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Author Topic: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?  (Read 260 times)

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Offline agonisingsoul

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Here we go again. Me and my disease. This process seems to be never ending and I wonder if it really is. I have lost perception of time, it seems that time is stuck at this very moment for the last 34 years. I canít remember how it is to be happy. I donít think happiness exists. When other people look happy I tend to believe that they are faking it somehow. In any case, seeing them gives me a feeling of distress and jealousy. Yes, not only am I jealous but I too wish that they soon suffer from the same thing.

I canít live like this anymore. This is the most absurd disease ever. And the most self-referential. What do I really suffer from? All I feel is a constant fear and depression. Both for the same reason. That I will be ill for the rest of my life, and this will debilitate me, not allow me to live normally and rob me any chance of happiness. But what illness will I be suffering from the rest of my life? This. The constant fear and depression. But for what? This cycle.. How can I break it. Why doesnít anything I do improve it?

If I knew that this would last 1, 2, even 6 months, I could take it. But I donít know this. Even if I have some bright moments sometimes, these are not enough to keep me going.

What did I do wrong in my life? Where did things take the bad turn? Apart from losing my father at 10 (I know it is not a small thing, but I refuse to attribute my current situation to this), I had a happy childhood. None raped me, nor abused nor beat me. On the contrary, I received a lot of love, attention, had happy holidays, experiences, trips.

Why was I able to get over this the first time it happened, without medication? I was only 22, much more immature and inexperienced. I should be able to deal with it better now, 12 years later. But it seems that I canít. Every time I am quitting medication, same thing happens. There is a slow downwards progress. Initially I feel fine, and get over the occasional blues. Some non-severe panic attacks happen, but I say that I will train myself to deal with those too. After, more depression comes. Depression comes in waves, throughout the day I might feel blue for sometime and then be fine. Slowly, within weeks, it becomes more severe. This time, I had some full blown panic attacks, which led me to be have panic symptoms the whole day. I did not sleep for 6 days. I feel asleep and after a few minutes my body was awaken by my own sudden shake. This lasts throughout the whole night. Every night. For 6 days. I am not sure, but I might have had panic attacks in my sleep, waking me up in this violent way.

I then start to feel completely restless, being throughout the day in a constant panic attack. I donít have the usual feelings that come and go. I am like this constantly, for hours, even days. My body is tense, my jaw is in pain, my throat has a lump, my heart is pounding (although not going fast, just pounding loudly). The worst is the mental feeling. I donít feel I am going crazy or anything like that anymore. But I feel that I canít take it anymore. And I donít know what it is to take. My brain is working slowly, there is something that prevents me having the clear vision of things around me. My brain is numb and I seem not to be able to concentrate on anything. All I am having is these repetitive thoughts. That bring me to the edge. And I canít stop them, as if they have occupied my brain and are there to stay. They say, you are ill, and you will be ill for the rest of your life. Forget the things you have dreamed about. You wonít get them. You wonít have a boyfriend, you wonít have a job, you wonít have children, and maybe for the best. Why should children suffer because of you? If you canít take 4 months without medication, how will you manage the 9 necessary months? And how will you be able to take care of them, if you canít take care of yourself?

I am not sure it is a panic attack either, other than the feeling I have is so intensively scary. I donít know what I feel exactly, which is really frustrating. I feel stressed, I feel depressed, I feel uncontrollable, tired, scared to death, unworthy. No, I donít get into that trap, saying that I feel unworthy of anything that life has to offer me. Because I know my value, somehow in all this mess I can still feel my value and appreciate the things I have done. I have studied, worked at the university, did my mastersí degree, worked in various academic projects and now finishing my PhD thesis. I lived in 4 different countries, had 5 long term relationships where I received probably more feelings than any other people and made friends that I love and they love me too.

But I still feel worthless, for not being able to get out of this absurdness. Because it is absurd. Nothing is stopping me from conquering the world, still, my own self is creating this great trap. And I feel guilty for not being able to control and get over it.

