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Is this a constant panic attack?

Posted by catherinet (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 26, 08 at 16:26

I'm in hell right now.
I've always been an anxious depressed person, but could get out of it for periods of time without meds. I don't like meds. I have so many side-effects from them.
5 weeks ago, I was working hard in the garden and had something happen. It caused a fast heartbeat, higher BP, and panic. I haven't felt good since. I saw my doc and he did an EKG and labs, and they were okay.
I've been waiting for it to go away, but it seems to be worsening. A few days ago, I finally gave in, and started a beta blocker for my heartrate.
The next day, I felt the worst ever.....sweating, weak, fast heartrate.......just feeling like I would die.
I went to the ER and they did tests and had me stay over night. My cardiac enzymes are normal, but now I have to have a stress test on Tuesday.
I feel sick all the time.........breaking out in a sweat, nauseous, weak, panicky......feel like I'm dying. Even xanax doesn't seem to help much.
Can this be "panic disorder"? Does it really last so long and feel like you're dying??? I think I'm going to be forced into antidepressants, which I hate, since I have so many side-effects to meds. I'm 58 and have fibromyalgia and have recently been through menopause. I don't know what the hell is going on, but its awful!
Is this what panic disorder feels like? I keep thinking the docs aren't looking far enough into a physical problem. My thyroid and blood sugar are okay.
There's always something, isn't there????


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

I would think Xanax should help a panic problem promptly. Surprised it's not helping.

With a panic disorder/problem you're doctors may want to figure out which is coming first.. Is the panic causing the heart racing or is the heart racing causing the panic? Theoretically, you can make someone have a panic attack by increasing their heart rate for long enough. Get the idea? So, your doctors need to figure what your actual problem is.

I wonder if maybe you're suffering from heatstroke which pushed you into an anxiety attack mode with your history of anxiety and depression.

It sounds like you are maybe having an anxiety or panic attack; I wouldn't at this point consider it "panic disorder". That is a more constant on going problem... not just a day or two, or even week of attacks. Granted, maybe the doctors feel they need to treat you with antidepressants to bring you out of it, but again, I am amazed the Xanax didn't help you. Be sure to let them know that.

If you find yourself suffering from these type of attacks in the future, watch the heat (it will cause your heart to race even more) and be careful with alcohol too, they can both make the attacks worse.

Are you well hydrated? Bring dehydrated can throw your system off too especially if you got too much sun.

ps. I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training about this stuff. I'm just throwing ideas out there, so doing what your doctor advices is probably best. Just thought I'd mention the heatstroke idea, just in case.

Here is a link that might be useful: Panic disorder


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

Thanks Carla,
I was very surprised the xanax didn't help too! I started on generic Toprol the other day. I'm sure that wouldn't have interfered with it. Beta blockers usually help with anxiety. That's why I'm wondering if its a physical thing going on that triggers an alarm in my brain.
But that's the funky thing about panic........it convinces you that it IS something physical.

I had thought it was a heatstroke thing too, but it was only 70 out, and a nice breeze. I think one of my problems is that I'm overweight, and even though I'm busy with things in the house, running errands, etc., all the time. I don't do any aerobic stuff. Then I go out and do all this really physical stuff. I was very well hydrated when I went to the garden, but I had eaten some pretty salty stuff for lunch.
What discourages me about my doc is that he's too quick to assume that because the usual tests are normal, I'm okay. He's a smart guy, but doesn't look very hard for things that aren't obvious.
I have been depressed and anxious my whole life, so I suppose its time to try some meds, even though they scare me.
It seems like what happened in the garden, was that the intense heartrate triggered something else in my body. I don't know what..........but it never went back to normal.
I'm having a stress echo on Tuesday, and then seeing my doc on Wednesday, so hopefully we'll get this sorted out.
I'm just having a real rough time with this fairly constant feeling that I'm shakey and weak and going to pass out.
Thanks for your help carla, and for that link.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

My thyroid and blood sugar are okay. But did you have your thyroid antibodies checked?? My tsh, T4 and T3 levels were all in the normal range, but my thyroid antiboidies were way off - meaning I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (the most common type of Hypothyroidism). Not all doctors will treat it if the tsh isn't high as well, in which case you just need to find a new doctor like I did!

