Just Stressed or Something Medical?
I know what you’re thinking. Fast heart rate. Palpitations. Chest pain. Is that nervousness? Panic attack? Fainting. GI Issues. Is this person overwhelmed with fear and anxiety? Headaches. Migraines. Caused from stress? Then you hear about all the other wild symptoms we deal with like inability to regulate body temperature, standing intolerance, vertigo, brain fog, random aches and pains, and more. And you might be thinking, “There’s no way they’re dealing with all of these symptoms. Either they are making it up or just want attention.”
While several POTS symptoms do mimic anxiety, anxiety does not cause POTS. In fact, “Research has shown that POTS patients are similarly or even less likely to suffer from anxiety or panic disorder than the general public.” (Source: Dysautonomia International)
I’d like to present an analogy.
If someone has cancer, it would be reasonable for that person to develop some anxiety, stress, or even depression along their journey, right? Did their anxiety cause their cancer? No. It just became another side effect from dealing with all that cancer brings.
It’s similar with POTS.
POTS is not caused by anxiety, but rather in dealing with all the symptoms of POTS and people not always believing you, anxiety can ensue. Trying to juggle all of our triggers, symptoms, flares, meds, work, family and social life could easily lead us to become quite stressed as well.
And sure, stress certainly does not help POTS symptoms. I'll admit that. But then again, stress doesn’t help a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. Doesn’t mean it caused it.
So what does cause POTS? Researchers and doctors are still working to find the true root cause and pathology of POTS, but there are several diseases and conditions known to be associated with POTS or to cause POTS-like symptoms.
Still, many of us POTSies are misdiagnosed as having anxiety, a panic disorder, or being chronically stressed before receiving the actual POTS diagnosis. This is extremely frustrating. When we don’t get a proper diagnosis, we can’t get proper treatment or the relief that can come with having a medical diagnosis to help ourselves, friends and family understand the situation better. You can help us raise more awareness and research funding so we can shorten these diagnostic delays by donating to the POTS research fund.