Is it anxiety? And if it is anxiety, why?

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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 3/18/2007 4:30 AM (GMT -6)   

I'm a 26 year old man with a history of depression and anxiety in my family. I'm new to the whole world of psychiatric conditions that really can apparently turn your entire world upside down. I have read quite a few of the other messages on here and many of the stories people have told sound similar to mine.

A little over two weeks ago I was myself, now I feel like I'm someone else. I'm writing this for one to get this off of my chest, and also because I'm still not sure what I'm suffering from is anxiety or something else or it could be that I'm hoping it's something else and they can just give me a pill for it and "poof" it's gone, but I'm afraid that might not be the case. I graduated college last year with a minor in journalism and english, so I tend to be a little long-winded when I write. I appologize in advance for what I'm sure will look like a novel...heh.

2 weeks ago I started waking up every morning feeling like I had a lot of excess energy. Like my adrenaline was pumping more than it should. Then, I kept getting these dizzy spells at work that would last for about an hour or so and then go away. They seemed to get better when I could get up and move around. Then that weekend I went to a movie and had another one and afterwards I still felt a little bit odd. Well, I woke up the next day feeling like something wasn't right with my head. Like something was out of whack. I didn't feel like myself. I didn't want to play guitar or write (I'm a writer), or talk to anybody or anything. I went to work and had a dizzy spell that I believe could have been a panic attack. I felt like I couldn't focus on anything, and almost like I couldn't control myself but it wasn't accompanied by any shortness of breath or racing heart. This only lasted for a few minutes, but when it was going on I felt like I was losing my mind or something. After an entire night at work with that "off" feeling in my head I went to the E.R. to have them look at me. They pretty much focussed on the dizzyness I was talking about and said I had inner ear infection. Well, the next day I woke up and went to work where they told me that I couldn't work as long as I Was taking the medication for the infection because it made me dizzy so I had to take the rest of that week off of work.

Later on that day I went to the grocery store and I felt this strong urge to get out of there and throughout that day I felt like I couldn't sit still. If I was sitting down I'd get this urge to stand up. I felt like I couldn't relax and my heart kept racing and I would start shaking and it was pretty scary. So, I went back to the E.R.. They gave me an Ativan and told me to talk to my doctor about possibly having some kind of anxiety disorder. The E.R. gave me an anti-anxiety medication called hydroxizine which is basically the weakest of the anti-anxiety medications I think. It's used for treating bee stings..heh. IT didn't work too well and for the next few days I continued feeling on edge and off balance and nervous most of the time. I also noticed that when I was trying to go to bed I could feel my heart beating through my whole body, which almost made it feel like I was moving or the bed was moving. I didn't get much sleep.

When I went to the Dr. I found out that I'd lost almost ten pounds over the last two weeks! They had me fill out some tests to judge my mental state. She said that I was suffering from depression and anxiety and put me on lexapro and also told me that it would probably be best if I were to take the next week off of work as well. The next day I still felt odd, but everyone kept telling me that the medicine could take up to four weeks to start working it's best. However, the next day I found that I couldn't eat anything without feeling like I was going to throw up and I was having diahrea and I also developed a tremor in my lower jaw that I'd never noticed before. Not to mention my heart now seemed like it was making my whole body pound along with it. That night I lay in bed for close to four hours trying to get to sleep and listening to my heart pound. I had a major headache and I finally just basically passed out at one oclock in the morning. The next thing I know it's 1:22 and I'm springing out of bed! I, for some unknown reason, put my blanket over my head and sat there on the floor trying to calm down. I took the blanket off and it was 1:30 even though it hadn't seemed like it had been that long. I lit a ciggarette and smoked about half of it before I smashed it out and hopped into the chair and tried to go back to sleep all the while shaking and feeling like I was dying or something. At 1:45 I said screw it and went back to the E.R., they gave me Valium and gave me a perscription for Ativan.

I went to see the Dr. Yesterday and she took me off the Lexapro and now I'm on Effexor. She did an EKG on me to check if there was anything wrong with my heart and that came back ok. When I was at the E.R. they did bloodwork and she is going to get back with me on whether or not I could have hyperthyroidism. She told me to not go to work for yet another week, which is going to be very hard on me financially obviously, but on the other hand, if I have some kind of relapse or something, I feel like if I were there I might really lose it, so it's probably for the best. The Ativan seems to be controlling whatever the heck it was that was going on with me for the most part, however, I still sometimes get the dizzy/detached spells where I feel like I can't focus on anything. I've got my appetite back somewhat, and I like to think I'm making some kind of progress with whatever it is, but over the last two weeks I've thought that many times only to be sorely disapointed. I have an apointment with an actual Psych next week so maybe I can get a few more questions answered there. I guess all I can do is keep my fingers crossed.

