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I Flunked Counseling


Mrs. Burschman
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Hi all. I have a question for you.

I had a good childhood. No abuse. No terrible things happened to me. But I've been struggling with anxiety for as long as I can remember.

So I tried counseling. In fact, I've been in counseling continuously for three years. I went into counseling looking to significantly reduce my anxiety. But lo and behold, "talking things out" hasn't helped.

I think I'm coming to the realization that counseling can help me DEAL with my anxiety, but it's not going to change it, because it seems to be biologically based. It seems to be POTS, not some kind of psychological problem. And I can't talk away the POTS. All these years, I've been the first person to chalk up my feelings of anxiety to being "mentally ill."

Anyway, has anyone else had this happen? I feel like I've flunked counseling!

Amy

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Flop,

For sure, that's the case. I wasn't arguing against counseling. I was just explaining that I've been too quick all along to give MYSELF a psychiatric diagnosis.

Now that I know I have POTS, it explains why just "talking about it" didn't make the physical symptoms go away.

Amy

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Hi

When Pots hit me last year I really thought it was anxiety. My sister has an anxiety, full blown panic attacks, and so I thought that might be happening to me. Once my pots was under better control and I understood the symptoms I could start to see where pots ended and anxiety began. I did become very anxious during this time due to the recurrence of IC and a crash course through menopause. It is very hard to tease apart what is purely physical and what is coming from thought patterns, learned behavior, stress etc. My first pots episode was in the car when I was driving so needless to say I was anxious driving for a while. I am seeing a psychiatrist and it is wonderful for helping to see what I can't control and what I can work on etc. A pots episode and an anxiety attack can seem so similar but I can tell the difference now. Just keep tuning into what feels good, what feels bad, what kicks up an episode, what makes it pass, etc. and I think you will start to see more clearly what is going on. I hope this makes sense but it is the end of a long week and my brain is foggy!! Hang in there!

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I totaly agree, I don't know how I'd get thru the anxiety caused by my POTS without my medication. I was almost totally housebound with the fear of having a panic attack away from home. Mine seem to be caused when my BP drops or I get a surge. It was like someone just flicked a switch. I'd feel totally normal and then boom, I'd feel a little light headed and then I'd break out in a sweat and totaly panic feelings would happen. After begining my med which was a very small dose of celexa I still get my pots symptoms although not as bad as before but they do not trigger anxiety and panic. I'd talk to the doctor treating your pots and see what might help you. I went to counseling for almost a year, once every week. I learned the panic would not kill me but it didn't stop it from happening. I could use relaxation and breathing to get thru it but it still made my life misserable. I have a greater quality of life now and can better cope with my pots and my life in general with out having to deal with anxiety. Don't settle for staying in this pattern, take the first step and talk to your pots doctor. I hope you are going to feel better soon.

Kim

I agree that there is a biological basis for psychiatric symptoms. I use this information to help my patients consider a medication for the symptoms. Anxiety deserves to be treated, not just pushed off as "all in the head". In addition, some of medications that treat anxiety might also help POTS.

K.

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I'm glad that you're coming to terms with your illness.

At the same time, though, talking through a traumatic past doesn't make the past go away either, so I don't think that having anxiety from one issue is more or less valid or treatable than from another. No one said that having a chronic illness isn't traumatic. ;) (well, no one with an ounce of sense, anyway!)

So while POTS imay be with you for the long haul, or memories of mistreatment or abuse for someone else, the anxiety doesn't have to be, so I think that counseling is just as appropriate for both.

Keep up the positive thinking! :)

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Personally, for me, I feel like counseling to get through anxiety is like counseling to get through a seizure.

For me anti anxiety meds helped.

Counseling was totally useless.

I am not saying that counseling isn't helpful for some people, I am just saying that while it might help coping skills, I don't think the kind of anxiety most of us have can be controlled by counseling.

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I'm a big fan of counseling, with a GOOD counselor. I, too, have had the misdiagnosis of anxiety disorder prior to getting to the POTS dx. I kept fussing and fuming that dosc were dismissing me with anxiety and giving me strong anti-anxiety meds but I wasn't feeling any better. I was quite the pill for a few months there!

Once I got on meds specifically for POTS things got much better. Included in my medications is an anti-anxiety, klonopin. I take a tiny dose along with other things including Cymbalta and Wellbutrin. The anxiety is greatly decreased - practically gone, actually. My anxiety, if it was that seemed to be related to adrenaline surges. No adrenaline surges - no anxiety.

I have not found counseling to "cure" my anxiety, but it has been helpful to talk through my fears and worries with my therapist. She is good at listening and she actually reads what I take her about MVP and the like. Yesterday she even asked if there was something I could give her about POTS because she wants to know more. I am quite impressed and thankful she has stuck with me through the diagnosis of all this dysautonomia stuff. I'm still learning some of the ways in which POTS affects my body and my lifestyle. The therapist is great to go to with my coping each time there is something I realize I can't do any longer or need to change the way I do something.

It is a challenge to come to terms with the shift from "mental illness" to "physical illness". I've been going through that as well. It is great to see how getting the physical symptoms under better control is taking care of the mental/anxiety symptoms.

Best of luck to you. You have not flunked counseling - sounds to me as if you have had a breakthrough!!!

Dari

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It is possible to have both anxiety and POTS as separate conditions - it seems there are several people on the forum with both. I think some anxiety is common with any chronic illnes, moreso with POTS. However if you're having it as a primary symptom then it's probably a separate condition which requires individual treatment. In that case, counseling and/or medication WILL change your anxiety. If you're not sure about this therapist, it might make sense to consult with another.

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rqt,

I've been getting treatment for my "anxiety disorder" for years. I'm taking medication. In fact, I've tried nearly every kind of medicine they use for anxiety, and some they don't. I'm seeing my third counselor. What I guess I was trying to say is that the fact I STILL have anxiety in spite of all this is evidence that a big part of it is physiological, and all the counseling in the world isn't going to make my autonomic nervous system behave. I can learn to cope in spite of it, however.

I do feel bad for my counselors. They've tried so hard! The first two didn't know what they were up against! The one I see now knows about the POTS. We were doing biofeedback, and we just couldn't get my sympathetic nervous system to behave. Now we know why!

Thanks to everyone for letting me think out loud here!

Amy

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