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Started butterfly feelings in upper stomach, having anxiety attacks. What are the risks?

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upper right stomach butterfly feelings almost taking my breath away, causing me to have anxiety attacks, worried it may be my heart. Seems to happen when I lay on my right side too
Posted Thu, 2 Aug 2012 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. J. Clive Spiegel 2 hours later

Thanks for writing us with your question.

I am a psychiatrist and neurologist so I should be able to help orient you a bit with this concern.

Whenever a patient complains of physical manifestations that could be due to anxiety, we generally make sure that the primary doctor conducts a thorough physical examination and orders any necessary tests to rule out something physical that could be causing the problem.

So in your case, it would be imperative to consult your regular general physician first and be sure that he/she orders tests to look at your heart and lungs and abdomen, particularly if these tests haven't been done recently. At very least an EKG for the heart, a chest X-ray for the lungs and an abdominal X-ray or ultrasound sound like they would rule out a majority of problems that might masquerade as panic or anxiety. Some bloodwork checking for basic problems would be useful as well.

If all these tests and investigations come back negative, I would see a psychiatrist as this may be garden-variety generalized anxiety, panic, or both, which is treatable with psychotherapy and medication.

I hope this helps orient you to getting help for this problem. Don't hesitate to follow up with me if you have any further questions.

Best of health to you!
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