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Never ending panic attacks after head trauma

Hi all!

I’ve suffered with mild anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember, I’m 25 and it’s always kind of lingered in the background. I took Fluoxetine for around 5 years and came off it around 2 years ago and didn’t really have many bouts of anxiety or depression.

Then I had a head injury late June. Complete freak incident, golf ball strike to the head, brain bleed and was in hospital for a couple of days. It was determined the bleed was too small to be life threatening and so I was discharged.

Anyway after I was discharged I was absolutely fine, felt normal, no issues. One week later I had the worst panic attack of my life. I thought I was either having a stroke or having a heart attack, this was unlike anything I’d experienced before. I had to call an ambulance because I honestly believed I was dying. Got to hospital, did all sorts of tests, nothing. All clear. Put down to a panic attack.

Since then it’s been absolutely relentless. I’m having 5/6 panic attacks per day, I’m constantly in a state of depersonalisation, I feel like I’m not a real person and I’m determined that there’s something seriously wrong with me, the health anxiety is unbearable.

I’ve called my doctor multiple times and been put on propanalol to slow my heart and Sertraline for the anxiety and nothing is touching the surface. I feel like I’m trapped in my own head and it’s never going to end.

My doctor is just telling me to wait, but it feels like it’s never going to get any better…

I’m also on the waiting list for talking therapy but I’m at my wits end waiting for things to improve when they’re just not.

Does anybody have any advise to help ground myself?
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Avatar universal
You should be under the care of a neurologist ideally one that specializes in concussions. Your primary care doctor should have referred you to one. Concussions and traumatic brain injury can certainly cause anxiety and depression along with a host of other symptoms. Your treatment plan will be different from someone who is experiencing these symptoms without a head injury. I am assuming you had a CAT scan done at the hospital but you will most likely need an MRI.
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I hope you get the help you need. My son had 5 concussions and the recovery can be very frustrating. You might want to look into some support groups for Post Concussive Syndrome.
I hope you get the help you need. My son had 5 concussions and the recovery can be very frustrating. You might want to look into some support groups for Post Concussive Syndrome.
Gosh, that's so many.  Was it sports related? What is he experiencing from this?  
Avatar universal
I feel the same exact way ,but then I talk to myself and that sometimes helps
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Avatar universal
If you weren't having panic attacks until you got hit with a golf ball, and nothing else happened in the meantime to cause this tremendous aggravation of what was a minor problem, I'm going with getting hit with the golf ball.  

I realize the docs haven't found anything, but that doesn't mean something didn't happen.  That's just a pretty odd coincidence for someone to change that radically after suffering a blow to the head, which we now know causes all sorts of problems, although many of them would be related to repeated concussions and would happen down the road, but it's just too much of a coincidence for my small brain.  

What I would do is think if anything else happened that might have been enough to push into such a different mental state.  I can't rule out obviously that you were going to develop a bad anxiety problem and it just happened to occur now.  You are in the age range when most people get chronic mental illness.  But then, there's that event that happened.  

If you're able, sometimes it helps to see better docs when the ones you're seeing can't find a problem you think exists.  Places like Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic and many university hospitals make their living off of other doctor's shortcomings.  If it is an anxiety problem, if you're getting that many panic attacks daily, it's hard to see if it is in fact not a physiological problem how you're going to fix it quickly enough without medication that works.  Therapy will take time.  But if it is a physiological reaction to the blow no med for mental illness will fix that; they don't even fix problems with mental illness, they just tamp down the symptoms.  

I'd also be leery whenever someone tells you about their problem or their friend's problem or a family member's problem and then tells you what meds to take.  Meds are very individual so take any specific recommendation lightly.  It's too much trial and error and the problem the other person has may not be the problem you have.  Let a psychiatrist guide you on that one.  

Now, it could also be the experience with the golf ball shook you so much emotionally that your anxiety problem greatly worsened, but I'm still focusing on this coincidence and am of the opinion that usually, when something happens and then a new medical issue arises, the first place to look is at the thing that just happened.  Peace.
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973741 tn?1342342773
I am so sorry to hear this!  I understand about anxiety and depression on and off most of one's life. That's my son's case too. He's a bit younger than you and it's been a really hard road.  I am glad that you got relief when you did with prozac and hopefully you did some therapy then too?  I'm not sure what is going on that panic has resurfaced in such a way that it has. Panic attacks feel HORRIBLE.  So I'm sure you hate this.  Medication is one of those things that takes some time sometimes to find what will work for you.  My son has been taking hydroxyzine very successfully for his anxiety and panic.  It's being used PRN and we have a dosing range he can go to.  Works for him which is NOT to say it will work for you but we like it for the fact that it is not addicting and he seems to have zero side effects unless he takes the upper end of his dose to induce sleep (which is what we want at bedtime.). During the day, even at school, he takes a lower dose and has absolutely zero side effects and the anxiety is reduced.  My son's diagnoses are major depression, generalized anxiety disorder with social anxiety and panic and OCD and tourette's.  He also takes prozac.  This greatly helps with the depression but didn't seem to do much for his anxiety.  He's been taking buspar which we don't think is working very well.  So, that's my son's med story. There are a LOT Of meds.  I would suggest talking about a modification but also that these medications take some time to work. What dose of zoloft are you on?  It takes a higher dose of that typically to get to a therapeutic effect.

Other things to consider.  I've been reading a lot about therapy. Of course there is top down therapy. CBT, DBT as examples.  I think these are awesome and would recommend working with a therapist on this type of thing.  But there is also bottom up treatment.  Our bodies hold in tension and trauma.  Trauma isn't always an event specific thing but can be the negative energy and feelings you have about something (people always wonder why they haven't had something super dramatic in their life but still fee traumatized. It doesn't have to be super dramatic to still have trauma).  Releasing that negative energy from your body is really essential. Exercise!  Such a good thing to do to help. Relaxation such as tensing toes, feet, ankles, calves, etc. all the way up your body and releasing them as you go visualizing letting the tension out.  Massage. It can release what we hold in.  Then there are the other relaxation things of breathing exercises and meditation. Even prayer if you are into it. Grounding exercises (the 5,4,3,2, 1 strategy--  name 5 things you see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste). Picture an emotional dial you turn down.  Something to try in panic moments is from the DBT strategies .  .  .  Temperature.  Get some ice. Hold it in your hand or put it on your head or forehead.  (we grab an ice pack). You could get a bowl of water and fill also with ice cubes and emerge your face for a few seconds. You can take a cold shower. Not for long do you do this.  A couple of minutes.  Another is to do immediate vigorous exercise.  Not sure why, but it breaks the panic situation. We have a mini trampoline in our basement.  My son will jump on it like jumping rope. Or he'll run in place really fast.  Or we have a punching bag and he'll begin using that quickly.   Last, I really think distraction is a go to that can help.  Have a list of go to things to distract yourself.  Video games, tv show, nature while walking looking around, reading a book, talking to a friend, etc.  Whatever it is. Whatever you can do to take yourself out of the moment.  Oh, and keep a journal.  What precedes the panic to see if there are triggers. And what works to help you at those moments to get through it.

Anyway, that was long.Sorry.  I am happy to talk more about this. This is a common discussion these days at my house. You are NOT alone.
Helpful - 0
Here's a link that may help you about grounding yourself through anxiety and panic. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/grounding-techniques#methods

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