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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 4/28/2009 12:52 PM (GMT -7)   
I will try to keep my story short and simple.
My anxiety is pretty bad and fairly restricted to my health issues - I have had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for about 9 years. I am now nearly 28.
With the onset of IBS at age 19, I began to experience debilitating panic attacks. I was put on Zoloft, which made my IBS worse, though it did help lessen my anxiety. I stayed on Zoloft about a year and felt better while learning to cope with panic attacks. After quitting Zoloft, my IBS was okay, still a bother, but not enough to cause anxiety such that it interfered with my daily life. Panic attacks have never returned at the same level of severity since then, though I do have minor panic issues as described below.
When I began graduate school in 2003, the increase in my stress levels worsened both my IBS and anxiety. It's a chicken and the egg sort of thing for me - one causes the other to worsen and then they continue in a vicious cycle. Since that time, life has been a daily struggle.
My anxiety and phobias worsened considerably. I was put on Elavil for a year. It made me gain weight and i didn't like the anticholinergic effects, so I stopped taking it after about 6 months. I was on a very low dose just for my IBS, so it didn't do much for anxiety. When things got particularly bad in early 2006, I was put on Effexor XR. Stayed on that for almost 2 years. It definitely helped my anxiety, but I think made my IBS worse and caused me to gain noticable weight -to the point where I had to get new clothes. Ick. The withdrawal off Effexor was pure hell for me, too.
So, that brings me to the present. I am now working and in a very high-stress demanding job. I have my IBS pretty much under control 90% of the time due to supplementation and diet. I have also done hypnotherapy to help with it, but, I don't think it's enough. I still find that whenever I get into situations where I know I have no control over when I can leave (e.g. client meetings, office meetings, etc) I begin to freak. I have baby panic attacks, but no one would know as I keep my exterior very calm. However, internally I am a mess and I start to obsess about the "what ifs" as to whether my IBS will act up and cause me embarassment. I think I actually induce IBS symptoms - uncontrollable gas, feelings of urgency, etc. It's making working on a daily basis intolerable as I have to interact with my colleagues and clients quite frequently.
I saw a therapist in December who dx'd me as having anxiety disorder. He wanted to do a round of CBT and treat me with Celexa. CBT sounds okay, but I was so hesitant to try another anti-d as I seem to be very sensitive to side effects, I have a rough time getting off of them, they tend to mess with my GI system which does not help my IBS, and they always seem to cause me to pack on 10 or more pounds. I didn't pursue the CBT as of yet because of my work schedule, but now feel like I have to do something - even if it's an inconvenience - because I am driving myself crazy.
My questions:
1- Can anxiety like this be treated without resorting to meds? Or, are meds something that will help me get to the point where I can deal with my anxiety issues adequately enough such that I can stop meds?
2- Has anyone done CBT and found that it works? The therapist explained it to me, but I don't see how it could help me. I try to be mindful of my present situation and acknowledge the rationality/irrationality of my thoughts already and no matter how hard I try, my anxiety takes over.
3- Are there any other medications out there besides anti-ds that can help anxiety that you don't have to take daily?
Thanks. I'm new to the anxiety diagnosis and how to treat it :) I exercise regularly, eat very very well, avoid caffiene and sugar... etc etc etc...all the stuff that is supposed to help reduce stress. I just am beginning to think I can't do this on my own.

Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 14995
   Posted 4/28/2009 1:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi belablue and welcome to Healingwell. I have Crohns Disease which is an inflammatory bowel disease. I developed anxiety related to my Crohns. I do not have anxiety every day. But when I do it will cause me to have gastric problems and will cause me to have IBS type issues. What has helped me immensely is Xanax. I take the lowest dose out there .25 mg. I only use it when I get really stressed at work, or upset about something. I actually have learned to recognize when this is happening and if I take the Xanax right away, it will stop it in its tracks. I actually only use the Xanax maybe 1 to 3 times a month, so I don't have to worry about dependency. This might be a good med for you to ask your therapist about, as you only need to use when your anxiety gets out of control. I also only using it occasionally, I do not have any weight gain issues either like what you get with anti-d meds. Hope that helps.

Gail *Nanners*
Gail*Nanners* Co-Moderator for Anxiety/Panic Forum
Been living with Crohn's Disease for 33 years. Currently on Asacol, Prilosec, Estrace, Prinivil, Diltiazem, Percoset prn for pain, Zofran, Phenergan, Probiotics, and Calcium and Xanax as needed. Resections in 2002 and 2005. Also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Osteoarthritis and Anxiety. Currently my Crohns is in remission.
*Every tomorrow has two handles.  We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety, or by the handle of faith"*

Green Grove
Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 2424
   Posted 4/28/2009 2:08 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Belablue!

