STRESS

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Postby Annie on September 22nd, 2002, 11:10 am

Very interesting thread of conversation! I have also wondered alot about the relationship between anxiety and BFS. I have had an anxiety disorder for years and consider myself generally to be a "high strung" person. However, at the time my BFs started, I was doing very well and my anxiety was at a fairly low level. I tend to agree with Arron... I doubt that anxiety directly causes BFS. There may be an indirect relationship, in that persons with longtime high levels of stress hormones may have a higher predisposition to it. However, and this is a big however, I am quite sure that anxious people react differently to the symptoms of BFS than more relaxed people. When I started twitching, I had the same reaction that SO MANY people on this site had... that is, I started reading about MS, ALS, Parkinsons, and so forth and went into absolute la-la land on the anxiety charts. I strongly suspect that there are plenty of folks out there in the world who experience some twitches, even alot of twitches, and say to themselves, "that's funny, my leg is twitching," and just go about their business and never even see a doctor, never mind self-diagnose with a fatal disease. So, my theory is, anxiety has more to do with how people react to BFS than to whether they get it in the first place.
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Postby JimK on September 22nd, 2002, 12:59 pm

That makes sense Annie. Maybe high strung people, especially hypochondriacs like myself, noticed there twitches, started reading medical journals & just magnified it. While on the other hand I have friends who are so unaware & unconcerned with what's going on (medically, physically or spiritually) that their arms could be jerking & spasming & they'd never know.
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Postby Arron on September 22nd, 2002, 9:00 pm

I believe stress is a "part" of BFS and is cartainly does increase the symptoms rather severely but I seriously doubt that it has anything to do with "causing" BFS.

There are too many people that were NOT stressed about anything and one day just started twitching and everything was fine until they looked-up "twitches" on the internet or in a medical book and whamo! Massive twitches, stress, anxiety and so on.

A lot of people with BFS also reported being on high doses of antibiotics before their twitches started. I was myself for a really bad sinus infection and about 2 months after that, my fingers started twitching, but I was NOT stressed at the time. Actually, it was a rather good time in my life and everything was looking good until I looked-up "twitches" in a medical manual and you guessed it... whamo! The worst twitches, shaking, jolts and jerks anyone could imagine, not including the sheer fright, stress and anxiety caused AFTER I found-out about ALS and twitches.. as incorrect as that information was...

Yes, stress and anxiety can and will cause all sorts of symptoms but if stress was the "cause" of BFS, then why is it that when people get on big doses of SSRI's or Benzo's, it doesn't go away. If it was stress, it should go away as the stress goes away (just like a panic attack) and "most" of the symptoms do, but not all of them. I really feel that BFS has many different levels and it affects everyone at different levels, hence why I almost never get any twitvhes in my calves yet 90+% of people with BFS report calf twitching, plus there are lots of people that report that they had no stress or anxiety in their lives when all of their symptoms started, so stress being the root of BFS just doesn't pan-out very well BUT, stress "amplifying" the symptoms is a major factor.

There have been a few studies on the subject of what causes BFS and one doctor in some other country said he found that it was a strain of the Herpes virus attacking the spinal cord. Some other medical group said it is nothing more than "irritated muscle linings" or "irritated nerve endings" in the muscles themselves. I just keep watching and gathering all of the info I can on BFS and try to piece the puzzle together as best as I can. So far, not much has made sense.

It certainly ain't any vitamin or mineral deficency and it won't go away by taking copper, magnesium, B-12, vitamins, minerals, St. John's Wart, Witches warts, foot warts, genital warts, moon juice, moonshine or by rubbing crystals or chanting or yoga or religion or any other whacky remedy. True, some people experience changes for the better when they try something new, but isn't that one of THE most common factors with this BFS... the placebo effect? You have horrible symptoms until you figure-out that something may be helping you and your symptoms subside. Most people say their symptoms subsided soon after they got a clean EMG and were finally convinced that they didn't have ALS or anything like that. Talk about a placebo effect? Hello??? A lot of people just get better as time goes on without taking anything at all.

NOTHING so far has really slowed the twitching "clinically", not even meds, although as meds calm you down, obviously the twitching will calm down as well, right? And actually, a LOT of people report that their twitches got worse after taking meds to "helkp" calm down. Well, again, if it was stress or anxiety relatetd and you are feeling calmer due to taking meds, then shouldn't the twitching subside while you are calm? But sometimes they don't. So as of right now, there is no "magic bullet" to "cure" BFS. There's no "real" remedy that helps ease the symptoms.

