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Anxiety Disorders MEGA thread

ocean

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We have decided to separate our Depression/Anxiety thread.
Though they sometimes go hand in hand, Anxiety Disorders are complex enough on their own to deserve thier own Mega Thread.

Here we can discuss any of our experiences with Anxiety, treatments that have worked or haven't worked (keeping in mind that each individual may react differently than another)......

Anxiety disorder is a blanket term covering several different forms of abnormal and pathological fear and anxiety which only came under the aegis of psychiatry at the very end of the 19th century.[1] Current psychiatric diagnostic criteria recognize a wide variety of anxiety disorders. Recent surveys have found that as many as 18% of Americans may be affected by one or more of them.[2]
- Source

Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components.[2] These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, fear, or worry.
Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that occurs without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.[3]
Another view is that anxiety is "a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events"[4] suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers that divides anxiety and fear.
Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with a difficult situation, for example at work or at school, by prompting one to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.[5]

Physical effects of anxiety may include heart palpitations, fatigue, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, stomach aches, or headaches. Physically, the body prepares the organism to deal with a threat. Blood pressure and heart rate are increased, sweating is increased, bloodflow to the major muscle groups is increased, and immune and digestive system functions are inhibited (the fight or flight response). External signs of anxiety may include pale skin, sweating, trembling, and pupillary dilation. Someone suffering from anxiety might also experience it as a sense of dread or panic. Although panic attacks are not experienced by every anxiety sufferer, they are a common symptom. Panic attacks usually come without warning, and although the fear is generally irrational, the perception of danger is very real. A person experiencing a panic attack will often feel as if he or she is about to die or pass out. Panic attacks may be confused with heart attacks therefore only a doctor can be the only right person to differentiate between panic attack or the heart attack.
Anxiety does not only consist of physical effects, there are many emotional ones as well. They include "feelings of apprehension or dread, trouble concentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability, restlessness, watching (and waiting) for signs (and occurrences) or danger, and, feeling like your mind's gone blank"[6] as well as "nightmares/bad dreams, obsessions about sensations, deja vu, a trapped in your mind feeling, and feeling like everything is scary."[7]
Cognitive effects of anxiety may include thoughts about suspected dangers, such as fear of dying. "You may...fear that the chest pains [a physical symptom of anxiety] are a deadly heart attack or that the shooting pains in your head [another physical symptom of anxiety] are the result of a tumor or aneurysm. You feel an intense fear when you think of dying, or you may think of it more often than normal, or can’t get it out of your mind."
-Source]


The National Institute of Mental Health
gives descriptions 5 types of anxiety disorders-


• Generalized Anxiety Disorder

• Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)


• Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


• Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)





Other links that give alot of information on anxiety related mental illness:

Psych Central

Web MD

E Medicine Health

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Wikipedia- Anxiety Disroders

Anxiety Center

Anxiety FAQ

National Mental Health Information Center from the US Department of Health and Human Services

General Anxiety Disorder-


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a pattern of frequent, constant worry and anxiety over many different activities and events.
Google Health- GAD

Mayo Clinic- GAD

Psych Central -GAD

Wikipedia- GAD

About.com on GAD
(I liked this site alot)


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-

"PTSD is a medical diagnosis, established in 1980, defining symptoms that last at least a month after experiencing a major trauma. These symptoms include remembering or reliving the trauma when you do not choose to; feeling numb and withdrawn; and, having forms of anxiety that interfere with daily life."
" - source

Mayo Clinic- PTSD

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder DSM-IV™ Diagnosis & Criteria

[url" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posttraumatic_stress_disorder"] Wikipedia- PTSD[/url]

National Institute of Mental Health

Help Guide for PTSD



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-

"Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be a debilitating disorder with the following two anxiety-related essential features: obsessions (undesirable, recurrent, disturbing thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive or ritualized behaviors). "
-source

