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How To Deal With Panic And Agoraphobia?


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Hi everyonie,

In addition to POTS I also have panic disorder with agoraphobia. It's not just the physical symptoms of POTS, it really is the mental symptoms of panic. This has happened in phases on and off since childhood, and it's flaring up again now. I really want to go on vacation, but when I'm trying to plan it I keep worrying about the distance out of my "safe zone", being on an upper floor of a hotel, taking an elevator, all of those sorts of things, to the point where I feel like I can't go. Right now I can't be more than a mile from my car without panicking. I practice every day but the feeling hasn't gotten any less intense. I've tried a ton of self-help books, medicines, and therapies, and nothing has worked.

Does anyone else have this? Has anyone recovered? If so, could you please recommend what helped you be well?

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Have you tried ssris? For some people these drugs can successfully mitigate anxiety.

Additionally since you cited this has been an ongoing problem you might want to look into seeing a licensed therapist. They are specially trained to treat anxiety disorders.

If you are not well enough to yet see a doctor or therapist you can always call the doctor and ask for a ssris to take to get you to a point where you can see one.

Wish you well.

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Thanks -

I was "treated" with SSRIs when I was a teenager. They just made me feel like a zombie. Withdrawal was terrible when I went off of them a few years later.

The psychiatrist just prescribed medicines, and the therapist told me to eat an M&M and pretend it was a magic pill that would make the anxiety go away. (Seriously.) I'm sorry to sound so jaded, but I've not had a good experience with the health care system-- mental health or physical health. :-( I'm hoping for some good self-help books, perhaps.

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I had that as a teenager and have generlized anxiety disorder as an adult. The only thing that ever helped me was SSRI's and doing the things I fear despite my anxiety. This sounds trite but your fearing your own fear. I do a lot of self talk when Im panicky. I remind myself I'm not dieing, going crazy, or losing control. I'm always in control and its ok to have a panic attack. It WILL end.

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I see a neuropsychologist and she has helped me.

She really swears by 20 minutes twice per day of deep breathing to help improve the tone of the parasympathetic nervous system.

I am doing a meditation program (free) by Deepak Chopra right now that was advertised on facebook that has some great info on mindfulness type thinking too.

My panic and agoraphobia tend to come and go too.

Keep exposing yourself regularly to keep yourself desensitized,

If you've been spending more time at home that's when for me it gets harder and harder to think about going out.

I get out almost daily. So it's basically routine for me.

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I completely understand where you are coming from. Panic was my constant. I have had many different drugs but the one that works for me the best is Prozac. I do not take it for depression but for anxiety. I didn't realize how much it helps me until I stopped taking Prozac a year or so ago and got on Cymbalta that is supposed to help with Nerve pain. It helped with the nerve pain but the panic came back full force to the point that everything I did, anywhere I went, I was constantly having crazy thought of things that was going to happen to me, friends, my kids. It was awful. I switched back to Prozac and will never stop. Good luck I hope you find something that works for you.

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I'm with lemons...I seemed to have gotten this after my POTS dx. I still have a hard time getting out. I am on Xanax for anxiety and it has helped me (everyone is unique). I even went to the hospital with the hubs today while he had an MRI of his brain (another story)., and will be accompanying hubs and daughter while she goes through Cardiac MRI/MRA on Thurs. (yet another story). What can I say, I've got to roll with the punches (as well as doubling up on the meds sometimes). I try to focus on what I can do. I made it to the hospital to support my Big Handsome and I count that as a true success :)

Some people pray, sing, listen to music, meditate, etc. you just have to try to find what works for you. I've recently taken up drawing whimsical trees with Biblical verses imbedded in the branches, very relaxing for me (when my brain is cooperating with my eyes and hands!).

We cannot control the physiological stuff, but we can try our best to control how we react and respond.

I surely hope you find what works for you and you get some much needed relief soon!

Be well,

Bebe

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Everyone is unique, some find medication helpful, some don't.

There are a lot of therapists out there, just because they have a license or degree doesn't mean they are for you. Sometimes you have to go thru a lot of frogs to find a prince. If you can find a therapist that you connect with it, they can really help. Dealing with my illness has caused me anxiety and I have tried many therapists. One therapist told me to eat brown rice and lots of vegetables. Another told me, something happened in my childhood, that made me think I didn't deserve to eat or live! No, I wasn't able to eat, because it hurt and I was ill.

