Hello Anxiety/Panic Attack Sufferers
I write this knowing that every single person's body chemistry, and the reactions to medicines of each body, vary. But perhaps this response will help some of you.
BTW, I'm not selling or pushing anything, just frustrated with mis/dis information out there.
My wife has Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
, and for the uneducated on RA, it isn't just about
joints. The immune system is whacked (a technical term ;-) and impacts all sorts of systems.
My wife has plenty of things in her life to be depressed about
, but that isn't her main nature. I've been with her 30 years and I KNOW all of her moods, joys, disappointments, and depression triggers.
When she has a nocturnal (usually) panic attack, it has nothing to do with anything going on in life at that time. It wasn't triggered by sad thoughts, negative thinking, or even people around her being jerks. Everyday life on the best of days can end in a full on, want to run away, hide, panic attacks.
She has tried alcohol many times when she felt the panic levels rising to try to get ahead of it. That doesn't work. Plain and simple, you get both a drunk and panic stricken individual.
On one bad night years ago, thinking that perhaps a Benadryl would help her sleep during an attack, it had her under control in 15 minutes, and resting, after hours of panic. I figured it was the sedative effects of Benadryl (diphenhydramine HCL)
, but I don't think so anymore.
Over years, we have long periods of time without any panic attacks, though I can see that she gets close sometimes even if not full on. It impacts her thought processes, her perception visually, and more.
It appears to get better and worse with hormone cycles as a contributor. Taking birth control pills and other hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
can shift things to make the anxiety better or worse. Changes in hormones as you get older can shift things too.
Having RA changes a person's body chemistry and can cause inflammation in lots of places that can change how a person's chemical systems function as well.
Empirically, I have given my wife low doses of diphenhydramine and seen dramatic recovery from a severe anxiety attack. Not "social anxiety", which lots of people have. Not "worry". Not being a "Debbie downer" negative person. All out fear and need to run, fight or flight, without any logical trigger. Consistently a 25mg single over the counter pill helped an active panic attack.
If it weren't for the depth of the physical indicators that would be very hard for someone to fake or force (very rapid eye movements over an extended multiple hour timeframe) followed by a complete reversion to normal thoughts after a dose, I might wonder if it was placebo effect. I can tell you for my wife, it is not.
Because my wife has a complication of RA called Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
, and antihistamines can make RLS worse over time, she has to be careful about
not taking them too much or too often. So recently during an attack I gave her 1/2 of one caplet, amounting to only 12.5mg. She still found relief within 15 minutes. By relief I don't mean total normality, I just mean the fight or flight she felt abated.
I don't recommend "dosing up" on Benadryl on a regular basis as I have read some people tried with only temporary success. Try to use it to abate the worst attacks; you don't want to become immune to its effects. I don't recommend using more than you absolutely need for an attack.
I have yet to meet a general practitioner, RA doctor, or Psychologist that is willing to run a battery of chemical panels to better understand where people stand as a baseline on a good day, and then do it again when the person is "crashing". That would be good science. Lacking that, doctors assume Benadryl is a placebo, or has mild sedative effects that do it. Some assume Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which is basically retraining your mind not to dwell on negatives, is the path. Perhaps for some where the body is following the mind. But when the body LEADS the mine, when the body changes first and then the thoughts follow, CBT is not the answer. I'm telling you, for my wife, the change before to after taking the pill is profound in the middle of an attack.
I've also been researching the link between inflammation, which RA causes, and Anxiety, and there are multiple medical articles out there that discuss a strong correlation, and in fact RA to Anxiety is much higher than RA to Depression, which was unexpected. Benadryl may work because of reducing a specific type of inflammation response, or indirectly do so by changing another pathway in our system. Whatever the case, I'm watching for more research based answers.
Don't try to take it as a preventative, or prophylactic. Your body might get adjusted to it so that when you need to prevent an attack, it has little impact. Take when you have a real attack. Take just enough. Take care and good luck.Summary:
There are underlying reasons why some people have full on panic attacks and anxiety attacks that may have more to do with body chemistry, hormones, drugs, and food/chemical intake than what's going on in the world around them. For the subset of people that can feel the panic rising and know that it isn't tied to any event or external stimulus, I recommend trying a simple dose of Benadryl. Yes, it may make you a bit tired. It may or may not work for you, depending on why your chemicals are off, your own hormone changes, pills you take, etc. But if used sparingly it may be the silver bullet that keeps you from running down the street just to "get away".If this article resonates with you, please take the time to make a simple account on this site and respond. I'd like to hear from others.
I am NOT a doctor or medical professional and this is our story. You must work with your own doctors and do your own research to determine what is right for you. My hope is that this perspective will be helpful to others.
Post Edited (CincinnatiTim) : 4/1/2016 9:48:48 AM (GMT-6)