I think about my grandmother and people of those times. How on earth did they face life and all the misery that came with it at those times? Illnesses, poverty, wars. How were they strong for this? Why the only thing I want to do is stay in my bed, why do I feel small, fearful and unmotivated? Where has my bloody motivation gone? Is depression like this, or is this a symptom of my anxiety syndrome?

I feel that people complain a lot these days, especially about the blues. We all get the occasional blues. The problem with depression is that it is never clear to which extent each person is depressed. A doctor, as good as he might be, can never objectively estimate the problem. All he can do is feel and hear the suffering within the person and measure his level of functionality. Yet, there are people who are depressed and still highly functional (has anyone ever given them an award?). I consider myself one of those. Being on the verge of collapsing, I did a 12 hour trip (2 airplanes) and came to a foreign country to work on and submit my PhD thesis. So, here I am, at this city, forcing myself to go to the university, to work on the document. I feed myself by force too and sometimes throw up. I force myself to get out of the house, because I know that it is not healthy to stay in. I force myself to see some of my friends. I pretend I am fine and just feeling a bit stressed. But inside, I am melting. I force myself to concentrate on our conversations, force myself to respond, act normal. So that I feel normal, functional and so that when I go home I have something to remember, a feat that I achieved besides my condition. I am not sure if this is therapeutic. Because the next day I have to face the same all over again and I donít see any great improvement. Or maybe it is too little to notice in one day, but I am so desperate that I ignore it.

Medication (Escitalopram/Lexapro in even small doses like 7.5 mg) definitely works on me. But with its toll. I gain weight and I still feel that I have just patched the symptoms and not the problem, feeling still some small-scale occasional symptoms of depression because of this. But then, is it organic? If it is, why do I still feel responsible for it? Why do all these people benefit from the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and I did not? And why does this therapy even exist then if it is a purely organic problem?

I started medication 10 days ago again. I got really scared of my condition. Initially I was resisting. I said, once more, I will battle this. And I kept getting worse, day by day. And even then I was saying I will beat this. Until I got really scared about the trip and the consequences of not being able to make it. No real external consequences, but I would feel much worse if did not take it, I would feel that the disease had beaten me and kept me from going. So I took the medication and after 5 days I cut it in half, thinking still that I could beat it. And today I felt worse. So I augmented again to the full dose.

It is not clear what it is for me, it is such a strong mix of anxiety, worries and depression that it is impossible to distinguish what brings what. And that frustrates me because I donít know how to handle it. If I assume that it is anxiety and generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder, then I would focus on breaking the cycle of fear/worries. And I sometimes do, trying to think of the nature of the problem, which is self referential and that in reality it is a big nothing. But then the feeling of depression hits in. And it brings me down, with an absolute apathy for anything. I have a boyfriend, a lot of potential, I am healthy, I have some financial background to sustain me, I have people that love me and surround me, a good academic background. And still, nothing is able to bring my perspective close to the truth. I recognise all this as the objective truth, but I am so self absorbed by this that I canít get any satisfaction by the above. And I feel I should be grateful and this is provoking me even more depression. I am afraid I am slowly shutting down.

I need to get out of my brain. I really want it to slow down, stop repeating itself. This thought process is so stuck to the same things that it is wearing me out. It goes like this, I feel ill, I feel weak, I feel scared, I feel depressed, what is happening to me, is it going away, I will be like this all my life, last times I ended up getting beaten, taking medication, I have officially a disease, I canít accept I have a mental illness, I will be stigmatised, I will never get a boyfriend and have a family, I will always be suffering the consequences at my work, I will be burdening my family a whole life with my problem. Why not just get over with it now?

If I could just for say half of the day feel normal and have the normal thought process, e.g. what to eat, where to go tonight, think of my past holidays with my boyfriend, calmly read a book and be able process it, then I would be happy. I would be happy to see that my mind can get unstuck at least some time and function properly. But it is refusing to do so even for small periods of times nowadays. Which is really worrying.

