I have had severe anxiety and panic attacks for about 5 weeks now. In the past I would experience the occasional panic attack but rarely, maybe once or twice a month. Lately I have been having at least one a day, sometimes lasting for a while with anxiety that can go on for hours. My doctor has given me some benzos but I try only to take one when absolutely necessary, but that is almost one a day now. Am wondering where I am headed, and am worried about my sanity. A couple of months ago I was a half way "normal" person, and even went to the gym at least 5 times a week. I have tried to make myself go several times, and had to leave because of severe panicky feeling. Even the mall gives me anxiety now and I am becoming more withdrawn for fear of more panic attacks. I am now worried about getting worse, and wondering if I should make myself leave the house, and keep trying to go to the gym etc, just to get out. I do not want to get to the stage where I cannot leave my home. Also, I was laid off from my job last December, and am wondering if this period of doing "nothing" is making my anxiety worse. What do you think? I am worried about starting a new job with this anxiety- panic attack could strike at any time and they just come out of the blue without apparent triggers. Have you experienced that by forcing yourself to do more social activities your anxiety improves? Also, during a panic attack I have tried the recommended breathing techniques, and they make it worse- my breathing becomes very forced and I am too aware of it to relax. I am wondering where I am headed and how I can get better.
I was right where you are not long ago. I wasn't thrilled about taking xanax every day but it got to the point where I had to. It is best to keep busy as much as you can, but I know sometimes it's hard. The worst thing I could do durring those times was sit like a blob on my couch and let the anxiety take over. I was lucky about the fact that I never felt like I couldn't go out of the house and do things I needed to do as what happens with many anxiety sufferers. However, I have taken time off work. Don't be afraid to use your xanax until you can find the best way to take control of your anxiety. Maybe anti depressants or CBT. Try to find something that will work for you, the sooner the better. Just don't give up!! You will find a way to beat this.
take more benzos and do get out and about, a large enough dose of benzos will let you get out and regain some self confidence
ask doc about trying an antidepressant med, but dont stop the benzos if you do
read up about CBT on the net, learn new ways of relaxing and calming yourself and do some exercises at home, do the deep slow breathing in a relaxed way, dont tense up or fprce things
dont be too proud to take adequate benzo doses, excessive pride stops many anxiety sufferers from getting better as they refuse to take a large enough dose of benzos to help them
I too use to suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. I would be at a mall or the Post Office and just have this out of body feeling as though I was not in touch with myself. Usually when I have suffered extreme periods of stress, I begin to have panic attacks and they happen when I least expect it. The last one I had was over a year ago now. I was in my car going to the mall in traffic and then all of a sudden I begin to feel the panic, sweating, trembling, etc. I had a tremendous amount of fear and could not wait to turn around and go home. I made a decision that I would rather be on medication than to feel like that. I currently take a low does of Ativan, .5mg in the morning and two before I go to bed. I am also on 225mg of Effexor XR and 150mg Wellbutrin. I have not had a panic attack in over a year and my anxiety is completely gone. It feels amazing not to have that feeling. Situations that would put me over the edge do not even phase me anymore. I still have moments of depression however I am able to deal with the situation and it goes away.
Everyone may not necessarily need or want medication. For me just the idea of trying to relax and breathe caused more anxiety. Do what ever it takes to get better. If it means taking medication, then do it. I feel %100 percent better and I never thought anything would help me. Take care of yourself.
Lehara, I can completely relate to your post. I think you absolutely have to start forcing yourself out of the house. Once I'm out there for awhile, I start calming down and my confidence starts returning. I also have cut out sugar, caffeine and alcohol from my diet. These are not good for the nervous system. I also think cardiovascular exercise is very important. (for anyone for that matter). When my nervous system was in a sensitized state, as yours seems to be, I had difficulty doing any meditation or conscious breathing. As I gradually started calming down, I was finally able to include them. Now my meditations are bringing great calmness and more clarity about my situation.
Our anxieties and fears are a part of us (for now), and we must accept them. However, that doesn't mean we must dwell on them. With practice you can actually learn to change the mental channel, but first accept them as being a part of who you are for now. More and more they will diminish in power, thus becoming less and less of who you are. Running from them or forcefully pushing them away can reinforce them. Once you've accepted them, then choose to put your attention on another aspect of who you are, or you can choose to turn your attention directly at those scary thoughts or feelings and see exactly what they're all about. This can be difficult but very rewarding. I believe that CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) deals mostly with looking directly at these aspects. I would highly recommend the book "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook." It covers about every aspect including CBT, diet, exercise, supplements, medication, spirituality, meditation/mindfulness, etc...a very comprehensive and highly regarded book.
Also, the panic attacks can't harm you. Its just the adrenaline rush as a result of the body's "fight or flight" response. It will only scare the heck out of you. The "out of control feeling" or "derealization" as some call it, is only a result of oxygen leaving the brain and moving to higher priority areas, so the body can better fight or run from the danger (fight or flight response). Of course, there is nothing to fight or run from, so you're left with the uncomfortable sensations. Knowing all this, can help you more quickly get back under control and even may prevent you from panicking in the first place. This was certainly the case with me. Hang in there. Steve
Thanks for all your replies. I do believe that panic and anxiety are closely connected to self-esteem. I think losing my job has hurt me more than I realized. I have to do things that make me feel better about myself, starting with a new job. It is just not that easy to start over. Anyway, today I will try to go to the gym, but am worried as the last times I went I had to leave after 10 minutes. I do not understand that despite the fact that I have had so many panic attacks, everytime I have one I have the same reaction. No matter how I rationalize in my head that it is just another panic attack and that I will be ok, my body takes over and freaks out, convinced that there is something wrong with "it". Maybe I should take my benzo before the anxiety even starts (I usually take it in the middle of a full blown panic).
If you are going to take the medication, I would suggest that you consult with your doctor to determine the best time to take your medication as well as the dosage level. You definitely need to have the medication in your system before entering into a situation that is going to cause you extreme anxiety. Best wishes.