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Charogat
Charogat, Doctor
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1741
Experience:  Licensed in both NYS and NJ with experience in surgery and medicine.
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My anxiety has been running high today and my fear of heart

Customer Question

My anxiety has been running high today and my fear of heart being affected by movement like if I hold down and lift up the button on the bottom of my laptop if that will affect my heart function.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.

Charogat :

Hi, and thank you for coming to JustAnswer.com with your question.

Charogat :

I'm sorry you are having such a hard time.

Charogat :

Is there any specific reason for this fear/anxiety?

Customer:

I have OCD/ anxiety/depression

Charogat :

Okay, I just wanted to make sure there wasn't anything medical as well.

Customer:

I have recently begun taking androgel for low testoterone and my anxiety has increased since taking it

Charogat :

I see that you've done some therapy, have you ever done DBT? (Dialectical Behavioral Treatment)?

Customer:

not yet

Charogat :

It makes sense that the androgel would increase your anxiety.

Customer:

my fear is that certain movements using my hands like I described will somehow affect my heart function negatively

Charogat :

That is not something to worry about.

Charogat :

Moving your hands in almost any way will not affect your heart at all.

Customer:

even if my thoughts are making me think that?

Charogat :

Even so.

Charogat :

It might help if you force yourself to focus on something else.

Charogat :

I'm sure you've heard of relaxation techniques like tensing all your muscles and loosening them one by one starting at the toes

Charogat :

deep slow breathing - breath the good in through the nose, blow the bad out through the mouth...

Customer:

so basically heart functions separately from movements like when I was lifting my finger off the button I was checking my pulse by squeezing my left hand. Is the anxiety the only thing that raises pulse? and can that cause any harm?

Customer:

why does my anxiety cause me to think irrationaly?

Charogat :

Yes, yes, and no :)

Customer:

like focusing on keys on a computer

Charogat :

That (the thinking irrationally) is something that can happen to anyone - but is certainly more common in people with anxiety disorders. There is no explanation that I can give you for that unfortunately, but that is where DBT comes in to be so helpful as it gives you tools to help you through that period of time, until it becomes shorter and shorter etc.

Customer:

so I should just tell my self no matter how many times I do this with button touching and lifting it off cannot affect the heart in any way

Charogat :

absolutely.

Charogat :

Actually -- I take that back -- no.

Charogat :

By doing that you are allowing yourself to focus on the thing that is causing your anxiety. What would be better would be to force yourself to focus on something different entirely.

Charogat :

Are you still there?

Customer:

I agree but it does not affect the heart function by those specific actions, my anxiety is worrying if certain movements like setting something down will hurt the heart

Charogat :

No - none of that will affect your heart.

Customer:

its so hard to divert my attention once these OCD actions with thoughts start

Charogat :

I can't even imagine how hard it would be. I DON'T suffer from OCD and when I get into 'disastrous thinking' it is hard to get out of it. It must be so much harder for you :(

Customer:

is there a way you suggest I can clarify how my heart is protected from OCD actions?

Charogat :

I'm not quite sure what you are asking? I'd like to make a suggestion but first want to be more clear on the question please.

Customer:

how is the heart protected from OCD actions specifically with that info I can use to counteract the bad thoughts

Charogat :

The actions of OCD are only those that you physically do.

Charogat :

The heart is controlled in a completely separate system of nerves that does not cross at all with the OCD thoughts or actions)

Customer:

so the heart runs on its own electricity and is separate from my OCD

Charogat :

Yes.

Charogat :

Does that help or clarify things for you?

Customer:

and there is no way heart can be affected even if OCD is really bad?

Customer:

saying that the heart controls itself would that help the OCD?

Charogat :

That can.

Charogat :

The nerves that control your heart are not associated in the brain with those that cause the OCD.

Customer:

to first question

Customer:

we basically have no control over our heart beat

Charogat :

The heart can't be affected even if the OCD is very bad.

Charogat :

The heart rate is controlled by the involuntary nervous system.

Charogat :

Having OCD do you also experience panic attacs?

Customer:

yes

Customer:

not as bad as I used to more thoughts that linger

Charogat :

So that is the only area that OCD can affect what your heart is doing (though not affect your heart).... during a panic attack your heart may feel like it is racing. That is caused by the OCD but is NOT causing any damage to you or your heart at all.

Charogat :

Did you have anything further?

Customer:

which would be the best message to tell myself about my heart not being affected when these OCD situations like today with computer buttons happens suddenly and I begin to panic?

Charogat :

That the nerves that control the heart have no connection to your OCD thoughts and actions.

Customer:

are those the electric heart cells?

Charogat :

There is an electric circuit that runs through the heart and is unconnected to the outside body.

Charogat :

In order to have a change to the heart by touching something electrical it would have to be a major electric surge - nothing that would happen when you would touch a computer.

Customer:

thank you

Charogat :

no problem

Charogat :

I hope that maybe with DBT or any other methods you know you will be able to get back to a life free of this type of worry.

Charogat :

G-d Bless

Customer:

Thank you so much I hope so

Charogat :

Take care. I'll be signing off the computer now but will check in the morning if you have further questions.

