HOW TO CUT DOWN ON FREQUENT ER VISITS

Many of those with anxiety disorders live in a world where they experience physical symptoms that cause fear. Fear of something  medically being wrong; fear of impending death.   This is  about anxiety disorders, especially health anxiety or Panic attacks.   Stress hormones symptoms cause you to believe you are in extreme medical danger and  you believe you must go to the ER because of impending doom.

Here are some general guidelines that may help you start to take back your life.

First, for most people it is necessary to find a medical doctor that they trust. I know of those who do not have a GP, General Practitioner or Family doctor and just use the ER when they experience what they believe to be life threatening symptoms.   Some people go to the ER repeatedly / habitually. It is usually very expensive. They run tests but what if test after test they find nothing wrong?   When you arrive staff may reference you as a frequent flyer.  The ER’s job is to get you past any “emergency”.  It is your medical doctor that can search to see if there are any underlying problems that may be causing some of your symptoms. So why rush back there again and again let us consider another option.

If you are a frequent flyer there are ways to help curb these visits  as  you retrain your brain.   That is of course if you are known to have an anxiety disorder and  the test results are negative, that is results show that there is nothing wrong.

To change your response of ER visits you need to change your mindset. The chain of symptoms that send you to the ER will need to be broken.  This may be a good time to review other articles in the blog.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

You need to find a Doctor that you can trust.  One that listens and understands what panic and health anxiety is all about. You may not find this person on your first or second try.  But you also need to learn to trust the medical profession and accept a negative result.

You need to have a complete physical! Because of insurances  many physicians  are guided as to what they can and can not do. It is not always their choice. If the Doctor has a solid diagnosis of panic or health related anxiety it can go a long way in getting the ball rolling. In their records they need to document these as your medical issue.    Remember your insurance company dictates much of what your Doctor can order. The Doctor will need to know if and how often  you rush to the ER.  Typing out a list and handing it to the Dr to be added to your medical record in some cases can be helpful.  

Insurance companies often understand  only the bottom line, money. Ambulance rides and ER visits can be VERY expensive. If you can find a Doctor to partner with you may need to start by setting up weekly visits. Your goal is to  space out the weekly visits to every 2 -3 weeks,  then  4-8 weeks, and so on. A good therapist would be able to help you along this path.

Even a month of  weekly visits will cost less than an ER visit.   Tests in a non-emergent setting are often less expensive. In the ER you are Paying for all the staff and all the equipment and all the machines…

It much cheaper to have DR. visits that frequenting the ER.

Therefore, start with a good diagnosis that you suffer from an anxiety disorder, and a good doctor.  You can also be in counseling during this time to help you retrain the way you think and react to stress hormones.

With a sound diagnosis,  what should you expect with a complete physical? It is different than that of a physical to start work. With the list you have provided of your ER visits and notes from your  counselor or therapist, the insurance company may give the Dr more leeway on running tests. The doctor must be able to explain why they are ordering a test that may seem unnecessary for a physically healthy individual. (especially one that has had negative tests before.) Proper documentation is very important.  Ask your Dr what type of documentation they need to do testing if only for your mental health. 

You have chosen a doctor to work with – heed their explanation of test results. They should offer reinforcement that everything looks fine and is in proper working order.  An ER doctor may not have the time (nor the bedside manner) to calmly explain and answer all your questions. Test results  stay in your file, request a copy and when fear hits and read the results out loud.

This in no way means that once the test is complete that you turn around the next week, the next month and ask for a repeat.  You need to process the information and retrain your brain into realizing that the test results were normal as frequently as needed to overcome the panic and anxiety.

You see once a panic attacks hits, the hormone surge will only last a short time unless you add more fear. This will cause more hormones and them more hormones. Thoughts  such as  –I am having a heart attack, 1 surge, I have to go to the hosp, another surge, what if the last test results were wrong? 3rd surge, you check your pulse it seems very high, 4th surge …..   Hormones have cumulative affects!  Fear adds dramatically to your symptoms.

