You fear is understandable!
I felt exactly the same, when I sort of realized that I had reached a point when I needed outside help to cope.
You can strike lucky, as I did. The first mediacation I took was to even out my mood and to help me relax and stop panic attacks ( which is a lot worse than what you have, Thank God). That lasted four years. I had absolutely NO side effects. Then, It just happened that I needed BETTER therapy.
So I hooked myself to a psychiatrist after recommendation. I again struck lucky. He changed the medication and we got really deep into the causes of all my problems, childhood and parental behaviour and my power to change all this.
I tell you and I have said this thing many times on this board. He has changed my life. Seven months into therapy and I am now taking the absolute minimum of meds, I have lost weight, I feel happy, more in control, better able to cope and have a very positive outlook of life.
So, if you need to take meds, do. If you must see someone ,DO. Combine both and you have a sure way to success.
Do not be scared thinking about side effects and that you may never be able to be off medication. You will. You must have faith. When you start getting better, with the right support, you will stand on your own feet and you will be able to see the sun shining again.. And you will realize that there is light outside the tunnel you are in.
Take heart. We are here.
Good luck and God bless you.