How I Combat Anxiety After Injecting My Biologic Because of Allergic Reactions
Every treatment I’ve been on, except my current one, has ended abruptly due to an allergic reaction. I can't help but feel like I'm constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I imagine, I’m not alone in having these experiences or fears.
In a matter of weeks, I will hit the four year anniversary of starting the biologic that saved my life. Because of these lived experiences, each new injection leaves me in a state of anxiety waiting for the next allergic reaction to occur. Here is how I manage these, sometimes, overwhelming feelings.
Allergies and anxiety after the injection
But first, here’s some background... I am an allergy patient. So, originally, my shots were done at one of my specialist’s offices. A nurse would inject and they’d let me chill in a room for 15-20 minutes. I knew someone was around the corner if there was a problem.
Of course, I never had a problem in the office. I would either get to my car and a tingle or itch would occur. Or I would be half-way through the drive home when my throat or face would have an itch.
Those tingles would send me into an emotional spiral and my throat would feel tight. Sometimes, I would feel like I was about to faint. I have referred to these symptoms as my anxiety reflex.
I lasted for over a year on both prior treatments before experiencing the warning signs leading up to the anaphylactic reactions. Neither medication brought me to a state of remission. Nor did they bring me close to remission, either.
My injecting routine to lessen anxiety
The reactions were due to a build-up of antibodies. The treatment I’m on now has an amazing track record and very low-risk for an anaphylactic reaction. However, my anxiety doesn’t care about logic or facts.
I injected it yesterday afternoon. Well, I didn’t do it, my friend who lives down the street does my injections. Due to psoriatic arthritis, and having child-sized hands, I find it difficult to inject myself. So my wonderful friend, who is also a patient, has volunteered her needle stabbing services.
Back in the olden days, before the pandemic and social distancing, we had a routine. I would pick up her son from school. We would take a ride to the coffee shop and bring home goodies for everyone. My friend would then do my injection and we would sit and talk for an hour.
Similarities between an allergic reaction and my anxiety reflex
As mentioned above, my anxiety reflex after a shot (any shot) starts with a twinge in my throat or on my mouth. Like clockwork, it always seems to happen around this magic window of 30-45 minutes post-injection.
My friend would remain even-keeled and keep me focused on the conversation. I would force myself to keep sipping my cold beverage. Eventually, the tight feeling in my throat and pounding feeling in my chest would subside.
This worked out for us since our husbands were at work and we both had some downtime in the late afternoons. Since the pandemic started, we now do driveway injections and my husband is now my post-injection chat buddy.
My anxiety symptoms mirror what I experienced during allergic reactions. I do not detach. I never feel like I’m going to die. It just feels like my throat is closing with my blood pressure drops, even though my heart is pounding. Sometimes, I will feel a wave of nausea or stomach flip. Having experienced anaphylaxis before, it’s really amazing to me how awful our brains can behave.
So, I know mentioned two techniques I use to help move through the anxiety here is a quick list.
Tips for anxiety after an injection
- Have something cold like a beverage, ice cream, frozen drink, or an icee. After my first allergic reaction, the post-injection anxiety manifested with feeling like my throat was closing. My doctor's assistant recognized the anxiety and recommended swallowing something cool or cold to help my brain understand the throat was okay.
- Ground yourself by acknowledging where you are and what you are feeling; deep breath and slow exhale
- Crank up the music and sing your heart out. It will help you breathe deep, and work those throat muscles. Plus, singing loud is great stress relief. This is especially helpful in the car.
- Cough. This forces you to take in some air, focus on your breathing, and opens up your throat. This also can help alleviate feeling faint and/or low blood pressure symptoms.
- Chat with a friend. Sitting with a friend as I mentioned above, or hopping on the phone and catching up with a friend or family member is a great way to help take your mind off the anxiety post-injection.
Are you experiencing anxiety after treatment due to past negative experiences? Let’s discuss and help break the cycle.
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