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gonzalezed posted:
As I was reading through some of the posts I felt as if my soul was lifted. At one point in time I thought I was the only one with these horrifying symtoms. Having anxiety and panic attacks is the worst thing in the world, indescribable. No one will understand what it is to have that terrifiying feeling, unless you experience it. I'm 21 years old, and currently a Physics major, and minor in Math and Psychology. I tried doing tons of research in search of a cure or an explanation as to why this happened to me. I was a nearly perfect young man, straight A's in school, played baseball, had a great family, and even worked really hard all throughtout highschool. It wasn't until the 11th grade when out of know were in the middle of a presentation my mind went blank, all I could think of doing was running out of the room. I couldn't speak, breath, or even collect my thoughts. At that point I did not know what was going on. Eventually I made it to college where things got worse, and I finally made a desicion to see a psychiatrist. Right away I was instructed to take several medications. It took some time along with trial and error to get the dossage right, but things got better. They went away, but then the side effects began. I had terrible mood swings, developed elavated levels of euphoria where I thought I knew all the answers to the world, had racing thoughts, and couldn't sleep. So as a counter to these side effects I was given a mood stabilizer, then SSRI, then another drug to help with nervousness. Now after 3 years in college and extensive research, I wish I could have had better alternatives or at least could have been suggested better alternatives than to just take these drugs. I hate feeling like a lab rat, not able to stop taking the medication. Even if I am weaned off of the drugs, there is a risk that the symtoms may return and if I get back on them I would probably need stronger dossages of them. I do not want to take these medications for the rest of my life. I go to therapy once a week, and I do not see any progress. Its not like a cold, or broken ancle that over a period of time through medicine and therapy will heal, this is an ongoing struggle. Does anyone have any ideas or alternatives that are out there?
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Patricia Farrell, PhD responded:
It sounds like things had been pretty good and then all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, things changed. Unfortunately, one thing that we know for sure is that there is still a great deal that needs to be learned about how the brain functions and where this type of anxiety and panic may originate. One theory that has been proposed is that there is a brain chemical which, somehow, initiates the anxiety and panic, but just what starts this is not known.


I am not an M.D., but I can see that you were placed on a number of medications which caused some disturbing side effects. I'm not sure whether or not you were evaluated by a psychologist in order to arrive at a definitive diagnosis, but that still might be a good idea. You indicated that you are in therapy, but I don't know if this person is qualified to do this type of evaluation. You might discuss this because it could be helpful in your treatment plan.


What you did experience in that presentation room and your feelings are characteristic of a panic attack. I know of one, extremely well-known woman, who once described exactly what you had experienced in her experience while on a vacation abroad. She, too, was both frightened and confused by what was happening and did go into cognitive therapy and, for a time, required some medication.


Many different modalities are now being used to help people with both anxiety and depression and one thing which we have come to realize is the value of regular exercise. The muscles, aside from providing our bodies with mobility, also seem to function in a way as glands. They produce substances which can moderate our stress level and our mood. You might want to discuss this with your therapist, also.


Dr. Farrell


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