New to the board, My Panic / Anxiety story

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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/26/2007 5:03 PM (GMT -6)   



I am brand new to this forum, and after reading some of the existing topics and posts, I feel less alone in what has recently happened to me. It has definitely made me want to share my story in hopes that some of you can help me with what has worked for you, and if I can maybe help someone else in some way.


I would first off like to say that I have NEVER used drugs (street drugs), ever. So my story isn't based on years of using drugs and then wondering "what happened?" I think it's from a combination of my lifestyle, and my poor judgment. I live in Los Angeles, the mecca of unnecessary stress. I just turned 30 years old a few months ago, and that's when this story really begins. It may just be pure coincidence, but I had my first life changing, anxiety/ panic attack experience exactly 2 months ago.  The only thing I did different that day was have about 5 Sunkist sodas throughout the day. Later that evening, in front of the TV while relaxing, that’s when I felt as if I couldn't breathe. It felt as if something was sitting on my chest, I couldn’t breathe, and I was shaking horribly. I was suddenly out of control of my body. I could NOT stop shaking. I was snapping my fingers uncontrollably, I couldn't sit still, and I was losing the ability to breath. I really thought I was having a heart attack. I was rushed to the ER by my wife after trying to calm down for about 45 minutes. When I got to the ER, they looked at me like some guy on drugs because I guess that's what someone looks like when they OD or something. They tested me for EVERYTHING and everything came back completely clean, and actually my levels were healthy. No high cholesterol, no high blood pressure, no diabetes, they ran 2 EKG's and those checked out fine..... I was basically "fine". They said I had a panic attack.


The next day my Dr. put me on Ativan. This has been the only thing that's helped me in time of panic to this day. I have now been taking it for 2 months. She also put me on Celexa. Taking Celexa made me feel 100% WORSE. I had similar symptoms to those listed by others on this site that have taken Lexapro or other medications like this. I felt like I was WIRED and couldn't sleep on Celexa, it felt like I drank 8 Red Bull drinks. Celexa made me feel more anxious, wired! I stopped taking Celexa and since I stopped I've felt better. People have been telling me to take Lexapro, but I hear now it has the same or similar side effects as Celexa! I also am being told the only thing that won't have these side effects, or at least as bad, and that actually works, is Effexor. Is this true? If anyone can shed some light on Effexor or Lexapro, I am all ears. I'm wondering if either of these will allow me to stop taking the Ativan. Additionally, my Dr  prescribed Ambien CR to help me sleep because there are times I just CANNOT sleep because of the anxiety. So I am taking that nightly. I have NEVER slept so good with the Ambien. I have had problems sleeping since I was a little kid. I have always been an anxious person, and the Ambien CR has been a lifesaver at night.


I am currently taking 1 MG a day of Ativan (two 0.5mg under the tongue), and it is the only thing that helps get through the severe anxiety at the end of my day. I only need the Ativan at the end of the day. During the day for the most part, I'm pretty good, and I'm able to live a daily life for the most part. It's weird, I only get anxious and the panic starts in the evening, at the end of the day not doing anything at all! I actually get the severe anxiety more at home when it's quiet or in front of the TV, relaxing on the couch.



It has been the hardest thing I've had to go through in my life to date, primarily because it affects EVERYTHING. It's like some people say "if you don't have your health, you have nothing". It's true. If you feel like crap, everything else that's positive and happy is VERY hard to enjoy. At least it is for me at this point. I have always been the "multi-tasker", cramming 50,000 things into one day, anxious, rushing on the freeway, kind of person until this happened. Now that I've been diagnosed with this I honestly don't know how I made it this far without this happening to me sooner.


I am not overweight, but I definitely had gained more weight in the last year than I've ever had, and I attribute it to poor diet (fast food) and more importantly, all of the soda I would drink. The combination of the caffeine, sugar, high anxiety, stress, and feeling of self invincibility (taking everything on at once) for all of these years, because I'm "young" is what I feel brought all of this on. If I could have known that I would get this condition from all of these I surely would have made more changes to prevent this instead of now coping, and trying to repair the damage I've done to myself.


It is definitely easier to deal with this now than it was the first 3 weeks, but I really attribute any kind of "normalcy" to absolutely NO CAFFIENE of ANY kind, and the Ativan. I have cut way back on sugar, and basically not putting anything into my body that can "boost" me. I can't imagine drinking anything caffeinated at this point, especially after the ER visit. Caffeine is absolutely horrible, but I guess that is a no-brainer.


