Quantcast

Living with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Biofeedback for "medical anxiety"


#1

Hello all,

I'm not sure how many of you struggle with this but I have lately. Before my diagnosis I was always really healthy, then one day BAM. The last few years I have more doctors than you can shake a stick at, had procedures, biopsies and tried many medications. Essentially, this really stresses me out on top of the obvious stress of having chronic disease and working full time. I started getting biofeedback (not always covered by insurance so check) and its really helped me manage my fear and anxiety. I have a habit of googling too much, considering worst case scenarios and then I just feel like I'm going to boil over. The breathing exercises have really helped me stay calm during stressful doctor visits (breast biopsy) and I have started learning not to focus on thought patterns that just make me feel worse.


#2

I just think good on you for identifying that there was a problem and doing something about it. I'm sceptical about these techniques .... not because I don't think they work, but because I don't think they'd work for me. Last time I got even close to something like this was visualisation / relaxation exercises during a patient education programme for inflammatory arthritis patients. We were meant to be strolling through a wood towards a beach and I just kept thinking 'wanna get to the beach, wanna get to the beach!!' like a 5 year old. But I do work on myself, in my own way, and that is effective to some degree.

I think it is very common and understandable to feel anxiety when health problems mount up. And something has to be done to manage that. Google has a lot to answer for though. There are quite a few things I have deliberately NOT googled lately ... then when I weaken and check things out I do feel scared, or grumpier or something. I think with the online world the ideal is keep the best and ditch the rest, but that's easier said than done.

I wish you well with the various things you're going through and with keeping fear under control. Was the breast biopsy okay?


#3

I was skeptical at first but at this point was "I'll try anything". The biofeedback is so easy that once you get it, you can do it on your own and there are even apps for it (of course!) Breathe to Relax is one of them. My doc said that when you get into a fight or flight body reaction whether its physical danger or just bad thoughts, your body reacts by increasing heart rate, closing off blood flow to extremities and your breath quickens in preparation for defending yourself. You can trick your body into this response by letting thoughts make you afraid, but you can also trick your body out of it by concentrating on your breathing and pushing those thoughts out. She hooked me up to a band to measure breathing rate and depth and a temperature probe to one finger. As I lay there relaxing and focusing on slow deep belly breathing and thinking of something relaxing or happy everything looks nice and even on my breathing chart and then when she told me to think of something only mildly stressful, my breathing got faster and the temperature of my hands got colder. Once I got the hang of it, its really easy. She did give me the name of a lady on iTunes and music streaming (Roberta Shapiro) that does more of the visualization that you described. I have a harder time with that myself. Its easier for me to concentrate on the breathing and then think of my own relaxing or happy thing than to force myself to imagine these other scenarios.

The biopsy went well. For once I wasn't hot all over with sweaty palms, I was calm the whole time even when she said "that's weird". She injected the lidocaine in preparation for the vacuum needle assisted biopsy and the lump changed shape. Then she had to switch methods and do fine needle aspiration instead. It turned out to be a cyst and she thinks it was ruptured by the lidocaine. It was a kidney bean shape and not round, so that's why they weren't sure it was a cyst. Then it looked like a hand when it changed shape. But, benign thanks for asking!


#4

Very glad to hear that Mel B!

Mel B said:

The biopsy went well. For once I wasn't hot all over with sweaty palms, I was calm the whole time even when she said "that's weird". She injected the lidocaine in preparation for the vacuum needle assisted biopsy and the lump changed shape. Then she had to switch methods and do fine needle aspiration instead. It turned out to be a cyst and she thinks it was ruptured by the lidocaine. It was a kidney bean shape and not round, so that's why they weren't sure it was a cyst. Then it looked like a hand when it changed shape. But, benign thanks for asking!


#5

I googled a lot before I found this site 1.5 years ago. That was a good Google outcome!

Glad to hear your great biopsy result, Mel B. :-)

I found out how negatively stress can affect how I feel a week ago when I was trying to make a decision about health insurance. I became physically ill because of all the confusing information I had to sort out to make an educated choice!!! Next time I feel stressed like that I'm going to try harder to calm myself.

Got a busy day ahead--I hope everyone has a good weekend!


#6

Mel - thank you for your post. This is exactly why I joined this forum yesterday.

I'm 10 years into this disease, and it has slowly taken over my life. I think I've finally hit the wall where I feel 'robbed', and the chronic pain and unpleasant potential future is taking it's toll on my ability to enjoy m life.

I decided this week that I have to find a way to take back some control, and deal with the mental health side of this disease. I will take a look at biofeedback among other therapies - thanks for the suggestion.