Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Hard Pill to Swallow, Is Medication Right for You?

A few weeks ago when my anxiety flared up after two years of silence, I was able to get it to calm down after a few days. However since then it has been popping up again and again. A panic attack while out at lunch with my sisters, and now I have the morning anxiety again the last two days in a row.

Although I don't usually post horrible pictures of myself up for viewing, I thought this was an exception because even though I am smiling for the camera, I am sick as a dog and feeling like I am going to lose it any second. The anxiety just hit me super hard and it took leaving the restaurant for it to finally go away.

This has me contemplating going back on medication. Are you trying to decide if medication is right for you?

According to the book The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques by Margaret Wehrengerg, "if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, you may be helped by medication.
  • Are you having panic attacks a few times a week or more? My experience with people who have panic disorder leads me to think that if people are having attacks that frequently, they might benefit from medication. Their brains may be so agitated that it will take some time to calm the panic. It may thus be too discouraging to get their thoughts and behavior in control without the help of medication.
  • Are you able to push aside ruminating worry when you have something important to concentrate on but find yourself worrying again the minute you have nothing to focus on? You may do okay without medication, but if it is a huge effort or you cannot draw your attention away from worry even for short times, medications are in order.
  • Do you feel sick to your stomach with dread much of the time and find it interferes with eating and sleeping? If so, you will probably respond better to anxiety management techniques with the help of medication, because this level of distress should be interrupted as quickly as possible. Having an agitated brain without relief is not good for your emotional or physical self.
  • Do you immediately flush, have shaky legs, a quivering voice, and a palpitating heart even at the thought that someone might watch you leave a theater, watch you speak up at a business meeting, or observe you ordering food or eating in a restaurant? You might benefit from using medication on an as-needed basis while trying techniques to get over those signs of social anxiety.
  • Do you feel so terrified of attending a party or being in a busy public place like a shopping mall, airport, or school that you refuse to go? You will probably benefit the most from a combination of medication and treatment methods, because this is about the most difficult situation in which to calm yourself. Medication will allow you to focus on using new anxiety controlling skills and social skills that will help you in your interactions with others."

Because I am answering yes to almost every single one of these, I have decided that I am going to go back on Zoloft. I know some of you may think that's a mistake, but I know my body and my mind and now that I am no longer nursing I think I need the additional help to make my days feel more normal. I am tired of feeling sick and scared all the time. Because of the side effects I felt the last time I got on Zoloft, I am not sure when I should actually start taking it. I have the weekend to figure it out since it won't be until Monday before I can even see the doctor. I hope this helps you to figure out what is best for you in your situation. As always, your doctor can probably give you the best advice.



Todd said...

Good Luck on Monday!

If you hear of any great new anxiety medications, please let us know.

Aimée said...

Thanks Todd!

Anonymous said...

I began taking medication almost 2 years ago and I have never for an instant regretted my decision.

I believe that anxiety is like any other illness and we shouldn't feel like failures for taking medication to help us manage it. Medication is actually empowering-- I can think more clearly and I am not bothered so much by all the physical symptoms such as insomnia, rapid heart beat, shaky hands, tension, headaches etc. etc.


Jen said...

Good on you, Aimee! I fought for so long to not go on medication because I thought I should try to do things naturally. I also thought that going on medication would mean that I wasn't really myself because the drugs would mask the real me. However, since starting on it about 9 months ago, I have found exactly the opposite. Because the anxiety isn't stopping me from thinking I can do things, I am doing a lot of stuff I never thought I'd be able to, such as taking on much more challenging roles at work and travelling to South America by myself. I just feel so much more excited about things instead of dreading everything. So good on you for making such a hard decision, Aimee! I wish you all the best and hope the medication really works for you too.
PS Now that I can "laugh" at my anxiety (in a healthy way!) I've started writing a blog about overthinking... in case you're interested :)

Jill said...

Everyone has to make their own decision when it comes to medication. And when you're in a crisis situation, it can be a lifesaver. I can tell in the picture you are scared- your eyes. You'll feel better and there is no need to suffer. Blessings,

Meredith said...

Hi Aimee. I am in the same boat as you right now. My baby is 3 months old and I had to stop nursing because he was having a lot of trouble with it. I was panic attack free for a year and a half as well, and then had a bad one last week. Ever since then it has been popping up again and again. I don't think we should feel ashamed for taking medicine. Sometimes we need a little extra help for getting over the hump. Zoloft always made me feel more anxious at first so I am taking Celexa which seems to help better for my anxiety. Hopefully we will both feel better soon. Try listening to the John Mayer song "War of my life". This one is about anxiety as well and it very inspirational!!!! Sending hugs your way! : )

Anonymous said...

You've taken your time and considered all your options. You haven't made this decision lightly. You should be proud of your's never easy to admit we need help and to accept help.

You are inspiring and such a great source of strength for me. I'm rooting for you!!

J.T. said...

I read your post about your experiences with Zoloft - I was right there too! Zoloft made me queasy as all get-out, and my doctor finally switched me to Celexa, which is much better for me. (I also take the Clonopin at night too). It's frustrating that psychiatry seems to involve just throwing whatever med the doc feels like at the patient to see what sticks...But good luck to you on your journey! Thanks for the blog!

Aimée said...

Thanks for all of the comments. I think tomorrow when I go to the doctor I will ask about Celexa since J.T. and Meredith both recommend it. I appreciate the helpful feedback :)

Meredith said...

Please let us know how your appt goes. I have all the same anxiety symptoms as you and I think celexa works better for me. It can't hurt to see what your dr. says!!!!

Tash said...

I hope your appointment went well. I was on Zoloft a few years ago and thankfully didn't have any side effects. Am considering medication again - it's a bit of a difficult decision, but sometimes we just need something.

kevin said...

I tried Zoloft but got a terrible reaction from it. I have Xanax but only take it maybe 3 times per year because I know it is addictive and you build a tolerance to it.

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