Anxiety Community
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2102085 tn?1350870245

Am I having panic attacks or... something else? This girl needs some advice!

First off, I apologize for such a lengthy post, I've never really posted anywhere before... If you have ANY thoughts please respond! I appreciate any input! :)

I am a healthy 23 year old female who does not smoke, drink (maybe some wine during a special occasion, but quite infrequently), or use caffeine. I have had anxiety problems in the past (OCD). I was put on Lexapro in high school (I was on something similar before that, the name escapes me) and went off of it without a problem when I was 19.

I am going to school for nursing, and about a month ago I started having intrusive thoughts, anxiety, nightmares, trouble sleeping, etc. so I went to my psychiatrist, who decided to have me start Venlafaxine on a very low dose (37.5mg a day). So, last week Sunday, 10 days ago, I took my first Venlafaxine along with a new multivitamin and new birth control all on Sunday night (which was dumb of me to start all of that at once!). I woke up at 3:30am, dry heaving and feeling funny. I attributed this to the multivitamin since vitamins tend to make me ill. I continued the Venlafaxine for another two days, but my brain felt very odd and I felt nauseous so I stopped taking it on a Tuesday, just to see if the Venlafaxine was the culprit. Wednesday night, I started to lose my vision in and out, sweating, heart palpitations, brain zaps, and the worst hot flashes I've ever felt. I also had an extreme sense of doom and need to escape. I went to the ER, who told me I was having adverse effects from my Venlafaxine. They gave me an Ativan (benzo), told me I'd be fine in a day or two and sent me on my way.

I called my psychiatrist the next day who told me the same thing. So I waited a few days. The symptoms got worse, I felt constantly nauseous and out of it ALL day, I vomited a few times, have abdominal cramping and had the worst diarrhea I've ever had. I couldn't sleep and had a low grade fever. Sweating, heart palpitations, and blurred vision comtinued. But by far, the WORST symptom is the odd feeling in my brain, like it's swollen or something is really wrong with it. I get these brain surges that feel unbearable, almost like a withdrawal symptom. I don't feel like myself. I've lost 12 pounds in 10 days.

I went to the walk-in clinic on Monday, two days ago, and they tested my blood, electrolytes, and thyroid. They all turned out to be fine. My psychiatrist got me in and prescribed me Clonazepam twice a day (one .5mg in the morning and another at night). I only take one .5mg at night though. I take it and am able to sleep, but my nauseua and weird brain feeling persists. I don't want to take it during the day, I have school and do not want to be sedated. I also am terrified to take Clonazepam, I know it's addictive and the withdrawls are terrible, not to mention it should only be used short term.

I have also been dealing with chronic hives for over a year, I take Zyrtec for this as needed and it does seem to help. Could this be related?

What caused this? Do you think I should get any more medical tests done? Was it the Venlafaxine, I just don't understand how I only took it for three days in the lowest dose possible and THIS would happen, very unlikely. This feeling is so different than anything I've ever felt before, I just want it to subside.

Sooo many questions, I know! I appreciate anything you guys have to say. Thank you. :)
7 Responses
2099560 tn?1333840586
Well I don't know much about the medication you were given. I do know that you can take meds and have a reaction for weeks after. I took a sleeping pill recently (triazolam) for 5 days. The fifth day after taking it i felt like I was literaly out of my body when I went to sleep that night. I had racing thoughs nervous, anxiety to the point I thought I was loosing my mind. went to work the next day and feel asleep at my desk thank god no body was there it was early. Then I ate breakfast and after that I felt dizzy, confused, I couldn,t see straight. I was terified! Anyways i managed to calm a little finished the day at work and went home. I didn't eat anything all day until dinner 15 min after eating I felt all the same symptoms but this time my heart was racing and it didn't slow down for like an hour and a half i finally called ambulence when the er guys got there I was acting totaly calm just my heart would not stop beating fast. when I got to the hospital i calmed down a bit but I still felt weird. Long story short I couldn't barley sleep for like two weeks unless I took 1 to 2 mg's of ativan which I got from the second hospital i visited three days later for the way I was  feeling. So with reactions to drugs I had a bad one. I am doing so much better now it's been three weeks i feel back to normal. I take a low dose of xanax to ween from the benzo. I took clonzapam too didn't work for me. Also the dose the docter said I was taking of sleeping pill was as much as he gives an 80 year old. I am 29. I think you'll be ok just be carefull with the Clonazepam try not to take it for too long, but use it if you need it. If your going through anything I went through my heart goes out to you. Pleas feel free to ask me any other questions you want I will do my best to help you through this.
2101847 tn?1333568394
I've been suffering from anxiety, panic attacks and lately intrusive thoughts. I've had weird symptoms, which I've all thought were caused from something, but testing turned out normal. So I do know anxiety can cause your body weird symptoms. Infact I saw my counseloer today and she told me about a guy that comes to her, he has severe anxiety and is in a wheelchair, can't walk. They've done numerous tests, all normal. As he's continuing through therapy he's improving.
I found this list of physical and emotional symptoms that anxiety can cause.

