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dee1313's avatar

What's wrong with my mom?

Asked by dee1313 (948 points ) December 8th, 2012

My mom goes through these episodes. She rocks back and forth, she may try to hold a specific position (this time she had her thumb over her middle finger on both hands and were moving them back and forth). She alternates between fear in her eyes and a blankness. Sometimes telling her it’ll be alright helps her calm a bit, or just cry. She sobs, too. If she starts talking it doesn’t make sense – I was trying to talk soothing words to her, and she stumbled over her words and repeated herself, but did said she’d call me back in 25 – 30 minutes. She tried to say the same thing a few times during the episode. She also would repeat us, saying it was okay. Then sometimes she’d say, “Seriously?” “Really?” “Oh my God!” She repeated no a few times too. She doesn’t fully comprehend things and can’t seem to hold on to thoughts. She’s sweating quite a bit too. I’m not very familiar with her episodes so I can’t give a good list of symptoms. I’ve seen another where she fell but caught herself and was on her hands and knees on the floor. She was shaking and her elbows would give out and then hold her back up over and over. She either couldn’t hear us or couldn’t respond.

Apparently she’s gone to the doctor and the doctor said they were panic attacks. It seems she doesn’t seem to remember them very well though. She has issues with her blood sugar dropping and I don’t know if that could be some of it.

I first got on WebMD, but I have no idea how to look up these symptoms. Thoughts?

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15 Answers

livelaughlove21's avatar

This very well could be just severe panic attacks. They present in some strange ways sometimes. Did he giver her any medication for this or did he just diagnose her and send her on her way? If he gave her medication, have the episodes decreased in frequency or intensity since she began taking it?

If she has some reason to believe it’s not panic attacks, or just isn’t sure, she should get a second opinion. There are a few disorders (mental health and otherwise) that could cause similar symptoms. It’s nothing we can diagnose over the internet, and I’m sure you know that. I’d advise her to see her doctor or another doctor if these are either worsening or greatly affecting her life. There are so many factors that one would have to take into consideration before placing a name on this phenomenon.

I hope she finds answers and sufficient treatment. I’m sure these episodes are terrifying for you, and certainly not pleasant for her either.

Judi's avatar

Did you go with her to the doctor? She may not be accurately describing her symptoms because she does not see or remember them. This sounds nerological to me but I’m not a doctor.

Coloma's avatar

This sounds serious whatever it is. I would encourage a complete, mental and physical evaluation. She could be Epileptic perhaps, or, clearly, really disturbed.
Yes @Judi ‘s inquiry, someone needs to go with her, obviously to relate the details of these “episodes.”

dee1313's avatar

He gave her an antidepressant but she said it makes her tired so she doesn’t take it as much as she should. I’m not sure if they’ve decreased. Apparently some family members stress her out so they might be triggering them. She also says she remembers most of them,and usually feels an intense worry, which might be why they were diagnosed as panic attacks, but she didn’t remember this one or the other one I’ve seen. Like, had no idea I said anything to her, or a friend had stopped by before it got bad.

It was an internal medicine doctor that diagnosed them. Because she doesn’t comprehend things, or had trouble holding onto a thought, and had no memory of some of them, I’m thinking it might be psychological and needs to talk to a more specialized doctor. I don’t expect a diagnosis, just maybe some thoughts on what to keep an eye out for so I can better help the doctor understand what’s happening.

I didn’t go to the doctor with her. She doesn’t live that close to me so I don’t see her a whole lot.

dee1313's avatar

Her most recent one she didn’t remember, and it lasted at least 10 minutes, probably more (not sure when it started). She was completely normal when she came out of it.

augustlan's avatar

Not remembering the episodes makes it sound like something other than panic attacks, like a seizure of some kind. She really needs to go to the doctor again, and she needs someone with her who can explain exactly what goes on during these episodes. Good luck with all of this, and please keep us posted.

Shippy's avatar

I agree with @augustlan . Too many things are blamed on panic attacks. Perhaps she needs scan and further investigation. Sounds like a seizure to me. However, I am certainly no expert.

marinelife's avatar

Take you mother to another doctor. Describe the symptoms fully.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Take her to another doctor. I had a Dr suggest I might have had a panic attack. It turned out to be an allergic reaction. I had a couple other reactions, each one worse than the one before, before I got on meds. An allergic reaction symptoms and a panic attack are similar, but the timeline is different.

Judi's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe , and an allergic reaction is really a BEST case scenario. just eliminate the allergen. If the OP’s mom has a brain disorder it may be important that it is diagnosed quickly before it causes more damage.

orlando's avatar

I would have to agree with Coloma. This sounds very serious and she needs a thorough mental and physical evaluation. It definitely does not sound just like just panic attacks or low blood sugar (although that could be part of the overall picture).

Among physical conditions her cause could be anything from meningitis, alzheimers, tumors, severe vitamin deficiencies, above mentioned allergies and among purely mental anything from dissociative disorder, PTSD, borderline, bipolar to schizophrenia etc.

What ever it is, it probably won’t go away on its own, so its important she gets checked again by a professional.

burntbonez's avatar

How old are you? I don’t know if you are old enough to have a say in your mother’s care. But if you are, she should be seen by a psychiatrist.

If she has been prescribed anti-depressants, she should either take them all, or get off them (slowly) entirely. She needs to tell her doctor that they make her sleepy and any ohter side effects she may have. The doctor or the psychiatrist will change her to a drug that does not have side effects she doesn’t like.

Are there any other adults in your situation? This is really an issue for adults. If your mother can’t take care of herself, she needs help. You can help her as best you can, but dealing with the health care system is a job that even adults have difficulty with.

desiree333's avatar

The holding of a certain position, rocking back-and-forth, and incoherent speech are classic characteristics of a catatonic stupor/state (waxy flexibility, motor immobility). Now I’m only in undergrad psychology so don’t put much weight to my response please! Maybe just google catatonic depression, catatonic state, and catatonic schizophrenia (because of the non responsive nature and fear/blank look) and see if anything sounds familiar. This sounds to me like a sort of mental illness, but a doctor will need to see if there is a physical cause for her distress.

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dee1313's avatar

Thank you all for your help.

I’m 23. I’ve been logging her episodes so I can keep track of how often they come, what she was doing, her symptoms during it, and how long they last. Unfortunately I just learned that the last couple lasted 45 minutes to an hour.

She responds a little bit, but usually can’t hold onto the thought enough to get it out. After thinking about it for a bit I think deep inside she can tell something is wrong but she behaves like a child during it and making her aware something is wrong upsets her a lot. She said she’d call me back in 25 – 30 minutes when I was right in front of her, and it took her a while to get it out, but she kept cutting me off and trying to say that and it made me wonder if she can kind of tell somethings off.

I looked up seizures and some of the symptoms so it will be something I suggest to the doctor.

The last few have happened during action movies. She’s never had issues before, but I don’t know if they may be triggering it. They’ve been in the evenings too. Not sure if that will be important but it is something I’m going to bring up.

My dad told me he’s recorded an episode before to show the doctor, but when he went to show the doctor it was deleted. We’re thinking she may have deleted it. We’re going to try to record it again if it happens and just not tell her this time.

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