I'm a first time poster, but a seven-year "vet" of anxiety and depression. I had panic attacks which would trigger a rapid decline into depression. I took xanax as needed and 20 mg of Paxil. The intensity of my depression was severe and it felt like every cell in my body was hurting and that time was moving at a glacial pace. The difficult thing about it was how quickly it started. Also, relatively speaking, it goes away almost as quickly (so far).
I got fairly regulated on 20 mg of paxil and essentially no xanax unless I had an extremely anxious episode which was relatively rare. But about two years ago, when I had started to feel as though it was on its way out, I got a panic attack and suddenly, within about five days, delved into a deep, intense depression. Compounding the intensity is the guilt I feel because we have two young boys and we both work and I don't want to be seen in this state in front of my kids or leave my wife with the burden of taking care of all three of us.
It was around then that my psychiatrist recommended I take xanax regularly and increased my paxil to the max, 75 mg of CR and I started taking lithium (225 mg). I've had a lot of ups and downs since then, but managed to pull out pretty quickly (3 or 4 days). I've currently been on 1 mg of xanax a day - .25 in the morning; .25 in the afternoon, and .5 when I go to bed. Often this returns me to normal and, after a while, I start to forget to take my .25 mg in the afternoon. However, I start to do things that aren't helpful for me because I feel normal - I don't get enough sleep and I procrastinate at work. It usually comes to head with a sudden panic attack - manifested by a strong feeling of depersonalization, recently experienced in the car. The effects of this attack are relatively quick and short-lasting at the time, but they prey on my mind until eventually I find myself where I am now, deeply and painfully depressed. I worry about the future and fear I'll feel this way forever.
My main question is if anyone else has experienced this rapid onset of depression, triggered by anxiety? The intensity is very great and essentially debilitating. I frequently worry each time an episode starts that this time, it's going to last. If anyone has gone through something similar and can share their experience and ways of looking at this, I'd appreciate it.
i think your meds (paxil and lithium) are good, in that one (paxil) is basically for depression, as well as anxiety, and the other, the lithium, is good as a mood-stabilizer. i'm saying this b/c i see the cycles of your anxiety/depression seem pretty frequent and intense, but also pass just as quickly...
something must happen, greg, when you get these anxious feelings. maybe something happened two years ago, that you haven't solved yet....or, maybe you're going through some things nowadays that make you feel this way, and take your control away....maybe you can give it some thought and see what it may be. there's always something behind every feeling, behavior, or action we undertake. it may even be subconscious, so you may have to try extra hard to find out what it is.
i know you feel guilty about your situation, especially in regard to your family, but please try not to feel that way as much anymore--because it's an illness, greg, it's not something you WANT to have!! i see that you're dealing with it the best you can!!! i'm not sure if you are talking to someone about your concerns. you've probably heard this before, but the best options in the treatment of anxiety and depression (which i've also been struggling with at least for the past 10-12 years) is--and most people would agree--a combination of medications plus "talking" therapy. i hope you'll try the talking part, if you haven't done so already; or try it again, if you've done it in the past. it may turn out differently this time around.
by the way, do you enjoy your job?
wishing you all the best!
Be kinder than necessary,
Because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle...
After my first major episode, I saw a psychologist for about a year. It didn't seem to help too much or at least not that I could tell. When the depression lifted, I felt pretty much like myself again and didn't really feel like I was getting anything out of the therapy...it may have been the therapist. He kind of lacked an empathetic quality, tried to make jokes a lot to lighten the mood, but didn't have that effect on me.
And when I look back now, life has become increasingly more stressful then it was then. We have two kids now and one has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum and we just recently were told by our preschool teacher that she suspects our youngest may have it too. That was just before this attack. Plus, my job has become far more stressful in the last six months. I do enjoy my job but I also have a hard time focusing on it and tent to procastinate by messing around on email with friends and then I feel guilty about neglecting my job and the stress level is increased. I feel largely responsible for that, it's hard for me to work constantly.
The thing I'm dealing with now is how to get through this very hard time right now. I went to bed last night at 9:30 and didn't get up until 8:30, in between, I'd wake up and dread having to get up and take care of the kids (spring break, I'm taking the mornings off). I feel horrible and have a hard time doing routine things. I feel profoundly tired and want to sleep all the time but I doubt that is the right thing to do, but it is so tempting because then I can escape the feelings.
I spoke with my psychiatrist yesterday and he suggested I increase my xanax for the time until I can level off. I just want this to end.
Greg, yeh, about your children, this IS a big stressor. Sorry to hear about this. When you said that your depression lifted and things went back to normal, I am assuming that you mean your normal level of anxiety. Sorry that that therapist wasn't helpful. I recovered from anxiety and I got to the bottom of it. Sounds like now your anxiety is keeping you from focusing.