A game plan must be designed in your partnership with the physician.

The goal is to let your physician take the lead.  The doctor will need to know and understand the symptoms of panic attacks and health anxiety.  They need to know the symptoms  experienced from hormone releases are very real, and how it affects you.

Letting the doctor take the lead removes from you one source of anxiety. As you research on the web there is so much that does not apply to you.  You can read things and start to speculate and overthink  the information in a negative  way.  Answers from an online anxiety group member only gives you someone’s opinion.   We are each so different that what helps one person may not help you at all in fact it could do harm.

Heart related symptoms usually top the scales for a  majority of the ER visits. 

Fear of Heart Attacks

The doctor must understand that your symptoms can come at you in slightly different ways so it makes it difficult to know if “this time” it may be the real thing.  Let’s say you wake with Panic; your heart racing  and you rush to the ER. The next time maybe you were shoveling snow so this time it may be real. Or maybe you had terrible indigestion and limbs were shaking and  then your heart starts racing……

You need to find a doctor that will try to do whatever tests needed to reassure you and to ensure there is not a chemical imbalance causing some of the symptoms. Your trust and partnership with your doctor are key to you believing  the  interpretation of the tests. 

FYI  A specialist may not really understand the symptoms caused by Adrenalin, and Cortisol…   A specialist looks only at ONE thing, the heart, the vascular system, the digestive system you need to be treated as a whole person because most of what you experience does not have an underlying medical issue. In most cases you would not need a specialist unless your test results warrant it.

What does a complete physical involve for someone who suffers from panic and anxiety?

It may include cardiac studies, halter monitors, stress tests.  Your doctor will need to rule out any medical conditions that can cause your symptoms.   It could be an underlying thyroid problem, an adrenal problem, a vitamin deficiency, a tick bite and or untreated infection,  even poor nutrition. These can all be checked by blood work.    

NOTE:

Even herbal supplements that some people swear by cause anxiety in others. Food additives, even MSG and homeopathic drugs along with caffeine can cause anxiety.  Just starting extra supplements on your own with out lab tests to prove you are deficient in some cases can cause side effects. Many vitamins can become toxic when you take more than you need.  Often cheaper supplements and vitamins do not ensure that you get what is on the label. The vitamin / supplement industry is Hugh! You must find reputable sources. Pharmacists are a good resource.

If you eat well your levels are usually be fine without any supplements. Some people also see a nutritionist because improper diets can cause unwanted symptoms

Remember anything you put in your mouth meds and supplements should be on your pharmacists’ profile to ensure the dosages will not be harmful or interact with any thing else you are taking.

Also,  menopause and electrolyte imbalances can cause some of symptoms associated with anxiety attacks.

Once you  find a doctor you trust get the necessary testing done  to verify there are no underlying medical conditions.  When you get the next attack say out loud boldly –“ My test  results are normal. I have a Dr appointment in ___ days. I had a physical I had a stress test  my heart is fine this will pass it is only a hormone response”….  Read the test results out loud.  Be sure to put into place other suggestions that this blog has introduced to you.   You may want to work with a therapist during this time. 

AND NOW SOME NEW INFORMATION ABOUT AUTISM and how it relates to this topic

Since many either have autism or know someone with autism this may be of interest to you.

Autism has been conducting many studies on nutrition and supplements .

For kids with autism, supplements often result in nutrient imbalances

In largest study of its kind, Autism Speaks ATN researchers find too-high levels of some vitamins and minerals, not enough of others.

Many doctors routinely test kids with autism and customize vitamins  “compounded”  at a pharmacy. They are having great success in improving social behaviors. Ex: a child’s behavior can change with either  levels that are too high or too low.  .    

 Zinc and .Magnesium levels too high or too low can both cause many symptoms.

Find a doctor you can trust and with them build a partnership that they do the research and the labs and testing and then you believe the results!

Don’t let your persistence worry and fears your thinking or emotional patterns dictate  how you live your life.  

Fight Back Fight Fear.