When Doctors Don’t Know What’s Wrong
If your symptoms seem to be caused by a problem with the nervous system, you may be referred to a neurologist a specialist in disorders of the nervous system. The neurologist may refer you for psychotherapy but will also consider other therapy options, such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy. The possible benefits of medication always need to be weighed against the potential side effects.
If you think you have an underlying condition that's been missed by your doctor, you can ask for a second opinion.
How to leverage your doctor's biases in your favor.
How much exercise you should do will depend on your current health and capabilities. Learn about breathing exercises for stress. When traditional doctors failed to get Tammy Worth's symptoms diagnosed, she turned to a naturopath. Everyone told me exhaustion was normal for a working mom with two young boys. It was my perpetual state of being.
I could sleep for 10 or 11 hours and wake up feeling drained. One afternoon as I sat on the floor watching TV and folding laundry, I leaned over to relax.
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Twenty minutes later I awoke with my upper body contorted in the laundry basket where I had unwittingly fallen asleep. At the same time, I started having panic attacks. These gradually morphed into a constant simmering anxiety that took its toll on my stomach. I experienced my first bouts of acid reflux and my appetite vanished.
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Even though I have an insatiable sweet tooth, I'd only have a bite or two of even the most delicious chocolate desserts. And I was always cold, huddled under blankets in the summer while my family reveled in the air conditioning.
I knew I needed to get properly diagnosed. My doctor ordered blood work, which showed everything as normal—except my thyroid panel was slightly high. She thought I might have an overactive thyroid hyperthyroidism , which occurs when your thyroid gland produces too much thyroxine, a hormone that regulates your metabolism.
But the endocrinologist she referred me to disagreed. After a five-minute exam, he decided I was healthy—except for an anxiety disorder—and I ended up on Lexapro.
The medication eliminated my panic attacks within days, but the other symptoms remained. And for nearly three years blood work taken during my annual physicals came back exactly the same, so I did nothing.
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I was going through a divorce, had a full plate with work and plenty of other concerns to occupy my full attention. My two boys were only 6 and 3, so they didn't notice how exhausted I was. I became masterly at plastering a smile on my face while helping with the garden at school only to nearly pass out at 9 p. But my health problems did affect my job as a freelance writer. I lost track of assignments and wasn't able to get as much work done because of my inability to concentrate and the daily hour-long naps I needed to get through the night with my kids.
As my reliability faded, so did the number of jobs I was given.
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Afraid I'd lose all my work, I decided to get a third opinion. Having a fairly holistic approach to health—I do yoga and Pilates for back pain and juice for energy—I decided to seek out a naturopathic physician. Given my symptoms, she ordered blood work that the other doctors hadn't: a thyroid peroxidase antibody test.