Fibromyalgia is sometimes associated with Hypothyroidism (some doctors even say it is just untreated Hypothyroidism and not really it's own disease), going through menopause is a time many women will first start showing signs of being Hypo. Hashimotos can swing from Hypo to Hyper so panic attacks, severe fatigue, depression, sweating, etc. can all be signs.

Insist on the thyroid antibody tests!! Good luck to you, hope you find a solution soon.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

Thanks lydia,
I'll check into that!


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

catherinet if you started the antidepressant after the first episode it may have caused the ongoing panic, some antidepressants cause anxiety symptoms until your body adjusts to them. that's one possibility. I remember being put on a particular antidepressant and I was so shaky and anxious, and after a few days of this engulfing anxiety I was just a wreck and couldnt take it anymore! are you still on the antidepressant or have you stopped taking it? because I would try that first to eliminate the xanax as the cause (discuss it with your doctor first).

your symptoms reminded me of some of the hypoglycaemic attacks Ive had, except for the nausea. the thing about blood sugar is I think generally you know if that is the cause, because you just have a sense that it's your blood sugar, and eating will bring you back out of it but you'll also have problems with your brain shutting down where you go into a fog (like being drugged) and you cant think because your brain becomes starved of sugar.

I think you need to push this because if it isnt the xanax, then to me it sounds like something is speeding up your heart and causing the other symptoms, and as lydia suggested, it could be something such as a thyroid problem or something else going on.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

trancegemini, I think you may be a little confused about your anti-depressant anti-anxiety categories.

Obviously, anyone can have a reaction to any medicines... but I don't think Xanax is categorized as the type of anti-depressant you think it is. Xanax is in a totally different class. It is more like a sedative that slows down the central nervous system (and you can become physically dependant on it).

The anti-depressants I think you are referring to are probably the SSRI group and those related. They are generally stimulants (and could create attacks so to say). This class effects the serotonin level. I don't think Xanax does.

So you have Xanax which is a sedative. And the class of anti-depressant I think you are referring to that are stimulants. Two totally different types of medicines. One should work right away and sedate you (calm you down) in a way; It is highly addictive. The SSRI anti-depressant group will often take time to build. And, is generally not so addictive in nature.

A lot of people don't like taking Xanax on a daily basis because of it's addictive nature (you will usually continue to need more as you take it too) and will just use Xanax for an extreme attack. They will often supplement with taking an SSRI medicine on a daily basis to help keep the attacks away because the SSRI's aren't considered an addictive class. Some SSRI's though could increase anxiety, so keep that in mind, and some people have to try more than one SSRI to find the one that works well for them without too many side effects.

The poster should mention to her doctor that the Xanax didn't work becasue as a sedative, it should have on almost any anxiety/panic attack... Therefore, it not working may point to a different type of problem or maybe she just needs a larger dose to be effective.

Again, not a doctor and I could be wrong (feel free to correct me)... and you should always talk to your doctor about your meds.... but you should be able to find some info on the web about these types of medicines if you have questions.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

carla youre probably right, I dont remember the name of the antidepressant but it may have been an ssri, I know I tried a few of them at the time until I found one I could tolerate. If it's not likely to be the xanax then I think there may be something else going on beyond panic attacks, mainly because of the beta blockers which really do reduce your heartrate and stop it from getting out of control even when you are in an anxious state, I find that really strange.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

"What discourages me about my doc is that he's too quick to assume that because the usual tests are normal, I'm okay."

catherinet a lot of doctors are like that unless they specialise in a particular field, often they dont know what to look for. I've also had the problem where once you are diagnosed with a panic disorder, many doctors get blinded and will put a lot of things down to that, Ive learned over the years that you need to get assertive with them if you really feel something is not right.

Ive had a similar experience where I went through a time (months) where I was having very unexplained attacks, like when I was relaxed and watching tv, and some nights waking up several times feeling like I couldnt breathe and was dying, it was terrifying and really out of the norm for me so I know that sense youre feeling. Of course I kept putting it down to anxiety but as it turned it, it was being caused by my hormones going crazy and once that was under control it stopped.