Of course, while at this state, comforting as it may sound (not because I really want to die but because I want to rest, get out of this agony), I do not really consider harming myself. I know that I just have to hang on and wait for the medication to act. Still, medication of these days has not convinced me that humanity has done its best for my case (or similar ones). Having read about anxiety disorders and depression, I realise that medicine is not even aware of the exact brain spots that are dysfunctional in each case. How many times have I desired from the bottom of my heart for a brain scan to be able to tell me and the rest of the people who know me and hear me complain all these years, that there is something terribly wrong with my brain. How many times have I wished for a blood test detecting the exact nature of my disease existed. I want to believe that till the end of my life, progress will have been made and that I will die knowing what I suffered from all these years.
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Offline Nala1991

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2014, 06:01:29 PM »
I feel very similar to you.
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Offline agonisingsoul

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2014, 06:24:03 PM »
13th day of medication and I suddenly felt better. But a lot better, like my old self. I was initially afraid it was a temporary thing that would fast throw me again into the same foggy situation after a few minutes but it didn't. I kept waiting for it and I remained well.

My brain was finally clear, I concentrated on the things I was doing, I actually enjoyed a lot the things I did. No fear (other than the fear of losing the feeling), no repetitive thoughts. I felt positivity and thought that I might have a normal life again after all. This happiness, after such a long time, cannot be described with words. Happiness for realising that the elements I consist of are still there. The relatively sane way of thinking, without repetitive cycles all day long. I feel there is hope..
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Offline samir87

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2014, 07:48:31 PM »
Hi agonisingsoul,

I feel your pain. i am in the same situation as you are but maybe not as severe. I come from a great family with lots of support from family and friends. have a great career and with a great educational background, I am financially stable and have achieved major things that alot of 26 year olds havent achieved till this day.

I have worked on somehow managing my generalised anxiety and panic attacks without medication at the start of the symptoms and 4 months later I have givenn into medication. A day couldnt pass by without my brain functioning normally or sub-consciously being worried about another panic or anxiety attack. Mind due ive only been facing this disease since i came back from my holiday in february and since then things have gone down hill.

I face a knee problem and a back problem that has stopped me from attending to hobbies I enjoy like playing football and weight lifitng. I havent slept for the past two weeks due to neck pain rushing down my shoulders and arms all night long. i am afraid of taking NSAID medication fearing that it might interact with my AD meds (Zoloft). Not getting any sleep at night is making me feel very depressed and angry in the morning. I get overwhelmed with fear knowing that the doctors cant determine what is the source of my pain. I have done blood tests, scans, you name it and it all came up as clear. It's very frustrating and thoughts rush through my head thinking what if i have some odd disease that doesnt have a cure, a disease that will stop me from being a normal human again, a disease that would require my parents full care and attention for the rest of my life. It's very tormenting...

Been on 25 mg of zoloft since 5 days ago. Yesterday I felt something change. My mood stabilized, i felt contempt and i felt that my neck pain subsided like it didnt exist. but then later that afternoon i felt the effect of zoloft subsiding and i had an appointment with my psychologist which somehow triggered my anxiety again bringing up my issues and fears. I am surprised with the fact that zoloft started working after only 5 days even though it says effects will start to be noticed at 4-6 weeks, or it might only be a placebo effect.

Never the less, it still gives me hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But in saying that i am still scared... All i ask for is to live a normal life. Someday i want to get married and have kids but this anxiety and fear seems to paralyse me...

Agonisingsoul, please keep sharing your thoughts and experiences and I would do the same. It's somehow comforting knowing you're not the only one in this world facing these problems. In saying that I do hope and will pray for you to get better and always remember you're not alone.
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Offline Nala1991

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 08:09:50 PM »
So happy to hear u guys are doing better. It gives me hope i can feel better again.
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Offline agonisingsoul

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2014, 04:38:25 AM »
Hi Nala1991

I try to see it this way and be strict with myself. Unfortunately I have some illness, serious or not, I cannot be sure. However, this is it, it is reality and there is no easy escape from it (it is a very tricky thing and happens to me many times, but I feel that this is not reality and that it is just a bad dream that will somehow pass). Therefore, I have to do everything possible to get myself better. Whatever this implies. As a friend of mine said, one has to use all means, all possible therapies, all vias to be able to say that he/she tried before he/she failed. Otherwise there is no excuse.