The thing that bothers me the most about possibly having an anxiety/panic disorder and even more so depression, is the fact that everyone always told me that I was the most easy going person they knew. I have always been an optimist and I never, ever, get angry or feel sorry for myself. The Dr said that possibly my recent life changes could have triggerred it. Over the past five months, I ended a 3 1/2 year relationship, quit a job i'd had for nine years for another one, and had to move to a new house, but I wasn't letting that stress me out I didn't believe. I don't understand how something like this could just spring up out of the blue all of a sudden. Which leads me to my question. Does it sound like Anxiety or something else, and if you think it is anxiety, then why? I appologize again for the length of this message. Any response would be much appreciated!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1745
   Posted 3/18/2007 8:34 AM (GMT -6)   
I know what you mean. Except for my closest friends, everyone I know considers me to be one of the friendliest and most laid-back people around. People who know me better think I can be very high strung and are aware that I have a pretty bad temper. The point is, a person can be both easygoing and very intense at the very same time. Outward personality seems to mean very little. This disorder comes from deep inside and feeds on whatever you internalize.

What you're experiencing could very well be anxiety. The fact that the Ativan helps you feel more like yourself most of the time is probably a sign that it is. I also know from experience that not getting enough to eat will worsen the condition.

But anxiety can manifest itself in so many ways it's kind of hard to pin down. What you describe with the shakes and extreme nervousness...I've experienced that but it's rare in me. If you can confine your anxiety to that, I feel you'd be doing better. When the symptoms sprawl out and start affecting your stomach and other body systems it's going to be much harder to deal with. It sounds like you've had a touch of that already. It's good you started treatment so soon.

I'm not a doctor, but I think it's important for you to eat regularly. You do NOT want the anxiety to start taking over that part of your life! I'd suggest some sort of therapy, too.

Anyway, I was totally incredulous when the doctor diagnosed my stomach problems as panic attacks. I was so consumed with the nausea that I didn't really notice the other signs. As I took a step back and began looking at my life and my way of thinking from a bit of a distance, it became much clearer to me. It's still very hard to believe that these spells could come on so randomly but people will tell you that panic is indeed like that. You can have the attacks in your sleep, even. I still have my doubts that the stomach is panic, but now I know without a doubt that panic makes it ten times worse even if it isn't the cause. The point? It's sneaky and disguises itself.

You and I seem similar in some ways. I'm a musician, an artist, a photographer, and something of a writer. Writing is pretty much all I have now, and the quality of my writing at once suffers AND gets better when anxiety starts taking over. It's strange. I've read that smart and creative people are very susceptible to anxiety. It's your mind turning against you, basically, and it can be a real nightmare.

I'm in the early stages of knowing what it is and, honestly, I haven't taken a very aggressive approach to treatment until recently. I still get pretty down. I feel the last three weeks have been a turning point, though, and this morning (at least) I'm very confident I can beat it. Take my advice, though: don't wait. Accept it, embrace it, then act quickly to neutralize it.

Don't let it consume you like I've allowed it to consume me. This person writing to you has barely been out of his house for the last three weeks. I sit around all day disappointed that I didn't go to work, and I spend my time reading and writing about what? You guessed it: anxiety. Reading and writing are helpful to a point but I've taken it about 480 million steps too far. This just hasn't been good for me. The point? I'm an example of what can happen when you think too much. Just keep living your life, man, the best you can. I have to say I disagree with your doctor about going to work, but hey, she's the doctor. Do what she says but don't sit around the house the whole time. Go to the park, go for a drive...whatever you can do.

Please do come back to check in and let us know how you're doing. Don't be afraid to write long posts. Whatever helps you. And if you want to e-mail me, that would be fine too.

Best of luck

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1052
   Posted 3/18/2007 10:35 AM (GMT -6)   

  Hi Andyroo

 And wecome to HW as you can see we try to give a lot of support here in understanding this disorder and how to help with dealing with it and I think that debaser has given you some really good info on this and I'm glad to see that you are trying to get help with this from your doctor and you may try looking into CBT for way's to help you to relax and I will bump this up for you to look at.

