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Wednesday, April 08, 2009 Natalie, Community Member, asks

Q: Can you have a vasovagal attack while sitting, or would this be an anxiety attack?

Hello, a few years ago, I was diagnosed with vasovagal depressor syncope.  I had a positive tilt table test and was put on an antidepressant.  I stopped the use of the antidepressant about a year afterwards.  I have not had a single episode for about 3 years. 

 

The other day I was at work, and all day I felt nauseated and had a touch of dihareha.  I sat the whole day at work and went home a half hour early because I did not feel well.  While driving home, I suddenly became very light headed and thought that I was going to pass out.  Paniced, I pulled over and laid down in the back seat of my car and called my husband.  I could not lift my arms or legs at all.  My heart was racing as fast as it would go, and I thought that I was going to pass out and die. 

 

My husband then took me to the ER where after about 6 hours and many tests, the doctor said that nothing was wrong with me.  My heartrate would be 60 lying down, 80 sitting, and about 112 standing but my blood pressure would stay the same.  I still felt very weak and nauseated and felt like I was going to pass out and die.  They sent me home with some medication to make me sleep. 

 

Today, I still feel nauesated and my intestines feel like they are in a knot.  I am freaking out that at any moment I'm going to pass out and die like I did before.  I don't know what happened to me or what to do about it.  I'm scared.

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Answers (5)
Eileen Bailey, Health Guide
4/ 9/09 1:24pm

Natalie

 

Thank you for your question and welcome to AnxietyConnection.com.

 

First, I would recommend you follow up with your family physician and discuss the symptoms you had the other day. Let him or her know that you are still not feeling well.

 

A vasovagal attack can occur while sitting, although most times it does happen while standing or when someone gets up too quickly from sitting or lying down.

 

It is impossible for me to say whether your symptoms are a result of anxiety or an anxiety attack. This would be best determined by your physician.

 

Please let me know what happens at your doctor.

 

Eileen

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Joanna, Community Member
8/29/09 3:34pm

I was addmitted into hosptial on thursday and diagnosis with Vasovagal episode what is this ? This was my first attack ? I have a nasty fall on Wednesday Night at ?

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Lynette, Community Member
4/27/10 8:41pm

Natalie,

 

IN my experience there is a fine line between vasovagal and panic attacks - the two can easily feed into each other but what you describe sounds more like a panic attack.  I have found the opinion of the medical profession on this to be that they are two separate conditions but I experience links between the two.  As I said to my psychiatrist about a decade ago when he asked me "You can tell the difference between a panic attack and vasovagal can't you?" I said "Not when I'm having a panic attack I can't!"  The actual fact is that I can to a degree.  I have learnt to let my panic attacks pass by letting them go and not indulging them and they are very rare and short term in recent years - although I have still had a couple of vasovagal episodes associated with injury and the fact is that if I am able to relax and not feed into the panic - in the same way that I do with a panic attack - I am sometimes able to avert seizures and have been able to do this at different times throughout my life - even before I was diagnosed with panic disorder and learnt how to deal with it directly.

 

This is a very basic outline of my story:

 

http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=238125966&blogId=500354928

 

These are the most helpful books I have read on panic disorder.  They literally saved my life:

 

http://bevaisbett.customer.netspace.net.au/books.htm

 

I am still waiting for an equally helpful book on vasovagal and dysautonomia - perhaps I will have to write it!

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mommaof2, Community Member
12/ 4/11 11:38pm

Yes!  I was having dinner with family and had a vasovagal attack.   In the past these attacks would be triggered by some type of trauma.  This attack was new to me because it was the other sets of symptoms that brought this on.  Now I have a fear of eating in restaurants, feeling like its going to hit me again.  I don't know if its a panic/anxiety attack or a vasovagal attack.  Scary!!!!

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Deborah, Community Member
11/ 6/13 10:27pm
Hi - I am so glad that there is a forum on this discussion. I have vasovagal (vv) episodes when sitting. My firt experience with vv occurred while having a minor medical procedure in which a very thin needle was inserted in me. It didn't hurt, it just went in deep. Everything went black and I felt like I was blacking out but I could still speak and tell the doctor what I was feeling. My blood pressure dropped precipitously and the doctor gave me a shot of epinephrine - which caused my blood pressure to increase. It also happened when I was delivering a baby when the doctor broke my waters (using a small crochet hook type instrument. No pain - but caused my to start to pass out) and also when donating blood. Now I tell doctors when I am about to undergo a procedure and ask for epinephrine. The epinephrine seems to prevent the attack. I no longer donate blood. Interestingly, my daughter starts to black out while working out with a trainer. I am a very healthy, normal weight, emotionally resilient 59 year old woman who also is well educated (I have a doctorate and work as an executive at a community college district). I am retiring in four weeks and looking forward to it. Also, my daughter is getting married in four weeks and is expecting a baby - all happy events. I have a long commute every day through horrendous traffic in Los Angeles - 50 miles - takes upwards of 1.5 hours each way. Two weeks ago while driving on the I-5 at 70mph in the fast lane I had a dizzy spell. I had been listening to music and did not feel anxious. Moments later, the dizziness returned and I started to black out. I was terrified and thought I was going to die. I managed to pull all the way over to the shoulder as I was passing through a very busy interstate interchage area. I thought I was about to die and kept saying to myself "Oh no - not now." When I got over, still with the blacking out sensation, I managed to call 911 and tell the operator where I was. While I waited for the EMS - they came quick - I called my husband and he kept me talking and calling to me to stay with him. EMS came and got me into the right seat so they could drive me off the interstate. They took my vitals - all were fine but my BP was a little hight. They did Blood Sugar, mobile EKG etc. As I was still not feeling well, they took me to the ER. At the hospital I had a brain CAT Scan, EKG, Urinaylsis, Blood work etc. All checked out fine. Now two weeks later, I am still feeling dizzy and I feel frightened while driving on the freeway. Lo and behold, as I passed the place that I had the episode, even while not thinking about it, I started having the feelling again. I tell myself that this is psychologically triggered, that I am fine, that I am not going to pass out and to knock it off. However, apparently, we don't have as much control over this as we would hope - it is deep seated and in the subconscious. I am convinced that I am under a lot of stress, whether I acknowledge it or not, and that must be the reason. Anyone else have this kind of issue? Reply
newfnewf, Community Member
1/25/14 12:24am

After reading your story it almost sounds like you were having a panic attack on the freeway. I was diagnosied with vasovagial syncope when I was 16 but I only suffered from attacks when I was vomitting. I just thought well okay this is not cool but at least it happens when I am sick and already in the bathroom. Now fast forward 10 years later and I am on the treadmill running and I feel like I am going to pass out or vomit. I get off the treadmill and walk to the locker room and proceed to pass out. I call my primary care for an emergency appointment, they then send me to a cardiologist. My vitals are fine and my heart is working great but on the stress test my blood pressure dropped due to exercise. Result: no more gym or running but I can go back to swimming which will keep my body temperature down and stop the fainting. I also suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I have found that anxiety and vasovagial like to feed off of each other. It is sometimes hard to tell if I am suffering from a panic attack or if I am about to pass out. I have asked both my therapist and MD if anxiety can trigger vasovagal attacks and they both responded that anxiety is so powerful that it can affect mutiple parts of your body. Bottom line anxiety and vasovagial suck. I read your story and I can really relate to what you are going through and sometimes I feel dizzy while doing everyday activities. You are not alone and best of luck!

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By Natalie, Community Member— Last Modified: 05/21/14, First Published: 04/08/09