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Anxiety for the long term. What to do?
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Anxiety for the long term. What to do?

I started having anxiety attacks about 4 months ago and went to the ER. After countless ekg's, MRI, Heart sonogram, etc., they said everything was great and said that my "Flight or Fight" response was all out of whack. My wife has been sick with Cancer on and off for about 5 years and I feel it myself that I am always in a "Ready to Pounce" mode; as a result, anxiety.

I now just recently have been experiencing adrenaline "Jolts" right before I dose off and it usually happens when I am thinking of something unpleasant (bills, doctor appts, etc.) right before I fall asleep so it is logically sound that the two are linked.

My question is; what does one do about anxiety in the long run? My Doctor prescribed me Xanex to take if I feel one coming on (which then was once in a while) but they are becoming more common for me and the last thing I want to do is start taking Xanex everyday. And now with these new adrenaline "Jolt" while sleeping, I'm starting to wonder if I should be on a medication or something.

Any comments and/or suggestion would be appreciated.
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Avatar_f_tn
Maybe instead of xanax u can try a anxiety med like paxil, zoloft or klonipine. Xanax should only be used as needed because it can be addicting. But talk to your dr and go from there.
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Avatar_m_tn
hey mate,
it must be really hard to cope with the sickness of someone you love dearly; someone who is a rock for you emotionally and spiritually.. you must be so scared right now and you might not see a way to cope in the future and theres no way you can figure it out right now - my advice to you is to not try to figure out how you will manage in the future. i think medication is just a short term thing to put one leg in front of the other until you are able to walk on your own. Things that definately will help -
-exercise (lots of exercise)
-counscelling
-meditation (learning to direct your energy away from your thoughts and into your physical self)

take care
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Avatar_m_tn
These are the tips/techniques that helped me control my panic attacks that were extreme. It took me three weeks with the right therapist and following these tips/techniques A therapist is usually better to start out with because they won't just hook you on a medication that if for any reason you can't get, causes you another trip to the ER. If this works, you won't be dependent on medications and will be happy again. The state can help you with the therapist if you are low income. Good luck and keep us posted. If you have any questions, feel free to message me.

Ok, there are pre panic tips and full panic tips.

Let's start with the pre panic tips.

A rubber band around the wrist can help if you use it before the anxiety turns into an anxiety attack. As soon as you start to feel weird you snap the rubber band onto your wrist. For some people, this can "snap" (pun intended) them out of going into the anxiety or panic attack.

When you start to feel the anxiety coming on, think of the most odd thoughts you possibly can. Wonder what a star would look like if it were really a circle in disquise.......how many cattapilars would it take to reach from the earth to saturn if they were drinking caffine. Distracting your thoughts with such bizaare thinking will redirect your mind from getting worse.

Sit down on a bench or chair, put your head between your legs, and force yourself to breathe in deeply, and breathe out deeply. It's when the breathing gets to short and quick that the panic gets worse. At first you might feel like you  can't do it, but with practice, you can.

If you wear correctional glasses, take them off. For some reason sight plays into some peoples anxiety problems.

Ok, now for when you are in an actual panic attack.

Cold water on the face, forehead, neck, and wrists can help calm the anxiety or panic down. If it's cold enough, it's kind of like shocking you out of the attack.

To add to the cold water technique, if you are in full blown panic attack, find ice as soon as you can, put it into some kind of rag or cloth, wet it, and rub it all over your head, face, neck, and behind your ears. Again, the cold shocks the mind out of the anxiety.

Here are some tips to prevent the anxiety and or panic attacks.

Stay away from caffine, as a rule, it is the MAIN reason people suffer from anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

Surround yourself with comedy whenever you start to feel off. Laughter is another technique that can fool the brain into concentrating somewhere else.

Keep a herbal tea you made handy when you are out and about. If you want, as long as you make sure it is safe for you, I will send you some "calm down" recipies that are 100% natural and legal.

