I started having anxiety after a recent (Mid October 09) incident with caffeine. I inadvertently ingested a large quantity of caffeine at work one morning and experienced the worst panic attack/reaction to a stimulant that I have ever had. Ever since that happened, I have had 5 minor (in comparison to the first) panic attacks. I can't have caffeine anymore-- even chocolate chip cookies seem to make my heart race, thus triggering an attack. However, yesterday, I went to attend a party at my friends house about 20 miles away from my parents house and on my way there I was struck with fear. I felt like I was leaving a safety zone and entering into an unknown land (mind you, I have been to my friends house a billion times -- it's not foreign lands to me). When I got to the party, I was overwhelmed. Electro was playing loudly on the sound system and lights/lasers were flashing -- I stepped outside to get some air and felt a bit better. However, it wasn't until I got intoxicated (alcohol) that I felt relaxed and normal.
This worries me on a few different levels: 1. on my way back to Los Angeles, from my parents house, I had to turn around and go back to their house and relax. I finally just got back to Los Angeles (45 minute drive) but it was a HELLISH drive. I felt anxious the whole time (mind you, I have done this drive a billion times, too). 2. I have an intense fear of traveling right now! I just got back from New York a week ago and had no problem -- now I feel like I would never be able to make the flight/be so far away from my home. 3. I'm 25 and all of these things (traveling/driving) have never bothered me before-- ever. How can I suddenly be terrified to do things I once took for granted?
It makes me extraordinarly sad to think I'm losing my indepdence. I feel bad, because I never appreciated the fact that I was able to up and do things before.
I feel like I'm experiencing the onset of agoraphobia - I push myself to do things, even if I don't want to, so hopefully that works.
But does anyone have advice? I don't want to see a doctor because I don't want medicine. I have known people on xanax and their personalities change drastically -- I don't want to go through that.
Any advice would be helpful or any success stories.
Anxiety can have a sudden onset in someone's life and can appear out of the blue. The thing you need to remember is that is a totally curable condition and you can get over it.
The first place i would start would be with a qualified psychotherapist. You need to talk about those issues with someone that will understand your fears and try to cure them to the root.
You can also try natural anti-anxiety medication like Seredyn and Serelax if you really don't want to see a doctor for meds. They are made with the supplements i will list under. Basically it's a package deal of all the supplements in one bottle.
-Gamma-aminobutyric Acid (GABA) ( included in Serelax )
-Passionflower ( included in both Seredyn and Serelax )
-Kava ( included in Serelax )
-Valerian ( included in both Seredyn and Serelax )
-5-HPT ( included in Serelax )
-L-Theanine ( included in both Seredyn and Serelax )
-Niacinamide ( included in Seredyn )
-Magnesium Taurinate ( included in Seredyn )
You can also buy all the supplements individually and try to figure out by yourself what works best. ( Personally i would start with GABA )
Physical activity ( regular exercise is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and you will produce anti-anxiety hormones during exercise ) and healthy diet is also to be considered in your fight against anxiety. I will list some food suggestion that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
"I feel like I'm experiencing the onset of agoraphobia - I push myself to do things, even if I don't want to, so hopefully that works. "
What you are experiencing is a totally typical progression of occurences after the onset of panic attacks. Basically, what you are going through is a "fear of fear". You are not actually fearful of driving or travelling itself, but rather the fear of losing control if you have another panic attack. This is because when we have a panic attack, the first thing we want to do is to retreat to our "safe place", which for most people is our home. The further away from our comfort zone, the more uncomfortable we feel.
You also are probably experiencing a significant amount of "anticipatory anxiety" (all of these are terms common to anxiety/panic). You begin to worry uncontrollably before doing something that causes you anxiety. This can start hours, days, even WEEKS before you have something planned. The anticipatory anxiety itself becomes exhausting...because you literally worry yourself sick about the upcoming event, with "what if" thoughts running rampant in your mind. A. anxiety often leads to the avoidant behavior...it just becomes too much...we start avoiding the activities we fear rather than pushing ourselves, then before we know it, we have agoraphobia.
The good news is...this is fixable, but it is going to take some time, work and patience on your part. Just because you aren't crazy about the idea of medications doesn't mean you shouldn't still see a doctor. Actually, it is a vital part of recovery, and the sooner you do this, the better...especially b/c this is all fairly recent for you. A psychiatrist is really the best choice b/c he/she will be able to do a thorough assessment and provide you with an accurate Dx (most likely panic disorder). There are plenty of treatments out there that don't involve medications. The doctor can refer you to a therapist who can teach you coping techniques, which is the most important part of treatment...whether meds are involved or not. CBT ("cognitive behavioral therapy") has been successful for many people..and the p-doc can recommend a therapist who specializes in this.
Just be sure to go to the doctor with an OPEN mind...do not discount any suggestion, even the idea of medications. It is very easy to listen to someone else's horror story and get a preconceived notion in your head about a certain med (like your statements about Xanax). Truth is.....anyone can have bad experience with a medication, but MANY people have positive experiences with them. Also, people who are against the idea of meds are quick to say they would rather try a natural supplement. Just because something is "natural",or found at GNC doesn't mean there arent any risks...a person can have negative experiences with those as well. If you DO decide to go that route...be sure to check with your doctor first. Many times natural supplements are recommended in this forum, but often it is overlooked to mention that a person's doc should be consulted before starting any new regimen like that ESPECIALLY if there are concurrent medical conditions.
Lastly...you are on the right track. One of the best things you can do is try to nip this in the bud early. Try as much as you can to not avoid going places b/c you are anxious. You are not fearful of the drive, remeember, you are fearful of the panic attack, which, honestly can happen ANYWHERE. Try to push yourself to go places that may be out of your comfort zone. If it helps, bring a friend along, Take it slow...don't overdo it and be a hero...this WILL be difficult. You ARE going to be uncomfortable at times. That is what the therapy will help you to overcome...how to cope with the anxiety when it hits. Also, if you are out somewhere and have a PA, try as hard as you can to avoid the temptation to "flee". That just sets the tone for the next time. The more you endure them, ride them out while staying where you are...the more you will associate that location with success....and your brain will recognize that nothing bad INDEED happened, that you made it thru just fine.
If you stick around here, you will receive wonderful support, and will begin to realize that you are not alone in this battle...that really is comforting. Many of us have been where you are.
If you get a second...click on my user id, under "journals", I have written a little about agoraphobia. I think you may find it helpful. You WILL get through this, you just have to realize that it will take some time. Be sure to let us know how you're doing and if we can be of any help...we're here.
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