Anxiety and Heart Burn or Ulcer in 16 Year Old

Updated on April 22, 2011
T.R. asks from Mulberry, FL
12 answers

Ok, so my son it showing some signs of having a little social anxiety all the sudden. He is 16 and for the second time we went somewhere where it got crowded and he had to get out. He turns white, gets sweaty, very hot, disconnected feeling, shortness of breath, shakey....This is the second time in a month. This time however he was riddled with terrible stomach pain and burning up into his throat for hours afteward.... He didn't go to school the following day because he was up all night with it. I took him to his pediatrician who said that stress ( anxiety attack) plus his bad diet ( he has always been a terrible eater) may have caused some over production of acid/ heartburn/ ulcer etc. She wants me to give him Zantac twice a day for 2 weeks to see if this helps to heal up the situation. If no then she will send us to a gastro. In the meantime I have now set him up to get some therapy for the anxiety. Prior to this he has always been I kind of wished he wasn't so fearless... Has anyone had an experience like this with your teen? I hate to think he is going to have these gastric responses to stress his whole life. I personally have also dealt with anxiety but it was in response to having gone thorugh a natural disaster and directly related to PTSD. I'm very worried about him. Oh and the Dr is checking him for H. Pylori bacteria to see is this has given him an ulcer.

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answers from Dallas on

I took zegerid (omeprazole) for the same symptoms, and it was a miracle for me.
My husband used to have severe panic attacks, he went to a counselor, and that helped, but he did grow out of it in his 20's, although he is still an anxious type of person.

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answers from San Francisco on

It sounds like the dr. is doing the right things.

Have you talked to your son to figure out why he is suddenly experiencing anxiety? Because it's definitely anxiety. When I experienced anxiety/panic attacks I upped my exercise, and it definitely helped.

Maybe your son can give you some insight into why this is suddenly happening.

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answers from Chicago on

It sounds like he could be having panic attacks which can be brought on from anxiety. Anxiety can for sure cause gastro problems. My husband, daughter and I all have gone through it in someway or another. This is a very stressful age and you may want to have him see a psychologist. I am not trying to scare you but my daughter went through this in highschool and we kept seeing little improvements so we thought she was doing fine. Once she started college it really set her back. She was diagnosed with Social Anxiety disorder. We had to put her into the hopsital twice last year and she also began cutting herself to deal with the anxiety. It wasn't because we were not aware or not involved with her. She had started seeing a psychologist before she was put into the hospital but they told us we should have done it sooner. We just didn't know! It can make a world of difference. My daughter has come a long ways in the last year! It couldn't hurt to talk to a psychologist.

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answers from Denver on

Hi T.. I've had personal experience with anxiety. I'm 28 now and I really noticed my anxiety becoming an issue (many of the symptoms you described with your son) until I was a senior in high school. For some reason it just really became a problem and I had been pretty "normal" up until then. I also had chest pains and was diagnosed with acid reflux and found out later it was caused by stress/anxiety. It sounds like you're doing all the right things. I waited almost 10 years before talking to anyone about it and was prescribed Prozac - was on that for about a year and then decided to try therapy instead of the drugs and it really helped.

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answers from Pittsfield on

I think if the acid is caused by stress/anxiety, he shouldn't have trouble with it after he's learned to handle it through therapy. Sometimes though, people just have trouble w/ acid regardless of stress.

When I was in college, I also suffered from panic disorder, so I really feel for your son. It's an awful thing to live with. I saw a therapist that specialized in anxiety disorders, and after (can't remember how long I went to therapy) I was panic free. Have been for nearly 20 years, so tell your son it doesn't have to be like this forever.

I didn't have problems with acid back then- but I do now. If the Zantac doesn't work, the gastroenterologist can give him something a lot better. He also needs to be better about his diet (at least until the acid is well controlled) because the acid will make his life miserable. I'm sure you already know to avoid anything spicey or acidic, but he should also avoid soda and ibuprofin (if at all possible).