Also, there are disposable instant cold packs you can buy from 99 cent stores to use for the cold, this makes it easy to find relief when driving, at work, or some other place a sink is not always available.
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968908_tn?1274874715
The best step forward is to get yourself a pyschologist and start having CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).  This is an extremely successful practice for people with anxiety issues, it is FAR more than just talking.  I suggest googling and having a look.  Then ask for a referral via your PC\GP.  Four months is still a very early stage to treat this, so CBT would be perfect... Don't waste time, cause the longer u live with anxiety the depper set it tends to become and therefore harder to treat.
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Avatar_f_tn
You really need to have a long discussion with your doctor.  There are lots of good treatments for anxiety and panic attacks.  Zanax is good for the occasional attack, but isn't long acting enough to help with frequent or constant anxiety.  Tell your doctor how you feel. Good Luck!
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Avatar_f_tn
Due to the severe effects of antidepressants I suffered, I would like to see you try some other ways to relax, like perhaps talking to a pastor, prayer etc...
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968908_tn?1274874715
Hi there, I am sorry that u had a bad expereince on anti-d's, but I really do have to stress that everyone is an idividual and as being such will react in different ways.  What is ones person's blessing come true is another's mightmare, so even though I know u said this out of the kindness and concern of your heart it is unfair to make such a bold statement to try to scare this poster.

Just to add I am not having a dig at you as I fully understand where you are coming from but from being on this web-site a very long time now you do develop an idea of what not to say.  Just please bare in mind everyone is different.  

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Avatar_f_tn
I am sorrry you feel I say the wrong things. I realize that everyone is different, but this person has had this he says only 4 months. I would hate to see him starting on the cycle of drugs if it can be avoided. I dont agree with you that it is unfair to make such (bold) statement. What about it was so bad? I will not tell someone their best option is drugs, not when they can try other things first. You wont be there if he has a bad reaction to these drugs. He is trying to care for someone ill, the last thing he needs is more problems if it can be avoided. Who is out there telling people these drugs change their brain chemistry and no-one really knows how it will effect them until they play with it, and then no one  knows how long is safe to be on it and no one knows if they will or will not be harmed when they get off them. You may have been on this site a  long time, but I wish someone would have told me to avoid these drugs if possible, I will continue to warn others, and I feel I have done a good job of telling people that some can be helped by them when all else fails, but lets try other options first. Sorry, you are just wrong here.
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Avatar_m_tn
I can see where bbxx is coming from, I always urge people to go with therapy first before a doctor that will do NOTHING but set the person up with medication/s to combat/control the anxiety. Once a person who suffers from anxiety disorder and or panic disorder starts medication/s for control over it, they become heavily dependent on it. With panic attacks or heavy anxiety, once you find something you can pop in your mouth and say goodbye to the bad stuff, when you don't have that pill/s then you have no way of combating it.

Also, I can see Julie359's point. I agree that there are some people out there that have these illnesses so bad that they NEED medication so that they can function and have as normal of lives as possible. I just read a post on this site that had a person who I truly believe (without being a doctor of course) NEEDS medication because of how severe their problem is.

I don't see the harm in giving the suggestion that a person FIRST goes to a therapist, if that therapist don't work, then seeing one more therapist, and then if still no luck, going to a doctor that can prescribe something to help. Usually diet plays a huge role in anxiety and panic disorders. I know that combined with the tips/techniques I posted here and therapy, I was able to go from extreme panic attacks to having my illness controlled 90% and it only took four weeks. It's amazing to find out that people like us usually have this happen because of to much caffeine in our system.

I have seen posts from people being on this site for years and years that were just so off the mark (I only know because of personal experiences) and I have seen more posts from people who are brand new that were far off the mark. Experience in this problem is what is important. If a person has went over this themselves then they have a leg to stand on when giving advice. I will agree with Julie359 that we should never "scare" a person about medications only because medications might be the only help they have.