Customer:

one last thing should I try deep breathing when this happens too

Charogat :

Are you ready for that?

Charogat :

Taking deep cleansing breaths - breath good air in through the nose - bad out through the mouth is always helpful. It calms the body and also forces your mind to focus on something other than what you are worrying about.

Customer:

thank you again

Charogat, Doctor
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1741
Experience: Licensed in both NYS and NJ with experience in surgery and medicine.
Charogat and 8 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

my doctor gave me a script for a stress test however during the exam I was getting anxiety about gripping the seat cushion on each hand and lifting it off a certain way. Does this motion have any affect on heart?

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
The motion does not have affect on the heart, but it can affect the stress test's readings.
The stress test relies on tiny electric impulses that your body gives out -- if it is trying to read the hearts impulses but instead is getting information from your tense muscles then it will read it differently.
Other than that it will not have a direct affect on your heart.
Does this help or would you like further information?

G-d Bless
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

actually I apologize I meant to say during the doctor's exam I have not had the stress test yet. I did get another anxiety OCD in car just before I was getting out of the car. If you keep touching the seatbelt buckle release button does that do anything harmful to body or was it just OCD again?

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
That was also just OCD again. Touching the seatbelt can't do anything to your body.
I was a bit surprised that you had the stress test so quickly after seeing the doctor - hopefully once you take it that will enable you to calm down at least somewhat.
But neither clenching the seat in the doctors office, not touching the seatbelt will affect your heart.
G-d Bless
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

so the only reason my heart rate increases during those OCD episodes was from anxiety and not to worry about the heart since as you explained is separately functioning?

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
I apologize, my internet went down last night again.
In answer to your question, yes, the only reason your heart rate increases is because of the anxiety from the OCD. Your body has a system called "fight or flight". When you get anxious this system gets revved up, so things happen like increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, sweating etc.... anything you might expect to happen when you feel fear would happen.
While all of this is happening it is a normal response to fear or anxiety (obviously over active in your case) but because it is normal it is not in any way damaging to your organs including your heart.

G-d Bless

I will be on the computer only sporadically today but will try my best to check in with you again.
When is your stress test scheduled for? I'd like to keep in touch with you until after it just to make sure that you are reassured once you get the results.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you so much my stress test is scheduled for this Monday at 8:30 a.m. I appreciate all your help and will keep you posted. When your heart races and you are gripping or touching an object that is harmless to heart function?

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
Hi, Yes, that is harmless to the heart function. I'll be looking forward to hearing your reassuring news after the stress test. I also am on and off the computer throughout the day and will keep an eye out for any other questions.
G-d Bless
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My anxiety level is at an all time high today. This is embarassing to ask but if you focus on back label of a shirt while putting it over your head will that affect the heart or is it just anxiety OCD thinking? sorry to ask this

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
Please feel free to ask anything you need to!
That also is not something that will affect the heart.
Can I ask, what is it that you spend your day doing?
What activities do you do to try and distract yourself from these intrusive thoughts?
Have you had a chance to look into DBT?

As always, I am on and off the computer throughout the day. There is a strong chance I will not be on the computer starting tomorrow morning until Sunday afternoon -- I just want to give you a heads-up about that.

G-d Bless
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Today I had bad emotional anxiety and broke down crying for a period of time. I paged my psychiatrist and he prescribed risperdone .5 mg and xanax. 5 to help with ocd/anxiety. As I went to get out of my car my ocd with the steering column began again. I took some deep breaths and started saying to myself this is not affecting the heart no matter how many times I touch it. I stopped squeezing my left hand to feel pulse. I turned on radio news for a minute to distract thoughts and action of touching. I finally touched the wheel two more times slowly then got out of the car and shut the door. not touching it again does not affect anything as usual even though I may still think about wheel?

today after work I obsessed again about the steering wheel and buttons on the dash board and it took my a half hour to get out of my car. I kept telling myself this does not affect my heart although my heart was racing a bit from anxiety. Did this do any damage when I finally touched the steering wheel one last time before I closed the door by leaning over?

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
I think it is great that you were able to distract your thoughts. Not touching about it - whether or not you actually touch it will not affect your heart.
You did not do damage by touching the steering wheel at any point.
G-d Bless
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

even though my heart was racing during the process of me repeating the touching for a half hour before I finally touched it one last time?

Expert:  Charogat replied 2 years ago.
Hi,
yes. That is all a function of our OCD and is still not affecting our heart.
Do I remember correctly that tomorrow is our stress test?
G-d Bless
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for all your follow up help Doctor. I passed my stress test today on the treadmill made it to 6 minutes on a fast incline then I stopped because I hit my target heart rate.
I met with my psychiatrist and he increased my medications to battle the OCD and depression.
My question behind the root of these OCD obsessions is fixating on an object like I was in the pet store looking at a rabbit statue on a cage, when I walked away from it I became worried it was no longer in my view but I did not walk all the way back to look at it a third time so as to put a limit on my OCD. This doesn't affect the nervous system or heart aside from anxiety also should I in future instances not keep looking at it and move away quickly like I am doing with steering wheel when getting out of the car?

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Charogat
Charogat
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Licensed in both NYS and NJ with experience in surgery and medicine.