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Some advice for kicking anxiety w/out using Paxil, please?


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Hey all. Going to try to keep this brief. If you want to skip right to the question, jump to the bottom. :)

So I stumbled on this page after two days of researching anxiety and Paxil (more on this in a second) and ya'll seem pretty cool, so I'm hoping you can help.

I'm a high strung 35-year old feller who just started going to counseling about 1.5 months ago because in addition to my lifetime of light paranoia, semi anti-social tendencies, and gnawing holes on the inside of my cheek, I started having panic attacks. Didn't know what they were at the time; I thought it was going crazy or having a heart attack/aneurysm or something. My counselor, my opinion of whom I'll hold onto right now (lest I write two pages worth of post) decided on my second visit that Paxil was for me and basically ushered me through a low-income clinic to get the prescription.

The short of the story is that I nearly went mad after two doses. Worst experience of my life. Before taking it, my panic attacks were once every week or two, and they'd last 10-15 minutes. After my 2nd dose of Paxil, I had a solid 15 hours of terrifying hallucination-like daydreams, writhing twitching and tremors, racing heartbeat, and pupils as big as peas. I'm certain everyone I in school that day thought I'd started using methamphetamines. And all of this just made me want to take another pill, because that hour-long, detached-feeling high just after taking the pill is: whoa! So in consideration of that, and of all the research I did in hindsight, where I discovered all the problems people are having with withdrawals, I ended up chucking the whole lot down the loo.

This was two days ago. Aside from a few mild lucid dreams that remain, I think I'm clear of the worst of this nasty stuff.

So now I'm angry because neither the doc nor the counselor warned me of all the potential effects, not to mention all this talk I keep seeing of addiction/withdrawal - I'm already a mild alcoholic. But thanks to the experience, which showed me just how bad anxiety can be, I'm really determined. I want to beat this stuff, but WITHOUT having to resort to a medicine that I'll be hooked on the rest of my life. It doesn't take me long to get hooked to anything.

So here's the question: does anyone have any resources for thought exercises, meditation, self-help sort of stuff to get my brain unplugged from this constant anxious state? Any books or tips/tricks that proved successful? There's no way I'm going on the Paxil. That stuff is the devil in a bottle for me. Though my counselor hasn't offered me any of these sorts of things (only the Paxil), she says that she suspects I have PTSD from my horrible childhood, which is contributing directly to my anxiety - if that's any help with what I'm going through. I also should put out there that I'm atheist, so I wouldn't be able to use anything that's heavily spiritual/religious. Technique is fine, but worship is out of the question. :)

Thanks!

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First, I'd like to note for the record that your reaction to Paxil was not typical. It sounds like it kicked you into a mixed state, which is reason enough to discontinue, but I'm having trouble deciphering your description. Perhaps someone else can clarify.

Second, SSRIs are not addictive in the least. They can have nasty withdrawals, but that doesn't mean they're addictive - it just means you have to step off of them gradually.

But, to be honest, the best long-term treatment for anxiety and especially panic is psychotherapy of some sort. You talk about your counselor; is she a psychiatrist, a therapist, a social worker...? Psychiatrists generally don't practice psychotherapy. A therapist specializing in anxiety would be the best choice.

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First, I'd like to note for the record that your reaction to Paxil was not typical. It sounds like it kicked you into a mixed state, which is reason enough to discontinue, but I'm having trouble deciphering your description. Perhaps someone else can clarify.

Second, SSRIs are not addictive in the least. They can have nasty withdrawals, but that doesn't mean they're addictive - it just means you have to step off of them gradually.

But, to be honest, the best long-term treatment for anxiety and especially panic is psychotherapy of some sort. You talk about your counselor; is she a psychiatrist, a therapist, a social worker...? Psychiatrists generally don't practice psychotherapy. A therapist specializing in anxiety would be the best choice.

I suppose it all depends on what you call addictive. Semantics, really. We'll just say that for me, anything can be addictive. And that first hour after popping a Paxil is well worth the money. :)

As for my counselor; I'm not sure what she is. Her card says "Licensed Professional Counselor." Free service through the college for us poor students without insurance. And unfortunately, because I have no insurance, it's the only source of outside help I have access to. Hence my post asking if anybody has had any success with DIY stuff: books, websites, techniques - those sorts of things. I don't have the money to hire a professional to help me help myself, so I'm looking for others who may have firsthand experience.

Thanks.

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Actually, no, it isn't semantics. Addiction and dependency are different conditions, one which is destructive, and the other which is therapeutic. I doubt you were dependent on the Paxil after two doses. You obviously enjoy it at some level, because your instinct was to abuse it. I would not only go back to your pdoc and discuss other possible treatments, I would let the p-doc know you get were getting a rush from it. If Paxil is all you have tried, there are about a zillion different options.

There is no way that any doctor can warn you of ALL expected side effects, so it is silly to be angry. All that research you did post-usage? If you want to be a informed patient, do the research first. I understand you didn't know what Paxil was when you were given it, but it doesn't take that long to do a search, as you have found. Not to mention, if you aren't going to take a medication you have been prescribed, you need to let your doctor know.

There are often side effects that are not listed on the PI sheet of a med, yet are known to be common amongst people using it. But your reaction was so weird, I seriously can't think who would have thought to warn you about that.

If you want a class or book, you really should try a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Even if you end up still ultimately needing meds, it will teach you good strategies for dealing with anxiety. I am pretty sure the The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook is listed in the Crazystore.

And never throw old prescriptions into the toilet. The metabolites often are not easily removed from your drinking water, so you are medicating your entire city.

Who prescribed it to you? There is an MD involved someplace, because Licensed Therapists can only suggest to the MD what they think might be appropriate, they cannot precribe (sp?) themselves.

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The anxiety and phobia workbook can be really helpful, as will working with your therapist on some exercises for dealing with the anxiety.

SSRIs often are the best choice for anxiety and panic, so the instinct to put you on paxil wasn't necessarily a bad one, it just didn't work out for you. If you try therapy and self help for awhile and it doesn't work, I wouldn't rule out trying some other options.

It does sound like perhaps the paxil put you in a mixed state and that combined with your ongoing level of anxiety and stress does make me wonder about bp dx, but obviously I can't dx you over the internet, but it might be worth some discussion with the therapist about because if so, the medications prescribed (and what might help the anxiety like symptoms) would be entirely different.

Good luck with feeling better.

Anna

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