2049945 tn?1333875210
oooooooohhhhhhhhhh you sound like me at first!!! Funny enough I was like is someone playing a joke?  You took the same meds I took at first.  What you described the fever et al sounds like my withdrawal symptoms when I came off of Lorazepam-Ativan.  I took clonazepam once and never again.  Some of these benzos can have adverse reactions even after a few days of taking them--from my experience--especially rebound symptoms--if you have been diagnosed with anxiety--then you must be aware of the physical symptoms-including head/brain issues.  I am not a Dr. so I can't tell you what is going on per say.  But also you should be careful how you mix medications.  I take nothing now that I am on Zoloft.  The only thing I risk is a panadol.  Other than that I just suffer through it.  Or try alternative remedies.

BTW Are you under any large amnts of stress?

Those intrusive thoughts etc all come with the territory unfortunately.  Hope this helped.
2099560 tn?1333840586
Hey what kind of problems did you have taking the klonopin (clonazepam). I was just taking that stuff and I was mess on it. I stopped it today and already feeling 80% better.
2049945 tn?1333875210
I had horrible heart palpitations--I slept all day--I had a panic attack---horrible headaches--dizziness and overall bad feeling as if I had the flu or something.  I was knocked out and unable to function.  It was very scary--I thought I was going to die.  I felt paralyzed on one side of my body as well--it was horrible
Avatar universal
I have the same exact feelings you are having. I have been experiencing Anxiety for the past 10 years. On and off and different medications. They were quick to prescribe me xanax but it would knock me out cold. Then, came Ativan (lorazepam) and it worked really well. I would only take it when i just could not cope. The feelings were, heart racing, brain/head feeling weird (as if it was going to burst) (i fear an aneurysm), shakyness, cold sweats, headaches and lastly the feeling that my heart is just going to stop beating. It is such a weird feeling like i am going to collapse. Venlafaxine was introduced and for the 1st week, side effects sucked! abdominal pain, nausea, loss of appetite, dilated pupils but i was able to feel "in control". After i felt "normal" for a week, i stopped taking it and for a month i didnt need NO pills, then... DOOM... here comes Ativan to the rescue, worked well but fear that i was going to get addicted so suffered through most days with weird symptoms. Now, I introduced Venlafaxine again, and side effects suck. Ativan is my friend.. but i do not want to take daily.. but is that the only choice i have?
Don't know who your psychiatrist is or if you have one or not, but Effexor is not a first line drug for anxiety, it's a first line drug for depression, and it is one of the most difficult of all drugs that exist to take and especially stop taking.  Effexor and the class of medications it's in are intentionally stimulating.  Unlike the tricyclics and ssris, usually the first line antidepressants if you suffer anxiety and not primarily depression, your drug not only targets Serotonin but also Norepinephrine, which is extremely stimulating and can feel like you're pumping adrenaline into your body.  For depressed people, stimulants have been used for a long time, but for anxiety sufferers you can get anxiety from this class of meds even if you never had it before you started.  Now, ssris and tricyclics can do this as well, but not so frequently -- usually the biggest complaint with them is the sedation.  The other side effects. you're getting, well, that can happen with any antidepressant, and it's trial and error to find one that suits you.  As for the Ativan, you can avoid addiction -- and not everyone who takes an addictive drug gets addicted to it, perhaps not even most -- but if you only use it when absolutely necessary and not every day you will avoid addiction and probably bad withdrawals as well.  You don't mention if, while the Ativan is keeping you going, whether you've entered therapy with a psychologist who specializes in anxiety treatment or not -- if that works, you don't have to worry about this anymore.  But if you're going to keep trying meds, and anxiety is your main problem, I'd talk to a psychiatrist and try either the tricyclics or the ssris first to see if they suit you.  Good luck.
And something else to consider -- yes, benzos are addictive drugs and should be taken with great care.  But the fact is, although antidepressants are not classified as addictive drugs, they are very very hard for some people to stop taking as well.  The fact a drug is addictive doesn't make it necessarily a worse option for a particular person than one that isn't officially classified as addictive.  It depends on how you take the benzo.  But with antidepressants, you have to take them daily, and if you take them for a long time, again, they can be a problem.  The essential problem isn't the classification of the drug, it's the fact all these drugs alter the way your brain works naturally and it can be difficult for some people for the brain to go back to working normally again.  Most people do get past this without horrible consequences, so you do what you need to do to have a life.  But if you're functioning reasonably well and your life isn't totally disrupted, therapy is a good place to try and if at first it doesn't work, find a different therapist and/or a different form of therapy so some day you can get off the drug merry-go-round if possible.  If it isn't possible, then you just work with what you have to work with.  Best of luck.
Thank you for your comment. I have been using Effexor on and off for about 6 months. Doctor prescribed me 30 pills and im on my second bottle now. I take it in spurts. The side effects are not the best, but after taking them daily for about a week, i stop and i am good for about 2 weeks. Then i start again. I feel like i have no withdrawals from either Ativan or Effexor but just yesterday i took my first pill for another round of effexor and i needed ativan to calm me down as i was getting racy thoughts and feeling pain and discomfort like never before. That is what gets to me, the sudden new "feelings/pains" that i get in my body, trigger my anxiety. Is it the anxiety itself causing this? OR is it something MAJOR!? thats what gets me. I do not have a psychiatrist. I have been seeing my PCP only. She has not suggested a psychiatrist yet. Wonder if she will suggest at some point. I am going to take my effexor for 7 days straight and come back with results. Like you said, maybe i will move away from the meds merry go round. The doc was so quick to also prescribe Bupropion... not sure if i want to take and deal with the side effects... Thanks for your comments!
Avatar universal
I doubt the Effexor would affect you like that. I believe Clonopin is a really good medication. It is a minor tranquilizer like Ativan and Xanax. However, Clonopin has a longer half-life,it stays in your system much longer than Ativan,Xanax. Unless you've had addiction problems in the past I wouldn't worry about getting addicted to Clonopin. .5mg may be too high a dose for you and I doubt you have to worry about taking it while in school,or during the day. In fact,the Clonopin will help you function better. You may want to ask your MD about breaking the Clonopin in half ie this would allow you to take .25mg or perhaps your MD will prescribe .25mg. The Effexor,in my experience is a good medication. You didn't mention if you have a psychotherapist, I would definitely recommend a therapist specializing in REBT(rational Emotive behavioral therapy). Good luck!

