Panic Disorder - Aurora,IL

Updated on April 28, 2014
M.S. asks from Aurora, IL
10 answers

Hi Momma's. For the past 4 years shortly after giving birth to my daughter, I started to experience my first panic attack. Ever since, it has been a battle. I have taken different antidepressants and of course they all have some sort of side effect so with doctor's monitoring, I wean off. I did well without meds for a while and then all of a sudden BAM it comes back. I have been having them almost daily. Especially when commuting to and from work. As a matter of fact I had a small attack today at home! This is supposed to be my safe place for crying out loud. Anyhow, I just want to know if anyone else out there is living with these things, what coping methods,or medicines have worked? I guess I just need someone else who I can talk to about this. My PCP gave me Effexor XR, I still have NOT taken any. I read some bad reviews, so now I am very reluctant to take it. I shoudl also mention that my vitamin b and d levels are pretty low, so i just started taking those vitamins.
Your advice is appreciate! Thank you!

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answers from San Francisco on

You need to be under the care of a psychiatrist. A regular doctor isn't trained in mental health disorders and how to be treat them. Just because they can prescribe meds doesn't mean they should. Get a referral and start therapy first, then try drugs if/when/as needed.

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answers from San Francisco on

Find a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. That's what helped my daughter. It took many months of appointments, first weekly then gradually every other week, but she has been doing really well for close to two years now. She still has anxiety of course (probably always will) but the important thing is she can MANAGE it, and knows how to talk herself down and stay calm during periods of stress.
She's never been on meds, therapy was all she needed (and trust me, her anxiety was BAD.)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you're depressed take antidepressants. If you have panic attacks take an anxiety med not antidepressants. Although some meds to cross over and do other things there are whole groups of meds that help with the panic feeling.

If you are getting your meds from a family doc then understand he's not a professional in mental health and really doesn't know a lot about the best meds that work for anxiety and panic attacks.

If you're seeing a psychiatrist for the meds then take time at your next appointment and ask them if they think this med or that med would be better to try next.

You need a PRN med for panic and anxiety attacks. I took Xanax but had oppositional side effects, I clawed my face until it bled. I took Paxil but my skin itched so bad and it turned lobster red. I did well with Klonopin. I took it when I felt panic coming on and I could stop it cold. Eventually just having that med in my purse made it possible that I didn't "have" to take it, just knowing I could helped my to be able to stop the panic feeling.

Working through therapy and finding your triggers is best done when you're taking meds that are working well. They keep you relaxed while talking about upsetting things. Then once you've addressed the issues you can start to lower your doses over a long period of time and gradually start being able to face your issues. Then you can get off the meds because you won't have the issues anymore to trigger.

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answers from Denver on

Anxiety starts in our thoughts. Negative fearful thoughts that run over and over. Often we are not fully aware of the thought patterns that are going on. As we have fearful thoughts certain chemicals are released in our bodies and our bodies begin to react thus causing panic attacks.

It is important to find a therapist that deals with becoming aware of and questioning your fearful thought patterns. A fearful thought will play continuously in a vicious loop until we decide to pay attention and begin to focus on the story. Usually we get stuck in the worst-case-scenario part of the story and never truly move on to the next thing. We just play the fearful story again and again without taking a moment to do a reality check.

When we take the time to actually examine disasters and crisis we begin to see that time allows for things to change and be resolved. Even with the most terrifying of circumstances, life does move forward and does support us in overcoming any scary event.

When you can become aware of the story you can then start to ask the question: "And then what?" This question begins to move you past the fearful story to the next moment in time. You simply continue to ask the question till your mind moves far enough down the timeline to see how a situation could be resolved. This is a simple exercise, however, not easy to do without support and practice. This exercise will shift your thoughts from living in a fearful moment to a more realistic place and change your body chemistry.

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answers from Boston on

I dealt with depression for many many years, although it did lack the panic/anxiety aspect. I think the resolution of these issues depends on the cause - for example, if there is a precipitating memory or trauma in your past (even if it's triggered by something like a birth), therapy can be extremely important to get to the underlying problem. You can't just medicate on top of something that's unresolved and unexplored.

Therapy can also be very useful in helping you develop coping strategies. Medications can be useful in some people especially to get to the point of being functional and giving the coping or relaxation strategies a chance to be practiced and to work. Side effects scare everyone - but not everyone gets the side effects mentioned. So it's really hard to say which medication will work for this person and which will not. But if worrying about side effects makes your panic worse, that's a problem. I guess I'm more concerned that you got a prescription from your PCP who probably spent no more than 20 minutes with you - you should at least be working with a counselor familiar with meds and panic disorders. Maybe the prescription is a good thing for you, but many doctors just throw a script at a patient because they have to move on to the next person.

I'm going to question the vitamin B and D levels being "low" and so you are just taking those vitamins. There is no justification for taking individual vitamins like that - there is so much scientific evidence that vitamins work in conduction with minerals, trace elements, phytonutrients and more, and each one needs its "partners" in a balanced blend. Moreover, these should not be in pill form at all, which only have a 15-30% absorption rate, if that. the vast majority of what you are taking is simply passing through your body unabsorbed. Even what's dissolving in your digestive system is not necessary being absorbed by your cells, and if it is, the cell is still not able to really work with it, so it's being eliminated. It's a huge waste of money. I work in the field of nutritional epigenetics and I can tell you that the entire paradigm of health care has changed, with more scientists and researchers leaving the micronutrient model (take this vitamin and that mineral) after 30 years of it absolutely not working for anyone but the vitamin industry itself. Our health care situation is much worse than it was a generation ago, and this is part of the reason.

