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Teen who was told anxiety caused his panic attacks actually had brain tumor

Chasin Mizrahi suffered debilitating panic attacks for years. Doctors said he needed therapy. What he really needed was surgery.
/ Source: TODAY

From the time he was a young boy, Chasin Mizrahi suffered from panic attacks that his family found odd for such a normally happy and outgoing child.

But even back then, his mom had a hunch her son wasn’t suffering from the anxiety disorder his doctors said he had.

After years of therapy and worsening symptoms, Jennifer Mizrahi knew something had to change. Her son began having episodes every 28 days and in clusters of three. She got a second opinion from a neurologist friend, who ordered an MRI that ultimately unveiled the source of Chasin’s paralyzing terror attacks: a brain tumor.

After surgery to remove the non-cancerous growth, Chasin, now 19, said he is “doing great” and has been completely free of his previous symptoms.

“Since my surgery, even prior to it, perfect, 100 percent, not even anything,” he said Thursday on Megyn Kelly TODAY.

Megyn Kelly TODAY

The discovery of the tumor, which was in the part of his brain responsible for triggering feelings of panic, actually came as a relief to the family.

His mother said she knew something wasn't right about the anxiety diagnosis that doctors originally told her about Chasin, her third child.

“He’s so opposite of anxious,” Mizrahi said.

Yet, she admitted she forced her son to go to weekly therapy sessions, anyway, just as doctors had recommended.

Chasin said he shared “normal teenager stuff” with his therapist, but also let her know he wasn’t concerned by any of the issues he shared with her.

Teen misdiagnosed with brain tumor
Chasin, now 19, says he feels "100 percent" since the surgery.Megyn Kelly TODAY

“I would say, 'In my opinion, this really doesn’t bother me. I’m a super easygoing guy. It just is what it is,'” he recalled. But the therapist insisted he had been letting issues bother him subconsciously.

“I repressed it so much, I didn’t even know,” he joked.

Dr. John Boockvar, the family friend from whom Mizrahi sought a second opinion, said he immediately knew that symptoms Chasin demonstrated weren't typical of panic attacks, which don't appear in clusters or appear with any predictable regularity.

“Anxiety doesn’t know to come three times a month and the brain can actually fire with frequency and that told me that this is more likely seizure activity than true anxiety,” Boockvar said.

“Where his tumor was, part of the amygdala and hippocampus, is where your anxiety center is, so it all made sense once we got that MRI scan.”

Following his surgery, Chasin has returned to school and last summer, more importantly for him, he was able to return to the camp he has attended for the past 13 years.

“It’s my favorite place in the world,” he said. “It’s amazing. I was able to go back, be a lifeguard, and just go back to living a normal life.”

He also has ditched the therapy sessions, he said.

His mother said the biggest lesson she has learned from the experience is to listen to her intuition.

“Trust yourself and don’t stop until you feel you have the right answer,” she said.

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