Monday, May 11, 2009

6 Tips for Going to the Doctor to Talk about Your Anxiety

This morning I absolutely hit rock bottom with my anxiety. I was a complete mess, thinking the most awful thoughts about how I must be losing my mind. I cried so hard and for so long that I just wore myself out emotionally. I could hardly move. Not to mention the anxiety wasn't letting me eat anything so I was pretty physically exhausted too. I couldn't get to the doctor quick enough.

Going to the doctor to talk about anxiety can be a little embarrassing. The first time I went to him about it a good three years ago I got all dolled up to look my best to try to seem like I had some part of my life together. I was vague about how serious my symptoms were and tried to come out of it with the best impression I could. After all I think it was the first time I had ever met this doctor and I didn't want him judging me.

Today, I was lucky to put makeup on. As soon as he walked into the room I started to cry. I told him everything and he had a lot of good insightful questions that he asked back. We talked about medication and what would be the best plan for me. I would like to say I am strong enough to go meds free but after the week I have had I know it is beyond me for right now and that if I want to be able to function properly I will need it.

I am no doctor but I have been to them ALOT! So, my advice for when you finally decide to talk to a doctor about your anxiety:
  1. Don't let anyone make you feel ashamed for going to seek out medical advice or medication. Only you know whats best for your body and no one else has to live with the consequences of what you do or don't do but you.
  2. Don't go to an instacare because they won't give out medication for mental health issues since they are potentially addictive and they would rather you see your family doctor.
  3. Go with a list of all your questions, even the silly ones and ask them.
  4. Tell him all your symptoms, what you think causes the attacks, and what you would like to do about it. Its important he knows all the history and that you are both on board with whatever plan is decided on.
  5. If you don't like the experience, find another doctor. I wasn't suprised at how comforting and understanding my doctor was about the whole thing because he really is an awesome person. We are lucky to have him as our family doctor. When you are at rock bottom, you NEED someone that makes you feel like you have value and you are not just another patient on his to do list. I have been to the instacare plenty of times and talked with plenty of doctors where I walked away feeling stupid or embarrassed, etc.
  6. If the medication you were given isn't working or is too much, go back and try something else. It could be a dosage change or a different drug. But don't think the first thing you try will change your life. It may, but it may take some time and tweaking to figure out what works best for you.

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Mike Miller, PhD said...

Nicely written. I agree with almost all that you say. However, I take some issue that "Only you know whats best for your body." Sometimes that IS true. Often, it is not, especially if you have yet to try some medications. I have a client who takes his "pain medication" (narcotics legitimately prescribed f0or pain) before coming to his appointments with myself. He has fear of losing control of bowels, so perhaps pain meds act like Immodium (also narcotic base). I
certainly agree with your points of being an active participant in your treatment and to find someone else if your physician/psychiatrist/etc. is of the mind "I'M the DOCTOR!"

I have a FREE ebook that has some cognitive-behavioral self-help techniques. If interested, email me at

Mike Miller, PhD

Anonymous said...

I just got back from the doctor for routine medication follow up today. I've been struggling with anxiety, severe 'crash-your-car-into-a-pole- after-passing-out-because-Don't Fear the Reaper-came-on-the-radio' panic attacks, and most recently a nice helping of social anxiety.

I still haven't told my doc about the social anxiety...too embarrasing, you said it all so I won't...but just thank you for putting this blog together, it's helped me out enormously and now reading your blog is in my list of things to do to cope when "it" starts.

I've been on Clonazepam alone for about 8 years...I lose track. I've tried Zoloft, Paxil, and Lexapro - however I never gave them a real chance (except Paxil...thanks for the extra 60 pounds, increased panic attacks 6 months into it, and all that rage).

After that, I never gave SSRI's a fighting chance. Lexapro I took once and actually had a panic attack - felt like speed. Crazy, so I never took another pill. They scared the crap out of me.

Today my doc says that there is no cure, I have to find something long term that works. I can't be doped up on benzos the rest of my life, plus they lose their efficacy after a while and you just have to take more.

One psych I had told me if I took Clonazepam therapy for three years, chances are I'd never have another panic attack again and I could stop the meds - full recovery. Guess what? He's a QUACK. I'm STILL on the Clonazepam and I still have anxiety, although the panic attacks are so mild, it's really a walk in the park compared to life before.

I wanted to say something here because I know that I've developed social anxiety in the past couple of years but I still haven't told ANYONE...I mentioned it to my husband on New Year's Eve because I had to explain why I suddenly couldn't get in the car to go to the party we'd got all dressed up for. He just thought I was having a moment.

Today the doctor suggested Buspar - again. Up until today, I honestly thought that all I had to do was ween off Clonazepam and I would be HEALED! He just shattered my entire belief structure about my illness and I can't stop crying. I feel so hopeless...but although I've tapered off Clonazepam to about 1/3 of my usual dose, I'm starting to have increased symptoms meaning the Clonazepam is just not working like it should. Tolerance. Damnit.

So, do I go backwards and start increasing my dose again or do I give Buspar a try? I think I'm ready to give Buspar a try and resolve myself to never getting over it. What if we find out a year from now that Buspar causes instant death in half it's users?? At least clonazepam is the devil I know...sorry nothing uplifting to say here, but I needed to vent in this moment.
I've obviously devolved in my progress and am just realizing in this moment that it's because I've had it all wrong about this Clonazepam from the get go. Tough "pill" to swallow. No pun intended.

Thank you for what you are are helping people in a very healthy way, I appreciate it.

Aimée said...

Hi Anonymous,

I really feel your frustration and can totally relate. I hope you don't get too discouraged, stay hopeful that eventually you can figure this out.

I did the same thing you did with starting a medication and then stopping cause I didn't think it was working. It takes up to 6-8 weeks for some medications to start being effective.

I also think that you have to figure out which medication will work for you. Obviously Paxil is not the way to go for you. Nor Lexapro as both had bad side effects. Maybe Buspar will be different?

I was on Zoloft and took Clonozepam only as needed.

There are also many non medicated ways to help reduce anxiety such as exercise, yoga, meditation, deep breathing, positive affirmations, etc. I think the ultimate way is to learn these methods to use in addition to your medication. I think soley relying on meds will not solve all of your problems.

Let me know what you decide to do and how it goes. Don't give up!

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee, thanks for the quick reply! I actually made a notebook to log circumstances when I do get anxious. It has on the inside cover quick tips to get me out of my head. I got most of them from your blog! Yes, the deep breathing, YES, the new passion....HOOPDANCING!! When I get crazed, I pick up my hoop and the meditative, rhythmic flow of it is absolutely intoxicating. I don't want to be on ANY medications but time isn't standing still and I know these benzo's are not the right thing to do. But replacing one pill for another is a bit silly too. I'm going to take a week and really research Buspar, but that's the way I'm leaning. Thanks for being there! I'll keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it can be really difficult to go the doctor about anxiety, but let's face it noone else needs to know and it might just help.

I recently owned up to having severe anxiety (now diagnosed and generalised anxiety disorder). It took a great deal of courage but it was a real turning point.

I've started to blog about it myself because I really wanted to find examples of people who've tried things and got better, so if you'd like to add something of your experience here is the url

Hope this is useful. Keep up the hoopdancing Laurie

Anonymous said...

I have anxiety whenever I get called on in Math class, and I'm worried about going to the doctor. Can anyone tell me what it's like? My mom scared me with talk about getting medication, being taken from my school, and child protection services. I honestly don't know what's going on. My mom set me up an appointment with my Doc and I'm terrified. What if he deems me crazy? :(


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