Panic usually begins with a barrage of physical symptoms. From my understanding (I suggest you do your own research), panic can have psychological as well as physical roots. The brain is the most complex organ in your body and is very difficult for researchers to study/understand. As the panic sxs worsen, the psychological manifestations rear their ugly heads - such as agoraphobia - basically fear of having another panic attack, and things like anticipatory anxiety. Having suffered from this for the last 40 years, I am still perplexed as to why researchers haven't found good 'answers' and even 'cures' for this problem. Panic can also be preceded by factors such as being "on guard" for long periods of time. But it seems everyone's experiences are all a little different. Because the panic/anxiety is filled with physical symptoms, I have long thought that panic should be treated by neurologists ('brain doc's') rather than psychiatrists. And that this whole confusing cluster of symptoms should be given another name, such as "Smith's Syndrome", as the word 'panic' is so misperceived by others and used so lightly, and to describe other problems. (I ran across a book once called 'Panic in the Pantry' - a kind of food cookbook, describing people 'panicking' when they couldn't find just the right spice - ridiculous.
I'm anticipating my psychiatrist wanting to take me off clonazepam after 25 yrs, and therefore am back on this site. People join online support groups for answers, and for this problem, once they get on a medication and find something that helps, they don't want to think about it anymore, just go on with their life, so they stop the online search for answers. Again, read The Anxiety Disease, and Dr. Claire Weekes' books. They have been the most helpful to me all these years. And if dizziness is a prominent symptoms, then Dr. Harold Levinson's book 'Phobia Free' is helpful. The cognitive/behavioral therapies/techniques are helpful, and for many, that's all that's needed; unfortunately for others (like me), these techniques are somewhat helpful, but finally medications become the only answer. Hope this helps some out there. There are a lot of us.
You say: anticipating my psychiatrist wanting to take me off clonazepam after 25 yrs, WHY? please I've been on and off with benzos for 20 years. One .50 dose of most of them will stop my physical symptoms - nausea, anxiety belly ache, body buzz, head ache, imbalance, weakness etc. for several hours.But I note that in the manufacturers' note that these very same symptoms may be felt as side effects and that they should be used for more than two weeks. I read of the agonies of coming off benzoes and wonder why anyone should ever try unless it's proven that the side effects have overcome the benefits. How does the doc know which? I still go for the benefits. I'm 85, have GAD and CAD, one stent and a set of heart meds that also have sickening or wearying side effects. I can do an hour of aerobics and in the same day be sick as a dog for three hours - sweats chills, head and gut ache, weak etc. I'm lucky to sleep fours hours a night and no doc or cardio has ever given me a clear answer since a neurologist in 1983 said after catscan etc - I can find nothing wrong with you..Another in the London's financial district said, you're burned out. I said, what can I do?He said, whatever you're doing, stop it. Oh sure, I thought on my way out. And the mortage?
Stop what? That really made me laugh. If we could stop, do doctors think we simply chose to suffer instead? BTW, I'm 62. As for going off a medication after 25 years, 'If it works, why quit'? I never understood that. Concerning the advice people give me, the most annoying is "It's all in your head". Well, duh. As if I don't know that already. Trouble is, my head is connected to my body and likes to be in control. People simply don't understand until it happens to them. Take care
Oldie 28: That's such a good question --- why take someone off a medication that has worked so well for 25 years???????And at the same dose. He says he wants to switch me from clonazepam back over to Valium (which I took long ago, and it didn't work), and then taper me down slowly off Valium over a year period......I called him a few wks back, and he said he wasn't going to "force me to go off it." From what I can gather, the Feds (DEA?), are starting to crack down on all doctors rx'ing 'addictive' meds like benzos and narcotic pain meds, because there's too much of this going on, so dr's are being either forced or urged to 'attempt a taper' on all their patients on these meds. Also, I think they just start to feel uncomfortable when they've been rx'ing the same dose to the same (responsible) patient, for a (valid reason), for a long period of time. This all started because a post-surgery pain management dr. said I should go off clonazepam (and he certainly didn't understand what I've been thru for so long). I've been on, initially Valium, starting in 1975, then on Xanax, beginning in 1981, and then on clonazepam since l989. I've had to take these meds DAILY, except the times where I got scared of the 'addiction' part and just went off them cold turkey (like I did 4 times with Valium-it was hell and I always ended up going back on it). I was withdrawn from Xanax in 1987-in a hospital setting - the dr. at the time, a real jerk, took me from 6mg. Xanax a day down to 0 in a 2-week period. That would be unheard of today. I went thru hell and after 3 months, was put back on Xanax. At the same time, I was put on Nardil, an MAOI, with rapid increase from 0 to 90mg. in the same 2 weeks. Unless they've been thru it, drs just don't believe us patients. In some ways, I no longer want to be reliant on the clonazepam to function, but at the same time I absolutely dread going thru a year-long withdrawal period, and at the end, starting off at square one again and getting back on the merry-go-round - (actually the terrifying roller coaster) of being tried on one anti-depressant med after another, only to be put back again on clonazepam. This cycle has happened too many times. I had just figured I'd be on clonazepam 'til I dropped dead. I'm taking it for panic disorder & agoraphobia which I've had since 1975. I sure wish they'd find a 'non-addictive' CURE.