Exercise you say? well what about the majority of BFS'ers that have "exercise intolerance" or ache really bad after exercising or get really fatigued during and after exerciseing? I personally get wiped-out if I even try to exercise as do MANY BFS'ers, so the exercise theory goes right out the door and the placebo effect comes back with a BIG hello!

I'm not bashing anyone's beliefs or magic potions. If something seems like it's working for you... hey, that's great, but don't expect it to be a "cure" or a general "remedy" for so many with different symptoms and tolerances... it just hasn't happened yet.. but it will.... give it time...
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Postby JimK on September 26th, 2002, 2:05 pm

I notice most people posting in the BFS Survey thread have anxiety disorders of some type. Interesting.

It's great to see so many people posting & getting involved.

Keep posting everyone. :lol:
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Postby Jen on September 26th, 2002, 7:14 pm

These posts are great. I had just come out of a very stressful 4 month period (death and mayhem and car wrecks) and was beginning to settle my life down again. Everything was wonderful for about 2 months....and then the twitches, cramping, blah blah blah started. I have a history of depression and anxiety, but had overcome all of that probably about 4 years ago. Interestingly, when things finally settled down for me, I thought to myself, "This is great. This is exactly how I want my life to be. No stress", and then Wham!
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Postby joyce on October 19th, 2002, 8:01 am

I am a 49-year-old woman in the Dallas area who started having a few twitches in her thigh about four months ago. The twitches have steadily progressed and are now all over my entire body. My face isn't as affected, and I have only twitched a few times there. My other body parts twitch constantly. The twitches come and go to different areas. There is no rhyme or reason to them. I am an anxious type of person, Type "A", and always busy. I do not personally feel like stress brought this on. I feel like more people would have twitching in our population if that were the truth. I feel the twitches mainly when I'm relaxed in bed. When I'm up and moving around during the day I rarely feel them.

I had an EMG and lots of blood tests run by neurologist. He said all were normal. I'm wondering if this will ever go away. It's not painful; just annoying. It's comforting to know there are people out there with the same symptoms because I do not know a single soul with this problem personally.
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Postby Annie on October 20th, 2002, 1:01 pm

Joyce, thanks for your post, and thanks for joining the forum. My story is very similar to yours. I'm 51, healthy, and just started twitching about 5 months ago. My blood work and neurological exam were all normal. I'm also an anxious and Type A person, but I don't think any particular stresses brought this on. As I said in an earlier post, I think the relationship between anxiety and BFS is complex and not a simple case of A causes B. You said you don't know a single person with BFS. I don't either. But if you stick around this site, you'll come to feel as if you have a community to relate to. It is a great comfort, I have found. Annie
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Postby Jake_the_twitch on October 21st, 2002, 1:27 pm

The funny thing about stress is there is different types. Post traumativ Stress can be directly linked to an event. However, stress that builds over the years is so gradual that you don't notice nor think you are stressed out. It is not until you overcome the stress and you look back at your reaction to many every day events that you realize how stressed out you were. If you curse at other drivers while driving or yell at your kids you are on your way. If you are a prefectionist then you will definitely crash at some point because this world is full of inefficiency and compromise. To say everyone who is stressed should twitch is like saying everyone that is stressed should have chest pains, reflux, dizziness, sweating etc. Everyone is made differently and I believe the body finds a way to get our attention. For me the heartburn, sweating etc would not worry me ,it was not until the twitching, something that I couldn't ignore, that I woke up to the stress in my life. I feel I am finally getting through this nightmare, my worry has dropped significantly and my twitching is about 5% of what it was at the worst. I know a surgeon who has been rushed to his ER 5 times after compaining of heart & chest discomfort, telling his peers to tell his wife and kids that he loves them. After a 15 minute work up he gets declared as fit and that it was an anxiety attack. He is too stubborn to accept it as his training goes against the idea that the mind can mimick physical illness. The fact that he has 4 young children, works 70 hours a week, plays God on the operating table, building a new house, losing tons of money in the stock market seems normal to him because he is a Type A personality. How many of us after fearing the worst with this twitching really do anything to change our lives. I know I haven't done enough. The exercise schedule I have set helps physically but it adds stress mentality for if I miss it for some reason I feel I may slip on my recovery. I haven't changed my work habits, my social habits, my financial needs etc so to expect the stress to leave instantly is unreasonable. We need to accept our troubles and to ensure that the time we have left is spent on what we enjoy doing and not what we think other people will be impressed by. Obviously I am a believer that stress is a major culprit to the twitching and even if it is proven to have a clinical cause learning to deal with our emotions will be of great benefit in our lives and future crisis regardless.
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