Post # 1
So. I’ve had panic/anxiety attacks on and off since college – it is always, 100% related to things I can’t control. Not even big life events, but little things – in college, a friend booked me an airlline ticket over winter break to visit her for a few days – panic attack. Tests in college that I felt completely prepared for – panic attack. Graduating, moving in with FI, etc, panic attack. Heck, I was on vacation last week and had a little moment of panic over if my (really awesome) boss would fire me because I took two vacation days.
After being up last night until 1:30am with another attack (which FI was trying his hardest to calm me down out of), I’ve decided I definitely need to talk to someone. I hate the stigma of this, so I’m really self-concious, but I know it’s super common. My dad has even been hospitalized for panic attacks in the past (but doesn’t have a psychologist/meds). I just feel all this happiness in my life right now, but I can’t enjoy it because awful, negative thoughts creep in my head that I can’t shake (for the record, I am in no way suicidal). I just feel like I should be able to STOP thinking about bad things, but I can’t help it – and the more I try to ignore these thoughts, the worse they get.
So, all that being said – how do I find a psychologist? Do I call my regular MD on Monday and ask for a rec? We’ve got a hotline at work (through our insurance) that you can call about psych problems – should I try that? I just really want to feel better.
Post # 3
I would definitely talk to your regular MD if s/he is someone you feel comfortable with. It sounds like someone who specializes in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) might be a good bet. Good luck!!
And you’re completely right – it’s so common, and nothing you need to feel the least bit embarrassed about. I can say without hesitation that therapy has made my life SO much better. You wouldn’t be ashamed of needing a coach if you took up a new sport, or a physical therapist if you had recurring knee problems – i look at this as the same thing. Someone to help you work on new skills and build up strength and flexibility in an area where you have some pain. 🙂
Post # 4
Some insurance policies have a separate number you call for mental health issues, that may be the number you mentioned. I’d try that one, you may be able to skip the hassle of a referral.
Otherwise, you call your primary and ask for a referral.
I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself. I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder along with major clinical depression. Therapy and the right meds make all the difference.
Post # 5
@StL.Ashley: I’m so sorry you’re having this kind of anxiety. You definitely don’t always have to feel this way. I know there can be stigma related to therapy, but in the same way you wouldn’t deny yourself insulin for diabetes, you shouldn’t deny yourself help for anxiety, which can definitely be debilitating.
You can do a basic Google search and look up psychologists. Without trying to be a total creeper, I googled St. Louis psychologists and there are several pages that come up that show pictures and credentials of therapists in your area. If you are going to go through insurance, you might want to start by looking up the therapists covered under your plan, and then going to their websites (if they have one) and looking at their style and any diagnoses they might specialize in.
You can also ask your MD for a referral. What I would be careful of is any doctor who might want to just prescribe you meds without referring you for therapy, as panic/anxiety is something that will definitely be best helped with actual therapy or a combo of therapy/medication, depending on the severity of your anxiety. I hope this helps!
Post # 6
Good for you for realizing you need some help with this. Honestly, I don’t believe that there is much stigma about having panic attacks like there was in the past. It’s pretty accepted that people see counselors for all sorts of issues that come up in normal life.
I would do both, call the employee assistance line and call the doc. I would consider seeing a psychiatrist to see about meds to handle the immediate symptoms, while you learn to deal with the cognitive aspects with a therapist. Honestly, I would also look online. You can see what the doctor specialises in and what their approach is.
It may feel hard to take these steps, but it will be totally worth it to be able to face situations without fear.
Post # 7
I have an aunt who is very dear to me that has horrible anxiety. Some days she doesnt even get out of bed and cries and cries for hours (poor thing) Therapy has done wonders for her, but she is also on a lot of meds (I’m not reccommending but maybe it can help?). I agree with the PP, try talking to your MD about it. And yes, there is no shame in going to therapy.
Post # 8
Long time Lurker Bee here, kept meaning to get an account but this post spoke to me and finally got it done. This is something I have constantly struggled with and has gotten worse in the past 6 months. If your company offers an Employee Assistance Program, they may have available up to 6 free visits for you. So I would definitely check with them first so maybe save you some money. If you need more than 6 visits, if you have health insurance they will pick up at that point. I orginally started wtih my MD about 2 years ago and he put me on a lower dose of for depression and anxiety and after a few months I was doing really well. Then I ht a stressful situation this past Spring and followed up with my MD, he upped my meds, but also made me start seeing a therapist The therapist was of great help, but mentally I was still a mess. My MD and therapist referred me to a psychiatrist to ensure I was on appropriate meds, etc…I have only been to 2 appointments with psychiatrist, but it seems he understood my issues and got me on meds that I am actually functioning again almost as well as normal. Sorry for the novel, but I just wanted to let you know that there are people out there that can assist you. I have been through it and it does get better. I am not pro-meds and hope to eventually to not have to medicate, but right now it definitely gives a better life for me at the moment.
