Post # 1
I need some help. I’m trying to help my SO take control of his life.
He has had anxiety issues since junior high. He says nothing triggered them to begin with but ever since has been on a daily zoloft and an as-needed lorazepam. He has full on panic attacks every so often. Sometimes they are triggered by things that make him anxious (long car ride, airplane, small spaces) and sometimes he can’t think of a reason why they would come on.
He has also had high blood pressure controlled by medication since high school. They typically go hand in hand. If his BP shoots up for some reason, it triggers an anxiety attack and the feeling of “I’m going to have a heart attack and die”. This only gets worse if he’s feeling some sort of unrelated ailment (chest pain from heartburn, epigastric indegestion pain, strong headache, etc.)
He is 28 years old and is afraid to be home alone for more than a few hours. If I leave to go out of town, he stays at his parents’ house. If his parents are out of town, he gets upset with me if I plan something out of town because it means he will be alone. I know this embarrasses him but it is also frustrating for me as well. (whole other issue!) I am supportive as much as possible but I want to be proactively supportive, not just baby him until he feels better (which is what he looks for and is used to).
What I am trying to find out, is if anyone has dealt with or knows someone with a similar situation. I have been trying to talk him into seeing a professional, to try to learn some coping mechanisms to calm himself. His PCP just keeps upping his dosage of anxiety meds–the same meds he has been on since high school and is probably immune to. I worry with a psychiatrist, they’ll just push whatever pill they’re being paid to push. I want to know that there is hope for this to be controlled not just by medicating but also by learning about it and trying to make his own quality of life better.
Any suggestions from real life experience?
Post # 3
I have very bad anxiety, as does my best friend. First off, he really needs to see a pro. They can help him figure out what works for him. I was diagnosed with GAD as a kid and have sought therapy on and off whenever I have the need. I am now 25 and have no attended anxiety-related counseling since I was 20 years old. I took medications for a period of time, which really helped, but I eventually learned (through counseling) how to manage on my own.
My best friend also has bad anxiety. She requires daily medication, which really helps her. She also attends a weekly DBT group (dialectical behavior therapy) which she said has worked wonders. They teach practical behavior modification to confront anxiety.
Medication is not always necessary! He really really needs to see a good pro with experience in anxiety. I still have anxiety and panic attacks, but they no longer effect my ability to live. I would say I have a “debilitating” anxiety attack maybe twice a year now.
Post # 4
Oh and I reccomend a book –
“The Worry Cure” – http://www.amazon.com/The-Worry-Cure-Seven-Stopping/dp/1400097665
If he has an android in any form, there is an app called “The Worry Box” which I use a lot. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.excelatlife.worrybox&hl=en
It seems cheesy, but it really helps. It uses a form of cognitive behavioral therapy to address anxiety.
Post # 5
@MissRuthie: Yes, I have an anxiety disorder and have had panic attacks. My issues are primarily from traumatic experiences I have had in my life. The anxiety and panic attacks started when my mother died when I was 17. When someone close to you dies and you have other parental abandonment issues it isn’t uncommon to have an anxious attachment to those you get close to. It can also cause you to be hypervigilant in the future.
Did he have any traumatic experiences recently or as a child? Therapy helps a lot but Effexor helped me more than anything else has. The Lorazepam will help short-term but won’t prevent him from having or reduce his overall anxiety.
Sometimes the things we fear the most is what we need to eventually face. With therapy and support he can take gradual steps to get to the point where he is less anxious when in these situations.
Post # 6
- Wedding: March 2014 - Brazil Room
The best way to find someone without an agenda to push meds is a psychologist instead of a psychiatrist. A psychologist/family counselor/therapist does not have the ability to prescribe meds.
It sounds like your guy has severe abandonment issues and needs to address the source of that.
I have PTSD and used to blackout and have an anxiety seizure (also known as PNES) whenever I would see or smell beer or hard alcohol. I have gotten way past that and can openly be around drinking people without any problem. Therapy is great… but just like I just posted in another thread, it takes getting the right one for it to actually work.
Post # 7
Yes I have, but managed to overcome it and am now ‘anxiety free’. My anxiety was centered around achievement (uni grades etc) and relationships (issues, being dumped etc).
I did take medication for a wee bit, but stopped about 5 years ago. I saw a psychologist for about 7 months and she was amazing. Best thing I ever did. Re-wired my thinking and no longer get anxious.
Post # 8
@MissRuthie: Sorry to hear you are both going through that. I can relate. Back in 2007 I had many changes in my like – my best friend passed away, my gma passed away one month after that, I moved, changed jobs, finished colleges, and was struggling in a long distance relationship. Long story short, my body and my mind were just fed up with me! I went through some horrible panic attacks were I thought I was dying. I missed 3 weeks of work because I was terrified to go back. It’s totally embarassing and very difficult to manage at the time. It is probably the scariest thing I have ever gone through. However, I was lucky not to have to deal with it alone. My folks came over immediately to help me “get out of the house.” I was really struggling in social issues – beginning to have panic attacks. I decided to see a counselor right away. I’m so thankful I did, because she helped me see what the issues are and how to deal with them. Chances are, his mom or dad may suffer with it, too. It’s genetic. Also, if you were taught a a child to “fear the world” then you may struggle with anxiety. Counceling will help to train his mind to think differently. They’ll ask him to keep a journal and it helps!! My advise to you – do a little research and find a good councelor in your area. Talk to the doc. about how to bring it up to him if he is unwilling to see the counselor. Make sure to find a counselor who specializes in anxiety and/or social phobias. It sounds like your SO may be struggling in social settings. Good luck to you both – if you can get through this together, you can tackle anything 🙂
Post # 9
Thank you for your responses!! I am researching professional counselors / psychiatrists in our area. One of the biggest hurdles to get him in to see someone is his assumption it will cost an outrageous amount of money. I’m hoping that isn’t the case but could be wrong. Can any of you offer me some advice on how to convince him to go without embarrassing him or making him feel like he’s crazy?