Welcome to our A/P Forum. You have already received great advice from Nanners on dealing with IBS. I don't know what to add there, but it does seem to me like you are needing some immediate help with your anxiety. I think if you worked with your doc on finding a good med for you would be beneficial to this condition. I also believe that coming here to a peer support group is a great step when it comes to the other side of anxiety therapy. You might want to look into doing some CBT, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, to have some added help. If you go to the top of our forum page and click on the sticky thread that is titled "Anxiety-Panic Resources," you will find a link to MoodGYM that provides a 100% Free CBT Training program online. It has been of great help to many members here, including myself.

I wish you much luck and hope things get better with your anxiety!

Sam :)
Anxiety-Panic Forum Co-Moderator

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 4/28/2009 3:10 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi belablue and welcome to Healingwell.
I am Kitt and you have come to the land of CBT.  We have many members that have used the CBT and swear by it.  I would certainly give it a try. 
The CBT online thearpy was mentioned by Sam.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on the idea that our thoughts cause our feelings and behaviors, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to
feel / act better even if the situation does not change.

Here is the direct link to The MoodGym Training Program

This same company provides a program called e-couch.

e-couch provides evidence-based information about emotional problems (including depression and anxiety disorders) and teaches strategies that may help you to prevent problems and understand yourself better.

Here is the link for e-couch

Remember these programs are free and can be down take a look at both and see if one of them may meet your needs.

Again a warm welcome to HW



Kitt, Co-Moderator:
Co-Moderator Depression
Moderator: GERD/Heartburn
*~* *~*
Not a mental health professional of any kind
Peace does not dwell in outward things, but within the soul
Clickable Link: Anxiety-Panic Resources

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 318
   Posted 4/29/2009 10:20 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi bela, welcome to the the forum I have only been a member for about 2 weeks but I am no stranger to anxiety and panic. Yo came to the right place I believe you will find much support here as I have everyone is so nice and so helpful. It looks like we share a lot of the same issues and concerns. I don't want to be on any meds either because of the side effects I am looking to start CBT but am afraid this will not be as effective because I feel as though my anxiety is so out of control that it takes over everything which makes me think that being on meds is the only solution. It just one big circle. You are not alone and if you find any effective alternative to being on daily meds please let me know and I will do the same.

Nelle :)
This too shall pass...

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 1190
   Posted 4/29/2009 10:49 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Belablue,

It sounds like you are doing a lot of great things for yourself in the way of diet and exercise. That’s really important, I’ve found, for keeping an even keel and relieving stress. Like you, I have tried hypnotherapy, and have had some success with it, although I believe it’s more effective as a complement to other methods rather than a solution on its own, as you have implied as well.

I’m glad you saw a therapist, and hope you will feel comfortable to continue with that. I’ve found therapy to be incredibly helpful. My therapist uses CBT in her practice, and has given me assignments to do between appointments, which has also been helpful. She has recommended one book, in particular, and I have been working through it. It is called, “The Feeling Good Handbook” by Dr. David Burns. I would highly recommend giving CBT a try.

As far as the meds go, I really believe everyone is different in the way that they respond to meds, as far as side effects and effectiveness of the drugs. I don’t do well with meds, myself, and have had some very bad experiences with A.D.s in particular. I spent eleven years trying different meds for my anxiety and depression, and finally gave up on prescription drugs. However, I should tell you that I have a lot of drug allergies and sensitivities, so I don’t want my comments on my experiences to scare you away from trying meds as a solution. A lot of people find them to be immensely helpful.

I do take an herbal supplement called Trancor (by Metagenics) to help me with anxiety as needed. If you do consider taking something natural, I would strongly urge you to consult with your doctor first. I take this supplement under a doctor’s recommendation and supervision. I also use relaxation breathing exercises, meditation, prayer, therapy (as mentioned earlier), and this wonderful support group to aid me with my struggles. I have found that using a combination of methods is the best way to cope.

I hope that I have offered something helpful to you in my effort to answer your questions. I wish you the very best, and hope you will come back to post to us again.
Living one day at a time. 

