Campus News

Anxiety disorder turns out to be a brain tumor: UB sophomore’s story a cautionary tale

UB sophomore Chasin Mizrahi was originally diagnosed with anxiety disorder and panic attacks. It turns out he had a benign brain tumor. Photo: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki

By ELLEN GOLDBAUM

Published December 20, 2017

“You have to have confidence in yourself. We had to take this step by step. And it worked out perfectly.”
Chasin Mizrahi, sophomore business major

UB student Chasin Mizrahi’s story is a cautionary tale, one that provides a valuable lesson for all of us: Trust yourself.

Mizrahi’s story began when he was 12 and experienced for the first time a brief, intense feeling of panic and anxiety. It passed, but he was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and panic attacks. He continued to have brief panic attacks roughly every month for the next six years. His doctor prescribed weekly therapy sessions.

“Every week it was the same thing,” recalls Mizhari, a sophomore business major. “I didn’t want go to therapy because I didn’t feel stressed out. There were other things I wanted to do.”

He remembers his therapist would ask him how he felt about specific things going on in his life. “I kept saying I really don’t think it’s a big deal, but she pretty much said, ‘Well, although you tell yourself it doesn’t bother you, I think that it really does deep down.’”

He also was sent to a psychiatrist, who prescribed strong anti-anxiety medications. Mizrahi never took them.

Then just before his freshman year at UB — at the urging of his mother, who had always been skeptical of the anxiety disorder diagnosis — Mizrahi underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. An irregularity was found, prompting a second, more detailed scan. It revealed Mizrahi had a ganglioglioma, a benign brain tumor, behind his left eye.

The tumor was pushing against the temporal lobe of his brain causing his attacks, he says.

“As surprising as was, it was really a relief,” he says of the diagnosis, which meant that the interpretation he had been hearing during his years of therapy turned out, after all, to be incorrect.

His surgery took place in May 2017 in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. It was entirely successful.

And in October he told his story on NBC’s “Today” show.

The lesson learned from this ordeal?

“Both my mom and I didn’t think what was going on with the anxiety diagnosis was correct,” Mizrahi says. “We thought, let’s take this into our own hands and find out as much as we can.

“You have to have confidence in yourself,” he urges. “We had to take this step by step. And it worked out perfectly.”