All of the studies show that we should continue going into the epigenetic model, of working on the damaged outer coating of the our genetic material - we talk like we have "bad genes" but really we just have damaged genetic signaling going on. If we fix that, the genes work much better. Other than a few rare mutations, the genetic material itself is usually not the problem. I've worked with hundreds of people who got dramatic results with chronic problems, from inflammation to depression-related conditions to diabetes to reduced immune systems. So that's a whole other route you can explore. There are seminars and webinars and all kinds of things you can participate in to learn more. Let me know if you need some connections on that.

But don't give up - this is a relative new condition for you (I know it seems like forever) but it can be addressed. I'm medication-free now, and so are many of my colleagues who followed the newer route to better health.

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answers from Washington DC on

Why are you still seeing only a primary care physician and not a psychiatrist? Your PCP should LONG ago have referred you out to a psychiatrist. I agree with the person who posted that one does not take antidepressants for anxiety -- you need anxiety meds instead, and your PCP is doing you wrong by not referring you for better help. Go in now and demand a referral, and do not let your PCP bully or belittle you into thinking you should not have specialist care.

You need not just meds but also talk therapy as Diane B. says below. You need to learn the roots of the issue as well as coping strategies for how to work with your own thoughts when an attack gets under way (and how to recognize things that may trigger attacks for you). I would wager that a general physician is not giving you any of this, which is why you need ongoing therapy with someone who specializes in anxiety issues. Do not take no for an answer.

I am concerned that you don't mention ever having seen a specialist or psychiatrist. General practitioners are great but they are not mental health specialists. Fight for what you truly need and what will help you, and please don't look to online forums, drug review sites, or alternative health web sites for that kind of help. You need someone who knows you inside and out and that's not found online but in the office of a trained mental health professional. Why hasn't your PCP referred you? Insurance won't like it? PCP wants to keep you on his or her books?

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answers from Washington DC on

i appreciate that you don't want to simply medicate. medication can be very helpful, but i agree with you that you shouldn't try it first. everything has side effects and sometimes it's worth the risk, but without having tried actual therapy with a counselor trained to address anxiety issues, just taking a pill is a shot in the dark.
as squid points out, exercise is generally a great thing to do, and B and D vitamins are also good thinking. now quit circling around the problem and get the real help you actually need (which won't come from MP although we can support and encourage you for sure!)
get a therapist. do it today.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Iowa City on

I have "adult panic anxiety syndrome." With this syndrome people basically have random panic attacks of undetermined duration that are not caused by triggers but rather biomechanics. My body randomly dumps adrenaline causing a severe panic attack. Because this is a chemical thing for me and not emotional, traditional therapy will do no good. I was taking citalopram (for about 1.5 years) but have weaned off. I have lorazepam that I can take at the onset of an attack but I usually don't need it. I just do breathing exercises to get me through.

You need to have a therapist/doctor determine if you have triggers (sounds like you do since the panic starts when doing the same activity) or if your attacks are purely chemical and go from there.

ETA: People certainly do take antidepressants for anxiety. It is common and works well for a lot of people.

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answers from Portland on

I suffered from extreme panic attacks that became almost constant for awhile, almost 30 years ago. This occurred shortly after a major loss (my Granny died). It was so bad for several months that I thought I must be seriously ill and/or dying. Gradually, with the help of a holistically-oriented M.D., I learned that a major shock or life change can precipitate anxiety and panic is susceptible folks, and coincidentally, I had crashed with major sensitivities to just about every chemical used in modern life. These crashes, when they happen, also commonly follow major change.

We tried a couple of different drugs to calm my system, and they only made things worse. But gradually I learned to do two things that brought me back to normal:

First: I cleaned up my personal environment – only unscented detergent and NO fabric softeners in the laundry, baking soda and vinegar for general cleaning, no scented ANYTHING, no food additives, replaced many synthetic materials in my home. It took months to work through all the changes, but I kept a diary and it became clear that I was getting better.

The other thing that became an absolutely central to my recovery was simply surrender. I had to learn to give up my belief that my individual life was so important that I could ruin it with worry. That might be hard to understand, especially as a young mother with a child depending on you. But all the worry in the world won't prevent accidents and illness, and in fact can actually help bring them on and make us less capable. So basically, I learned (mostly over one long and very difficult night) to turn it all over to God, or reality (they are closely related in my own understanding). And the panic faded, really very quickly after that, with no drugs.

I have found this sense of calm has served me very well many times since. What happens is what happens, and if that's something alarming or dangerous, I find I can often do what needs to be done while other people are running around with their hair on fire.

I don't know whether any of your imbalance has a physical cause, but if you're using most modern commercial cleaners, or foods that are processed and shelf-stable, you will almost certainly feel healthier if you find alternatives. And the second part of my recovery I can highly recommend to anyone carrying an supersized sense of responsibility.

I should mention, too, that I'm looking into EMDR therapy for a family member who has been traumatized recently. It looks promising. You might look this up and see whether it appeals to you – it's a non-invasive approach that's been extremely helpful for many people with PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

I wish you well, Sandy.

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answers from San Francisco on

Do you exercise? It definitely helps.

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