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 4/29/2009 11:42 AM (GMT -7)   
I used EMD (Eye Movement Desensitization) for my irritable bowel. I don't understand how it works, but it did for me. Ask your therapist about EMD.

Others on this forum had to leave demanding positions due to their anxiety. This may be the case for you, it may not. This is another thing you may want to discuss with your therapist. I am prone to anxiety so I have to live my life accordingly. You may be the same way.

Continue doing what you're doing. The diet, exercise, no caffeine, etc., are great things! I had problems in meetings also, so I would take 1/2 an Ativan before the meeting started. This helped. Let us know what helps and how you're doing!
Anxiety Disorder/Mitral Valve Prolapse
50 mg. Lopressor, 40 mg. Prozac, Ativan as needed.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 4/29/2009 12:27 PM (GMT -7)   

Wow. I am overwhelmed by the kind, thoughtful responses. I appreciate your input and your thoughts tremendously. I am sure as most of you can relate, it's hard dumping all this mental garbage (and physical chronic illness) on your loved ones. They either just cannot relate no matter how hard they try and I end up feeling frustrated and further isolated, or they are just so tired of it that they tune it out. I can't say I blame them. Connecting with others who can relate and who don't have to live with me is very helpful and comforting.

After reading your remarks, I picked up the phone and called my therapist. He apparently has moved on in his residency with the hospital, so I have been switched to a new one... a woman, which actually may be more conducive to my comfort in therapy. It's hard talking about my bowels with a man! Also, I think a woman may be better equipped to understand my caution about the anti-ds messing with my weight, hormones, stomach, etc. Anyway, I have to wait to get the sessions approved through my insurance as my prior approval expired today. Murphy's Law, right?!

I plan to discuss beginning CBT and also any meds that may help. I had not considered taking things as needed (e.g. Xanax, Ativan, etc) but I'll address that possibility with her though. I have taken them in the past with much relief. Valium got me through a tough time last year when my IBS was making me agoraphobic and unable to sleep and Xanax is what got me through the CA Bar Exam a few years ago!

MoodGym and e-couch look great! I'll definitely give them both a try! Thanks again!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2005
Total Posts : 1952
   Posted 4/29/2009 3:19 PM (GMT -7)   

Welcome! I'm glad you're already finding this forum to be a help to you.

I see a cognitive behavioral therapist regularly, and it has certainly helped with my anxiety. I have a long way to go yet - as with any treatment, CBT is not an instant fix. We will also be beginning EMDR (mentioned by Aries) tomorrow to help me get a grip on some rampant health anxiety. I'm eager to see how that goes and will certainly share.



Co-Moderator, Anxiety and Panic Forum


DX: Anxiety, Depression, LPR (acid reflux)

Meds: Paxil, Nexium, Zantac

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 4/29/2009 3:59 PM (GMT -7)   

I googled "eye movement desensitization" and pulled up the EMDR's website. Very interesting stuff. I can see how it would work because when I was undergoing physical therapy a while ago for pelvic floor dyssynergia (brought on by years of chronic pelvic pain from my IBS) they coached me to withstand pain by using imagery and distraction techniques. It worked to help me through painful sessions and perform the physical exercises I needed to do.

I'll ask about it. If my therapist doesn't provide it, that EMDR site has a list of providers who have completed a certain amount and course of training in EMD. I am sure my insurance won't cover it, but it may be worth pursuing in the future.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 4/30/2009 7:15 AM (GMT -7)   


I hope your therapist provides EMDR.  Do keep us posted on  how you are doing and join in any of the threads that interest you.


Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2009
Total Posts : 114
   Posted 4/30/2009 9:20 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks, Kitt. Will do!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 4/30/2009 10:09 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello, again! Yes, look into EMD. Takes just a few moments.

I only have friends I can discuss my anxiety with. Family never mentions it and my husband gets mad sometimes. It's nice to have loved ones who care and may even read up on the disorder so they learn how to help you.

I hope you take all the suggestions on here and put them to use. Begin a journal if you haven't already. If you can pass the CA Bar Exam, you can conquer anxiety. I took one criminal class in college and that was enough. Not easy stuff! My Step-father is a corporate attorney and I am in such awe of him and his intelligence.

You have accomplished a lot. Remember you are a bright woman with a wonderful future ahead. These feelings of anxiety will subside as long as you take care of yourself as you take care of your clients.
Anxiety Disorder/Mitral Valve Prolapse
50 mg. Lopressor, 40 mg. Prozac, Ativan as needed.

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