Discussions By Condition: I cannot get a diagnosis.

Panic or Dementia?

Posted In: I cannot get a diagnosis. 0 Replies
  • Posted By: Mattingly
  • October 2, 2008
  • 07:56 PM

About two months ago I was hospitalized with what (was thought) to be encephalitis. On the afternoon that I got sick, I first began feeling dizzy and disoriented, and then found that I was having difficulty remembering phone numbers, my address, and even the name of my wife. I eventually developed a fever.

The diagnosis of encephalitis was never 100%, though, because on the night I went into the hospital, the specialist needed to perform a lumbar puncture was absent, and by the time he came in on Monday, my symptoms had completely vanished and I had been discharged. It was scary but - whew! - all over. Right?

Well, not so much.

A few weeks later I was visiting my parents' house when I had an attack very similar to when I was hospitalized. These symptoms included numbness on both sides of the body, a temporary loss of word recall, panic, hyperventilation etc. Unlike when I was hospitalized, I did not develop a fever this second time, and my symptoms went away after a few hours of their own accord.

My mother, an RN, eventually decided that - at least this time - what I had experienced was an acute panic attack.

That was about a month and a half ago, and I haven't had an attack like that since. However, about five weeks ago as I was driving home from my in-laws' house, I began feeling somewhat light-headed. The sensation is similar to dizziness, but was not like I was falling over or the room was spinning. I suppose it was (and is) somewhat similar to being 'buzzed,' except highly unpleasant.

This sensation did not go away, and as time passed I began to increasingly feel like my short term memory was faltering. I wasn't forgetting where I was, or losing all sense of direction on the way to familiar places (like you might expect with dementia), but I felt (and feel) dull; almost blunted. I used to be an extremely sharp and quick-witted person who could juggle five tasks in my mind with ease. Now I have difficulty focusing on one, and repeatedly forget other things I need to do on a given day. I used to write for a living, and coming up with the right words was virtually effortless. Now, I struggle for even the simplest of synonyms.

Additionally, my head feels like it's constantly... pressurized; like there is a tightness that doesn't go away. I throw up… a lot. Like 5-10 times a day. It’s not typical, stomach-emptying throw up, but instead mostly bile.

My mother is convinced that I am suffering from depression and anxiety disorder, and I will admit; I have been absolutely obsessed with this memory thing over the past four weeks (it's been destroying my life). I've never had any problems like this before (I've been depressed before, but that was more like a sadness. Here, I'm apathetic about a lot of things that I was once passionate about), and now, suddenly, here I am sitting around worried to death that things are going to get progressively worse, and I'm going to forget everyone and everything I know, and then die.

My mom (as well as the nurse practitioner I saw Monday) is certain that, at 26, dementia is really not a concern, and that stress and anxiety explain all my symptoms, but I am really worried that she's wrong and that we're barking up the wrong tree. For one thing, college was extremely stressful a lot of the time, and yet this never happened for the four years that I was there.

My mother wants me to suggest to her other things that it might be (aside from some obscure form of dementia like Crutzfeld-Jacobs disease) other than stress so that she can rule them out and, frankly, I feel like it would ease my mind if I could just focus on it actually being stress. As of Monday, I am taking Paxil, but I've heard that it can take 1-4 weeks to show any affect, and as of Wednesday, I'm still feeling awful, and terrified that worse times are ahead.

Things do appear to be getting (rapidly) worse, as well. I am forgetting a lot of things, and am on the verge of panic that I am on the edge of losing my mind entirely.

Please suggest other things that I might have. If this isn't stress, what is it? Thanks for any and all help.

Reply Flag this Discussion
Thanks! A moderator will review your post and it will be live within the next 24 hours.

Safe Sex With Hepatitis C

Prevent the spread of the hepatitis C virus.

Preventing Lung Infections

With COPD, it’s important to protect your lungs.

8 Health Dangers of Depression

Unmanaged depression can take a toll on your physical health.

Food Choices for Diabetes

What, when and how much you eat affects your blood sugar.

6 Exercises for Multiple Sclerosis

Ease your way into these stretching and strengthening moves,