Being honest and speaking from the heart won't lead a person wrong, but when you ignore that therapy CAN work or that scaring a person could lead them to suffering because they won't give medication/s a try and therapy don't work, then you are not doing what is best for the people here.............in my opinion.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have a lot more experience than you know, but choosing to keep this as private as possible thats all I will say.
I honestly feel that what I said was not overstepping. I simply was suggesting trying an alternative to drugs first. If you read my other posts, I do admit there are times medications are needed. As to scaring someone. If telling someone there are risks to something considered scaring them, well then I dont know what to say.
I assumed they are an adult and as an adult, I can hear the frightening side effects and if I felt it was my best option, worth the risk then I would do just that. A child on the other hand could be too scared to get a shot that could save their life. We are not children.
My friends that had cancer were told they needed certain drug therapies. They looked up the risks. One decided the risk was worth it since her cancer was so bad. She made the choice she felt was best for her, but after having all the facts.
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Avatar_f_tn
Someone on this board (I think it was Paxiled) gave me the best advice on medications, when I had a very similar question... and it made a lot of sense / worked for me.  To summarize:

A medication is only right if it is the right thing for YOU to do.  Nobody really MUST be on medication for anxiety. Anxiety is bothersome and it can interfere a great deal with your life.  Some people need medication because the anxiety can become so bothersome that they're unable to function.  If a person is unable to function in somewhat of a regular way, it makes it difficult for them to reach out or seek the help they need to really address their anxiety.  So I can see why someone would need to use it.

However the important thing to understand is that medications for anxiety only address the symptoms. They do not 'fix' the anxiety because they don't address the cause.... sort of like a decongestant won't cure your cold, it just makes you feel better for a while.  A person has to learn how to manage anxiety better and that takes work and time.  Therapists can help with that.  Changing one's lifestyle can help too (drinking less caffeine, exercising, eating right, for example).

Speaking from experience, I was in the same spot. My dr. had me on Xanax and said, if I find myself using it more frequently (ex. daily or several times a day), come in and we will put me on a long term med to control the anxiety which is non-habit forming.  I was having a really rough time of it and using Xanax frequently so after a few weeks I made an appointment and came in.  She prescribed me with a long term med which I started right away - most of them you have to 'ramp up' before you get the full effect and 'ramp down' in order to quit safely.  The one that I tried made me so sick with side effects that I called the doctor after a few days and she took me off of it.  I was going to try another, but I started poking around a bit on the Internet and on this board and getting other opinions on things to try. Since I wasn't SO bad off without the Xanax or the medication that I couldn't function, I decided to go into therapy, start exercising, and changing some of my daily routines instead, before deciding that I needed another medicine.  I can't say that I still don't have a lot of work to do, I have some setbacks here and there, but I don't suffer nearly as much, and I feel like I'm getting better at managing the anxiety problem vs. just addressing the symptoms, which is a little victory for me.  Sometimes I consider going back to medications when things get bad, but I haven't had to.  Knowing that I *could,* if I really felt like I needed to, is enough for me for right now.

So to walk the middle path here -- medication can help in the short term, but it is often difficult to find the right one, and if you are managing OK without it, it may not be worth it to you to 'experiment' with finding the right drug for you.  If you want to be rid of (i.e. better manage) anxiety, it is important to talk to someone, to seek help, and to try to make changes that could help you better deal with it.

As split5050 said - I can't imagine what you are going through right now.  It is a lot of stress taking care of a loved one who is ill, and worrying about their (and your) future.  It's also difficult being 'the' rock for your wife, especially if you feel that your own support (for reasons that can't be controlled) is eroding. Garner support from your friends and relatives if you can, and accept their help when offered. Talking to someone about what you're going through, here or in person, may help you more than any medication in the long run.  In the short run, being aware that you have options other than Xanax, if you decide you need them, is important and something worth discussing with your doctor.
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Avatar_m_tn
For the record, I was not accusing anyone of doing anything wrong. Each person posting is doing what they think is most helpful to the poster.