The breakdown is …


I’m on 1mg or Ativan every night, and I know I need to decrease and get off of this because of the dependency problems. However, this is the only thing that seems to work right now. I am in therapy and trying to learn how to further adjust myself to reduce stress. I am taking Ambien CR to sleep at night. I need to know if Effexor or Lexapro will benefit me. I am closely watching what I eat (no fast food), drinking water exclusively, and have been since the night this started. I know I need to exercise, and have been told this will help, but I’m a little overwhelmed to start under all these conditions. Will the exercise really help?


Sorry for such a long story, but I really wanted to share my story and ask questions from others that have more advice and coping techniques. I really look forward to hearing any of your feedback, responses, and opinions.


Thank you

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 540
   Posted 4/26/2007 5:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Effexor works for alot of people, but it too, comes with its side effects, and coming off it was the most awful thing I've ever experienced. It totally messed with my already messed up sleep. I don't know about Lexapro.

It makes sense that you would have your attacks at home, at least to me. During the day you are busy and your mind in occupied, and you don't have time to think of anything but work, or what ever it is you are doing. When you are at home relaxing, thats when your mind and body aren't occuppied and it can sneak up on you.

Right now I wouldn't worry about being on the Ativan. If it is helping you that is great. You need to be feeling somewhat in control in order to be able to find a way to get your anxiety under control.

Hope you find what works for you!

dx: fibromyalgia, IBS-C,Myofacial Pain Syndrome, Chronic Headaches, hypothyroidism,anemia, insomnia,mild depression.
Clonazapam .25mgs, Oxy IR 2.5-3xs/day 5 mgs at bedtime, Synthroid, Zopiclone, flexeril , Buspar 7.5 mgs 2xs/day
Supplements:  Licorcise extract, Seriphos, professional vit/mineral, magnesium/malic acid, B#5, probiotic, Ester C, P5P[B6 supplement]
Daughter Jerica 17, Dx: Crohn's, Imuran 150 mgs, amitriptyline 20mgs,   lactaid pills, calcium 1000 mgs/day. Forvia, starting Remicade Apr 23/07
 Husband with treatment resistant depression   Effexor-900mgs
Jerimiah 29:11                      

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 1745
   Posted 4/26/2007 5:49 PM (GMT -6)   
I think it's odd that you had your very first panic attack and were on Ativan the very next day. That's probably good. A lot of people fool around with anxiety for months and months without even knowing what it is.

The rest of your story is familiar to me in some ways. Mine really developed over time in my late twenties and clearly became Panic Disorder some time during my age 30 year, which I am still in the midst of. They were at their worst at night, typically. I had "atypical" panic attacks that affected my stomach, and missed out on all the heart racing and chest pains, but I do know what very intense anxiety feels like. Sodas and chocolate were always bad for me. I can handle them now that I'm medicated (Klonopin). But the stuff is bad for humans in general so it's probably good to cut it out regardless of your reason. I don't drink much soda, and when they take me off meds I'll probably cut them out for good. I've found it's pretty easy to live without them.

Nobody can tell you whether or not Effoxor or Lexapro will benefit you. It's one of those trial and error things. You may reduce the margin of error by going to a really good psychiatrist, but even they won't know for sure.

Exercise DOES help. It's helped me when I've been disciplined enough to do it, and I've heard many, many others rave about it. I've been meaning to start a consistent program, actually, because I have also gained a little weight and I think it would help me be prepared for when the docs want to take me off the K. Easy for me to say, but just go out there and do it. I don't think you'll feel more overwhelmed when you start. In fact, within a few seconds of starting you may already feel less burdened. Human beings were meant to exercise, and this modern civilization we've created for ourselves doesn't really allow for that.

This is just my opinion, but before you switch medicines or anything you need to work on the root of the problem: which is the way you think. Some people use CBT to do this. Me, I've just been questioning myself more and trying to get my priorities straight, more or less just trying to gain what some people call "perspective". It's my experience that Panic Disorder takes your personality, intelligence, and creativity and turns it squarely against you. When the actual attack occurs, you can pretty much think only of yourself. It's basic self-preservation. But what precedes panic attacks is important, too. Some people have pretty clear triggers that may bring up bad memories or whatever, yet others (like me) don't have these triggers. My anxiety used to ramp up very gradually I won't notice except in hindsight. Then I would notice, and my stomach would go nuts. Then more classic panic symptoms would quickly develop.