But I have found a therapist who I finally feel is listening. Maybe call your insurance company they often have suggestions. Also there are many non medication treatments. It is really tough but you have to do what works for you. In the past I would wear rubber bands on my wrist and snap them to get my mind off things, count backwards by 7 or 9 ( I am really good at it now) and many other things like that to get my mind from staying on a destructive cycle. Remember small steps, can turn into many.

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Carrie if the ssris failed it might be worth it to try another one, sometimes people who didn't respond to one will respond to another one.

Apart from ssris, there's cognitive behavioral therapy or psychodynamic therapy that have proven efficacy in treating anxiety. I would suggest searching for a therapist who has this style training and who you connect with, often times therapists offer a free initial consultation to see if you will work well together.

Combining the two treatments (ssri + therapy) often boosts the effect and it might be a good idea to do both at the same time.

Other treatments are beta blockers, maois, benzodiazepines, or alpha receptor blockers then the tricyclic antidepressants. But these treatments are not very good options to be honest.

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i'm not sure what came first panic or pots symptoms. it's a chicken and egg question for me and unanswerable. I suspect pots came before anxiety but I don't know for sure.

It's so hard to separate the two. I think panic and consequently fear of going out -- the agoraphobia -- are a result of pots symptom. Just my opinion.

Were you diagnosed with anxiety/agoraphobia before you were diagnosed with pots?

Medication, meditation, graded exposure (on goodish pots days) are things to be tried. You need to persist. I have days when I'm really pots-sick and don't attempt to go out and other days when I'm okay enough to go. But really, for me, the feeling like I'm going fall down, pass out, sweating etc are pots stuff and the anxiety is a result of feeling bad.

blue.

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May I ask what specific thing youre afraid of situationally?

Passing out? Getting lose? Racing hearbeat?

I wonder if effexxor or clonapin might help? Or xanax?

Im wondering if you supplement with magnesium, d3, b12, zinc, etc?

They also say tryptophan is something natural that helps with this along

with deep breathing techniques.

Of course im not offering up easy solutions to complex problems.

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I've come down with severe panic, anxiety and agoraphobia since my pots symps started four months ago. I just didn't know what was happening to me and thought I might have been dying. I still fear that sometimes, since even though I've had heart tests done and I have no idea what heart thing could be causing all of my symps that they wouldn't have seen, I haven't actually been tested for pots yet and have no doc to discuss it with. So when I start getting pains or start feeling really bad I still freak out and feel like going to hospital.

I've been getting 'help' for the panic, but it only helps a bit since they're inclined to tell me it's all in my head which leads to a roadblock since it isn't. I've told them that my other docs don't think it is, but my god are psychiatrists stubborn. But I go to them for the benzos, which don't help with the orthostatic intolerance, but sometimes seem to help with nausea and flushing.

As for agoraphobia, I can't go anywhere where there isn't a defibrillator and/or one of my 'safe people' there. I just feel very physically ick all the time, have had a few traumatising palpitation episodes and am so afraid often that any moment might be my last. Pretty sure that if I do have pots it's the hyperadrenergic sort, so that wouldn't be helping me mentally anyway. Never used to freak out over health stuff much at all.

I'm afraid I can't offer much helpful advice to you right now anyway. I'd know what to say if you just had panic disorder (final year psychology student), but having an actual physical issue does complicate the matter as I've found. It takes a very zen attitude to not care if you pass out in front of a bunch of strangers who start freaking out :-/ Hopefully one day we'll both get to be that zen.

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Right there with you Freaked. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this, and I know how wicked scary it can be. I never go anywhere without the Hubs (aka-my American Express card) :)

Wishing you all the best.

