Is it normal to worry so much about your nut allergy?

Posted on: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:29pm
B.M.18's picture
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Joined: 10/10/2013 - 17:37

I am 19 years old and have had a life threatening allergy to peanuts/tree nuts for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I had a very clear of what I couldn't eat and why, so I haven't had many reactions and none of them have been extremely severe. however I am now a freshman in college and I went to a school that is far from my home, around a 9 drive, because it had a really good program for my major and I loved the school, but now that I find myself here by at college I have been having some really bad panic attacks over my allergy. I will walk into a class and instantly start panicking, my heart races, it feels like the throat is tightening and I have to do everything I can not to run out of the class. its hard to focus on what is being taught because I have to tell myself to calm down. my roommate is really good with my allergies but II also feel like she doesn't fully understand how serious it is, and she doesn't understand why I have this fear. is it normal to have worries like this? I have even had nightmares of having a reaction, and I know that I shouldn't put myself in situations that I'm not comfortable with, but here at college I feel like this is my only chance to get where I want to go in life, and I don't want to leave the school but I don't want to panic every time I walk in a class.

Posted on: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:03am
versican's picture
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Joined: 10/22/2014 - 07:48

I'm so sorry for your anxiety. You've got a lot going on -- school, away from home, serious allergy. It's wonderful that you recognize this and are reaching out for help. You really need to speak with a physician, though, to get the right help. Your anxiety has been affecting your life significantly, so this is a sign that it's not something -- as you say -- "normal." Chemical imbalances in your brain, something that is not necessarily under your control, may contribute to anxiety. There are ways to deal with this chemical imbalance, even some medicines that have very little side effects. (I'm thinking Buspar, but there are others, and any side effects usually go away after a couple weeks or so.) So please see a physician or mental health provider. You have lots of potential -- fight that darned anxiety with the right tools.

Posted on: Thu, 10/23/2014 - 10:02am
faw's picture
faw
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Joined: 10/23/2014 - 16:57

I grew up with my younger brother being severely allergic (we're 7 years apart). When I was 25 I was told I have a small allergy to peanuts but to stay away from them all. I had an allergic reaction a year later and that put me into very horrible anxiety attacks.
After speaking with my physician we decided it was best for me to go on an anxiety medication to help me. Essentially the goal is for me to recognize the difference from an anxiety attack and an allergic reaction. I have been on lexapro at a low dosage for 4 months now and I am glad I did. I tried to fight going on a medication and realized I couldn't handle the anxiety on my own. I do not notice any other differences in my behavior, nor do the people around me.
It helped me to not have panic attacks about eating out in public. Prior I would just not eat if I went out with people (which is awkward). I'm extremely careful, but now I can eat out without going into an attack.
I recommend you see a Dr to help you with this because if you were able to handle it on your own, you would've already. College is an excellent opportunity and you shouldn't have to give up the normal things in life or settle for less than you deserve because of this. Don't let it control you, you need to control it. :]

Posted on: Fri, 10/24/2014 - 4:19am
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Joined: 06/21/2013 - 11:03

Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.
Our Answer:
Thank you for writing in. It can be very scary having a peanut allergy. Knowing that you are out of complete control can be difficult.
Just in case you aren’t sure, here is a list of peanut-free foods. You probably know most of them, but it can’t hurt to be safe. Also, here are some ways to find allergy-friendly restaurants for when you go out.
Your anxiety is not uncommon. Here is a community post that addresses fear and anxiety because of a peanut allergy. However, there are things you can do to alleviate it. Here is an article on how to deal with people who don’t understand your allergy. By educating others around you, you may be able to feel safer.
Another thing you can do is try online support groups. There are tons of people just like you who are nervous about their allergies. By communicating with other people in the community, you may be able to learn some tips on coping with the allergies. Here is the article.
Have you considered talking to a school counselor or therapist? A certain amount of caution is understandable when you have an allergy, although paralyzing anxiety is not healthy. If you feel comfortable, try utilizing your school’s health center so you can get help if you need it.
Remember, you are not your peanut allergy. It doesn’t define who you are. We understand how scary it can be navigating the world when you have a life-threatening food allergy. However, by staying calm and keeping yourself away from allergens, you can be sure that you will be safe. We wish you the best of luck going forth with your allergy!
We asked our Facebook fans to share their thoughts on your question. You can read their helpful feedback here.

Posted on: Sun, 10/26/2014 - 2:00am
JMcA's picture
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Joined: 10/26/2014 - 08:45

Going away to school, especially so far away, is such a new chapter in your life. I just wanted to add that there might be actions you can take to put you more at ease/take back your power. For example, tell your professors or T.A.s about your allergy and where they can find your EPI pen if needed. You are on your own now and need to be your own healthcare advocate. Bring wipes and get to class early to wipe down your seat, if that would make you feel better. Start a peanut allergy club meeting on campus or see if there is one on FB or through the student union! Get to know other students like yourself and ideas from them.
Find out where the nearest hospital is or what facilities are available on campus if you do have a reaction. Some of these ideas may seem dumb, but some of them might inspire you to think of ones that would work for you and set you at ease. There is most likely a campus cafeteria policy set in place for food contamination. Find out what that is.
Good luck to you! College can be such an amazing experience. Don't let the peanut allergy keep you from learning or experiencing to the fullest!

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