National Mental Health Association

Understanding OCD

Mayo Clinic on OCD

Epigee.org

Emedicine

anxietybc- on OCD- VERY good site

Treatment of OCD -

BMJ.com on OCD

Surgeon General- OCD



Panic Disorder-
"A panic attack, the core feature of panic disorder, is a period of intense fear or discomfort that strikes suddenly, often in familiar places, where there is seemingly nothing threatening an individual. But when the attack comes, it feels as if there is a real threat, and the body reacts accordingly. The discomfort and sense of danger the attack brings is so intense that people with panic disorder often believe they are having a heart attack or other life-threatening illness."
-American Psychiatric Association

psych central

Mayo Clinic

Google Health


National Alliance of Mental Illness



American Psychological Association on Panic Disorder

Anxietypanic.com

Pshychnet-uk on Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

FamilyDoctor.com on Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia


Agoraphobia-

Mayo Clinic Agoraphobia


I want to note that while we have many links and information above- This threads purpose is to give us a place that we can support each other, share our own stories on anxiety disorders and discuss in an open-minded, sensitive manner how anxiety has impacted our lives and how we work through it.
 
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Florx

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Conquering Panic Attacks

At 16 years old I was blessed with my first panic attack.

It came from nowhere. There isn't a word to describe just HOW unexpected it was.

What is was like, was someone turning on the Fear Tap full open, for no reason at all.

I could be in school, at home, relaxing or at work. There weren't any triggers. It wasn't associated with any event. One moment I'd be chatting or watching a tv show. The next I felt like someone just dropped me off of a 100 story building and I'd be 5 seconds from becoming hamburger; for hours at a time.

More than anything else, it felt like being 3 years old and being lost in a giant store, fully certain that your parents would never find you. And that feeling went on and on for hours; before tapering off.

It took me 2 years, but I beat it. I will never have another panic attack again. It's not that I can't, but I won't. I learned how and worked to redirect (and eventually subdue) the fear wave.

I did it without any help. Not because I'm big and bad; but because I'm all I had to work with. I had friends, they were compassionate but they couldn't help. We all had a fatal flaw.

We were all 16 or thereabouts. We were all completely clueless.

Heck, it was 20 years before I was even able to attach a name to what happened to me.

So here's what I learned in the first 2 years.

1st attack. I'm hanging with my sister and her bf. Out of nowhere, the floodgates open and I am awash in pure senseless terror. Nothing precedes this, no indicators nothing. It's biochemical and it's all mine.

My sister and bf were as dumb as I was, therefore no help. I crawl off to my bed and it's hard because I have entire worlds of activity forming and fleeing around me. They aren't hallucinations, because those have a component of belief or engagement by the victim.

I was separate from what I experienced, even though I felt every atom of it. With effort I could bring the real world into semi-focus but it was hard. It may have been like a vision. I didn't know because I hadn't had one. If it was a vision, it was a pretty crappy one.

After I made it to bed I tried to get a handle on what was happening. I tried to will the Fear away, but the Fear wasn't having any of that. It was like being on the bottom of a filled swimming pool and willing the water away.

Over time I learned that I really couldn't manipulate the fear at all (except right at the end of recovery - more on that later). But there were other facets to this so I tried to make some impact on something, anything.

There was a visual aspect and an audio one. Nothing coherent, no patterns or organization of any kind. Just a kind of environmental cacophony. No presence either, there wasn't anyone/anything with me, to ask what was going on. All of those things, I learned I could change to my benefit.

The first thing I did that worked was to try to put a layer of order on top of my experience. I tried a imagine a static, calm scene. However, a peaceful meadow wasn't going to happen while I was living a hyper-flood.

After trying different things I found I could fly. (While a child I figured out Lucid Dreaming and the beginnings of Astral Travel. Most of my effort was spent trying to fly in my dreams. I haven't a clue if AT is real, but my experiences matched what I later learned about it.)

But flying in crap-land sucked so the first thing that worked was to manufacture clouds. They have Formlessness, which adapts easily to Chaos. If I'm flying, I have an ahead-to-behind motion going on. In short I have some order. That's what this is about. Creating the order that eventually leads to control.

By now hours have past and I've abandoned (not surrendered!) myself to fear. I learned not to strengthen it by by resisting. That (much) later on led to becoming the rock-in-the-stream; by letting the Fear flow around me and not engaging it; the attacks grew shorter and less intense over time. If I fought Fear, it became me and I didn't get better. But that was to come later.

So eight hours later, the ordeal was over enough for me to stumble back to my own house and bedroom. I was exhausted but I thought I was past it all.
Sucker.

Three weeks later I'm outside talking with my sister-in-law and On Comes The Fear Tap. I couldn't even see her anymore. I could hear her fine. She said I didn't look to well. I agreed and said my stomach suddenly hurt and I was going to lay down.