  Cowboy up

   Forum Moderator Anixety/Panic
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1449
   Posted 3/18/2007 4:53 PM (GMT -6)   

welcome read up about panic attacks on the net

anxiety is often diagnosed by eliminating all other possible causes

bad reactions to antidepressants are common for anxiety sufferers, I hope you do better on the effexor

valium or ativan are always helpful and I would get back to work soon, also you should get out and exercise, even if its walking close to home

recovered former longtime anxiety and panic attack sufferer and helper of other sufferers  but no training or  qualifications in medicine or psychology, any remarks that may be taken as advice must be confirmed with doctor or other health professional
emails are welcome but do mention healingwell to avoid risk of deletion as spam

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 3/18/2007 7:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for all the advice and insight. I really do feel better knowing that I'm not alone in feeling somewhat bewildered by this whole thing. I am planning on going back to work as soon as the Doctor says that I can. As you said, the ativan seems to make me feel normal so It's probably panic. I believe my panic attack that I suffered was caused by three things that some of you mentioned. One, I had just began taking Lexapro for depression and anxiety and it's commonly agreed upon that antidepressants can increase anxiety when you first start taking them not to mention cause insomnia. I hadn't slept for almost 20 hours when it happened. Two, like Debasor, I had spent that entire evening online looking up the 39090 million possible causes for my condition which probably did nothing but work me up rather than calm me down. And 3. I had become obsessed with checking my pulse and worrying about the fact that I can feel my heart beating most of the time even though it's never above or below a normal healthy heart rate. The Dr. Told me that I can feel it like this is probably because I've lost so much weight so quickly. I'm down to 120 pounds. Needless to say. I am going to stop worrying and let the medicine work hopefully. I went out last night with my friends, and while I still didn't feel like myself 100% I made it through the evening without getting pannicky or dizzy or anything. I ate a huge lunch today even thought I wasn't all that hungry to try to gain back some weight and I'm planning on going bowling with my roomates right after I Get done writing this. I figgure, if it's going to kill me (which I know it wont), I might as well pretend that it isn't...hehe. Good luck to the rest of you and thanks again!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 3/19/2007 1:17 PM (GMT -6)   

Hey there!

You might very well have hyperthyroidism - I was just diagnosed with this (Graves disease) and the symptoms were merciless!  Even after two weeks of medication I still can't sleep, have hand tremors, a pounding pulse, and weight loss - these are classic signs of hyperthyroidism.  It can really mess you up.  If your thyroid test comes back negative, I suppose these symptoms could be chalked up to a bad bout of anxiety, but normally weight loss would only occur in that state if you are really restricting your eating.  I'd be curious to see what the thyroid panel looks like.  Has your doctor given you anything besides ativan? 

If you do have hyperthyroidism, it's not the end of the world. 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1745
   Posted 3/19/2007 4:30 PM (GMT -6)   
I'm really glad to hear you're feeling better. Now if I could follow my own advice as well as you followed it, I may get over this thing, too!

It ain't easy. You may have some relapses, but then again you may not. It sounds like you're making a real effort to not let it change your life. That's great.

Take it easy,

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 3/19/2007 7:52 PM (GMT -6)   
I have suffered with anxiety and panic almost my whole life .......I went down to 88lbs last yr and I still had problems with the really racing heart and I started doing deep breathing and CBT as well as other Relaxation Techniques
Finally I am seeing a light at the end of tunnel
Everything you have posted sounds like anxiety and I am sure you will be better once the meds fully kick in and by taking ativan

Diet and water is highly imperative
as I posted earlier I was at a dangerous weight and was tube fed for awhile ..Not nice
I am now a healthier 110 lbs but I have always been small and I have crohns and other illnesses causing me not to gain as well
Take care and stay with us it feels great to know you have others than know what you are saying
My thoughts and prayers are with you
Be well
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New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 3/19/2007 10:51 PM (GMT -6)   
you are not alone. i'm glad you're feeling better and getting out to do things. that can be the hardest part! i haven't been feeling like myself for quite some time now, so i completely understand how you feel. while it is not fun, i have also experienced it pass which is a great feeling. it gets better, you learn coping techniques and you calm down easier. be hopeful! i'm probably close to your age and after graduating college i didn't realize all of the things that were weighing on me - i didn't think they bothered me, but apparently every worry was building up inside - and that's ok, we're human. we don't know everything and we take things day by day as we learn. best of luck to you. :)

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 5
   Posted 4/6/2007 9:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello again,

It's been a while since I was here and I apologize for not keeping in touch.

I have been keeping on with life as best as I can with this monkey on my back that the Dr's are still calling anxiety, hehe. I've found out that quite a few people I know have also gone through similar experiences that I didn't even know about and talking to them has helped both me and them because I've found that a lot of them never told me about it before because they were ashamed of it for one reason or another. If there's one thing I have learned is that this is nothing to be ashamed of, it's a genuine medical condition that you can't just think away and you can't prevent from happening.

