Anxiety, Panic & MAV/Weird Symptoms

I have done some reading that there is a strong connection between migraine and anxiety, much higher prevalence of anxiety disorders among migraine patients etc. I am now about 2 months into this and feel like the verapamil is helping somewhat but my anxiety and panic are continuing to rise. I am having a hard time distinguishing between my anxiety and the MAV symptoms and feeling like I might also need to treat the anxiety (beyond the xanax).
I am also having full blown panic attacks about once or twice a week and other episodes of pretty severe and sustained anxiety. Are many MAVers battling this?

Regarding some strange symptoms - does anyone have a sense of depth perception distortion? I can’t even really explain this symptom very well. Its like everything looks off to me - sometimes looks titled or at odd angles. Its sort of visual but not a bouncy vision thing which I have also had. Its like if I look at things from a differnent angle up or down or side, it just seems off and weird. This sensation is then giving rise to the anxiety and sometimes panic. I feel like this sounds crazy and not even sure if that make sense. This seems to happen at times when the rocking/bouncing dizziness is gone and I am haivng longer stretches where that is happening…

Thanks for any advice and thoughts!

Alli

PS For those suffering with colds/bronchitis. I did come out of those 2 -3 really bad days and the dizziness has died back down so hang in there!!!

Hi Alli,
I had terrible panic attacks & anxiety with my MAV. I’ve had two episodes of TGA (Transient Global Amnesia) probably caused by the panic attacks! Besides the Prothiaden & Lorazapam I am taking I did a course in meditation with a really good psychologist which I found a great help in calming down. Can relate to the depth perception distortion too, especially when putting my head down preparing a meal, etc. Walking up/down an open staircase is also a nightmare trying to judge where the steps are - if I’m with my husband I shut my eyes & let him lead me!! Can’t believe I was a healthy, active person before this nightmare started. Hang in there!
Barb

My anxiety was through the roof when this started. I think it’s so natural for someone who is experiencing dizziness to feel anxiety–it’s a scary feeling!

My anxiety is only under control when my dizziness is, and that is with the help of meds unfortunately. Once I got the dizziness under control with Topamax it helped, but my anxiety still snuck through so I knew I needed serotonin tweaking. Lexapro seems to be helping and the combination helps a ton.

I’ve tried so hard to control my anxiety on my own by reducing stress and it’s almost impossible for me to do right now. I’ve learned a lot through this board, the articles posted, and the book Heal Your Headache, and it’s amazing how migraine and anxiety go hand-in-hand!

Thanks so much for the responses Barb & Anne. Sorry you are suffering too but it is nice to know I am not alone :slight_smile:

Anne - I think I am going to ask my neuro if I can add lexapro along with the verapamil. How were the side effects and how long before you noticed it was helping with the anxiety? I know exactly what you mean - I feel like my chemistry is just too out of whack for me to be able to control this on my own.

I have suffered from anxiety before. Pretty bad in my mid-20s but I was able to conquer it without meds through biofeedback, therapy etc. This feels alot worse and there are days when I just can’t seem to “snap out of it” as I was able to do when I was younger (and not suffering with the MAV symptoms).

I also wonder if perimenopause might be contributing and if so, how that might impact the treatment.

Thanks

Allison

Hi Allison
I got the dizzies and then came the anxiety. It was so freaking bad. I couldn’t sleep or eat and would wake trembling every single morning. It was 24/7 like my brain was stuck in that mode. Unfortunately lexapro didn’t help since it made my anxiety worse. For most people lexapro works well for anxiety.
My stuff started at 42 years of age. I never had anxiety in my life till then so I also wondered about how perimenopause might contribute to this.
Kelley

When I first got dizzy I was a complete mess! I was having panic attacks almost everyday! It was not until I was put on Zoloft did my panic attacks stop but then it made me dizzier so I stopped. I didn’t known I had migraine, when I was put on meds that helped migraine I was so much better dizzy wise and my anxiety has died down a lot. I’m on Depakote and just started Verapamil. I’m taking about 3/4 a 120ER capsule of verapamil but feel it has already helped so much! Depakote helped me quite a bit, but I was still dizzy a lot. My doctor wants me to try Verapamil and to increase to 240 eventually. I’m doing it slowly though and already could tell how much better I’m doing. He would like me off the Depakote if Verapamil works but I’m scared because I wonder if they are both working together. How much Verapamil are you on?