That's when I knew I was in real trouble. It was 2 years of (decreasing) hell.

So fighting Fear never helped, except in one situation. If I was tuned in enough to detect the first second of exposure I could fight it there. I imagined it as a malevolent force streaming around a partially open door that I was forcing shut.

It didn't take me long to realize that my panic events could be trimmed down to 15 or 30 minutes and they weren't all that bad. After 2 years I had developed a hair trigger. It's a fraction of a second between the time that door was coming open and I was nailing it shut with all I had.

That did it. That was the final key. It's decades later and I still have that hair trigger. I will till I die and then some. But I hardly ever use it. Panic Attacks don't dare show themselves, as there's no point to it. No matter how weak I might be, the reaction is automatic. Fear?-> SLAM ->gone. Done and over.

I've met some panic attack survivors who took a more traditional route of counseling and self exploration. While I think that has tremendous value, they didn't achieve my absolute confidence. There's lingering fear of the Fear.

I hope my lingering diatribe helps someone. I always wanted to tell this story but never had the right venue. It'd be terrific is this was the right one.

Thanks from Florx.
 
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ocean

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Well, I envy you Florx for being so certain of your ability to shut a panic attack down :)
The mind is a powerful thing......
When my next panic attack comes I will try to remind myself of that ;)

Thank you for sharing your story <3
 

Dopamine_Cowboy

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I think a separate anxiety thread is a good idea.

While depression comes and goes (for me) anxiety is always close by and getting in my bloody way, and it's been like this since I can remember.

Drugs (illicit and prescribed) keep it at bay but it's clear the real solution lies in acceptance, meditation, mindfulness, existentialist and Tao philosophy and learning how to live a real LIFE again. The pseudo "life" offered by opiates and cocaine is tearing me apart and I can't keep this up for much longer. I've started eating better and working out (sporadically, but working at making it a habit), reducing my binge days and am seeking counselling.

I am prescribed 2mg clonazepam/day and this does help to a degree but I want to reduce my intake and eventually cut benzos out of my life completely.

One step at a time...
 

monchi

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im excited to see a little more focus on this subject, as it is something i have been struggling with for a while now. as i strip away the substances and habits that used to provide a makeshift band-aid, the realness of my anxiety comes more and more to the forefront.

i see a therapist, go to the gym, practice yoga, eat well, get fresh air... and yet this hasn't been enough. i usually only sleep soundly about four nights a week. i have constant butterflies in my stomach. i do not handle stressful situations well, my heart beats rapidly and i can't catch my breath. i often have racing, worried thoughts that i cannot control... you get the picture.

i have just decided to see my gp about all this and she had started me on a very low dose of effexor. i am currently on day two, so i still have a ways to go before i can make my decision. i would really like to hear any other experiences of this drug. i have heard both good and bad.
 

dragonslayer428

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I had my first panic attack at 12. Since then, living with anxiety has been a struggle. I won't hog the thread but just wanted to thank you for making this. It's great to hear other peoples stories etc. I'd tell mine, but It would take up too many pages...lol
 

blazelate

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I've been diagnosed with panic attacks and social anxiety six months ago. It sucks, I get soo anxious in class. Ive been in cognative therapy and seeing a psychiatrist. Psych has been trying prozac and lexapro but they just give me more anxiety and I'm over trying ssris I feel like I have no where to go. I have been given limited ativan, but my doc is fearful of addiction, quite frankly so am I. And now because of all this treatment its making me feel hopeless, and its giving me more anxiety.
 

dragonslayer428

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There IS hope! I had a panic attack last sunday, which was the first one I had in YEARS! Personally, I wouldn't be able to function without an SSRI. I take Paxil and it helps A LOT. I also take clonazepam as needed. I don't worry about addiction. I weaned off the clonazepam once over a 2 month period, lasted a few months without it, then realized, I should have them as an 'as needed' basis. Sometimes it comes down to, having a pill available to take to calm me down, or take me to the ER. I prefer the 'pill' route...lol

How does CBT work for you? I am interested in trying it.
 