Im not saying there is something else wrong with you, but dont discount it because you have a panic disorder (which can sometimes muddy the water) but doesnt mean it cant be something else causing it.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

Thanks everyone,

I'm so discouraged just thinking about going on antidepressants. I had 2 depressed parents and a depressed brother, so I think its in my genes. I've been depressed my whole life. But I've really tried not to be! I've had very strange, bizarre physical sensations my whole life too. In retrospect, I've had panic since around age 7. On top of Fibromyalgia, and an extremely horrendous perimenopause, I have very little reserve left to tolerate obnoxious SSRI side-effects. The thought of going through more of this craziness makes me even more depressed!
Sometimes I think I'm an alien!
My husband is a doctor and he seems to agree with the others that if the main tests are okay, then there's no sense in thinking its (for example) thyroid, adrenals, etc.
I keep thinking I should go to an endocrinologist, but my husband (and my internal medicine doctor) seem to think that an endocrine doc won't know anymore than they do. I'm thinking they probably do.
Even if this isn't caused from panic/anxiety/depression, I should probably give the antidepressants a try......considering I've been depressed for 58 years.
Its gotten worse since menopause. I've talked to alot of women who actually developed panic/agoraphobia, etc., after menopause.
I feel like I've failed somehow in needing an antidepressant. I'm a "natural" kind of person, and am disappointed in myself for needing something. I know that's a bad attitude. The brain can misfunction, just like any other organ.
I'm usually extremely sensitive to meds. A tiny amount of xanax puts me to sleep all night.......but it didn't seem to get on top of this daytime anxiety.
The Toprol is working on the lowering the heartrate, which is good, since I tend to panic when my heart takes off. But I was on it for 5 years in the past and it had some unpleasant side-effects.
My husband is encouraging me to see an OB/GYN endocrinologist. The one I went to during perimenopause for horrendous migraines and other various horribleness was absolutetly useless. She didn't even seem to realize you could get headaches from hormone fluctuations..???????????
Maybe I can find another one.
You're right about the "panic disorder" label. Docs do that all the time with my fibromyalgia label and it really ticks me off.
I'm fortunate that if there's a test I want run, my DH can run it.........but I'm still sort of lost, since unfortunately he doesn't think "out of the box".
I'm being very careful with the xanax and try to only take .25mg in the morning. It takes the edge off the panic a little bit, and the Toprol is slowing my heartrate, but I'm still getting the hot flashes, weakness and shakiness. I don't want to go anywhere now, since I fear that feeling when I'm out.
I'm so tired of having to deal with this body! I just want to get on with life!
Thanks to everyone for their replies.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

catherine dont lose heart, youre not an alien :)

you know I listened to and battled with my doctor for about 5 years until I kept developing more and more problems and then she realised my problems were beyond her scope (I just wish she'd told me that sooner ;) ) but she referred me to an excellent endocrinologist and it was the best thing she ever did for me.

the big difference with a good specialist I noticed is that they will run tests a regular doctor wont even think of, they know exactly what they are looking for too in the results it's all much more specific than what a regular doctor will do. They will also know the best medications for your specific problems and they know the subtle differences between them too, and that can have a dramatic affect (at least it did for me).

It does sound like there could be a hormonal influence going on so if you have the opportunity to see a good endocrinologist I would take it. The worst that can happen is they run some tests and eliminate some possibilites, and get your hormones working better which can only help, but it might be the answer.


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

Thanks for the support and encouragement trancegemini!


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

catherinet,

If you really don't like SSRI's and your depression as such isn't acting up, but you're mainly suffering from anxiety right now, how about asking to try an anti-anxiety drug instead of an anti-depressant? If anxiety seems to be your main concern now, and you don't do well with anti-depressants, it may be worth asking about. Nothing hard core, but there are some mild ones out there.

I'm talking about drugs like Buspar or something similar. Although you may still have some side effects, this class may effect you differently than the SSRI's.... And, I'm just throwing Buspar out there, there are a lot other drugs you could try, or even other classes of anti-depressants.

I hope you have a doctor that really listens to your specific problems and believes your side effects and doesn't just prescribe the drug of the month to you. You really should be able to find something that helps with no or little side effects. Keep asking your doctor. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Anti Anxiety


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RE: Is this a constant panic attack?

Thanks carla.
I have my stress echo today and then an appointment with my internist tomorrow, so we'll see how it goes. I may be back then with more questions.
Since I've had depression my whole life, its probably time to treat it. (or maybe 50+ years too late!)
Thanks so much for the great info you've given me.


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