Your comment, as to 'why anyone should every try unless it's proven that the side effects have overcome the benefits' is excellent. I have no side effects at all other than having to take it 2-3 times a day, and the benefits have been enormous - going back to school, driving, being able to work, fly again, travel.... it gave me my life back. I'm 63, and I just figure I'm too old to do this again. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!! Anyone with any answers out there?
sw3tflower - again, such a good question. Yeah, if only we could just stop! So glad you replied/ I totally agree with you - if it works, why quit? (see my remarks to oldie 28). I'm 63, you're 62, and we are just old to be put thru withdrawals yet again. And I agree - it's infuriating to be told, "it's all in your head" - like "you're just doing this to yourself". Well the organ of our body called the brain happens to be in our head, and the brain is primarily responsible for all this misery, with it's 'flight or flight response... well, it's actually in the central nervous system - but that's part of the brain, too. Do they take people having seizures off their meds, because the meds are addicting? No. You are so right - people don't understand unless they've been thru it - both the panic, anxiety, plus the unbearable withdrawal symptoms. In the past few weeks, I've tried to cut down my dose, and the anxiety symptoms have just returned. Then I lost my meds and was afraid to call and ask for more.....You take care as well - thank you so much for responding. Maybe we'll get some answers someday - maybe a CURE. There are so many of us in the same boat. God Bless.
Thanks again for your reply sw3tflower. I sure would like to find some better answers. I'm somewhat afraid that if I insist on staying on the same dose of clonazepam (until the day I die), the psychiatrist will insist I find another psychiatrist..... and I don't want to start to square one with all my hx, plus all the 55 specialists I've seen, the years of cognitive/behavioral therapy, etc. etc. ad nauseum..... Pls hang in there with me. You take care as well.
bonhill and oldie28 My daughter, an RN, was doing rounds with a group of medical students in the cancer ward. The resident told the students the patient was going to start IV morphine and use a pump so the patient could be in charge of giving it to herself when she needed it. One of the students was upset and blurted out "But she will become an addict!" The resident replied "So she will be an addict for the 2 months she has to live. You want to wean her off ?" Your comment about being afraid your doctor will take you off a med that is making your life better reminded me of my daughter's experience. Some doctors simply do not understand. What is wrong taking a medication that allows you to function? We are not talking about giving a junkie medication to keep him high when there is nothing wrong with him. That's abuse. Giving a medication that relieves someone's suffering is not abuse. You're right, I can't keep trying new medications, suffering from side effects, switching medications over and over. I found one that works for me (well 2 actually) and you found one that works for you. So what's the problem? My life is short enough without making me to go through the misery of stopping and starting new medications, trying to find another one that works. But I also don't want to live the rest of my life having panic attacks and feeing stressed all the time if they stop my meds. What's wrong with acknowledging the medication is helping and leave it at that? You both hang in there too. We all need to support each other. It helps to know someone understands.
Every little bit of reassurance helps so much, so thank you, sw3tflower. Your daughter's experience is so important - they give pain meds to people in severe pain... and they give insulin to diabetics, etc. However, the withdrawal sxs of benzo's are so protracted and so debilitating. I see my psychiatrist in 1 1/2 weeks, to find out his 'verdict.' I came to him 25 yrs ago, already having been on Valium, and then on Xanax. I had just been switched to clonazepam when I saw him, and he has continued it. Maybe he feels 'it's just time to see how she does off the meds' - something like that. I don't know. When I called in desperation 2 wks ago and reminded him of past terrible withdrawals (off 6mg. of Xanax in 2 weeks in 1987), he said "that was then, this is now." I've been trying to cut way back on the clonazepam since that call on 3/25, with sxs of heart pounding, severe muscle cramps in legs/ankles (never had that before), ears loudly ringing, and that 'sick' feeling of anxiety that so many can identify with-to the point where ICTIA (I can't take it anymore). I've been logging these sxs and dosages so I can show him at my appointment. He said he intended to switch me back to Valium and then taper me down over a l yr period. Well, first of all, every day I'd have to be constantly thinking about 'how much do I take today, etc.' and for the past 25 yrs it's been wonderful not to have to think about it - just take it in AM, noon and PM. I don't want to have it constantly on my mind. I'm not an addict, have never exceeded the rx'd dose (have been a professional therapist), never used drugs/alcohol, or bought it on the street, never used it to get 'high' - only to feel somewhat normal and be able to function. Secondly, I've been thru 4 Valium withdrawals, very severe, in the l970's (and 1 terrible withdrawal from Xanax in 1987) and always, once off it, the panic symptoms returned with a vengeance. So I can't imagine it will be different this time - although he seems to think it will. Doesn't he understand? Trying to cut my dose down over the past few weeks, I've had to double up on my blood pressure meds as well. I'm just too old for this and don't think my marriage would survive a yr long taper. And getting back on the roller coaster of trying this med, then that one.... I just don't want to go thru that anymore. Besides, looking thru the internet, there's really nothing new, except more SSRIs and SNRIs (and people report withdrawal sxs on these!) I AGREE WITH YOU... our lives are short enough without making us go through the misery of stopping and starting new medications. I've looked all over the internet for anything new - and there is nothing. He also seems to firmly believe Seroquel, taken during the day will help, but it never has for me. I take it at night to sleep-otherwise I can't sleep... for the past l0 yrs. Your comments are extremely comforting and validating (as well as oldie28's). Thank you so much, both of you.
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