathing....by counting to 5 with my in breath hold for count of 4..and counting to 6 on my out breath , which usually worked if not then I would start breathing into my brown paper bag..

    I had a long break before I started to get that bad again..I had an anxiety attack, while I was with friends at my home..something upset me a lot..that I couldn’t stop thinking about.then I just passed out..Woke up a few minutes before the ambulance arrived...On my way to hospital they taught me the hand breathing technique, which I use a lot...

    I am very conscious of my breathing now..and when I can feel myself breathing fast or I’m in an anxiety attack..I slow it down.... I don’t worry about it happening again...if it does then I’ll do what I can to manage it..It might never happen again..and it is something that we can stop from happening again, with breathing into a brown paper bag..or slowing down our breathing...

    Therising and Geoff have good ideas about checking yourself out more....If Nothing is found..and I pray that there won’t be... it might help you to be able to calm your breathing down...

    Please take good care of you...talk anytime. dear

    Sending you my care, kind thoughts and hugs..🤗.

    Grandy..

  18. romantic_thi3f
    Community Champion
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    romantic_thi3f avatar
    2781 posts
    4 June 2020 in reply to beejadee08

    Hi beejadee08,

    I'm so glad that you've had so much support on this post. This is such a wonderful community.

    Yes - I hear you. So even though you don't feel your heart race as much you're still getting the symptoms. But I also read that you're afraid of not being able to get some control back.

    I imagine that in your health science degree when you learned about hyperventilation you also heard about the flight fight response?

    Part of that anxiety response is a higher heartbeat yes - but having those thoughts of being afraid to pass out, or feeling like it won't end are also part of that anxiety. So while your heart rate may feel like it's slowed down a bit - the anxiety is still very much there and still very high. So - while I'm not dismissing any other explanation the anxiety does still explain why your hand can be curled up.

    Being able to understand why this is happening can help - even if that means seeing a doctor or a cardiologist or a neurologist - so that you know for sure that you are safe and that most importantly, this will end.

    rt

  19. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    7 June 2020 in reply to romantic_thi3f

    Hi Rt

    thanks for getting back to me, I have never really thought of it that way, I am starting to think I must just not be in control of my anxiety as I thought. When I am in panic situations maybe I do not realise I am not breathing correctly even though I think I am and the fear of it getting worse means its stays around longer so I get those horrible symptoms. thats definitely something I will think about and ill have to work on that with my psych thanks for your help I appreciate your time

  20. beejadee08
    beejadee08 avatar
    10 posts
    7 June 2020 in reply to Ggrand
    Thank you Grandy. I Appreciate you taking the time to respond to me. Its good to know you were able to cope with that fear and eventually it just goes. I need to remind myself that even if I do have an anxiety attack I can prevent those horrible symptoms and I need to stop living in fear. I think its time for me to get some help with my thoughts so they become more positive and healthier because I am starting to realise I still am not handling my anxiety very well. thanks again and take care

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