Bbxx, I wasn't saying you did scare the person, in fact, maybe Julie got you and I confused. You didn't say as much about not taking medications as I did.

Regardless, we just want what is best for people needing help.

To the poster, as you can see, people have different opinions on the subject, and we all feel strongly about them because we want you to get help you need. There is no shame in taking medications if you have to, and different methods other than medication could help. There is nothing wrong with suggesting a person meditate or pray regarding this issue. Only YOU will know what is the best way to get help and what help works the best. You are going to choose what you want to choose, I have my opinions, but they mean nothing compared to you just doing what works.

We are on the same team, even if we think different plays should be called. It don't matter who is right, everyone has helpful information and personal experience to add so that the end result is a person don't suffer anymore.
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Avatar_f_tn
Well said. :)
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Avatar_f_tn
You said since he had only had this problem for four months you would hate to see him start on a cycle of drugs.  People with extreme cases of anxiety or panic attacks for four months are exhausted both mentally and physically.  Four months is an eternity for somebody suffering.  Waiting a couple of weeks for a med to kick in is often enough to push us over the edge.  We don't know what his level of anxiety is.  I know you have good reasons for your opinions.  I'm just afraid someone will not seek medical help because of the stigma you are placing on meds.
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Avatar_f_tn
This is true. I didnt think about the variations in sufferers. I appologize.
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968908_tn?1274874715
I too apologise, I didn't realise my comment was going to upset in the way it did. See u have to be VERY careful what u say! Lol I do fully understand where people are coming from and if u look at my past posts I 99% of the time addvocate therapy, natural remedies, herbal all the way.  I am certainly not someone who recommends these harsh drugs in a heart beat.  Maybe I just read it wrong but even though it may not of sounded too much to harp about a lot can be taken from it.  My advice is not a point my finger in ur face and tell u off like a naughty child, far from it, it is done out of compassion and a friendly arm around the shoulder just saying that, and this goes to everyone, that as we don't truely know the level of suffering or medical history or circumstances we do need to be careful not to just simply tell our stories of negitivity.  I prefer now not to tell the poster about my own horror story nor even mention that I too had a bad experience, I purely concentrate on offering alternative advice like therapy, herbal, meditation, relaxation etc....  
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And always to go see their doctor and discuss options!
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Ps... Yes that does sound exactly like Paxiled, one of respected and long term members of this forum, he is totally right in the advice he has given u.
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Avatar_m_tn
For the long term, SSRIs like Zoloft, Prozac, etc, are often prescribed, however, remember they will not 'cure' your anxiety.  I am a proponent of SSRIs which I have taken on and off for awhile now and they helped me tremendously as I learned about my anxiety through counseling.  I believe that medication can be a very useful tool while you confront your anxiety through therapy.  

Do you have access to counseling?  For me both individual and group helped.  It shed light on a dark subject and gave me the necessary steps to deal with it in the long term.  It also showed me how many people actually go through this at one point in their lives and how you can thrive with this....I look at it as another challange...although it is definitely scary and very difficult to deal with at first, but you can and will get through it....keep us posted!
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Avatar_f_tn
It is fair to say that NO drug cures anxiety.  If they did we could take them until the anxiety went away and then quit them.  Problem is the anxiety returns almost immediately in most cases.  So we are never cured from the med itself.  That does not mean that something else natural or CBT is going to cure us either.  Maybe we just have to find something that puts some normalcy back into our lives.  It's great if therapy does cure us, but we are not failures if this is not the case.  Insulin doesn't cure diabetes but it makes it manageable. Lupus, arthritis, parkinsons etc. won't be cured by meds, but that's not a reason to refuse them.  Meds make those diseases easier to live with.  Meds should be a last resort but they definitely have their place.  Anxiety at least has options and you should be willing to try them all.
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968908_tn?1274874715
Extremely well said Lyn.
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