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Feeling of electrical sensation on multiple body parts, anxiety, fear, health related worries. Taking Xanax, Lamotrigine. Anxiety disorder history. Treatment?

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Practicing since : 2004
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Hello Doctor,

The last 6 months have been incredibly disturbing as I try to figure out what's wrong with me. I am a 22 year old male with a history of cocaine and alcohol abuse. (cocaine about 2 years, alcohol 5 years) My first symptom was this really weird electrical sensation in my head that I would get before falling asleep. As I exhaled, I would get this intense electrical signal that would run from the base of my skull all the way to my forehead. It felt as if I could map out every single neuron pathway in my brain. These happened 5-10 times before I would fall asleep. I began waking up gasping for air shortly after so my Neuro suggested a sleep study to look for sleep apnea and seizures at the same time. Of course, my sleep study showed nothing. Shortly after, I began waking up in the morning completely paralyzed and my entire body was convulsing. My right cheek would touch my right shoulder, I could not open my eyes and I could only snap out of it after I focused really hard on moving a finger or a toe. (they only lasted about 5 seconds immideately upon waking.) My doctor said it could be sleep paralysis or epilepsy from the cocaine use. He prescribed me a low dose lamotrigine trial to see if it was epilepsy, and it did wonders. I went an entire month with no symptoms until my Rx ran out. 2 days later, I woke up paralyzed and convulsing...this prompted him to extend my Rx. and once again, the signals in my head, as well as the paralysis and convulsing have stopped. But a new symptom has arose, which is why I'm writing you now. It's important to note that I have not been concretely diagnosed with epilepsy. I've reacted to the medication well, but still dont have a positive EEG.

The new symptom is quite similar to the ones in my brain, in that they are electrical in nature and happen as I exhale shortly after laying down, getting ready to fall asleep. I never have any of these symptoms during the day, only as I get ready to fall asleep....so maybe that says something??? The only difference with this new symptom is that the electric signals are now located in the area of my stomach/diaphragm. I exhale, and this intense electrical feeling pulsates over my upper abdomen and shoots to different parts of my body. If im laying on my left side, they will shoot down my left leg and make my quadricep numb and tingly for a few seconds. (they've never shot down my right leg) If i'm sleeping with my arms above my head, the signal will originate in my stomach/diaphragm and shoot up either arm all the way to my finger tips. Stangely, if I sleep with my finger pushed into my abdomen just under my breast bone, the singals seem to stay localized in my stomach. They dont spread. I've been sleeping like this to try and keep the electricity in my stomach but it gets uncomfortable after a while. I know that sounds strange but you find weird solutions when your experiencing weird symptoms. The most disturbing however, is when the electricity shoots over my heart. I keel up out of bed because it feels as if my heart has stopped. I check my pulse and my heart beats again. The signals also make different parts of my body jerk. (shoulder, leg) Its my understanding that hypnic jerks are simply muscle jerks with no warning. What's strange is I can actually feel the electricity that is making my muscles spasm and jerk originate in my stomach, and shoot out to different places. The best way I can describe the feeling in my stomach is if someone were to place a difibrilator on my abdomen and shock me. It's a feeling you get when you're nervous or startled in your stomach times 100, and it doesn't just stay in my stomach, it violently shoots out to differnet places, and I mean violently. What I am worried about most is that some sort of electrical zap could possibly stop my heart beat (especially if its a vagus nerve disorder). My doctor prescribed me xanax, using the old anxiety diagnosis but this hasn't done anything. It helps me finally overcome my fear of going to sleep, but the electrical pulsations remain.

I've had MRI's checking for MS...negative. 24Hr holter...negative. Sleep study...negative. But all of these tests were done before this new symptom arose. I'm tempted to do them again, but the cost is really putting a strain on my family. My doctors won't listen to me and shrug off my symptoms, thinking I'm crazy. ITS A HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE. Ive never had any health problems in my life and all of a sudden I'm having siezures and nerve disorders...its very hard to cope with. Ive stopped drinking and doing drugs. Im eating extremely healthy and exercising all in an effort to get my body healthy again. But when you go to bed every night worrying that your heart is going to stop beating, it takes a lot motivation out of you. I am truly scared every single night.

If you can give me any insight into what im experienceing and what I can do as a next step it would really help. Its effecting every part of my life and Im worried its something progressive. I daydream about my family finding me dead in my bed and it brings me to tears, even as I write this. Please help me. I'm only 22 and want to live a long life. I can't wait for getting referrals and schedueling more doctor appointments when I'm getting nothing out of them. I'm hoping you, or one of your colleagues can give me some answers or at least reassurance that my heart is not going to go into sudden cardiac arrest from an intesne electrical disturbance within my own body. Could it be my vagus nerve being irritated? Is there some sort of disease that progressively destroys the vagus nerve? I don't even know what to tell my doctor or what test to do next. Nervous stomach syndrome? myoclonic seizures? hypnic jerks? You name it, Ive read about it on the internet, but none of them seem to match up with what im experienncing. Please, anything helps. I look forward to your insight

Thanks you sincerely for your help.
XXXXXXX XXXXXXX
Posted Mon, 16 Jul 2012 in Anxiety and Stress
 
 
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 1 hour later
Hello,
Thanks for your query.

