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Answerplz42 posted:
Before I start I feel like everyone needs a little background information...for 3 years I was treated for bipolar disorder with various drugs and sparse visits to my psychiatrist (he saw me every 6-8 months). So many pills later I finally went into a "daze" that lasted 4 days and took too many xanax (took a dose early...forgot...took another). This was NOT a suicide (I know it totally sounds like I am lying but w/e) attempt but for precautionary reasons I went to the hospital where I was treated like a suicide case. My attending psychiatrist saw the drug cocktail I was on and listened to me very closely...after consulting with 2 other professionals he said he felt we were dealing with severe anxiety and not bipolar disorder. His plan was to treat me with a low-dose antidepressant and maybe ativan PRN. This was a year ago exactly btw. This plan sounded fine and perfectly reasonable to me given that my symptoms were those of chronic anxiety and not bipolar. However, my mother (I am 23 so she is still looking over my shoulder) felt that mental health and medications were all a bunch of bologna and demanded that I "snap out of it" and insisted that she knew me better than anybody and I was fine and didn't need help...whatever helps you sleep at night mom. I went from 6 medications a day (grant it I didn't need most of them) to NOTHING within a week! Because I was/am still on my parents insurance I was pretty much at their mercy and getting mental health treatment was no longer an option.

For the past year the "feeling" I get when I feel stressed has started creeping back. In the last month, my everyday activities have become difficult to deal with...just needing to clean the house sends that stomach ache and I also get this "buzzing" in my head. My sleep has gone downhill and I just feel like a basket case. Small things that are of no consequence to other people really stress me out. I am in the process of transitioning from one job (case manager in mental health...how ironic) to another (government job OUTSIDE of mental health) and I am grateful this is my last week and I am leaving my agency b/c at the rate I have been calling in I would be fired soon. I am taking a few days off this week to see my parents but they stress me out. I start my new job the 19th and it is the beginning of a very promising career if I can just get it together. I will be on the insurance with my new agency and can once again seek mental health care soon but until then...what can I do to relieve my anxiety and stress...here are my symptoms...any advice or tips would be wonderful! Note: I have had a full physical recently/lab work-up and have no general health problems that these could be related to.
-headaches
-backaches
-stomach ache
-"buzzing" in my head
-rapid heartbeat
-shortness of breath
-feeling worthless/pathetic for not being able to handle what is "everyday life" for most people

Again, I will be able to get help soon but until then I don't have the $ to pay out of pocket for a doctor visit and meds. Also after my experience a year ago I am honestly a little reluctant to go back on medication so I am looking for something low-dose with minimal side effects. Any advice is appreciated!
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MissCaptainKirk responded:
My goodness, I remember how it was to not be on medication and have this depression/anxiety. Granted mine is still pretty bad but that just has to do with my life situation. Which I think may be one of the main causes for your anxiety too.

It sounds like your parents are passive-agressive controlling people. Why in the world would you make your child, regardless of age, not take the medicine they need?
I'm really glad you're getting your own insurance. I think what will help your stress a lot is if you distance yourself from your parents. They may react in anger or act like they're hurt, but it would be best for you.

As for normal every-day life, what do you do besides work? Do you get to do things you enjoy or that relax you at all? When I was younger I did yoga which not only lets you make nice friends but teaches you how to control your breathing and calm your mind. I wish I still could go! I think it would be really good for you. You definitely have extreme anxiety.

Please hang in there dear and keep posting! <3
 
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
I'm not an M.D., and I really can't diagnose anyone I haven't seen face-to-face. Although the symptoms that you have outlined here certainly could be those of anxiety, they may also be a result of or have been compounded by all of the medications that you had been taking. Although everyone seems to think that medication clears the body very quickly, we know this is not the case and that sometimes it can take 6 to 8 months for things to begin to readjust to a more normal level. Some medications are stored in the body fat and gradually are released out into the bloodstream. Some medications cause changes in the synapse in the nervous system and these tiny structures need to re-orient themselves to being without the medication and this can take time.


If you look in the PDR (Physicians Desk Reference) for the medications you were taking, I'm sure that you will see some of the symptoms that you're having now listed there as side effects. This is not unusual, but certainly it is not helpful for anyone who is trying to feel better and, perhaps, doesn't need medication. Remember, in psychiatry diagnosis is by symptoms and it is an opinion of the person who is evaluating you which may not be shared by other medical professionals who may evaluate you. Therefore, it is really based on opinion. Often, since psychiatric problems run in families, if your family does not have a history of depression or bipolar disorder, you may have been misdiagnosed, but we don't really know.


It's wonderful that you have gotten a new career opportunity which will provide you with a more enjoyable work situation with benefits and I know you are looking forward to it. Yes, it will not be as stressful as mental health and that is a major plus for anyone.


Since you indicate that you would prefer not to take medication and that you do not have money for healthcare right now, perhaps you might want to consider utilizing some self-help techniques and I would suggest that you look at our Tips column. Some of the things there can be extremely helpful, especially the relaxation breathing (we have a video) and mild exercise. The 2 of these together can be more helpful than you would ever know. I had a young man tell me recently, after I had suggested relaxation breathing, he found it to be almost "magic" and he really didn't understand how it works but it worked wonderfully for him. Yes he has a great deal of anxiety primarily brought on by his demanding job. Now he finds that he is much more capable of helping himself to deal with whatever the day brings.


So, try these techniques and use them on a regular basis, keeping a log of when you begin, when you do them and what your mood is like. I think that within a period of 2 weeks you will begin to see real change. Please do not neglect mild exercise because it can be, in some cases, almost as helpful as some medications.


Have a wonderful new job experience and may things continue to improve for you.


Dr. Farrell


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