Living with a chronic health condition can be challenging. In the case of mastocytosis, the physical consequences can take a severe emotional toll, and so it's no surprise that many of those living with the chronic health condition end up suffering from severe anxiety.
So what causes this anxiety, and perhaps most importantly - what can you do about it?
How to Stop Anxiety From Chronic Disease
Anxiety that comes as a result of a chronic health condition is still anxiety, and that means it can be treated with the right coping strategies. Find out more about how to stop your anxiety now with my free 7-minute anxiety test.
Causes of Anxiety From Mastocytosis
Most anxiety from mastocytosis is related to either attacks of systemic mastocytosis or simply living with the condition (such as in the case of cutaneous mastocytosis). In general, however, mastocytosis doesn't cause anxiety as a symptom. Rather, anxiety develops because living with the symptoms is difficult.
That's why you can start with my free 7-minute anxiety test to simply learn what you can do to control your anxiety. You should also speak with your doctor about medications to limit the symptoms so that you can ultimately control the severity of the disorder.
Systemic Mastocytosis and Anxiety
Most mastocytosis is cutaneous, and the cutaneous version doesn't necessarily create any symptoms that directly cause anxiety. Some people may find that they are more self-conscious about their disorder, and others may have trouble living with the symptoms, which include:
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Inflammation of the Ear, Throat, and Nose
Mast cells are allergy cells, so the symptoms tend to be similar to having allergies. Allergies can lead to the development of anxiety, but are not something that causes anxiety beyond discomfort and unpleasantness.
However, systemic mastocytosis has several symptoms that could cause anxiety and panic attacks. That's because many of the symptoms are identical to the causes and symptoms of an anxiety attack. Some examples include:
- Heart Palpitations
- Shortness of Breath
- Chest Pain
Anyone that has experienced a panic attack recognizes those symptoms. They're pretty much identical to panic attacks. Systemic mastocytosis releases a wave of histamine that causes these reactions for up to 30 minutes, and while technically the person isn't suffering from anxiety, the symptoms themselves can trigger an anxiety reaction.
Interestingly, this reaction can also be triggered by anxiety. Stress and anxiety are one of the issues that can lead to a mastocytosis response. The two could conceivably represent a cycle, although that is not that common.
How to Tell the Difference Between a Panic Attack and Mastocytosis
Many people look for health-related reasons that they suffer from panic attacks, and unfortunately there rarely are any, Chances are if you haven't been diagnosed with mastocytosis, you probably have panic attacks, since mastocytosis is far less common. Less than 200,000 cases of mastocytosis are believed to exist in the United States (compared to more than 50,000,000 with panic attacks), and most of those 200,000 are cutaneous.
If there is a difference, it is found with its triggers. Histamine reactions (like a flea bite), hot or cold changes, physical exertion, and the cold/flu are all triggers of mastocytosis and less commonly triggers of panic attacks. However, it should be noted that panic does create significant health anxiety so those same issues could become triggers, and those that wonder if they have mastocytosis may respond to those same triggers with panic attacks, even if they do not have the condition.
That's why, in general, you should simply talk to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you have mastocytosis.
NOTE: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Anxiety
There is, however, a condition that is related to mast cells and may cause anxiety. It is known as "Mast Cell Activation Syndrome," or MCAS. It is a relatively new diagnosis, and still not entirely understood, but it is a frequent subject of modern study to better understand several chronic conditions.
With MCAS, a patient may have overactivated mast cells that are all loosely related to inflammation. Many of these symptoms are directly related to anxiety, including lightheadedness, tachycardia, fatigue, and brain fog among many others. They may also be triggered by stress, and directly lead to the development of anxiety.
Because the condition is newer, it is still not clear if there are specific anxiety reduction strategies that would work better than others. It is best to first talk to your doctor about treatment, and integrate traditional anxiety reduction strategies with it.
How to Stop Anxiety From Chronic Health Issues
No matter what you need to start by taking the advice of your doctor. Your doctor will tell you how to manage any symptoms of mastocytosis and what you can do to mitigate the problems.
You should also remember that the anxiety you experience is not technically caused by the condition. Rather, it is the reaction you have to the condition. That means that traditional anti-anxiety techniques should work for you.
Take my free 7-minute anxiety test to find out more about some of the techniques used to control anxiety, and learn how you can start taking control of your anxiety symptoms today.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated May 14, 2018.