Unfortunately, in the process of coming to grips with this illness and getting everything under control, it sometimes seems that for every step forward I've taken over the last month, I've taken half a step back...If that makes any sense...

Overall I have been feeling better anxiety-wise. I went back to the Dr. and saw an actual psychiatric Dr. since I last posted anything. The Dr. did an EKG and said that my heart was working just fine and also did blood tests and said that I didn't test positive for hyperthyroidism so at least my thyroid is out of the contention for what's causing my symptoms. I've been on the Effexor for almost three weeks now (75 mg daily) and I have noticed that I haven't been feeling as on edge but I'm still taking the ativan at bedtime and occasionally when I'm feeling edgy. I know how easily it is to become dependent on the Ativan and other drugs like it, so I have limited myself to taking only half a pill when I need it so far. This has seemed to work and also decreases the tiredness and the likes. I have also noticed that I do seem to be able to concentrate a lot better than I was for a while there. I can actually sit down and do some of the things I didn't feel like I could when this all began and have felt like being around friends more than I was, so that has been a relief. These are all the positives, now unfortunately, on to the negatives which I'm sure I will elaborate on more because I guess it's just my-if not overall human nature, to chalk up the positives with a brief sentence and then go on and on about the bad stuff hehe. To prove my point, think about it hypothetically, you go on a trip to Disneyland and have a really good time but on the way there you have horrible car trouble and are stuck in the sweltering heat for close to 3 hours waiting for a tow truck and have nothing to drink but a half a bottle of warm Dr. Pepper which isn't even your favorite soft drink.... What are you going to remember more from the trip a year later when you are talking about it?

On to the half steps back I mentioned earlier.

The Dr. Bills are piling up and I haven't worked for the last month because of this. I've filled out tons of papers to try to get financial help but I haven't gotten any responses yet. I guess I should just keep my fingers crossed.

My roomates have been really understanding about all of this and have even helped me with money but I feel like I'm putting them through hell with worrying about me and also with worrying about how we are going to pay the bills. I've been talking to my mom a lot lately about this because she suffered from anxiety about the same time in her life that I am in now. I've talked to her so much and been there with her when I was at my lowest lows throughout all of it. Now I almost feel like if I'm feeling bad I'd better just not let anyone know about it anymore to keep them from worrying any more than they already have...

The psyche that I was referred to didn't really tell me anything about anxiety that I didn't already know and I think she might be a little bit too old school to still be in practice. She's 76 years old and has been a psyche for close to 40 years she said. She also told me that the Effexor that my Dr. had put me on wouldn't have been her first choice. She also cut back my perscription for the Ativan to just one pill a day before bed even though I've found myself needing it more than that occasionally. On top of that, she latched on to the first thing she could when I was describing what was leading up to this in my life that could have caused anxiety and really did nothing to relieve my overall bewilderment of this all happening so fast. I told her that I'd broken up with my girlfriend of 3 1/2 years a few months before and she did everything but tell me that was the cause of all this, ignoring the fact that I also told her it ran in my family. I didn't even get the chance to tell her that I'd switched jobs and that I'd just recently had to move which I feel is more of the environmental cause if there is one... My now ex girlfriend is pregnant. She has assured me that the baby isn't mine, but the psyche told me that the baby could be mine and if that were the case I'd be paying child support for the next 18 years and that that wouldn't be anything I'd want (obviously)... Then she asked me how I was going to pay since I didn't have insurance and pretty much told me good luck and that she'd see me in a month as long as I had paid my first bill (which was $250 dollars for an hour!). Thanks a lot doctor. Needless to say, I'm in the process of finding a new psychiatrist.

I ended up quitting my job. I tried to go back after about three weeks and my first night back felt as close to torture as I have ever experienced in my entire life. I was working in a meat processing plant. Stress city! Where I worked I was surrounded by about 100 other people. There was constant loud noises from machinery and the likes and it was a very high intensity, physical, and fast paced atmosphere. The day I went back I found myself propped up against the table to keep my balance, I was shaking pretty badly, I kept bumping into everyone and everything, I had a really hard time concentrating and I was jumping at every loud noise I heard. I was sweating profusely despite where I worked it's a constant 35 degrees and everyone kept asking me if I was ok every five minutes. The quickest way to convince someone they aren't ok is to ask them if they are every five minutes I discoverred...heh. I could have stayed at this job. My Dr. offered to give me excuses for as long as I felt I needed them, but that wasn't going to pay the bills and I also felt that I was wasting the time of my employer there by missing so much work and not being sure when I'd be able to come back. I decided that my job there wasn't doing anything good for my mental or physical well-being so I quit. This was a somewhat disapointing decision for me because it was good money and I had worked there for about five months with no problems and I just wished that this could have continued. Aparently my brain had other ideas I suppose. I'm now going back to my old job where I worked for nine years and I feel I will have a better chance of getting better.

