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Avatar universal

I just want the panic to stop!

So, I am on Klonopin .5 mg 3x a day, and taking Ativan when needed. I typically need (not want) 1-3 mg of Ativan a day. I haven't been on this high of a dose of benzos until several weeks ago. Right now, I absolutely need them, and all my doctors agree that it's my best option for now. My brain doesn't seem to work right, and just won't produce enough GABA. I really just want to stop the Ativan altogether, but at this point, it's unrealistic, unless the Klonopin is increased.

So, I've been really trying to let my brain produce its own GABA, by supplementing with L-Theanine (suntheanine brand). I've been taking 2-3 times the recommended dose with no noticeable benefits. It's supposed to help people, but I am guessing it only helps people who can actually produce sufficient amounts of the neurotransmitter (not me).

So, I went to the health food store and bought the most potent Valerian and Passion Flower they had, hoping to not need an extra Ativan tonight. The reason why I went to the store, is because I felt that something was coming on, looked at the Ativan, and thought, let's try something different.

Well, I had high hopes, but I got home, and it didn't work. I took double the amount of all the herbs, and took some L-Theanine. I started to feel tired and drowsy. The herbs were having an effect. However, the panic feelings were still present, but I was trying to ignore them. As I felt the need to drift off to sleep, my perceptions seemed to change, I felt a little spooked with an adrenaline rush, and then the underlying panic came out of its cage.

When I panic, I am surprisingly calm; in fact, I only will say a few words. I find myself touching my face repeatedly, as if it was the natural thing to do. If it's not as severe, I'll pace in circles touching my face over and over. If it's more severe, I'll lay face first on the ground. I need someone's presence when it happens, but the room needs to be quiet, and they can't talk to me as conversation is an extremely irritating stimuli. Tonight, I had the feeling of doom, and my blood pressure and heart escalated as it usually does (145/95 102 bpm). This was actually a good reading for me, as I've seen my blood pressure go much, much higher than that, and heart rate nearly double that speed. I feel the need for emergency attention every time. Unfortunately, this is an uncontrollable feeling for me. It really feels like I am dying. I put on my shoes, grabbed my keys, and thought about driving myself to an emergency room (I was in no condition to be driving), since only my little brother is home. I had thoughts of calling 911, but I've done that before (recently), so I resisted.

So, doing what a responsible person would do, I took the Ativan out of necessity (the attacks don't stop without it), and I was feeling better in about 40 minutes. Unfortunately, I don't always get complete relief from these drugs, but they make me well enough to stay home, and usually rid or lessen the feeling of doom.

I am on so many pharmaceuticals right now, and really wish I didn't need all these addictive anxiety pills on top of it. I have anxiety without depression, and it is terrible. What I went through today was nothing compared to some previous attacks, but a friendly reminder to listen to my body right now. I am told that after my underlying cause is treated, the anxiety, should go away, but sometimes I wonder if it will ever go away or if my brain is just stuck in its GABA deficient state. Unfortunately, I haven't found an anti-depressant that works at all for me. All they do is make anxiety worse. The more weeks I stay on them, the more they amplify the anxiety. I wish there was a better solution, that wasn't as addictive, but I haven't found one yet. Atleast the benzos give me a feeling of normalcy.

People claim that it impairs your ability to drive, it makes you less sharp, harder to concentrate, fatigue, etc. Well, in my case, all of those claims are a bunch of bogus. It does the exact opposite of every one of those side effects for me.

If I have a several day stretch where I am doing good, I sometimes try to cut back on my medication. My doctors know that I have a need for these drugs right now, and for that reason they encourage that I should take what I need. Unfortunately, those days of courage and optimism always seem to bite me in the butt.

I feel sorry for those on here that have panic attacks, and are told that it is all because of negative thinking, etc. I know there are a lot of other people out there with severe panic like me who have almost no control over what their body and brain is doing. I have so little control that I wouldn't accept that what I was experiencing was a form of panic attacks for a long time. I see a psychiatrist and a therapist now, and sure it does help me cope with the stress caused by my situation, but the attacks will stop when they decide to.
12 Responses
Avatar universal
I really don't think it's a good idea to be taking these supplements along with your meds.
Have you thought about taking an antidepressant? Many of these have antianxiety effects to them. Remar
Avatar universal
Thanks for your response. I have tried Several antidepressants, and I couldn't tolerate them. The neurologist wants to do a 3 day EEG, and the psychiatrist didn't want to prescribe me anything else until I got the EEG done. There is no way I am doing an EEG right now, because that involves stopping benzos. I refuse to do that at this point due to severity of symptoms, and next appointment I will opt for more symptomatic treatment. If I have enough benzos in my bloodstream, I mentally act and feel normal. If I don't have enough, I am in a state with an extreme feeling of doom. I physically feel like I am going to die. It's not because of an addiction, it's because I have a GABA deficiency. I went on the benzos because of those feelings. I do not feel depressed, and my mood is stable.

You would think all these benzos could curb the panic, but nope.
Avatar universal
It's highly unlikely you have a GABA deficiency.  There's no evidence people with anxiety or depression have any more of less serotonin or GABA than anyone else.  Just the way it is.  Nobody knows why this occurs, and why it's worse in some than others.  The major source of current research on anxiety is the amygdala, part of the primitive brain.  