I appreciate your efforts for medical consultation in so much distress.

Important aspects of your query are:
•     22 year old female
•     Known case of anxiety disorder (past diagnosis)
•     Currently on xanax 0.5mg and lamotrigine 75 mg per day
•     Complaints of: feeling of electrical sensation on multiple parts of body, anxiety, fear, health related worries.

Your case is interesting and but difficult too. Even your attending physician is facing to solve it. I will try to give my best effort to help you in this problem.

First considering your past diagnosis of anxiety, normal multiple investigations for seizures and response to lamotrigine favor diagnosis of anxiety disorder, as all your symptoms can be explained by anxiety.

Tingling, electrical sensation, numbness, palpitation and pain complaints are also common somatic symptoms of anxiety.

Lamotrigine is a second line medicine for seizures. It is also helpful in anxiety and depression. Xanax is used only for short term in anxiety.

It is better to involve your psychiatrist in your treatment planning because of following reasons:
-Treatment of anxiety
-Identification of other psychological issues related to problem
-Management of sleep disturbance and existing symptoms

In treatment you may require:
-Increase in doses of lamotrigine
-Addition of more anti anxiety and other medicine depending on evaluation


I hope this information has been both informative and helpful for you. In case of any doubt, I will be available for follow ups.

Wish you good health.
Regards,
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Feeling of electrical sensation on multiple body parts, anxiety, fear, health related worries. Taking Xanax, Lamotrigine. Anxiety disorder history. Treatment? 25 minutes later
Doctor,

Thank you for your reply. But it still does not explain the close association between my respiration and these electrical signals that are shooting all over my body. I'm not just getting numb in a hand or a foot. It originates in my stomach and I can feel it travel through my body.

If you can answer any question please answer this: is there anyway that an electrical shock in my body can stop my heart. Hat is what I'm most worried about.

Thanks
 
 
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 1 hour later
Hello again,

Thanks for follow up,

Tingling, electrical sensation, numbness, palpitation and pain complaints are common somatic symptoms of anxiety.

These symptom can occur independently like numbness in hand & foot in your case and with physiological body activity like respiration or sleeping etc.

Apart from that get thyroid function test and serum B12 level done. Sometime these problem can present with complaints similar in your case.

Same time start multivitamins, as they will provide some relief in presence of vitamins deficiency.

Please accept my answer in case there are no further queries and recommend our services to your friends too if you have found it helpful.

Wish you good health.
Regards.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Feeling of electrical sensation on multiple body parts, anxiety, fear, health related worries. Taking Xanax, Lamotrigine. Anxiety disorder history. Treatment? 14 hours later
Thank you for your follow up, but it still does not satisfy me. I have been on anxiety medication for 6months now and these symptoms remain. Please also answer this question: can electrical sensations in your own body stop your heart beat?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Ashish Mittal 4 hours later
Hello again,

Thanks for follow up,

Tingling, electrical sensation, numbness, palpitation and pain complaints are common somatic symptoms of anxiety. Sometime it lead to feeling of stoppage of heart beat but in reality these symptoms do not lead to stoppage of heart beat.

Xanax and lamotrigine help in anxiety but not very good medicine to treat anxiety. Anxiety occur due to neurotransmitters imbalance in brain most commonly involving serotonin neurotransmitter. You need treatment from specialist like psychiatrist to treat your anxiety. It is not clear if you received any treatment in past from psychiatrist, but believe me people life changes after treatment.

In drug treatment two types of medicine used. For immediate relief of anxiety benzodiazepines group of medicines (like xanax) are used and for long term relief most commonly SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are used. SSRI takes around 3-4 weeks to show its effect. Non drug treatment like cognitive behaviour therapy (form of psychotherapy) also takes weeks to show its effect.

All these process is complex. I have just simplified it to make you understand it. So, your treatment is appear to right but it can be better from specialist, in some cases improvement may take time. Although I understand that you are suffering, but you have to keep patience.

Apart from above advice following simple measures will help you to some extent:
-Decrease worrying about symptoms as they will cure after treatment.
-Healthy diet: Milk and fruits in diet.
-Daily morning walk and breathing exercise.

Apart from that get thyroid function test and serum B12 level done. Sometime these problem can present with complaints similar in your case.

Same time start multivitamins, as they will provide some relief in presence of vitamins deficiency.

Please accept my answer in case there are no further queries and recommend our services to your friends too if you have found it helpful.

Wish you good health.
Regards.



Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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