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Question
Posted by: Jenny | 2012/06/19

Panic stricken about drug reactions

Hi Cybershrink
I have allergies. I once had a severe reaction to a drug that resulted in an ambulance fetching me and taking me into hospital. The downside of these things is that they cannot tell you for sure what caused it (usually it is a preservative in the drug). Something happened to me mentally as I have had minor reactions to things but now I am so sensitive (actually I am very frightened) when it happens that I panic. I have Urbanol on me just in case. The thing is that I am now more frightened that I may in fact have a real emergency and "  miss"  it because I think it is a reaction. Don''t get me wrong we do not take these lightly. My GP''s options to treat me are limited. I think what if I need major surgery or any surgery. Actually I do, I avoided it for this reason. On package inserts I fall into that 1 in 10 000 category. I do not have money to see a psychologist. My GP says my panic feeds on the initial problem. It does. I did once see a Psychiatrist and she never saw me again because I was sent to her with " panic attacks" . She said it is not that because I had an episode and in the middle of it had to go and widdle. She said you cannot have a panic attack on the loo - something about the sympathetic nervous system? I see you recommend CBT training a lot, would it help me? I am confused I have a genuine chemical reaction to things sometimes (natural and chemical if I am sick) not all the time. I don''t really know what to do. I avoid prescribed meds sometimes out of fear. Then I get so sick I have to take them i.e. I can only take one antibiotic. My GP looks after me well and he is cautious and we discuss all options. I haven''t told him about the growing fear I have now though. It is very frightening to me. I think of going away or being somewhere and having a reaction and what then?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Well, firstly, SOMETIMES they should be able to tell you what caused an allergic reaction, whether the main drug or some other subsrtance in the tablet. And some physicians are specialists in Allergy as such ( there's even an Allergy Society of SA, whose meetings I used to attend ), and its possible for an allergist to do complex tests to discover precisely that it is that triggers your allergic reactions.
Better still, in many such situations it is possible to even desensitize one's body to specific allergens so that one is no longer so sensitive to them, as well as using a good knowledge of a range of possibly helpful drugs to control or preent such bad reactions.
And secondly, it sounds from your story as though you have a sort of psychological hypersensitivity ( nothing at all to do with allergy as such ) in the sense of now being so frightened of possible allergic reactions that you may panic and get over-anxious even when not at all allergic to anything. And that can respond excellently to competent psychological treatment, such as CBT, from a good psychologist using this good method.
Suggesting this is not because there is anything not genuine about the alarming experiences you have been having, but its important to recognize the different factors contributing to this, and competently treating them all.
One needs to think about whether you can afford NOT to see the right specialists to get this all back under control - otherwise your fears, partyl appropriate and probably, increasingly, excessive, may lead to your avoiding needed treatments with unpleasant, even dangerous effects from that avoidance.
The physical-chemical reactions to a physical allergy can themselves help to cause panic or severe anxiety ; and severe anxiety can also make one's physical system over-sensitive - so managing both aspects will reap real benefits
Explore alternatives, there should be psych services and allergy services available through your nearest major state hospital, and your nearest medical School will have competent folks in both fields, and should charge only according to your income.
I'm sorry to hear that the psychiatrist you saw had some very peculiar and idiosyncratic ideas about panic disorder, and was apparently unable to make the obvious diagnosis - or any other proper diagnosis as an alternative. Sounds like she had a very UNsympathetic nervous system !
The problem is significant, and fortunately its umnlikely to be as serious as you fear it to be, so with the right combination of expert assistance, you can control both the physical and mental components of this. And then live much more hapilly and safely.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2012/06/19

Well, firstly, SOMETIMES they should be able to tell you what caused an allergic reaction, whether the main drug or some other subsrtance in the tablet. And some physicians are specialists in Allergy as such ( there's even an Allergy Society of SA, whose meetings I used to attend ), and its possible for an allergist to do complex tests to discover precisely that it is that triggers your allergic reactions.
Better still, in many such situations it is possible to even desensitize one's body to specific allergens so that one is no longer so sensitive to them, as well as using a good knowledge of a range of possibly helpful drugs to control or preent such bad reactions.
And secondly, it sounds from your story as though you have a sort of psychological hypersensitivity ( nothing at all to do with allergy as such ) in the sense of now being so frightened of possible allergic reactions that you may panic and get over-anxious even when not at all allergic to anything. And that can respond excellently to competent psychological treatment, such as CBT, from a good psychologist using this good method.
Suggesting this is not because there is anything not genuine about the alarming experiences you have been having, but its important to recognize the different factors contributing to this, and competently treating them all.
One needs to think about whether you can afford NOT to see the right specialists to get this all back under control - otherwise your fears, partyl appropriate and probably, increasingly, excessive, may lead to your avoiding needed treatments with unpleasant, even dangerous effects from that avoidance.
The physical-chemical reactions to a physical allergy can themselves help to cause panic or severe anxiety ; and severe anxiety can also make one's physical system over-sensitive - so managing both aspects will reap real benefits
Explore alternatives, there should be psych services and allergy services available through your nearest major state hospital, and your nearest medical School will have competent folks in both fields, and should charge only according to your income.
I'm sorry to hear that the psychiatrist you saw had some very peculiar and idiosyncratic ideas about panic disorder, and was apparently unable to make the obvious diagnosis - or any other proper diagnosis as an alternative. Sounds like she had a very UNsympathetic nervous system !
The problem is significant, and fortunately its umnlikely to be as serious as you fear it to be, so with the right combination of expert assistance, you can control both the physical and mental components of this. And then live much more hapilly and safely.

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