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This is going to be a long one, and I'd like other anxiety sufferers to help me out here. This will lead in to physical symptoms I am experiencing and I'm trying to determine to what extent they are mental.

So, I'll start from the top. I've always been in good health, mentally and physically, and have always been the type to believe I can achieve anything and be very resolute. That allowed me to start my own business and more, and life was good. But the workload and stress involved in my work has undoubtedly begun to take its toll on my body and mind. I work with computers, and spend almost every waking hour at a desk most days.

A few months ago I had a serious allergic reaction to a nut bar I ate, an allergy I had been unaware of all my life until this occurrence. All my life I have eaten peanuts and cashews etc. but when I ate some almonds and brazil nuts, I went in to anaphylactic shock. Luckily I had gone to the hospital before the reaction set in, knowing something was quite wrong. In my usual jovial manner, I had no concept of what was happening to me, I was joking and holding casual conversation with the doctor whilst the reaction set in! It was only when he told me that he couldn't get a needle in to my veins to inject steroids, because "my veins were closing up" and I saw the concern on his face, that I realized "uh, this isn't good..." and immediately focused on helping him find a vein and get some blood pumping. We got there in the end, after he stuck the drip in my arm about five times (which wasn't fun). They were able to pump in whatever they use to suppress the reaction and intervene just before I fainted. I spent the day in hospital on the drip just in case I had a relapse.

I haven't been the same since this experience. I didn't know what had happened to me at the time and searched for it online after the event. I realized I had come seriously close to not just fainting, but dying. If I hadn't gone to the hospital that would have been a very real possibility. I was so lucky. Being a young male, realizing my own mortality was a total shock to the system. I had never considered the possibility that *I* would die. It was always just an idea, not something I'd actually experience (many of us feel immortal when you are young, it's why young people tend to do so much stupid stuff!).

[B]Panic & Anxiety[/B]
For weeks after the anaphylaxis all I could think about was death. The inevitability of it, I felt so defenseless and vulnerable. Being very pragmatic, I reacted by buying several health books and read constantly about future medical technologies that gave me hope of a prolonged and healthy life. I began supplementing to make up for any deficiencies in my system, after much thorough research in to how illnesses and allergies arise in the system through deficiency.

I even bought a blood pressure monitor, and am happy to report that my blood pressure and heart rate fall directly in to the middle of the "ideal" range I can find in all online charts.

Then I experienced my first panic attack. I woke in the middle of the night, physically shaking. I managed to bring this under control on my own and didn't tell anyone it had happened.

Within weeks of this I began getting strange sensations in my chest, accompanied by shortness of breath and this weird occasional "popping" noise coming from my lungs. This popping comes and goes, but when it is there can be consistently reproduced either by deep breaths or by moving in a certain manner.

One particular shooting sensation around my heart alarmed me most, one time it was strong enough that I leapt up from my chair in reaction to it and really panicked, feeling something was wrong with my heart. So I went to the hospital, at 2am, and stayed until 6am to be seen. They conducted a chest x-ray and ECG and found nothing, I was told it was anxiety and to go home and get over it basically.

But I couldn't, it kept resurfacing even when I was totally relaxed. I went to see my doctor, and she also told me it was anxiety and recommended a foreign yoga DVD (which made me question her competence more than anything, I felt like I'd been told to hold healing crystals and chant myself better).

Anyway, having had this opinion from two separate sources and so many experiences consistent with anxiety, I put all of my symptoms down as mental. But then the shortness of breath made a distinct break from my anxiety, by lasting for 48 hours non-stop. I was going to bed short of breath, waking up short of breath, and spending my entire day short of breath. It got too much to bear so I went to another doctor. This doctor finally concurred with my view that this particular symptom went beyond anxiety. I was told I had a chest infection and she prescribed me antibiotics to cure it.

I have just finished my one week course of antibiotics, but my chest feels almost no better. The only thing that seems to help is standing up, getting fresh air and going outside. When I lay down, or sit down for prolonged periods it seems to return. I'm also frequently light-headed and very hungry, even when I shouldn't be.

So my question to you is, is this mental, or is it physical? I suspect I'm somewhere at a crossroads between the two, which is making it very hard to diagnose what is what.

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