Q: I’m wondering if someone can help me make a decision in helping my wife. For the past year she has had many problem with balance, tingling, numbness in arms and legs and face, and what appears to me to have turned into panic attacks when these symptoms appear. The first time I took her to the emergency room but they found nothing. Over the year she has had MRI, MRA of brain, CT scans, full cardio work up, numerous blood tests, thyroid, endoscopy, ultasound of major organs and other tests. She still can not get over the fact that something is wrong with her. She has never been a worrier or hypochodriac and a very outgoing person. I suggested finally at last she see a pyschologist and could tell that she was really hurt. I dont want to hurt her but Im worried she is doing this to herself. She is also afraid of medication after have some allergic reactions to various medications she has been given over the last year. One in which I think was valium. My question is:
1. what are the chances of there being something medical wrong with her the doctors havent found and should I support her in pursuing this further or
2. try to help her accept she has an anxiety problem maybe stemming from these symptoms and
3. can Anxiety disorder/panic actually cause these symptoms dullness in legs and arms, panic attacks, headache face and arm leg numbness.
I really want to help her but am so confused.
Thank you for your help.
A: Hello and thank you for your question:
It sounds like you are really worried, want what’s best for your wife, and I can’t blame you. Several things come to mind; while I deeply respect the medical community, it is not perfect and can miss diagnoses. There are neurological problems that are hard to diagnose early on, and there are disorders that can appear to be something else.
I won’t try to make a medical diagnosis, that’s not my field, but I would strongly suggest that you encourage your wife to see a psychiatrist. NOT because she’s “crazy” but because he/she might be able to put the symptoms together for a good diagnosis. Remember, psychiatrists are medical doctors first and they can help in a way that a psychologist or therapist cannot.
While your wife is clearly suffering from anxiety (which can indeed cause the physical problems you indicated in #3) many of these symptoms may not go away until her anxiety is treated. Therefore, whether you hurt her feelings or not, you should suggest that the two of you go to a professional who can truly get to the root of her problems, and help both of you return to a normal life.
If she were to have a broken leg, would she get help? There’s no difference here; her problem clearly has physical parts to it, although it may have some hidden psychological issues as well. She can be helped, but only if she is willing to let the right people help her.
I hope this helps,
Dr. Diana Walcutt
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 May 2009
Walcutt, D. (2009). Are Her Symptoms Anxiety-Related?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/05/20/2717/