Best wishes for your son! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

Maybe it's claustrophobia rather than social anxiety? If it's crowds, then I would think of that as different than just regular social situations, especially if it's physically crowding and not just a bunch of people in a wide open space.
I think therapy for the anxiety is good, but also remember, and help him to remember, that whatever issues he is having now he will probably NOT have for the rest of his life. Adolescence has lots of crazy hormone and brain changes so whatever is throwing his system out of whack could easily calm down in a few years. I agree with getting therapy, I'm just saying to make sure to revisit the issues in a few years, and if medication is involved, review the need for it in a few years. He could easily grow out of the need. Any decent therapist will tell you the same thing and will do this, but it might be nice to hear that this isn't necessarily permanent.
And although I won't say that his diet is the sole cause of the problems, it's a big factor. I understand he's 16 and you aren't going to force feed him, but if you get him to take control of it and realize that his anxiety is worse or is affecting him more because he does not eat well, he could choose to eat better and that will help. Diet and exercise play a HUGE role in how we feel. Depending on what he eats, some people have pretty strong reactions to food dyes, certain chemicals, caffeine, etc. so it really is worth watching. Plus if you get him to take control of eating healthily, the control part of it can help calm the anxiety, if you're lucky.
Good luck!

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answers from Miami on

Hi T., sorry I am not a teen or suffer from anxiety but here are some ideas.This happened to me a few months back. Not really the anxiety part, but the stomach pains and heart burn. I was convinced I had an ulcer. Well it turned out it was due to stress and drinking Diet Soda!!! I was trying to lose weight so had changed to Diet Soda which I very rarely drank before. As soon as I stopped drinking it and tried some relaxation techniques it went away. Having some quiet time (reading for example) helps or going for walks helped relieve my stress. I hope your son feels better soon. Do ulcers run in your family? They do in mine.

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answers from Norfolk on

Acid reflux can be quite painful.
Although an ulcer is possible, I don't think it's probable in someone so young. And some people can't stand crowds or tight places. I used to be fine with them but after being in the middle of what amounted to a riot, large crowds make me nervous. I can take them for awhile, but I hate being elbow to elbow in a crowd.
So why do you think two bouts of upset stomach means he faces a lifetime of it?
It's great he's getting help. As he grows and gains confidence he might not have further troubles. And if you/he knows his diet/eating habits might be a contributing factor - work on making that better.
You might want an extra session or two for your own anxiety. Kids can pick up on our own feelings sometimes. I think every Mom worries to a degree but you know what your track record with this is like. You want to handle your own anxiety without making it a contributing factor in your son.
Natural disasters are stressful on everyone. Not reacting to it in some way might have me more worried. Hang in there! You will all get through this!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

16 is a very trying time. They want to have it all, be the best, and succeed. They are supposed to be having fun, but when it comes right down to it -- none of it is particularly fun.
Think about it this way:
They are worried about applying to college and taking all the SAT/ACT tests. They are worried about their grades - they've just realized that their high school grades actually mean something. Their peers seem to have it all together -- even though they don't. They are driving or learning to drive - more stress. Some of them are working -- again, more stress on top of the school stress. If they are in sports, they are trying to make a difference on the team -- I know this is supposed to be fun, but it's another place where the stress of it all creeps in.
Since you say he was fearless, I wonder if he had some sort of a scare or a close call somehow/somewhere...

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answers from Miami on

Where is Mulberry? I have a great woman who can calm his mind body connection. She will get to the core problem and very quickly too.



answers from Orlando on

I am dealing with this with my 7 year old right now. This is what we are doing for the anxiety: accupressure, supplements (magnesium, L Theonine & vit B), just started karate for self confidence, & will soon be starting some counseling. We have also cut out about 50% of her sugar intake & are doing mostly natural sugars. For the reflux, we have cut out most acidic foods, such as red sauce, ketchup, etc & we are using aloe vera juice. The aloe juice helps heal the reflux & also helps with constipation which makes reflux worse...

Hope this helps!

Just wanted to add that this is all under the advice of a pediatrician.



answers from Miami on

I'd consider a holistic approach that includes natural supplements and herbs and mind-body and energetic therapies to heal the anxiety. Drugs and talk therapy don't really address the cause of the problem in many cases. Do you have any idea what triggered this sudden shift in him? Encourage him to share about what he's been experiencing emotionally.

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