Everybody's different, but some of the advice is pretty universal. Hope you stick around. You'll learn some great things here.
de·base - v. (di-bas')
1. to reduce in quality or value; adulterate: "They debased the value of the dollar."
2. to lower in rank, dignity, or significance: "He wouldn't debase himself by doing manual labor."

—Synonyms 1. lower, vitiate, corrupt; contaminate, pollute, defile. 2. degrade, abase, demean, reduce.

I'm not really that bad a guy, though. Check out my Healing Well journals as I attempt to recover from
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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 4/26/2007 10:15 PM (GMT -6)   

I tried Paxil several years ago and it worked.  I am unable to take it this time due to having a baby.

My panic attacks came back like they never have been.  Went to Dr they put me on zoloft and increased up to 100mg.  I was dead tired... couldnt function and didn't want to get out of bed.  Couldn't live that way and work and take care of kids.

Dr then put me on Effexor, I am now up to 150mg.  I can tell a world of difference... I am completely happy.  I have heard others talk about withdrawl, well I will worry about that then.  Because I was to the point I couldn't leave the house or drive my daughter to school.  I am now able to do some of the things I enjoy.  I am praying it will continue to get better.  I think sometimes people have problems coming off medications because they rush it too much.  You have to be under Dr care to wean off of these meds.

Hope this has helped.... :)




Regular Member

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 119
   Posted 4/26/2007 10:27 PM (GMT -6)   
I'll second everything that debaser said.
One thing to note is that for a period of time, the SSRI (Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, etc) can actually make you feel worse! This can be disasterous when your doc doesn't warn you first! You spending every moment analyzing yourself to see if you're better, and what you find is that you're getting worse...and so begins the snowball effect. That first 6 weeks can be REALLY bad. That's when you need the CBT the most. Books have been awesome for me as well.

If you have a medication that's helping you right now, and your doctor says it ok to take it...then take it. There will be plenty of time to wean yourself off of certain meds once you get through your crisis stage.

Keep talking - get out - do the stuff you really don't want to do - and you're feeling strangely better for it.
You'll get through - despite what your mind tells you. : )

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 4/27/2007 7:55 AM (GMT -6)   
Welcome to HW
I have taken ativan for many many yrs ...although I now only take when needed,but I agree that you need to do exercise and other self help techniques along with the ativan dont worry about taking them right now you need to keep the A/P in check ....there is also CBT which I do and really am getting alot out of ....
Everyone is different with meds but I have heard the same thing that most of the SSRI's will cause increased angst when first starting them.......
Keep coming back and getting support here the ppl are great as is the care and empathy.....
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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 4/27/2007 12:06 PM (GMT -6)   
Thank you all for your responses. It really means ALOT. It's ironic, but because of writting and re-living yesterday when I wrote this, I had a 2 1/2 hour horrible anxiety attack last night, even after taking the Ativan. I still feel like I'm learning how to control this since it really hasn't been that long since this first hit me. I will definately try to start doing some mild exercise. I will search the forum for the CBT ideas you all have. I am seeing a therapist, but I feel I need more of it than just once a week. I need to be more pro-active to learning more techniques that work for me on a daily basis.

Thank you for the welcome. I'm going to be reading alot more of the back posts in hopes to get more information.

It's good to be here.

panicy one
Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 33
   Posted 4/27/2007 7:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Welcome. First of all I would like to say that it is amazing how many people I have heard that this appears around 30 mine started the same way yours did only I had to keep going back because I knew there was something wrong and they did not every test would come back fine but I did not feel fine It was the most terrible thing.Finally I got it under control a year later with a combo of meds I take now zofoft and just 50mg at night of seroquel and this combo is really helping me but sometimes I have times that I feel it peeking through but I am what my husband calls me an over reactor,Anyway I went a long time before I found something that helped me the first year was hell I lost 35lbs of course that is back on but I would take 30 lbs over that hell any day. There has been atleast 8 or 9 times I was convinced that I was having a heart attack and went to the er atleast 7 times complaining of chest pains and rapid heart beat,even to this day if I get a little twinge in my upper left chest area I get scared I think it is like a phobia because of the first attack that we have where we can't breath and we think we are dying,I just want you to know reading your post was like reading my own,Don't worry about how long you have to take something I am still taking my meds and I am now 35 I was also on ativan for like a year and you will know when you feel better and then only then can you start to wean off.Hope I could help you a little bit.
150mg zoloft,50mg seroquel,1mg ativan and 25mgtoprol(beta blocker)

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