More likely is the GABA isn't working properly, though why nobody knows.  There are two ways to get at GABA.  One is to try and soak the neurons in it longer, just as ssris do with serotonin.  That's what your benzos are essentially doing, though their mechanism is a little different.  They're not making more GABA.  Since they are much stronger at this than the valerian and passionflower, with the amount of benzos you're taking, these herbs can only make things worse or do nothing.  If you weren't taking medication, they might help over the long term to rebalance our system, but they can only do that if you're not on medication.  Since you are on medication, and appear to need its superior strength at this point until you find a therapist who can help you demystify the anxiety -- and I admit I never have -- then all you're doing by taking the additional GABA potentiators, valerian and passionflower, is risking overdose.  Theanine works differently, as it's a pseudo-amino acid, but I have to tell you, these remedies are pretty hit or miss, and are generally used in combination or they don't work well.  I would stop taking the natural relaxants at least until you improve to the point where you're not taking so many benzos at high doses.  

The natural way to make more GABA is to take taurine, which is the amino acid the body uses to produce GABA in the first place.  B6 is also essential to this process, but be careful as you don't want to overdose on that, either.  You can also take GABA in supplement form, though most believe the body doesn't absorb it well.  Tyrosine, another amino acid, also helps to make GABA, but as it also helps to make norepinephrine along with phenalynine, it can be stimulating.  But again, as you're taking as many benzos as you are, I wouldn't recommend doubling up on the process.  The logical next step would be ssris or tricyclics, but you've said they didn't agree with you.  So for now it's therapy and the benzos, I guess, and if you ever decide to try the natural route, it's a heavy commitment.  it will involve not taking the meds, changing your diet, exercise, relaxation practice, etc.  It's hard, time consuming, and works on building the body up, not sedating it.  And it probably works no more of the time than meds.

There are some natural remedies you can take that might help without conflicting with what you're taking.  These are the adaptogens, such as eleuthero and ashwagandha, and holy basil, which helps control cortisol levels.  You can also try homeopathic remedies while taking meds, though many practitioners don't believe they work well with meds in the system.  I have found some helpful, some not.  

For a good book on this, read Natural Highs, by Hyla Cass, a psychiatrist at UCLA.  It will at least show you how the natural remedies are used in combination and much of what's available.  But again, it's problematic to use them at the same time you're taking so much medication.  I hope this gets better for you.
Avatar universal
Saw psychiatrist. She upped my dose to 1 mg of klonopin 3x a day. I haven't upped my dose yet (still taking half that), but know I probably should. She wants to get me stable where I don't need to keep supplementing with Ativan.

I wish I didn't need the benzos, but I know I do. The panic and feelings of doom can still be pretty intense. When I'm not having an episode, I usually feel and act psychologically normal. No depression with any of this... just my happy otherwise stable normal self.

I am told (and hoping) this will go away as my underlying condition (Lyme Disease) gets treated.  The neuropsychological stuff got really bad (which wasn't unexpected) after starting antibiotics, and I am hoping I can taper off of this stuff as I recover.

It's been a tough year for me. I woke up very ill one morning last year, and struggled for a diagnosis for 9 months. I never knew what panic disorder was before this (I thought it was hyperventilation). It's by far the worst symptom I have.
1042487 tn?1275283499
I agree with Paxiled. Effects are mainly produced by the allosteric modification of a specific kind of neurotransmitter receptor, the GABAA receptor, which increases the conductance of this inhibitory channel; this results in the various therapeutic effects as well as adverse effects of benzodiazepines. GABA controls the excitability of neurons by binding to the GABAA receptor. The GABAA receptor is a protein complex located in the synapses of neurons. All GABAA receptors contain an ion channel that conducts chloride ions across neuronal cell membranes and two binding sites for the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), while a subset of GABAA receptor complexes also contain a single binding site for benzodiazepines. Binding of benzodiazepines to this receptor complex promotes binding of GABA, which in turn increases the conduction of chloride ions across the neuronal cell membrane. This increased conductance raises the membrane potential of the neuron resulting in inhibition of neuronal firing. I hope this will help your in your reflexion about ''i do not produce enought GABA''...

The views range from benzodiazepines being not effective long-term, that they should be reserved for treatment resistant cases or that they are as effective in the long-term as the main alternative agents, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.I would try Cymbalta or Lexapro for a more long term use if i were you. Have you heard of Buspirone (Buspar) ? It is used primarily as an anxiolytic, but also to a lesser extent as an antidepressant. If your problem is only anxiety i would strongly sugest you Buspar for a long term use... Benzos are definitly not used for long term uses.

Best Regards,
M4
Avatar universal
Thanks for all the science. I wasn't trying to get into too much science debate by calling it a deficiency.... all I was trying to say is that my brain doesn't work right, and GABAergic drugs are the only solution I have found that work for the panic and feeling of dying.

Right now, I am not interested in modifying drugs, etc, because:

a) I don't expect to be on them long term
b) They work, and have absolutely no side effects
c) I honestly wouldn't be able to live at home without them

If this type of severe panic with the feeling of doom sticks around (I hope this isn't the case), I may then consider an alternative route. I've tried SSRIs and SNRIs with no success. They stimulated me... as if I drank 100 cups of coffee. I couldn't drive a car while taking them. I had a panic attack with blood pressure 200/160 and pulse 200 on those when I showed up to the hospital. My blood pressure was already quite high before the attack (145/95). Go ahead and call panic attacks not dangerous if you will, but I'm smart enough to know that is not a safe range for blood pressure and pulse, and there is no way that could be good for your body. I either couldn't stay on the medication long enough to stand those "temporary" side effects, or the side effects wouldn't go away.

On the benzos, my blood pressure is usually around 115/65 now, but strange enough with benzos and beta blockers, it used to be high all the time, every day, with heart rate hovering about 100 bpm. Catecholamines have been checked multiple times and (strangely?) they are as normal as can be. My PCP thought I may have had primary hypertension at one point, but it was probably just part of the disease process.

I understand why some are against the use of benzos, but I think for cases like mine, they are needed.
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