I forget to mention that because you are having pretty significant physical problems associated with your anxiety, Clonopin should be effective for you. Also racing thoughts are normal. These are called ruminations. Unlike thoughts that are out there and constantly play in your head...obsessions. You have ruminations,a pain, but normal. Medications like Effexor,Paxil,etc help by reducing the thoughts running through your head. And don't read up on meds or especially their side effects. Take care.
Thank you, I have never heard of Clonopin. I may ask my MD about this. I just dont want to take MEDS period. but i guess thats the hand i've been dealt. Please see my gameplan of attack for this week. Effexor daily for 7 days and ativan as needed. This will keep me ok i think for 2-3 weeks. But the side effects SUCK! or maybe its just my GERD? <-------i sound like im 55 or something.. but im only 32. Not obese but can stand to lose 20 pounds. Semi active...
Just to say, Klonopin, or clonazepam, is probably the hardest benzo of them all to stop taking, and is just as addictive as any other benzo.  If you take it every day, it will be more likely to become addictive to you than if you take it as needed, but clonazepam is often not as effective when you take it as needed because, although it does last longer in the body, it also takes longer to take effect, so if you're in the middle of a panic attack, for example, the other shorter term benzos usually kick in more quickly.  It is not, as stated above, a minor tranquilizer, nor are the others -- they are major tranquilizers and in large quantity benzos are used to keep you from feeling surgery.  Don't know where this info comes from.  Addiction problems in the past have nothing to do whatsoever as to who gets addicted to an addictive drug.  It is addictive because of the physiological effect it has on the person taking it, not on their psychological make-up.  Now, addictive personalities are more likely to abuse drugs, but we're not talking about abuse, we're talking about taking drugs as prescribed.  if you take an opiate, whether it's prescribed or you take it for fun it is equally addictive -- it's in the nature of opiates.  So with benzos.  That's whey they are officially termed addictive drugs and are controlled substances.  Again, it might be the best drug for you -- that's a matter of individual experience -- but the poster above is just wrong about what makes a drug addictive.  As for the Effexor, again, it is in the nature of the way they made this drug that makes it and Paxil the two most difficult drugs to stop taking.  But the way you're taking Effexor is just wrong.  Antidepressants don't work if you don't take them every day, and pretty much at the same time every day.  They wear off pretty quickly, most of them, and you have to keep taking them to keep them in your system.  It takes most people 4-6 weeks of daily use at a therapeutic dosage for the brain to adapt to the altered way the drug makes the brain work, but side effects start right away.  If you keep stopping and starting you are throwing your system into chaos.  I'm sure your doctor didn't tell you to use it this way, and I'm sure the manufacturer's website doesn't tell you to use it this way and I'm sure the insert that came with your first prescription doesn't tell you to use it this way.  If you're not going to use Effexor every day, don't bother with it -- it won't have a chance to work.  If you don't want to take it, don't.  Make up your mind.  As for your doctor, if she hasn't told you the way you're taking the Effexor is wrong, this is the reason not to take these meds with your average general doc -- they don't know much about them and what they do know they learn from the pharmaceutical rep.  Psychiatrists aren't always better, but you have a better chance they have done a lot more study of the drugs they prescribe and prescribe them to a lot more patients, as this is all they do.  Best of luck.
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