Finally, I have been experiencing what I'm pretty sure are side effects from the Effexor. It seemed to start working pretty fast for controlling the anxiety but about four days into increasing my dosage up from a week at 37.5 mg to 75 mg I experienced about two days of severe depression accompanied by what I can only describe as mild depersonalization. Everyone said that it was like I was there, but I wasn't all at the same time. Either I was more depressed than I thought I was or it was the medicine. I'm pretty sure it was the medicine...While it was going on I can't say that I was suicidal, but the idea of feeling like I did for those two days for much longer was enough to give me a pretty good idea of why people that felt like that all the time would consider the horribly bad decision of killing themselves. Thankfully, this got better but it soured me on the idea that I might have to up my dosage again...I have also noticed over the last week or so what I'm pretty sure is an increase in my blood pressure. I have an at home monitor which is a blessing and a curse all at the same time because I sometimes find myself checking it way too often. The highest I've seen it get so far is 150/105 at one point when I was feeling dizzy. I don't know if this the anxiety or the medicine or something else causing this. I've had two bouts of lightheadedness and almost fainting when I stand up caused by a big drop in blood pressure. I've also noticed an increase in my heart rate. I'll be sitting down at it will be like 65 bpm and then I'll stand up and two minutes later it's 125 bpm without any physical exertion besides standing up and walking around. I don't feel any discomfort in my chest and I'm not sure if this is normal for me or not. I had another Dr's apointment where I could have discussed this with her, but the gods must not have been feeling very generous towards me that day (if not just this month in general) because I'd been up the entire night before with a really bad toothache. When it rains it pours huh? I pretty much just told her I was fine because the only thing on my mind at the time of the apointment was getting to a dentist to fix my throbbing tooth which he did in about ten minutes and then I was kicking myself for not talking to the Dr. more...

Unfortunately, I went online and looked up Effexor and that was about as comforting as sitting on top of a live grenade..hehe. I have probably read close to 200 random forum discussion posts about the horrible near death experience of trying to get off of Effexor according to most people that posted anything. I've also heard that many psychiatrists refer to the drug as "Side-effexor" and that if you miss just one daily dose you are in big trouble. Of course, it's probably just a case of the only people that have anything to say about it are the people who have bad experiences, but the online petition with 13,000 signatures denouncing the drug because of the fact that withdrawing from it causes, "Brain shivers/brain zaps/electic shock sensations/severe nausea/horrible mood swings/dizzyness" didn't help much to reinforce this idea... I've pretty much been forcing myself to take the medicine every day after learning all of this because the withdrawl almost sounds worse than the condition it's supposed to treat.

I'm hoping maybe someone reading this might have past experience with Effexor and can tell me if the side effects sound normal or if I should possibly start talking to my Dr. about possibly just stopping the antidepresants and sticking with the anti-anxiety medicine or taking another antidepresant, and I'm also hoping maybe there's someone out there that successfully got off of it without feeling like they were about to kick the bucket...hehe.

That's pretty much how I've been doing. I'm doing better with the anxiety as I mentioned earlier but there have been some drawbacks. I also want to apologize if this sounds somewhat melodramatic. I realize that probably most people reading this have probably battled with anxiety and the likes for a lot longer than I have and have probably had it much worse than I have. I don't mean to come off as just someone that can't find the good because they are too worried about complaining about the bad. I've read a few posts like that online. Example "MY DOCTOR IS AN IDIOT! I'M DYING! NO ONE WILL LISTEN TO ME! THEY ARE ALL MORONS AND ONLY I KNOW WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON!" etc etc...heh.

Someone famous who's name I can't remember once said "true knowledge is the ability to admit the fact that you know nothing", or something closely resembling that. about my current condition, I've read everything there is to read I believe, but I'm still coming to grips with everything involved and I'm just seeking out some help along the way. Thanks for your time.

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 4/7/2007 6:07 AM (GMT -6)   
I do agree you are having panic attacks and that you should be doing some self help techniques along with the meds
I found the CBT the best for me and I was the biggest skeptic going
You will be just fine you are very eloquent and express yourself well in your post I would hope that you could try that with a doc even if you need to write it like you did here or even print what you wrote take it to the doc with you
I see many things in there that the doc might benefit from reading which in turn so should you

Take care and please do stay with us
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