RedRum OG

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i have generalzied anxiety disorder. its terrible torture. i can have a panic attack about nothing. i cant control it. i hyperventilate and get aggressive and lose control. any doctor medicine makes it worse. marijuana and opiates are lifesavers.
 

monchi

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^^i do cognitive behavioral therapy and i find it really helpful in establishing new patterns and gaining some control over my life.

for me, anxiety sometimes occurs when i feel that things are out of my control. all sorts of "what ifs?" and worst possible scenarios build in my mind, and formless worry begins to take over. CBT helps you take a practical response to these types of situations, working out scenarios and helping you find solutions. if i enter a session with a particular concern, i usually leave with a concrete plan to manage the situation, and i am reminded that i have some power.

im not sure how if its helped me manage spontaneous panicky situations. its more about learning how to form better habits and approaches.

its definitely worth a try.
 

BIGsherm7272

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You should also list depersonalization and derealization, they are both anxiety-related and a bitch to deal with......I personally have them myself, sucks feeling like my brain and mind are going to be this way for life, all I do is obsess and worry, which increases my anxiety even more.....its a vicious cycle.
 

monkyfunky

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You should also list depersonalization and derealization, they are both anxiety-related and a bitch to deal with......I personally have them myself, sucks feeling like my brain and mind are going to be this way for life, all I do is obsess and worry, which increases my anxiety even more.....its a vicious cycle.
You sound so like me.

Isn't derealisation such a difficult thing to live with? I have it pretty much 24/7, although it is fairly low level if I am on my own in the house. It is triggered mainly by environments and who I am with, such a supermarkets or having a formal with people I do not know well.

I obsess constantly that it will not ever go away, and my biggest fear is that it is caused by permanent brain damage from drugs.
 

monkyfunky

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^^i do cognitive behavioral therapy and i find it really helpful in establishing new patterns and gaining some control over my life.

for me, anxiety sometimes occurs when i feel that things are out of my control. all sorts of "what ifs?" and worst possible scenarios build in my mind, and formless worry begins to take over. CBT helps you take a practical response to these types of situations, working out scenarios and helping you find solutions. if i enter a session with a particular concern, i usually leave with a concrete plan to manage the situation, and i am reminded that i have some power.

im not sure how if its helped me manage spontaneous panicky situations. its more about learning how to form better habits and approaches.

its definitely worth a try.
CBT is definitely a very powerful tool. Reading your post though, I couldn't help thinking that the ultimate aim for you would be to try and let of go of the need for control, rather than trying to mould everything to meet your control "criteria".
 

somethinghelp

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Big anxiety problem over here. Currently taking Ativan and Lexapro. It's the worrying kind where you can't sleep right at night and u start smoking like a train wich prob makes it worse. I have been getting better but I pray that I don't get this again because I have been through HELL!! and I hope that the Ativan doesn't stick to my brain too hard.
 

Sykoknot

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Anxiety for me comes in the form of severe OCD episodes, and shortly following is an episode of depression usually. They seem to occur together in me, but are definitely very different in nature. I would honestly take depression over OCD. Fear/Anxiety is the worst emotion I have ever felt.

A tip for anyone suffering from Anxiety, use cognitive thinking, does wonders for me.
 

somethinghelp

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I have been getting depression mixed with anxiety mixed with moodswing disorder (diagnosed) (untreated) along with cannabis withdrawal and insomnia, confusion, suicidal thoughts. I thank God that I am feeling much better. And I'm not talking about the depression where u can cry. I'm talking about the one that you can't even cry most of the day but my brain feels stuck as far as the production of happy chems is concerned. What a living hell.
 

dilated_pupils

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Good to see you got the thread together nicely ocean. If you need any help with anything let me know, I got a plethora of information stored in my head and a wealth of links as well.

Not to mention many years of personal experience with anxiety/OCD.

I want to mention to you all that I have found meditation to help me greatly. It has dissipated my OCD mindset so much and turned it into a much more positive aspect on life that my anxiety cleared up literally over night after a very intuitive meditation session. If anyone wants/needs any information on meditation just send me a PM. I'd be willing to write some basic stuff up for the thread as well if needed.