Hi Rebecca - I am on 120 ER Verapamil and he wants me to double the dose. Of course I am scared to do that all at once but the new pills are 240 ER - still just one pill a day so not sure how I am going to do this… I need to call tomorrow to see if I can go up in a smaller increment. Like try 180 for a week and then move up to 240…

The rocking has definitely gotten better (other than when I was sick last sick) but I am having these other weird symptoms (scary and hard to desribe but somehow visual/depth perceptional) and I think it might be bc I am such a nervous wreck I am so focused on my body and how I am feeling etc. As you know its exhausting!! I also seem to be completely obsessing on thoughts like "what if this gets worse, what if I can’t take care of my kids, what if I can’t work… " and all of this when I am actually starting to feel a little better dizzy wise. It doesn’t make sense…
As Kelley said it’s almost like I am stuck in some sort of loop that I can’t break free of… This has all just really brought me to my knees…

I am glad you are feeling better!! Why do you need to come off the depakote?

Alli

Hi Allie, if you take the ER pills of the Verapamil you can open the capsule, I carefully cut the top, then sprinkle it on applesauce.
I’m not sure why my doctor wants me off the Depakote, I guess because he thinks it’s not helping me enough. He took my blood level and he said my Depakote level was very low and much lower than a therapeutic dose, but I can’t go higher without feeling much worse. I know it has helped but it hasn’t been enough. It helped me to not be housebound like I was but I was still having a hard time doing a lot of stuff. Being a mom and having this is so hard. I have 3 kids, (10yrs old, 3 yrs old and a 6 month old) it breaks my heart when I can’t do as much as I want or be the kind of parent I used to be. I have been dealing with this since June, I know its all about finding the right med though. I hope the verapamil helps you more and you can find a way to decrease your anxiety. All SSRI’s have been so hard on me and made me worse but I know many here who they helped.

Alli,

Here’s what I think about the whole anxiety/migraine. Sure the dizziness can scare you and cause some anxiety. More so at first though I believe. Panic disorder and anxiety are so close to migraine, they might be coming at the same time cause they’re that close. Who knows. If you can treat the anxiety, there’s a good chance you’ll be treating the migraine right along with it. Unless you have major food trigger’s. Remember, there are a lot of people out there with the same condition as us, go to there doc, get on a med and bam, they’re dizzy free. Sometimes extremely fast. I’ve heard of a few already. We are definatley the exceptions here, but we could be just as lucky if we land on the right med or combo.

I’ve had this MAV for almost 2 years now and my symptoms have changed a little since it all began. At one time I used to have the rocking sensation, where it felt as if I were drunk and heavy headed. Grocery stores and lots of visual stimuli did not bother me then. I believe I made my symptoms transit into something different. I started jogging and after a few weeks I did not have the rocking anymore and the drunken feeling. I instead now have the visual depth perception dizziness. The visual vertigo stuff. Now I have a hard time in grocery stores. But when I was jogging a lot earlier this year, that’s when the rocking type of dizziness left me. And it hasn’t returned. I’m not as active right now either and it still hasn’t came back.

But I don’t know what’s worse, this type of dizziness I have now, or the rocking.

My point is, maybe the verapamil has been giving you better blood flow, much like exercising does and maybe that’s why the symptoms changed. I’ve read that the best thing for the visual vertigo (basically the symptoms you have now) are best treated with either celexa, effexor, amitryptaline or nortryptaline. Any one of these meds should desensitize your senses relieving the dizziness along the way. That’s suppose to be the case anyway.

Greg

I definitely had the strange visual sensations. Not knowing where the ground was. Sometimes I actually jarred my knees by stepping too hard when I thought the ground was lower. I also scuffed my feet a lot. Also, watching a soccer or football game was hard due to the visual situation of being above the field. Many times the world seemed to tilt down to one side, that was more of a constant.

