Let me start by stating that my first encounter with anxiety (panic attacks and agoraphobia) occured in 2001 and with the help of Paxil I overcame anxiety. Eventually I weaned off Paxil with NO side effects. Yes, NO side effects. I weaned off over a 5 month period. Dropping by only 5 grams per month. It took a little longer because I realized in the beginning I was weaning too quick and started having headaches.
I was off Paxil and anxiety free by Jan 2009. But I think the big guy up stairs wanted to test me again.
In Aug 2009, the anxiety came back and I could not sleep for 7 days straight. I looked on the web for something to bring light to my situation. I spoke to my Dr. and he suggested I wait a little longer (a couple of days) just to see if I was over tired. At this point, I think stress was causing my lack of sleep, and anxiety hadn't creeped in. I just needed sleep. After 10 days it got REALLY bad. Nights when I couldn't sleep, I would break down and cry (difficult for a 6' 265lbs football player) but I did. My wife stood by my side all the way. I went to see my Dr and he suggested trying the paxil again. Only a low dose of 20mg per day (same as before). He also prescribed Lorazempam for sleep. The Lorazepam worked, but not very effectively. My days were spent with my 'idle' anxiety level at full bore. I felt wired and anxious all the time. This kept up for 2 weeks and my sleep was crap. I went back to my Dr. and he suggested I take the Lorazepam during the day to reduce my overall anxiety. He also perscribed me Zoplicone (Imovane) for sleep. However, based on my experience in the past I was 'scared' of becoming addicted to the Lorazepam. So I pushed through during the day with Paxil and Immovane at night. As per any anxiety sufferer, I looked up Immovane and began to get nervous that I would become addicted to the sleeping pills and be stuck on them for life. But I needed relief and it was a god send. The Immovane got me back on a sleep schedule that allowed my body and mind to recover. I was still very anxious during the day, but I kept pushing through all my daily events, no matter how uncomfortable I felt. Times came where I said to myself "I don't want to drive 30 minutes tonight to go to a football practice - what if I have another panic attack". But I did it anyways and you know what - nothing happened!!!
After 4 weeks on the Immovane, a counsellor I began to see at my Dr. office said that I should try to come off the sleep pills. I was nervous, but I weaned off (1/2 pill) for 3 nights then no pills. I haven't had a sleeping pill for 7 weeks now and I am sleeping great.
Now 12 weeks after my first anxiety attack, I feel great 80% of the time. I purchased the book "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook" by Edmund Bourne. It really sheds light on our situation and provides hope to us suffering. Reading it, you realize there are things we can do that WILL reduce our anxiety.
It is wierd that the anxiety will come back for 2-4 days and I will be at this higher 'idle' anxiety and then it will fade away for a couple of weeks. I still take Paxil 20mg per day in the morning along with a B complex and C vitamin with a Magnesium/Calcium supplement at night.
So for people suffering, there is hope. And I know you are likely saying to yourself, "How can handle feeling like this forever?" or "Will I be able to handle this much longer?". The answer is YES. I still have trouble and become slightly depressed when those 2-4 days of high anxiety come, but I keep saying to myself that if I push through, eventually I will feel better. And it hasn't failed me yet. I always feel better in a couple of days.
Remember, as long as you face your fear and have some level of anxiety, your body is watching to see how you react. If you keep persevering by going out with friends, travelling, working, etc. your anxiety will subside.
I am now run 2 miles 3-4 times per week and have changed my diet to include alot more fresh fruit and vegetables. I honestly don't know if the Paxil, the excerise, the diet, supplements or my outlook on life have caused the reduction in anxiety. But whatever it is, is working and I feel great.
Keep pushing. Face your fears no matter how scared you become. Put your excess energy generated by your anxiety to good use - ride your bike, run, workout. Just get your mind off of what you are thinking about.
For me, I was so scared I would feel anxious for the rest of my life, at one point I begged for my wife to let me go to the hospital to have them sedate me. Now, just 12 weeks later, I feel great. You can to. Keep smiling. Keep doing the things you (used to) like to do and you will feel better!!!