Seattle Therapist that specializes in health anxiety and anger?
January 8, 2013 6:47 AM   Subscribe

I've been dealing with terrible health anxiety for several years, coupled with being incredibly short and angry with my wife when in the midst of a panic attack or uncomfortable symptoms. My wife is fed up and I need to make this better. NOW. I need recommendations for therapists that take Premera and any other ideas people have for dealing with this.

I'm in my early 30s and fairly healthy (sleep apnea and a very irregular heart-beat that after a 30-day monitor my cardiologist has tried to reassure me is "unpleasant but harmless").

I've had terribly crippling fear around my heart and other health symptoms for years. While the number of panic attacks have gone down I still focus all the time on my health and have drained my wife in the process. This coupled with the fact that I get angry at her when I'm having uncomfortable symptoms or am panicking about them has left her fed-up.

So far I've tried:
* exercise (Hard to do due to time constraints and my fear about my heart)
* meditation (again, time has been an issue and I can feel my heart irregularity making it difficult to "let go")
* therapy (I haven't had good luck in this regard and many of the people don't seem to have any specific experience in this area. Also, the last guy I was seeing stopped taking Premera).

I've made a lot of excuses (both at home and above) and I need to get this fixed but I don't know how. I figure it makes sense to start trying to see a therapist again but shopping around is hard and I'd be very grateful for anyone's recommendations.

Paying out of pocket (or out of network) isn't an option (out of network is still > $80 a visit).

Finally, if anyone has any other ideas I'm open to them. This has strained my marriage to the breaking point and I'm willing to try just about anything.

I've set-up a sock-puppet email at

posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm no expert in psychiatry, and I'm sure that CBT would likely help you too, but is there a reason you haven't tried the medical route to deal with this? Something as simple as an SSRI might make a difference here.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:06 AM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you talked to your GP and asked for recommendations? If they're part of a larger network, that network often mostly all take the same insurance, so they might have helpful recommendations. Otherwise, I'd start with your insurance list rather than my (usual favorite) Psychology Today search tool, just because you are only interested in folks that take your insurance.

As noted above, your GP might have multiple suggestions for therapy and medication, too. So I'd start with your GP. As fellow anxiety sufferer who is now much better, it really can get better!
posted by ldthomps at 8:00 AM on January 8, 2013

From a MeFite who would prefer to remain anon:
Hi there friend. I've been where you are. I have abnormal heartbeats too... got some weird panic attacks and freaked about it. I don't have a whole lot of time to spend on my story right now, but basically you are looking for a therapist that treats phobias via CBT methods - using exposure therapy. (You probably have a phobia of panic attacks that is brought about by your attending to your body sensations [from very sensitive proprioception]). You need to get this treated - mine almost turned into a scary case of agoraphobia because I started getting panic attacks in crowds and eventually in an uncrowded grocery store. If you want to read more about anxiety treatments/disorders - a really good read is Abnormal Psychology 12th edition by Kring - you can rent it for like 25 bucks for a month and view it on your computer with the Kindle app. The key for me was to get more in touch with the heart palpitations - to really know what they felt like - so I could say - "yep, palpitation." and bam - no need to panic. Another little trick that helped stopped palpitations sometimes was drinking a big glass (12oz) of cold water - really cold water. This caused a Vagus reflex - slows down heart rate -which gave me more control over the situation and so was less stressful. I hope my story gives you some hope that you can get past this. Good Luck!
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 AM on January 8, 2013

It might be helpful to consider a therapist who works with obsessive compulsive disorders. It sounds like these thoughts are intrusive and fueling your anxiety.
posted by saltwater at 8:21 AM on January 8, 2013

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