Be well,

Bebe

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Hi everyone. I also developed severe anxiety due to this illness. I was just recently diagnosed with dysautonomia, but have been feeling really bad since December 2012 after an onset of mono virus. All this time I thought I was slowly dying of some unknown disease. Also all this time I was told that I have severe anxiety and need to treat it, but I knew somehow that it is not just anxiety. Still I started with Buspar med which is like benzo but not addictive as they say. I had severe dizzy spells for the whole month I was taking it. I think it made it worse. Than the doc gave me lexapro, which I took for 9 days and couldn't tolerate it. Had severe skin burning and that is actually when I chest pains and hot and cold flashes started. Then I was given xanax, which seemed to help a bit with panics. I never went over 1 mg and always stayed around .50-.75 per day. While taking it I felt like I was going thru constant inter withdrawals between doses since it is a short lived drug, so I decided to get off the drug. My doctor slowly tapered me off and while doing that I was taking Passion flower which seemed to help tremendously. I stopped for a month and actually started feeling better. I didn't feel anymore like it is hard to breath, also my chest pains were gone, of course this good feeling came after horrible withdrawal period of a whole month. During this withdrawal period I first time felt like I am actually really passing out and it felt more like dying, very bad experience. Then after a month I started having severe pains in my stomach area just under my left breast, it was so severe that I couldn't move. This brought back anxiety again and everyday I freaked out that it was pulmonary embolism, until after numerous visits to the hospital they finally agreed to do a chest ct scan and of cause no PE. After that incidence I started to really feel palpitations and tachardia and all other symptoms of POTS. Before that I was feeling more milder symptoms of POTS and anxiety and the symptoms of mono virus. So after this my cardio doc gave me Flurin which brought up my anxiety even more and I had to go back on xanax which I sill regret doing. Now I am not sure if all these psych drugs are making my condition worse or if they do help. I would want to get off xanax again, but so scared of withdrawal. My other cardio doc recommended Zoloft. He said that it was shown that it does help some people with dysautonomia to decrease their symptoms. So I might try that and if it helps then get off xanax. Xanax not a very good drug, it is very addictive. I am also so scared of going anywhere. When I drive somewhere I always look around if there hospitals in the area or at least some medical offices, just in case if I need to run into one of them for help. I did call the ambulance coupe of times for myself because of the feeling of passing out. I don't hang out with friends anymore. I go to walk my dog with my husband to the park that's located right by the hospital because I feel safer this way. I even told my husband that I wish we wold have a house right next to the hospital, then I would be more calm. I know all of this sounds crazy and I was never like this. I was very independent, outgoing and now I am afraid to go shopping by myself. This is ridiculous and I have no idea how to get rid of this either.

Maybe try Passion flower. It's natural and maybe it will help calm you down if you want only natural stuff. My psych helped me a bit with therapy. At least now I can drive to places and go to stores with my husband and to the park. Before I was afraid to do even that.

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Hahaha, know what you're saying about the house next to the hospital thing; wished that so many times. I never used to be like this either - I was 'the stable one' and a psych student to boot. I'm on benzos all the time now. I learned in great detail what they do to your neurotransmitters, but flip it, nobody's helping me in any other way. My pots symps are so bad I find making it to the bathroom or kitchen very difficult, and I'm just doing whatever I can to not feel so bad. Withdrawals have been terrible at times though, but xanax in particular does seem to help with some of the sweating and nausea (pretty sure i have hyperpots), as well as helping me not to freak out. I agree with you on passionflower; helped me sleep through the night when I first got sick, but didn't 'knock me out' either.

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Hey Freaked. So did you finish school or had to stop due to illness. I changed my career couple of years ago from finance to Physical Therapy. Was able to finish the first year of school, but due to getting sick had to take madical leave for a year. I still have two more years to go, but now due to all these symptoms do not know how to even acomplish it. Basicly i just took a 30K loan for this year which I will need to pay out and dont even know if I can go back to school and finish it and be able to work in this flield. This is so bad. All my plans are ruined. I hate this illness. So question about benzos. Sometimes i feel like they screwed me up even more. Is it possible for stuff like xanax to cause hypotension. I remember when i stopped for a month i didnt have lighheadness as much, so I am thinking maybe xanax is making it worse. Also, when I stoped them my sleep improved. I was able to sleep thru the night without waking up every 2-3 hours. I feel like my sleep is ver messed up. Ofcourse none of the psychiatrists will admitt that these drugs can screw up your nervous system evem more. I was thinking of switching to klonopin from xanax and then tapper off klonopin. I heard tha xanax withdrawals are the worst and can last fr up to a year, depending on how long you were on them. I feel like at this point just herbals like passionflower will not help me much because the fear that I developed over these month is really bad. But I was thinking if ssri help I would prefer to stay on that for a while then benzos. Honestly all these drugs scare me so much.

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