Post # 9
Thanks everyone for your responses. I’ll definitely check with our EAP program first. It’s just a weird thing, finding a therapist. An MD you just ask a cowoker…but I don’t want to exactly advertise this.
Just reading your responses made me so much more relaxed. I KNOW I’m not alone with this, and it doesn’t make me a bad person. It’s just scary saying that I have a problem. In my spinning last night I was just so worried about everything – I was trying to explain to FI about how it’s hard to just stop thinking, or think about the positive, but he just didn’t get it – which is understandable. I’m just relieved that there are others out there who, with therapy and/or meds, feel better.
Post # 10
You definitely are not alone! I’ve heard good things about CBT but haven’t done it myself. I am currently trying to learn to deal with my anxiety via a method called the Relaxation Response (google that or a guy called Herbert Benson) and I sort of feel like it might be helping even though I’ve only been doing it for a few days. It’s like meditation/deep breathing and it’s supposed to trigger something in your brain/body that cancels out anxiety. I have been in therapy off and on for years (I’m in my early 40s) and have tried many meds, but am trying to go the med-less route for now because 1. many of the meds didn’t help at all or made things worse 2. the ones that did help had unacceptable (to me) side effects. This is a hard road! But you can find help. Try this website to see if there’s anyone local who sounds good – http://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html
Post # 11
I’m glad you have an EAP programme that can help with this, and certainly make an appointment with your GP if you feel that you may benefit from anti-anxiety meds.
The one thing you shouldn’t do is feel ashamed of your condition. I understand that it’s nobody’s business and that you may not want to scream it from the mountain top, but at some point you’re going to have to accept that this is something that affects you but in no way diminishes you.
Good luck and I hope you feel better soon 🙂
Post # 12
If you don’t already have a MD that you use on a regular basis, then co-workers are a good place to start. You dont have to tell them why you need a recommendation. You can just say you are seeking a GP because you currently do not have one. I found my doctor through a co-worker. He was a great recommendation. I am probably one of his youngest patients because the co-worker was significantly older than me, but I wouldn’t change MD for the world. He has been nothing but supportive of helping me getter better.
Post # 13
I have had anxiety since I was about 5 years old so you’re not alone!!
Over the past 10-15 years, I have seen 4 different therapists and been on about 4 different kinds of meds.
That being said, for anxiety, I strongly recommend finding a therapist who specializes in anxiety, NOT just a general therapist. In my experience, you need someone who is going to give you coping mechanisims, not just someone who is going to make you feel better while you’re in the office or for a few hours afterwards. It may take going to a few different people a couple of times, but make sure you stick with someone you feel comfortable with and sets goals, etc for you.
If you see a dr. for meds, make sure you are also comfortable with that person and make sure that he/she isn’t just throwing pills down your throat to shut you up. Make sure they understand you and your needs. Also, it sucks, but you have to be patient with meds. Most of them take at least a few months to really work. And if something makes you feel crazy, LET YOUR DR. KNOW! I thought the craziness was my fault, but turns out I was on the wrong meds.
I have heard that CBT is VERY affective therapy for anxiety and so is hypnotherapy. I am actually looking to make some appointments for one of those types of therapy very soon.
Yoga, meditation, or breathing exersizes can also be extremely helpful.
Just be patient and know that you are not alone! hugs!
Post # 14
@StL.Ashley: I just inboxed you. Hoping I can help since I’m a local bee!
Post # 15
Thanks again, everyone. I called my EAP today and they gave me the contact info for a counselor nearby. I called him and he’s going to call me back later today to set up an appointment for this week.
I was definitely feeling better yesterday after going to the gym (healthy body = healthy mind, I guess), and felt great all last night…until I got to work today. I realized I felt fine, not anxious/nervous at all, and I started feeling that panicky-tightening set in – like what if I have another attack? Where can I go? What can I do? That’s when I got up and called the EAP. In my googling I realized that fear of having an attack is a common sympton on panic/anxiety – what a bitch.
Post # 16
I’m so glad you called! I really hope you find counseling to be helpful and learn strategies for calming yourself mentally and physically when you feel enxious.