Stress disorders causing movement disorders and cognitive decline

Posted by darlajean @darlajean, Jul 24, 2019

Does anyone have a movement disorder such as stress-induced myclonus with noise sensitivity? Or a cognitive decline that impacts their ability to stay employed? I have been dealing with a movement disorder since 2/2001. I pretty much ignored it because it mainly happen at night (no it is not restless leg syndrome). In March 2007 while conducting a demonstration meeting at work, the movements became very very bad. My head kept wrenching to the left and my hands would not stay on the keyboard. I tried to ignore it and continue the meeting to no avail. My family doctor referred me to a local neurologist who was only interested in ALS patients but he did prescribe topomax.. So my family doctor referred me to a different neurologist. The second neurologist diagnosed me with essential myoclonus and placed me on klonopin and topamax. I lost weight and it helped with my migraines, but the doctor determined that it was not essential myoclonus and referred me to the Baylor Movement Disorder Clinic where the final diagnosis was made. I have been placed on various drugs with some success. But over the last six years, I have had cognitive and attention decline. I found articles by a Yale PhD that has found an association between long term chronic stress and damage to the per-frontial cortex of the brain. I am a 57 year old female engineer who can not do analytical thinking or anything that requires the executive function of my brain. This cognitive decline has made it impossible for me to be contributor to my work team. It has also impacted my ability to accomplish things around the house. My stress has come from being a single mother raising a special-needs son (he is 30 now and not as stressful to deal with) and a job which has me as a single point of failure on multi-billion dollar program (major stress). I trained a few of people to do my job and left for another program with the same company; I was called back frequently to help. For the last five years I have worked from home (North Alabama) for a company in the SF Bay area. Working from home has helped with the jerks but not the cognitive problems. This past year I have been driving a few hours several times a month to Vanderbilt to see a multitude of specialist and my general health has improved but not my cognitive abilities. My company and my boss have been patient with me, but it is getting to the point that my current employment is in jeopardy. I need help in a desperate way! I do not have a spouse or family that can help advocate for me or support me financially.. I must be able to perform my job inorder to care for my son and myself. Currently, I work a reduced schedule via accommodations requested by my doctor in hopes of recovering. I have considered seeking help from the Mayo Clinic but ,my greatly reduced income makes it difficult to do so. Has anyone else experience a similar problem? Is there a doctor anyone would recommend? Please help me!

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Hello @darlajean, welcome to Connect. I'd like to introduce you to @captainanxiety8, who also talked about having difficulty with myclonus episodes and whose doctor mentioned stress as a trigger. In addition, here is a discussion you also my find interesting as well called Klonopin taper,, where other members do discuss myoclonus and klonopin. Another discussion which has members talking about chronic worrying and nervousness, although not completely similar to your situation, may be worth reading through and participating in if you find some of the posts helpful,

@darlajean, if you are comfortable sharing, is there a particular stress disorder that you have been diagnosed with? Are the muscle twitches painful? I interpret that your biggest obstacle is related to the cognitive side-effects of your stress. Have any of your specialists suggested seeing a therapist or management of your stress to see if it improves your cognitive ability?


@darlajean – wanted to check in with you and see how you are doing?

I also wanted you to meet @hopeful33250 @sirgalahad @aarniek, who may have some thoughts for you on the cognitive decline you mentioned and a connection to stress.

How is your work from home job going?


Hello @darlajean,

I see that your recent post was also your first post on Connect so I would like to welcome you. I have a movement disorder problem and I know from personal experience that stress, as well as physical fatigue, can play havoc on cognitive abilities. It is tough to work full time, maintain a home and keep your health.

How are you feeling now? I'm not sure I understand for sure what your final diagnosis is and/or what meds you are currently taking for this disorder. I would certainly recommend that you seek out a good physical therapist to help you strengthen your muscles, etc. Do you have any balance/gait problems? How are you walking? Any speech difficulties?

I look forward to hearing from you again and knowing how you are doing. Will you post again?


Hi, @darlajean – thinking of you and wondering how things are going with your health?

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