-dp
 

Sykoknot

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^^i do cognitive behavioral therapy and i find it really helpful in establishing new patterns and gaining some control over my life.

for me, anxiety sometimes occurs when i feel that things are out of my control. all sorts of "what ifs?" and worst possible scenarios build in my mind, and formless worry begins to take over. CBT helps you take a practical response to these types of situations, working out scenarios and helping you find solutions. if i enter a session with a particular concern, i usually leave with a concrete plan to manage the situation, and i am reminded that i have some power.

im not sure how if its helped me manage spontaneous panicky situations. its more about learning how to form better habits and approaches.

its definitely worth a try.
I self treat with CBT. It is an amazing therapy.
 

Mariposa

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CBT really is the gold standard for learning to manage anxiety. I wish it cut it on its own for me. I require low-dose daily benzodiazepine therapy in addition.

Florx, your situation started a lot like mine only I was 19 and cooking dinner when my first panic attack hit out of nowhere. Luckily I had by then taken 2 semesters of abnormal psychology, and recognized it fairly rapidly for what it was once the initial "OMFG, I am going to die" feeling passed. Your story is amazing, I hope you follow up on it and continue to contribute!

I laid down on the couch, it passed without incident, and I then went to a psychiatrist a week or so later, where I got my diagnosis. Here I am, 10 years later, with GAD and mild-moderate depression as well. The weird part is that in general I am not a fearful or timid person. Others in my family have panic disorder, though none to the degree that I do (and neither of my parents had/have it). Schizophrenia/OCD/alcohol/drug addiction run on my mother's side, and depression and alcohol/drug addiction on my father's.

My panic attacks generally come with triggers (driving/transport is far and away the biggest offender, crowds a close second, and I avoid both to the point where it is really starting to interfere with life) which I am beginning to be able to manage better. I switched from clonazepam to diazepam as a maintenance medication, and I have alprazolam as needed for "breakthrough anxiety". My current psych doesn't seem to care if I am/become addicted to benzos. I have been on and off them for the entire time I've been diagnosed and I am WAY better on them. They do provide a sort of "instant gratification" that itself can be addictive. I am surprisingly functional even given the above though I have a long way to go before my mind and life are where I want them to be.

I may start on Lexapro soon at my psych's urging; the samples are sitting there waiting to be taken. I took it for 2 days in the past (likewise with other SSRIs) and found the side effects worse. My psych told me to stick it out this time; that it will pay off. I am still researching and debating this. I do not like the idea of altering my neurochemistry that way.

I get visuals, depersonalization, and to a lesser degree, derealization during panic attacks themselves (not otherwise) which is why I am developing this annoying agoraphobic component. Even though I don't pass out, I feel like I am going to, and that if I do so in a public place that I will be embarrassed or people will think I had a heart attack or something. Now that I am on a steady dose of diazepam that seems to agree with me, I feel myself coming out of that and took long train/bus rides twice in the last two days in addition to driving today. It sucks to miss events and not be able to see friends because of this, as staying busy has been the best cure for my depression ever!

I also get very nauseous from some/most panic attacks which in turn makes me more afraid of being in situations I can't control. Monchi, I don't think what you've described makes you a control freak. When your body's "internal warning system" is misfiring badly, you instinctively want to retreat and protect yourself. The human body/brain, let's remember, did not evolve with a busy, stressful modern world full of speed and technology in mind. It evolved so we could escape threats. Looking at anxiety and panic as adaptive mechanisms has helped me a lot.

I kind of wonder if I will ever be "cured" and my life has taken some pretty big hits because of my panic disorder in particular. At times I have used alcohol to self-medicate, which only made things worse overall. I don't do that really anymore (haven't drank in several days due to being ill w/stomach bug, and I'm hoping it's the start of long-term abstinence).

Until that magical treatment or strength of character comes along, I try to approach and manage my anxiety in conjunction with my psych and the CBT treatments I have learned over the years, in addition to my own little "tricks" that would probably sound silly to anyone else. Yes, I've meditated, done yoga, studied Eastern philosophy and a slew of other things that to varying degrees have gotten through. None so much as that half of that little green wafer twice a day in the long term, though I do not advocate long-term benzodiazepine treatment without the very close supervision of a doctor.

tl;dr - there is hope and we can't lose sight of that. Panic disorder is a treatable medical condition, so if you think you might have it, talk to a competent psychiatrist or psychologist. Your GP/family doctor may not be experienced enough in the treatment of the condition to do more than what they are trained - prescribe a friggin' SSRI (sorry, this is a personal pet peeve).

:)
 
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