I was diagnosed with BPD, GAD and MDD a few years ago, and different therapists have speculated about quite a few other disorders without officially diagnosing any of them. I’ve both read and been told that anxiety can cause physical pain in the back, stomach and chest. I’ve been suffering from extreme pains in my back and chest, along with intense burning, constant restlessness and inability to relax, and stomach pain/discomfort and nausea for at least five years or longer, and they do seem to intensify when I’m suffering from higher anxiety or a panic attack. But the pain is so intense some days I can barely get out of bed – it makes basic, daily life a debilitating experience. Can this all be attributed to anxiety? Or is there some physical problem that could cause these same symptoms? And also, if it is just anxiety, what could be done to deal with these extreme pains – progressive muscle relaxation and that sort of thing haven’t managed to provide any relief. I can’t remember the last time I was relaxed or completely free of these pains. (age 23, from US)
Yes, anxiety disorders can involve physical sensations and pain, but there is no way for me to know if your pain is related to psychological issues or if there indeed could be a medical component. It sounds like you have sought treatment already but I would encourage you to continue. Please let your family doctor know what is going on with you to see if you should undergo more diagnostic tests. I would also suggest that you think outside of the box and consider seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist.
The same goes for psychological treatments. If you have tried therapy and medication but still have such severe symptoms, I would suggest that you seek a therapist trained in bio-feedback, EMDR, or some form of somatic treatment. Furthermore, learning to meditate or do yoga may be helpful as well.
Our mind and body work together so seeking treatments that incorporate holistic techniques may be a good next step for you to take.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts