Cardiac neurosis or heart phobia is a fairly common phenomenon. Those affected suffer from heart problems, which are not due to an organic disease of the heart.
What is cardiac neurosis?
Cardiac neuroses usually have psychosomatic causes and occur over a longer period of time. Statistics say that about every third patient with heart problems has no organic causes and the symptoms can be traced back to a cardiac neurosis.
In the case of heart phobia, those affected often complain of heart problems over a longer period of time. Cardiac neurosis is accompanied by a great fear of those affected of a serious heart disease, up to and including a heart attack. However, no sufficient organic causes can be found for the symptoms that occur.
Cardiac neurosis is therefore a psychosomatic disorder, which, more precisely defined, is also referred to as a somatoform autonomic dysfunction. Cardiac neuroses are very common. Approximately one third of patients with heart problems cannot be traced back to physical causes and are therefore in the area of cardiac neuroses.
Cardiac neurosis mainly affects men between the ages of 40 and 60.
Cardiac neurosis (heart phobia) cannot normally be traced back to organic causes. As a rule, the heart problems are caused by unconscious fears of the patient. Cardiac neurosis is usually a psychological defense mechanism. The actual fears are transferred to another target, the heart.
In this way, the person concerned is distracted from their actual fears. Stressful and anxiety-provoking events can be the loss of a loved one or the fear of losing a job. There are often people with a heart disease in the social environment of patients with a cardiac neurosis, so that the affected person unconsciously projects his or her fears onto the heart.
In some cases, a cardiac neurosis can also develop if an actually harmless diagnosis is misunderstood and the person concerned classifies it as serious and serious. Other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders or depression, can also trigger cardiac neurosis.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The main symptom of cardiac neurosis is a constant fear of a heart attack. This fear can range from panic attacks to fear of death. During panic attacks, the heart rate increases and blood pressure rises. Symptoms such as tachycardia, palpitations and pain in the heart region usually occur during panic attacks.
Sweating, shortness of breath, tremors and dizziness are also common. The symptoms often alternate. In addition, those affected often also suffer from nervous gastrointestinal complaints and sleep disorders. As a rule, no organic causes are found during examinations, but the quality of life is severely restricted by the fear.
Those affected live under constant tension internally because they constantly fear that they have a heart problem and that something bad will happen to them. To prevent this, they adopt a relieving attitude and constantly observe themselves, which makes the problem even worse since it is a psychological problem. Because they often feel misunderstood by those around them, those affected often withdraw and develop the conviction that nobody can help them. The social withdrawal and the resulting loneliness reinforces the excessive introspection and the states of anxiety.
Diagnosis & History
In order to diagnose a cardiac neurosis with certainty, all possible organic causes must be ruled out. In addition to a general physical examination, this also requires cardiological examinations. This includes ECG and stress ECG, as well as an echocardiography (an ultrasound examination of the heart).
In addition, blood pressure is measured and a blood test is carried out. An X-ray examination is also often carried out. Cardiac neurosis is often only diagnosed after numerous visits to the doctor. If cardiac neurosis is diagnosed and treated early, the patient’s condition usually improves after one to two years. If other mental illnesses are present, the duration of treatment can be significantly longer. An untreated cardiac neurosis can become chronic.
Cardiac neurosis can lead to both psychological and physical complaints, which can limit the patient’s everyday life and quality of life. In most cases, severe anxiety and panic attacks occur. Those affected also suffer from depression and other upset moods and therefore no longer actively participate in life.
The patient’s resilience also decreases enormously and there is pain in the heart and chest. It is not uncommon for the pain to be accompanied by breathing difficulties and hyperventilation. Those affected feel an oppressive feeling in their chests and are afraid of death. It is not uncommon for those affected to lose consciousness as a result of the cardiac neurosis and can thus injure themselves in the event of a fall.
In the worst case, the disease can lead to the patient’s death if treated too late or not at all. There are no further complications during the treatment itself. However, these can prove serious if they are primarily psychological in nature. With successful treatment, the patient’s life expectancy is not affected by the cardiac neurosis.
When should you go to the doctor?
If symptoms such as chest and heart pain, shortness of breath and anxiety are noticed, in some cases there is a pronounced cardiac neurosis. A doctor’s visit is indicated if the symptoms appear suddenly and do not go away on their own. Slowly increasing symptoms should also be clarified by a doctor. If hyperventilation, heart pain or chest pains occur, the patient should seek immediate medical attention. The same applies to dizziness and panic attacks.
