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Frustrated. To med or not to med?


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I was diagnosed with a panic disorder when I was 15, because my mum is basically in denial (about a ton of stuff not just my MI) she would not let me go on meds, I tried counselling and she just taught me coping methods.I developed mild OCD, EDNOS and I was already suffering from Depersonalisation disorder, on the days that was gone my anxiety was through the roof.

 

Its not that's its gotten better, I've just coped. And avoided a lot of stuff I know will trigger it. When I went to uni, being in halls set it off again, small crowded hallways, screaming drunk students everywhere. Bleugh. I moved into a house with friends last year and it wasn't so bad. I didn't sleep much, tried to stay out of conflict in the house but I just sort of felt ill and nervous all the time rather than doing my old panic attack trick. 

 

Recently I've started having panic attacks again. Twice now in the last week, which probably doesn't sound like much, but I've been so long without them its really worrying me and it was over stupid stuff ( a moth flew at me whilst I was cleaning my teeth and I didn't hear my boyfriend come up the stairs and he made me jump, again in the damn bathroom). I feel sick and jumpy all the time, I can't have my back to a window or room because I'm so afraid something will make me jump.

 

I went to the doctors a few weeks ago and spoke to the nurse about it, she blamed it on uni, graduating stress etc. and I know its not just that. In the end she just said "well what do you suggest?" and I have no idea. Mind went blank. So I left, with advice to get Rescue Remedy (which gets rid of the permanent anxious feeling but does nothing for full blown panic attacks, and sometimes I have them without even having a build up).

 

I guess I'm just really frustrated. The first time I went to see the new docs (as I'd just moved house) about it they printed me off a sheet from google and told me to go away and read it. That's why I went to see the nurse because I figured as she's seen me for pill checkups and the lot she might be a bit more understanding.

 I don't know what to ask for, what 'works'. I just don't know and the people that do know seem to think I should know.

 

I guess I want to know, do meds work? And do they work and then stop working? Is there a point where they will say, no more? Is there any point starting on this road?

 

Edited by Paperskyscraper
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i take buspar for my anxiety, it's like an antidepressant in that it has to build up in your system.  I think if it is interfering in your life then you should probably take something for it.   Where I go doesn't prescribe benzos like xanax or ativan so I ttake a small dose of benadryl when i feel my anxiety starting to skyrocket or if i'm having a panic attack.

 

there are some useful non medication strategies like square breathing, where you breathe in for 4, hold for 4, release for 4, and breathe normally for 4

or another one my therapist taught me called 3-2-1

where you list three things you can touch see hear, then 2 things you can touch see hear, then 1 thing.  It kinda redirects you.

 

there are some good medication options out there,  i don't like to rely on meds but if you need them you need them

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Therapy is really first line for panic attacks.  Meds help and some people really need them due to the severity of their panic disorder, but learning coping skills and how to deal with panic attacks in therapy is key.

 

So while I support the use of meds for controlling panic disorder, I really feel like therapy is more useful in the long run for panic because you learn valuable skills that you can use anywhere, anytime.  For more pervasive anxiety, meds are great, but panic attacks really respond well to therapy.

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I'm a little stuck with the therapy. I had a huge issue with my depersonalisation disorder just after xmas and I figured my anxiety was coming form my DD 'good days'... because I didn't have that dissociative brain shield I was in panic mode. I went to see a counsellor under the university as its not only free for x amount of sessions, but they can support extenuating circumstances claims through the uni examination board if my DD was to interfere with my work. Apparently anxiety wasn't a good enough stand alone without the doctors note, seeing as I had my form thing from the psyc. I just figured I would use it if I needed it.

 

I tried to explain this to the counsellor, and she took me down the TA route, which really helped a lot, and I even managed to figure out everyday triggers that I'd been missing. She really was fantastic. She said she'd have to deal with the DD first as she felt it was the basis of everything, including my anxiety. On my last session she told me that because I was graduating the university were withdrawing my counselling sessions, which of course they have every right to do as I am a third year and they do fund it, but it means I never got to finish my DD sessions, or tackle my anxiety properly. We did cover it in some sessions but not enough to help much. Initially they had said they could fund sessions until October, once a week for 50mins.

 

My friend was having a rant about her sister, who also goes to the same doctors, and the NHS counselling list is huge, specialist therapies are even worse. And I just cannot afford to go private or to "queue jump." Her sister is a priority case, as she put it... and it is still 9 months long, so I can't imagine how long it must be for someone like me.

I guess I would like the med route just whilst I wait, because its just getting in the way of everything and I don't want to get worse. I know they mask and don't deal with the issue so I know I do need some form of therapy.

 

I'm also I think, 'grieving' for the fact that I will miss my counsellor, and I can't think of talking to anyone else about it again in that much detail. It took me long enough to explain what my symptoms were!

Edited by Paperskyscraper
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Meds are my saving grace.  Without them I'd probably be dead, or would have ended up in a psychiatric institution permanently.  Not all worked for me, some I developed tolerance levels to and had to stop because the dose was already too high.  But overall I am grateful for my medication.

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I don't agree that meds mask things.  They treat things.  They change things in your brain as does therapy.  It's just that for panic disorder specifically, it seems like therapy is as good or better than meds.  For other things, meds are really necessary.

 

Therapy for panic disorder can be very focused, and some of the techniques you can learn on your own.  There are some workbooks in the bookstore on the site that you might want to look into.

 

Trying meds isn't a bad idea in your case if you can get meds before you can get into therapy.  It's worth it to consult with a psychiatrist about your symptoms.

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I feel like if there was a huge underlying cause for my anxiety, that I could remember,  that we could work through in the sessions then I could perhaps benefit a lot from therapy. Because I've never really got anywhere in counselling sessions before I'm just tired and I want something to get rid of the icky feeling I seem to have all the time.

 

I've always been a nervous, quiet and naturally cautious child that has never taken risks, never pushed the social boundaries and certainly hasn't been adventurous in trying new things. My mum struggled to get me to socialise at kids parties, I've always been around other kids, be they neighbours or children of my parent's friends, but I've always been terrified and clingy.

 

In a way I've never grown out of that behaviour and I struggle as an adult to cope and adapt to new and uncharted things. What's even worse is disturbing my routine, I take things too literally too. I watched Saw and I am convinced that if I'm not a good person I'm going to get kidnapped and stuck in a Saw game of some form. I still have to check under my bed, in my wardrobe and in every nook and cranny of the house before I go to bed. Just in case.

 

Thank you for the comments though, it's nice to know that meds have helped. I just hope they'll help me too! :-) 

Edited by Paperskyscraper
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You might find a lot of mileage out of a therapy called ACT or "acceptance and commitment therapy".

 

It helps you examine your thought patterns in a way that sounds like it could be helpful for you.

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