I hope you too feel better soon
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Offline agonisingsoul

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2014, 04:59:54 AM »
Hi samir87

I always get into this trap too. After I stop medication I am fine for sometime and then I start to fall, pretty fast.

I have been on a moderate medication (Escitalopram/Lexapro 5-10mg depending on the period of my life) for about 10 years. I never had problems with withdrawal effects when quitting, as I did it very gradually, over many months. However, I start noticing that below 5mg I start feeling heavier, lower mood and less motivated. Funnily enough, with that dose I don't have anxiety symptoms, it mostly manifests as moderate depression.

I quit medication 2 times (my last time was too in February). Both times I was fine in the first or second month, with some occasional moderate panic attacks and bad moods. Then it suddenly hits me one day, I have a major crisis and my brain gets stuck in these repetitive thoughts (what is happening to me, I am ill, I can't continue living, I don't know what's happening to me, I can't reach my goals, not even the simplest ones like going to the super market, I am terrified of life, what is wrong with my brain, I will be dependent on others for the rest of my life...). From that moment on, it doesn't stop. Initially I say I will fight it, and try to apply the techniques I learned at the CBT, meditation but I soon get tired as it is so dominating. About 1-2 weeks later depression starts to hit me. And it gets worse, to the point that I don't want to get off my bed, knowing how the day will be. I am not sure if depression is primary or secondary in this case, but it is probably even more scary than the anxiety itself. Anyhow, this is when I start taking medication because of my desperation to feel better.

Today I woke up having the same feelings of anxiety and fear, as if yesterday's wonder had not happened. I attribute this to the fact that medication is not properly working yet. I forced myself out of bed and decided to wait and see what happens (not that there is any alternative, right?).

What I can say to you from my personal experience is that medicine in most cases works wonders. I am not sure if you can feel the change so soon (they say 2 weeks min) or if it is the placebo effect. But it will definitely soon lift some of your symptoms and you will be able to feel your old self again.

However it comes with a toll. You forget about the disease and you might overestimate yourself and your capabilities, often getting yourself in stressful situations, thinking that you can handle this and that you are above the disease. And that might make you vulnerable to it in the future.

Also, we should be aware that medication only covers up the symptoms but it does not really cure it. I somehow feel bad about this and guilty sometimes for choosing the easy path instead of fighting it with alternative means.
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Offline worldbeat99

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2014, 02:03:02 AM »
Agonizing, that's great you've been feeling better with meds.  Why not stick with them?  I've been on prozac and lithiium for 20 years for bipolar and had no problem.  And I look at psych meds in a different way.  I find they can allow me to be my true self.  I don't worry about whether the meds cure me or
just help with symptoms.  If they allow me to feel much more myself -- that's all that matters.

More recently, I developed GAD.  Buspar didn't help but klonopin is great for me.

I also do yoga, buddhist chanting, affirmations, meetup groups.  I figure my happiness is worth fighting for.  I am my best cheerleader.
And I have friends who love me.  At the end of the day, my only questions are:  Was it a good day?  Was I happy?  Did I love some of the
people I met?  Did I do something that was meaningful to me? Do I have hope for the next day? How can I be better tomorrow?
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Offline agonisingsoul

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2014, 01:52:10 PM »
Hi wordbeat99

I guess you are right. I just still find the idea that I have to take medication difficult. It is the confirmation that there is something wrong with me. And I am not 100% willing to accept it I guess.

Today I paid a visit to a psychiatrist. He suggested I took some Pregabalin on top of the Escitalopram/Lexapro I am taking. It made me feel twice as bad.

I told him that this confirms that I am ill. His answer was that I should not see it this way (not very reassuring, right?).
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Offline 2sungo