People who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders are particularly susceptible to the development of cardiac neurosis. The same applies to people with psychological problems who have heart patients in their circle of acquaintances, because these groups of people have an increased risk of their fears being unconsciously projected onto their hearts. In the best case, the causative mental illness is treated before cardiac neurosis develops. If symptoms have already set in, the general practitioner must be consulted. This can put you in touch with a psychologist and also refer the person concerned to a cardiologist. The doctor or therapist must be informed immediately of new symptoms and complaints.
Treatment & Therapy
In the treatment of a cardiac neurosis, the most important thing is that the doctor proceeds cautiously and empathetically. It must be made clear to the patient that there are no organic causes and that the symptoms are harmless. At the same time, the patient must have the feeling of being taken seriously. Under no circumstances should it be conveyed that the complaints are due to imagination or imagination.
This is actually not the case, because symptoms such as tachycardia are actually present. Cardiac neurosis can be treated with psychotherapy. In many cases, medication is also used. Beta blockers, antidepressants or benzodiapines can be prescribed. Symptoms such as tachycardia can be treated with beta-blockers, even if the heart symptoms cannot be traced back to a direct heart disease.
Antidepressants and benzodiapines are used when additional mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders or depression are present. Autogenic training and sports can also be helpful. These measures are particularly recommended if those affected have developed avoidance behavior. In this way they learn that moderate exercise and stress on one’s own body is not harmful or dangerous in the case of cardiac neurosis.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for a cardiac neurosis is only positive if the person concerned recognizes it as a psychological problem. Therefore, the terms cardiac phobia and cardiac neurosis already include the psychological aspect.
The problem, however, is that the symptoms of cardiac neurosis appear to be clinical and physical. In certain situations, palpitations, palpitations, sweating, panic attacks and similar symptoms occur. These can be very scary. They often lead the person concerned from one doctor to another. Often the heart problems can be confirmed, but no cause can be found.
Since those affected usually only describe physical complaints, the cardiac neurosis is often not immediately recognized as an anxiety disorder. First of all, all differential diagnostic means are exhausted in medical operations. After all, there could also be an organic cause.
Cardiac neurosis is one of the panic disorders. She can be misjudged for a very long time because of her frightening symptoms. In addition, there are often long waiting times for psychotherapeutic care. The earlier therapy begins, the better the chances of recovery. Cardiac neurosis usually cannot be successfully managed without long-term treatment.
It is important that the person affected can regain confidence in their body. The prognosis is worse if the patient has an anxious attitude or can be classified as suicidal because of the heart phobia.
You cannot prevent a cardiac neurosis. However, an improvement in the symptoms can be achieved more quickly if the possibility of psychosomatic causes is considered as early as possible after the onset of the first cardiac symptoms. Those affected should also trust the diagnosis of the doctor treating them and realize that the symptoms are actually harmless and have no organic causes. In this way, the symptoms of cardiac neurosis can be treated more quickly and successfully.
In most cases, those affected with a cardiac neurosis have very few options or measures for aftercare. In the case of this disease, the person affected must first and foremost see a doctor as quickly as possible so that there are no further complications or symptoms. The earlier a doctor is contacted, the better the further course of this disease is usually.
Therefore, an early diagnosis is highly recommended and the person concerned should consult a doctor at the first symptoms or signs of the disease. In most cases, cardiac neurosis is treated by taking various medications. The person concerned should always ensure that they are taken regularly and that the dosage is correct.
In the event of interactions or side effects, a doctor should always be consulted first so that there are no further complications. Psychological treatment should also be carried out in the case of cardiac neurosis. The help and support of one’s own family is also very important and necessary in order to prevent further depression or other mental upsets. In most cases, the cardiac neurosis does not lead to a reduced life expectancy of the person affected.
You can do that yourself
In the case of a cardiac neurosis, confidence in one’s own physical performance is lost. Efforts are avoided in order to protect the heart, which suffers condition and muscle strength.
Regular exercise and light sporting activities help to break this vicious circle: Walks are a good place to start, while endurance sports such as cycling, jogging or swimming have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system as your self-confidence increases. The training should be started very carefully and only increased slowly. A trusted training partner provides reassurance in case heart problems occur during the activity.
A heart phobia is often associated with constant mental tension, which manifests itself on a physical level in the form of muscle tension. These, in turn, can cause stabbing pains in the chest. Various relaxation techniques help to loosen the muscles and restore mental balance. In the case of cardiac neurosis, yoga, special breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation have proven to be particularly effective. If you are overwhelmed or have unresolved problems behind your heart phobia, learning stress management techniques can help you cope better with the challenges of everyday life.
If self-treatment does not lead to improvement, the help of a behavioral therapist should be sought. This can also help if, against better knowledge, it is not possible to perceive occasional changes in the heartbeat as normal and harmless.