Yes, I definitely think going back to therapy might help. There seems to be different schools of thought on this. My psychiatrist sees my anxiety as more of a permanent condition which therapy can't completely eradicate. There does seem to be some logic to this as I've gone through far more stressful times and not had any anxiety/panic episodes. But at the same time, I don't like thinking just making a simple change in medication is always the answer either.
But the problem I'm having now is how do I deal with this current rapid and severe feeling of depression I have now? I'm taking meds but there isn't one that can erase this empty and intensively despairing feeling I'm currently undergoing. Sleeping as a refuge is so tempting, but I'm worried it may prolong my situation. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to cope in the middle of a depressive episode? I'm pretty sure going to the hospital will make me feel 1,000x worse, but it's hard to go through the daily routines of life and I feel stressed by trying to keep up appearances at work and around my kids.
My psychiatrist sees my anxiety as more of a permanent condition which therapy can't completely eradicate.
Greg, I couldn't disagree with this more. I was anxious because of my experiences as a child and the erroneous thoughts that I took away from those experiences. Those thoughts made me anxious. I just had to discover what had happened and then made changes in my thoughts. I function at a completely different level now. You are having acute stressors right now but these are piled up on top of an anxious personality. IMO, therapy IS the way to go.
Sleeping as a refuge is so tempting, but I'm worried it may prolong my situation.
One of my doctor's suggestions was to get up early. Sleeping too long is a depressant. I've found this to be great advice. I feel more rested and in a better mood. Timing and the amount of sleep makes a difference.
[QUOTE=greg7;2883316] Yes, I definitely think going back to therapy might help.There seems to be different schools of thought on this. My psychiatrist sees my anxiety as more of a permanent condition which therapy can't completely eradicate.
I'm taking meds but there isn't one that can erase this empty and intensively despairing feeling I'm currently undergoing. [QUOTE]
i agree with you 100& that taking meds will not "erase" this empty feeling and "despair" that your are currenty feeling. although i am very thankful to whoever intented them (meds, that is), because they do give me some respite from what otherwise would leave me ....i don't know...probably catatonic... however, i must emphasize the therapy part here, because the two major issues that your are dealing with at the moment (your children's diagnosis and the increased job stress--both things that you keep inside!!!) are things that MUST have some sort of outlet. no wonder you get anxious episodes all the time, which then lead to depressive episodes!! you feel like "where's the control here?" "what the heck am i doing/going to do??"
maybe your first therapist/phsychologist wasn't good enough (God knows many aren't!!!), BUT, there are others who are very good! you said the first one wasn't very empathetic and made jokes. i had similar incompetents. you need a therapist that focuses mostly on humanistic approaches and client-centered therapy.
as for your psychiatrist seeing the anxiety as a "permanent condition" that "therapy can't eradicate"--i'd really have a talk with that one...i mean i'd really give him/her a piece of my mind. i'd feel like complete crap if a doctor told me that. like i'll never be well, like there's no hope for me. i don't know about this person, but i don't like the sound of him/her...i'm sorry i'm saying this. he/she may be good in other respects, but that sentence just made me furious!!!! xanax just covers the symptoms, greg--i'm sure you know that. it doesn't solve them. i know, because i take klonopin for anxiety. it doesn't do anything at all in terms of helping me through anything, other than relieving my anxious feelings when i need to do something that would make me anxious, or when i feel so angry (i know, i know....i need to learn some better coping mechanisms as well) that i want to hit the walls with my bare hands.
please think about counseling again. and this time, take your time, and really LOOK for a good therapist, someone who would give you what you need. someone where within that safe environment, will teach you how to cope better with what life throws your way, and where you can let yourelf go, since you've got so much stuff inside!!!!
i hope i haven't said anything offensive.
take care of yourself, greg.
Be kinder than necessary,
Because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle...
Thanks...and no, you did not say anything offensive. This is something I've debated with myself for a long time.
Also, I think I may have misrepresented my psychiatrist's point of view. He encourages me strongly to practice cognitive behavioral therapy techniques and to find different ways of interpreting and responding to panic attacks and anxiety. But he does seem to think that there is something inherently biological to my anxiety and it is true that I have had a sensitive nervous system for as long as I can remember (even as a child). And I am frequently amazed at how I often don't succumb to panic or anxiety during times that are at least as challenging if not more challenging than they are right now.
But I think it might be worthwhile to explore therapy that tries to determine the causes of anxiety that may not be apparent to me.
I just want to get through this current "crisis" and then chart a course for therapy. I just wish someone could knock me out until I feel better.
Thanks to everyone who has responded. I don't often get to communicate with people who go through similar situations, although I know of many who do.