Post # 10
In my opinion he needs both a psychiatrist to manage his medications (not all of them are paid to push drugs) and a psychologist/therapist. I have both depression and anxiety and get full blown panic attacks fairly often. It’s been my experience that primary care doctors are not the best doctors to be managing psychiatric medications. Psychiatrists know so much more about each of the drugs and what drugs may work better for which conditions. If anything, the primary doctors are more likely to push the meds they have samples of and are likely not nearly as informed about them.
You should encourage him to look into cognitive behavioral therapy, like another bee mentioned. CBT will give him the skills to manage his panic attacks before they get to the point of needing a rescue medication. You have to stick with it though. One or two sessions are not going to “cure” him. CBT is hard work~you’re completely reprogramming your disordered way of thinking. It takes a lot of time and effort but it can be extremely successful.
You can look into therapists that offer sliding scales based on your income. Look into whether his employer offers counseling services as some of them will if a job is particularly stressful. As far as convincing him to go…well, you can talk to him until you’re blue in the face but until it gets to the point that he is ready to make those changes and wants to go to therapy, there really is very little you can say to convince him of it. Offer him the information you’ve found and tell him you’ll help him work through these issues when he is ready.
Post # 11
- Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL
@MissRuthie: Why doesn’t he see a counselor or psychologist to learn behavior modification therapy? It teaches you to identify triggers and how to avoid them or rationalize your way through the anxiety. Meds alone won’t solve the problem.
Post # 12
Often a psychologist can do a screening first to determine if counseling or medication is more appropriate (sometimes both). And doctors are NOT bribed into prescribing certain meds.
Post # 13
@MissRuthie: I have pstd post tramatic stress dissorder if u didnt know and i suffer anxiety its not an easy thing to deal with b.c. as it happens you feel totally out of contorl … i started seeing someone to talk not just relay on meds or others … talking it out can be hard but they can also help you learn ur triggers and ways to calm down b4 your having a full blown attack
Post # 14
I suffer from panic and anxiety disorder. It is a really hard thing to deal with, especially panic attacks. Sometimes they feel like heart attacks and can be so scary.
I was previously on medication and it worked amazingly for me. I’m currently not on anything since I’m pregnant, but I’m doing great. I’ve learned techniques to cope with my anxiety. I have my days but it can be managed.
Post # 15
I have bipolar disorder, and I do have panic attacks associated with that. I’m also a stressed out college student. I love love love my psychologist, and she’s been a huge help! Definitely seeing a professional to talk out underlying issues is a major step in correcting the problem. I also have a service dog. While this isn’t for everyone, it has helped my anxiety and depression more than I can tell you. Perhaps a pet of some sort? I know for me I feel less anxious now because I’m just flat out not alone very often. Even if it’s not a person, it’s another living thing to keep me company.
Post # 16
I have suffered with anxiety and panic disorder all of my life. It got really bad around 3 years ago where it got to the point that I could not function and had to go on disability. Because of my anxiety I am petrified to take medications and go to doctors. Well a couple of months ago I decided to try therapy. I have gone before but it never really worked for me. The therapist’s and psychiatrists never really understood the true fear I have of the meds and would be like just take it while your here or take it while your husband is home. Well my therapist now gets me. She gets me to the point where she brought in a bag of meds from her house and put them on the table just to see my reaction to them. She is taking such baby steps with me and letting me stay in total control of the situation. The key to going to counseling is you have to have the right connection with your therapist otherwise it will not work. I have been to so many and after a while i would just stop going. I have made so much progress with my therapist without medication in the short few months that I am just amazed. I used to have major anxiety attacks going to the doctors and would always have to have someone with me. Yesterday I had to go for an echocardiogram I went in the office alone and did the test without having a full blown panic attack. Yes I was nervous and scared but my therapist gave me tools to keep my self in control. My husband is even amazed by my progress. Another thing I am doing is called dbt (dialectical behavior therapy). They have a group every week at the clinic where I go and this has also helped me. The best way I can describe this treatment is it makes you think about the way you are thinking. It helps you to recognize how you are reacting to something and before it gets out of control you can change your thinking before it takes control over you. It also teaches you how to live in the present moment and really focus on what is happening right now rather than the past and the future. When you try to do it, it is really hard but with practice it does get a little easier. My therapist told meds are not the only solution it has to be meds along with coping mechanisms to keep yourself under control otherwise the dosages will have to be increased as your body gets used to it. My next step is to get on some kind of meds, because I do good for a while but when I have a bad spell I go down, way way down to the point where i just want to give up and cant function.My therapist and phsychiatrist believe the meds will prevent me from getting to that point. Sorry this is so long but I know what it is like to suffer with this. It is a daily fight but I do believe having the right therapist and phsychiatrist is the key factor to treatment. Also Lucinda Bassetts attacking anxiety and depression program was a godsent for me. It made me really understand what anxiety is. Before I did that program I could barely get out of bed, I know all to well that feeling of not wanting to be left alone I was the same way. There is hope for him to control it and maybe eventually get off the meds all together. Good luck!