When I was younger I was working with a psychiatrist to find the right medication for me. I really didn’t enjoy the trial and error feel of it because I was feeling anxious about the side effects. I had tried Abilify (left me feeling like a zombie) Prozac (made it difficult to sleep) Prozac + Trazodone (mom felt that was too many chemicals) and then, during an extended stay at a mental health treatment program, Seroquel (because it was such a heavy sedative, I was sexually assaulted while taking it). Although she didn’t know about what happened while I was on Seroquel, my mom ended up taking me off any medications because she felt I was just vying for attention and didn’t understand the consequences of messing around with drugs like that. She said they could change my brain chemistry forever, leave me addicted to them, make me gain crazy amounts of weight that I’d never be able to get rid of, or turn me into an entirely different person forever.
So, while I’m feeling like my quality of life could benefit from some sort of help, I’m hesitant to ask a doctor’s opinion. I think my mom left an imprint on me with her general dislike of doctors and medicine. I don’t know if she’s right or just paranoid. Or if the medication would turn me into a different person, and if that person would be better than this person.
Now, I’m twenty years old and trying to take control of my life. I’d like to do something like get a job or finally take my road test without feeling impending doom when I think about it. I’d like to do every day things like drive a car or go somewhere by myself without feeling like I’m going to throw up. Basically, while I had managed to learn some coping mechanisms for my anxiety, they aren’t working so much anymore. I still do deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, but now they really only take the edge off of it. I used to sit outside and smoke a cigarette during a panic attack and feel entirely better by the end of it but now I find myself chainsmoking and not feeling any easier. I’m wondering if it’s time to try medication again or if there’s something more natural I could do?
Hi Kalellena. In my experience, finding a medication to treat symptoms such as anxiety can be quite a challenge. Given the severity of your anxiety, I think medication could be useful for you but bear in mind it can be a slippery slope. While benzodiazepines gave me the most relief, the effect was short-lived and I eventually found myself physically and psychologically addicted.
Smoking cigarettes is certainly not doing you any long-term favors. The fact that you’re smoking more and more in order to find the same relief is indicative of negative changes in your brain chemistry. I know how hard it is to give up a crutch but trust me, you’ll be better off.
I am currently seeing a neurologist who has her patients take neurotransmitter tests. This allows her to pinpoint imbalances and prescribe the right medication for their current brain chemistry. She usually has her patients try supplements and vitamins first in order to naturally adjust neurotransmitter levels. This could be a good avenue for you to pursue.
In any case, it’s terrific that you’re meditating and doing yoga. Try doing a little research on diet and stress and see if you can eliminate foods that might be contributing to your symptoms. And make sure you’re getting enough B vitamins. Also, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) therapies are very helpful for some people in dealing with anxiety.
Best of luck
I can relate a lot with what you’re saying. I started having anxiety problems and never really gave it much thought until it started to get stronger and stronger and got the point where I was having sleep issues and panic attacks. I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for some time now and I’ve tried a couple of different SSRI’s, and all of them only numbed my feelings and left me like a zombie. I actually just started coming off the one I was taking, I just couldn’t bear the numbness.
Exercising really helps me. I run quite a lot these days (20+ miles/week) and it really has great benefits. Just having a consistent exercise schedule might help you a lot. Try maybe going for walks. Just make sure to have some sort of schedule like, walking a least X miles for Y days/week. It’s not gonna fix you but since exercising releases endorphins, it helps breaking the thought/anxiety patterns (and maybe the smoking problem). How much you exercise won’t make much difference, it’s the consistency that matters. It’s just like an antidepressant: you have to take it everyday.
If you’ve taken antidepressants before, you already know how it works: it numbs you. It won’t solve your problems, and all psychiatrists know that (maybe some of them won’t tell you). That’s why a real professional wouldn’t prescribe it to you as the ultimate solution for your problems. In extreme cases, it’s a tool for a bigger approach that should go beyong the physiological part. When you have laid down the foundations of a healthier lifestyle (regarding thought patterns), you should come off the meds. It’s kinda like using a calculator.
I’d say that for any kind of anxiety situtation a person might have, the right thing to do is to go for root cause of it. By any means necessary. Once you understand it, you take action. Those anxiety-reducing techniques serves no purpose if you’re not actually solving the problem. If you put your hand in the fire, it hurts. Taking it away is the solution. Not taking a Tylenon and telling yourself everything is fine. Find a way of actually solving your anxiety problem. Learn about it. Therapy is great for that because it helps you see the thought patterns you developed along the way.
I hope you find your own way. If you want to talk, you can message me :)