Hi Alli! Oh man, am I glad to read you & everyone elses posts…it is so nice to know I’m not alone OR a freak :roll: I’ll try to make my story brief. I had a whirlwind of a time. I have had anxiety for a long time. Only 1 panic attack in 1990 and only 1 severe “migraine” in 2000. I have taken Zoloft for years. Switched to Effexor 10/2010, had a full hysterectomy 11/2010 (surgical “menopause”), by 1/2011 I put on quite a few lbs, so Dr switched me to Wellbutrin-less weight gain side effects… but not an SSRI, so no help with anxiety. All the while my estrogen level was very low & having some slight side effects from that. So, 2/2011 took a quick trip to Mexico. Felt ok while there-a little off.

On the flight back Sh#% hit the fan…Panic/anxiety like no other. Had a layover and thought I was going to have to go to emergency and drive-2 states home. Sucked it up, flew the rest of the way home thinking they were going to have to land the plane for me-it was awful!! Anyways the next day I was in such a fog and by the 2nd day back I was in full-blown panic. Went to Dr had an ECG done, my heart rate was 120+ resting-for days. I couldn’t calm down. later that night I fainted, bit off the tip of my tongue, hit my head, went to ER-had CT & xrays-couldn’t find anything wrong. Meanwhile Dr switched me back to Zoloft and rx’d Xanax. 2 days later went to ENT who diagnosed me w/BPPV-bad case of it. Had full nystagmus. Did an Epley treatment and was so sick I had to be taken to the car in a wheel chair (vomiting)-lovely! Was pretty much bed-ridden for 2-3 weeks, slowly improved. Did another Epley treatment-a little better. By April/May was feeling better but not “normal”. Was really scared something was really wrong with me (brain, ms, cancer, etc) I became consumed with figuring it out. Needed to know I wasn’t going to die…had MRI done, Mammogram, Bloodwork, full cardiac work-up-even wore a 48 hour halter monitor…and nothing, from any of it! Good, but frustrating.

Went to Neurologist-he said Vertigo/BPPV too. Then went to a specialist, in August, 200 miles away and after a bunch of testing…MAV! Halalula…a diagnosis that makes sense. She did say, unfortunately, all of this history can prompt this-even the low estrogen (mine is in the basement). I literally had the perfect storm going and honestly, I feel, it was all due to the hysterectomy I had a year ago. I haven’t had a “vertigo” attack since March, but definitely have the same symptoms you do. It seems to be mostly visual…looking down while reading-daily. Things like bike riding, elevators, loud noise, over stimulation, etc. can make all this funny/odd stuff worse. What I have found though that helps me (besides the Zoloft) is regular exercise and taking a “mellow”/rest day at least once a week. I tend to be pretty busy & prefer to be busy…but too much can cause a negative effect. So like tomorrow I will sleep in as long as I can and just kinda tinker around the house and take it easy all day-then refreshed for another few days.

My hormones/estrogen is still an issue that I need to be more pro-active about get it figured out. I’m just kind of burnt out on going to the Dr and medications. I do know that the lack of estrogen and fluctuation in hormones can trigger headaches, anxiety and panic. It’s as if you don’t know what to treat first!? I don’t know that I will ever be “normal” again…but I’m sure a lot better than I was. Having these forums, FB pages, etc. w/a wealth of info has been tremendously helpful! Don’t rely on Dr’s to figure it out-we have to be advocates for ourselves! Keep at it, keep trying different things-you will find what works for you. I think everything your going through is normal and “part of the process” but know it will get better! In the meantime, get your anxiety/panic under control, so you can function…there’s nothing worse:(. Please keep us updated and good luck with your medication trials!

Sorry for being so long winded. It’s actually my first post/reply on here-guess I had a lot to say. But know your not alone and to always reach for help when you need it!

Heather

Alli, I was tappering from Prozac to Lexapro, so I already had an SSRI on board so it didn’t take long for me to feel great with Lexapro–about a week I’d say.

I should also say that when this first started for me 2 years ago, I took Celexa and got relief from the dizzies, but not as much, and felt sedated and foggy-headed. It took about 3-4 for the anxiety to settle down once I started Celexa and about 6-8 weeks for the dizziness to settle down.

I also got relief from the dizziness from Prozac, but again not as much, it was too stimulating and I felt bad on it, and it brought on increased headaches.

It was then that I added Topamax and started to tapper of Prozac to Lexapro. Topamax and Lexapro seem to be my winning combination and I have never felt better since this whole mess started!

Lexapro has been really easy for me to tolerate–no side effects except for some increased dizziness at the start and that went away after a week.