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2014, 02:41:43 PM »
Hi Agonizing,
I can relate to a lot of what you said, when I first got sick I was also doing my doctoral degree, and life was good till it hit at 31.  I had a lot of trouble accepting the need for medication, after all I never used any illegal drugs before so why do I get stuck needing mind altering medications?  But in the end, you need to do what helps you live your life to its best potential, and if that means medication for what is, in my opinion, a genetic vulnerability, then so be it.  I have also dropped the medications down to low levels when feeling well, and gotten away with it, only tried going off a couple of times but got back on right away when I felt not quite right a few months later.  Think of it this way, if you had diabetes, would you feel bad about taking insulin?  The brain is an organ like any other, and sometimes it malfunctions and its NOT our fault that it does.  We are not weak, we didn't do anything to deserve it, but it happens anyway.  One time I asked my therapist "why me", she said "why not you?".  Its true, bad things can happen randomly to good people, this is our cross to bear, other folks get other things.  Our condition may seem so nonsensical and it is in a way, but it feels very real, and its painful, I try to explain it to others as its like having cancer without the cancer.  Same stress, depression, what ifs, etc., just no obvious reason in most cases (though external stresses can activate those anxiety/depression genes most likely, but sometimes it just happens without obvious cause).  If medication works well for you then you are one step ahead of the game, at least you have an answer you can rely on.  In my case the medication didn't work as well as before, but I am working on it with my pdoc, and I will get there eventually, I've had great luck before.  In any case, don't feel guilty about taking the "easy" path with meds, it really isn't so easy at all.  I think that others who successfully use other means without medication may have differing degrees of anxiety/panic/depression, and there is no guarantee that they wont need medication at some point later in life if it returns as it often does.  Whatever works best for each individual is what they should do, but I can never say that meds are an easy fix for this, after all they often have side effects that are annoying at best and getting up to an effective dosage is often difficult due to increased anxiety, etc.  Plus therapy is still helpful even with the meds, after all this is a traumatic experience for most of us, I consider it a form of post traumatic stress in a way, especially panic attacks and generalized anxiety--after all isn't this what happens to people who have been exposed to some horrible war event or whatever, in our case its just our messed up brain doing it, but still our brain searches for a "reason" for the distressful anxiety feelings, when there is no reason to be found in many cases other than in our DNA.  Even when a stressful event brings it on, most of us can recall dealing with equally stressful or worse things before it happened without getting ill over it.  So if it has to be "better living through chemistry" so be it, we don't get to choose our crosses to bear, we can only try our best to deal with it effectively.
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Offline agonisingsoul

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2014, 03:04:47 PM »
Hi 2sungo,

You couldn't have said it better. Thank you for your reassuring words. After 12 years I am in the process of accepting it. This time I think was the one to make me take some things a bit more seriously and try to really get in terms with it.

Indeed I had the luck to be responsive to medication and be able to complete my doctoral degree, work, live in various countries, have fulfilling relationships and friends around me.

Just to make a small remark. Unfortunately I did take some mind altering drugs in my early 20s. I guess I will never find out whether these activated my condition, but I am suspecting they could have.

Good luck with your recovery too.
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Offline lfiasche

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2014, 11:18:00 AM »
Agonisingsoul I see so many similarities in our stories ! Just proof that your not the only one I guess. Although we certainly feel that way sometimes. I took a ssri for years and last year titrated off because I wanted to try it without them. Between a hellacious winter and other life changing events I slowly slid backwards into depression and anxiety....worse than ever.
I now am back on Prozac ..and its been one hell of a battle to get here...I still have some anxiety issues...but I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I was a few months ago. I would probably be even better if I wasn't so reluctant to take the Xanax. Trying to be better about that. Just stubborn I guess.
Im trying to live the rest of my life to the fullest, and if it takes meds to get there..so be it...

Cheers to all
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Offline agonisingsoul

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Re: generalised anxiety syndrome, panic disorder or depression?
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2014, 02:55:32 PM »
Hi lfiasche,

I am also reluctant to take benzodiazepines. I am also reluctant to increase the dosage of Lexapro to 15mg. It sort of gives me the feeling that the more things I take, the more ill I am (the psychiatrist that I visited the other day was very against this idea, but I can't help it).

I think this time it has been a great lesson for me. And time to accept and learn to live with it.

Thanks for your encouragement

A quick update: The bright moments I had the previous days did not last long. Day 18 of medication and I don't feel good. Although the panic attacks have stopped, anxiety is still there and depression is even deeper. Before, I used to feel better in the evening/night but now the night arrives and I am still depressed. Bed is calling me all the time and I can't think anything else than my "problem".
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