What is the link between mitral valve prolapse and anxiety?
Symptomatic mitral valve prolapse and anxiety often go hand in hand. Anxiety and panic are common features in those with the MVP syndrome, and many people living with the prolapse condition struggle to keep their symptoms under control.
Most MVP sufferers do not experience symptoms or even know that they have a prolapsing mitral valve. But for a small number of individuals who are symptomatic, dealing with the effects of anxiety is a challenging battle that affects daily life.
How are MVP and anxiety linked, exactly? Experts aren’t 100 percent sure, but according to medical researchers the problems appear to be connected in two ways. The first connection involves physiological dysfunction in the body, while the second link is a psychological one. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatment of options available for anxiety and mitral valve prolapse.
How are MVP and anxiety linked physically?
The physiological connection between mitral valve prolapse and anxiety has to do with the prolapsing mitral valve and the effects that it has inside the body. When MVP is symptomatic, a number of physical symptoms can occur that are less than pleasant. These symptoms include chest pain, heart arrhythmias, and shortness of breath, among others, which can be quite distressing.
Then, there is also the autonomic nervous system dysfunction that some people with a prolapsing mitral valve experience. Dysautonomia, on its own, can cause a variety of distressing symptoms, including a slow heart rate, tachycardia, and tunnel vision, as well as vertigo and anxiety. It occurs in around 40% of patients with a prolapsed mitral valve, according to estimates.
Mitral valve prolapse symptoms can be frightening. So much so that they can trigger anxiety in those with the MVP condition, especially when there is a natural predisposition for dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. In some cases, the anxiety can be severe. Full-blown anxiety attacks or panic attacks may occur as a natural response to the symptoms of mitral prolapse.
How are MVP and anxiety linked psychologically?
It is common to experience psychological effects when a person has mitral valve prolapse and anxiety, particularly when there are panic attacks. These effects, which can lead to life-altering mental disorders, tend to occur as a reaction to the symptoms of MVP. That is, the physiological effects can affect the mind over time, causing other problems that diminish quality of life.
As mentioned, the symptoms of mitral valve prolapse can be frightening. This can trigger anxiety, causing one to develop a fear for MVP symptoms. Over time, the mind may come to associate symptoms with certain stimuli. It may also become oversensitive to physical sensations. Eventually, even harmless environments, situations, and feelings may generate debilitating panic.
In general, the awareness that one has an irregular mitral valve that could cause serious complications and health problems can produce anxiety. After all, MVP is a heart valve condition, and it can be dangerous. There is even the possibility of sudden death. Many people worry about their heart health constantly as a result of such fears, as they struggle to cope with their circumstances.
Does mitral valve prolapse cause anxiety?
Knowing that one has a heart condition like MVP can create feelings of anxiety, and dealing with the bothersome symptoms of mitral valve prolapse can lead to chronic and severe anxiety. Acute anxiety in symptomatic individuals with mitral prolapse is not at all unusual. Furthermore, panic attacks can occur with physical or psychological triggers or strike completely at random.
While MVP symptoms can produce reactions of anxiety and panic, researchers do not fully understand the physical mechanisms behind the afflictions. An autonomic nervous system that does not work properly can affect vital organs and systems in ways that may cause anxiety. However, it is not clear how a prolapsing mitral valve might cause acute anxiety and unprovoked episodes of panic.
One theory on the subject is that mitral valve prolapse increases blood flow to the brain, which could alter brain chemistry and subsequently cause anxiety. Studies have not confirmed this theory, though. Generally speaking, more research is needed to determine whether the physical mitral valve problem that occurs with MVP actually directly causes anxiety and panic attacks in sufferers.
What are the anxiety treatment options with MVP?
There are various treatment options for mitral valve prolapse and anxiety. Doctors commonly prescribe anxiolytics and anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepine anxiety medication to relieve anxiousness with MVP. There are some safety concerns with benzo drugs, though. Antidepressants, antihistamines, and MAOIs, as well as certain anticonvulsant medications, have also shown to be effective.
Beta blockers for anxiety are another treatment option. Beta-blocking drugs like propranolol are designed to lower blood pressure and relieve symptoms such as angina. However, they can also help with anxiety and panic. What do beta blockers do for anxiety? They reduce fight-or-flight response symptoms, including sweating, heart palpitations, clammy hands, and increased respiration.
Many natural treatment options exist for anxiety and MVP, as well. In fact, these are often combined with medications for best results. Natural anxiety treatments include exercising regularly, eating healthily and cutting out foods to avoid with MVP, and psychotherapy. A lot of people find that deep breathing exercises and magnesium for mitral valve prolapse reduce anxiety.
What else should you know about mitral valve prolapse and anxiety?
For the majority of people living with a prolapsed mitral valve, MVP symptoms are manageable with the right MVP treatment. That includes the anxiety and panic that may occur with autonomic dysfunction and the prolapse syndrome. Treating the condition appropriately can also help to prevent mitral prolapse complications and disorders that develop with anxiety and panic disorder.
Agoraphobia is a mental disorder that commonly develops with untreated and extreme MVP anxiety. Panic attacks are a primary cause of agoraphobia. Social phobia is another common disorder that can occur with anxiety and mitral valve prolapse. In addition, there may be depression, which can lead to dangerous behaviors that increase the risk of complications and worsen MVP symptoms.
The symptoms of MVP can be intense. Yet, the presence of troubling symptoms does not necessarily indicate that something is seriously wrong in the body. It is possible to experience severe prolapse symptoms and anxiety and have good overall health. Sufferers should never ignore symptoms, though. Those with mitral valve prolapse and anxiety should have regular medical checkups.