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Brain & Nervous System Disorders Message Board

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Anxiety and ALS
May 13, 2011
I'm a seventeen year-old male and have been experiencing a slew of strange, albeit easily explained symptoms over the last two months. I have also been subject to severe anxiety for weeks at a time, and each new symptom only serves to feed my hysteria. Despite being a very emotional person, I can normally contain even the most radical bouts of panic, and am normally quite reserved. But the symptoms linger, and I cannot help but worry about what they may mean.

The anxiety began in early March with severe, gripping pain in my left ribcage. After experiencing this pain at unpredictable times for nearly a week, I was convinced I was experiencing the precursors to a heart attack, a silly notion in itself given that I am in excellent health. I had a severe panic attack, and curiously enough, the pain dissipated, and I haven't had even an inkling of it since. Even then, I still fretted about it incessantly, and was even afraid of going out alone for fear of not having anyone to take me to a hospital.

I began having tingling sensations in my face and especially around my lips. This gradually extended into the tongue. I also began having a burning feeling in the cartilage in my right ear, as if it had just been flushed with warm water. I also began having tension headaches, including a strange tense sensation under my left eye which only seemed to appear when I began to worry.

The anxiety continued into April, at which point my muscles began to twitch. The twitching began on the side of my head, above the ear. Muscle twitches came and went in my right arm and shoulder (where, conveniently enough, I have had bad shoulder tendinitis since October of 2010), and gradually moved under the shoulder blade, and eventually began in my left arm. I also had twitching in my calves and lower section of my thighs. This sent me into an immediate panic, as I realized this was a warning sign of ALS, a prospect that terrifies me to no end. I began noting every awkward movement, every mispronounced syllable, and every semblance of muscle weakness I could find. While playing baseball, I tripped multiple times while running the bases, and told myself I was obviously losing my coordination. The panic has snowballed over the past month to the point where I meticulously enunciate every word as clearly as possible to ensure myself that I can still speak correctly, and make every step deliberate to ensure I still have my coordination.

I have asked friends and family on multiple occasions whether they have noticed any difference in my speech or gait, but no one noted any changes whatsoever. No one has noted any atrophy either.

Since mid-April, I have had tingling sensations in my palms, fingers, and feet, including a strange buzzing sensation that pops up in my shins and on the soles of my feet. These have just intensified my worry. In the past week I have begun to experience tremors in my hands and feet. This is something I believe is related to anxiety, but I cannot help but think it's a precursor to severe muscle weakness. It may also be a result of the mild carpal tunnel syndrome I've been experiencing since February, as I spend most of my day working at a desk.

My question is: are these red flags for ALS or any other serious neurological disease, or are these simply symptoms of severe anxiety, and is there anything I can do to curtail it? I have a lot of difficulty concentrating, but for worrying.

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