It is in your head but it manifests itself physically and the sensations are indistinguishable from the real thing. Chest pain, tight throat, dizziness, etc. I have also ended up in the ER over it.
I'm of the opinion that depression and anxiety are caused by unfulfillment in life, or other unsettled issues. (that's how therapy can work, by getting to these issues and connecting your anxiety to the actual issue causing them so you can resolve it) These issues are bottled up subconsciously and rise to the surface in the form of those symptoms. You don't even what you're anxious about. It's a vicious cycle because the anxiety is initially caused by unfulfillment, but then the anxiety causes you to withdraw from the world and compromise your life, which causes further unfulfillment, which in turn causes more anxiety.
I am also shocked by how many people have this problem. I can't even count how many people I know or met who have anxiety problems, often bad enough to end up in this hospital. I'm pretty sure that even a generation ago, this was nowhere near the problem it is today. And I don't think it is simply because we are more educated about it and it is being diagnosed more. I really think people are more anxious than any point in history. Maybe it's the modern diet, or the lifestyle, I don't know.
And I do think your introversion plays a role. The guy who coined that term, and came up with that concept, Jung, thought introversion and these kind of issues went hand in hand. The tendency to internalize things, obsess over them, overthink and withdraw. Jung also coined the term "complex", which is basically what a panic disorder is.
I am personally the same way, I obsess over metaphysical issues like death, religion, origins and ends.
I have PTSD, one of the symptoms of which is panic attacks, on top of the flash backs, nightmares, depression, and other assorted unpleasant things. I'll let you know how I cope with it when I've figured it out myself.
At the moment I take some heavy duty meds, and that's been the best thing. I tried CBT but it made no difference to my condition. I felt like the therapist was determinedly trying to fit me into a model that wasn't really relevant to what was going on with me. Not quite so much like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Possibly more like an octagon, but even so, it wasn't really right for me. So I'm on a waiting list for psychotherapy, but that's going to be at least another year.
Other than that I've been coping by avoiding most of the things that give me anxiety or panic attacks, which isn't an especially useful way to live your life. Particularly during the periods when going to the chemist to get a prescription filled, or to the shops to buy milk are enough to induce panic attacks. I end up doing most of my shopping in the middle of the night when there's hardly anyone around. Or on the internet.
But at least fifty percent of my blog is about not being very well - Make-Up and Mirtazapine.
Incidentally, I'm also a lawyer.
Yeah, apparently there aren't many psychotherapists where I live to go round.
I read some of your posts about living with anxiety, what you wrote is all to familiar. But it's good you're talking about it. It seems to be the best thing for it.
I hope your condition continues to improve. x
I could reply to this thread, but I'd only be repeating every word written in THIS POST, which introduces my experience with extreme anxiety/stress and a minor heart problem. No fun!
Anxiety is something I've been fighting with for a year now, which isn't long compared to some. It's no fun, either way! I have learned many ways to deal with it since writing this post. I've realized that talking about it helps, listening to my body is important, and knowing when to say NO to stimulants is key. I also wrote a post about finding balance in my life and allowing myself "me time" to do more things I enjoy - that helps too! :)
whoops, link didn't work the first time :)