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Old 01-08-2013, 09:31 AM   #1
sandynd
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Panic Attacks ?

Hey everyone. We've been dealing with my husband's serious health issues for more than two years now, and the last crisis, which happened last month and resulted in a partial foot amputation, really did me in. I fell apart, started panicking without provocation, crying, not sleeping, not being able to make myself do ordinary tasks, just laying in bed or on the couch when I could, not being able to focus at work, the housework went out the window, I couldn't get any enthusiasm up for anything. My doctor finally put me on antidepressants, and while they have made a difference, I'm still experiencing panic attacks while I'm driving and at random times throughout the day, along with some lingering lack of enthusiasm for anything, some sleep disturbances etc. I have an appointment with the doc this Thursday to see if my meds need to be adjusted, but I'm wondering about the panic attacks. They seem to have gone down in number a bit, but they are on the upswing now that I am back at work and there are more expectations on me again. Does anyone who experiences them take anything besides their antidepressant to control them? I want to talk to my doctor about a separate "rescue" medication for them, as when they happen at work, they completely disrupt my productivity, and at home they scare my little girl, and they're dangerous when I'm driving. Thanks for any info you've got!
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:46 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandynd View Post
Hey everyone. We've been dealing with my husband's serious health issues for more than two years now, and the last crisis, which happened last month and resulted in a partial foot amputation, really did me in. I fell apart, started panicking without provocation, crying, not sleeping, not being able to make myself do ordinary tasks, just laying in bed or on the couch when I could, not being able to focus at work, the housework went out the window, I couldn't get any enthusiasm up for anything. My doctor finally put me on antidepressants, and while they have made a difference, I'm still experiencing panic attacks while I'm driving and at random times throughout the day, along with some lingering lack of enthusiasm for anything, some sleep disturbances etc. I have an appointment with the doc this Thursday to see if my meds need to be adjusted, but I'm wondering about the panic attacks. They seem to have gone down in number a bit, but they are on the upswing now that I am back at work and there are more expectations on me again. Does anyone who experiences them take anything besides their antidepressant to control them? I want to talk to my doctor about a separate "rescue" medication for them, as when they happen at work, they completely disrupt my productivity, and at home they scare my little girl, and they're dangerous when I'm driving. Thanks for any info you've got!
perimenapuase put me in hormonal heck.......... starting getting panic attacks........... I could not tolerate any AD's............ went to a doctor who taught me CBT and put me on a low dose long acting benzo ( klonopin)... took it daily for a yr........ til it stabilized me and i wasnt panicking 24/7........... now I take as needed........... maybe a 1/2 a pill one a week.......... hang in there............. also look up Claire weekes books.....amazing.............. i also usto listen to her audio books in car............ hope ur husband health is better........... and if u are in your 30's or 40's peri can really make u crazed
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Old 01-08-2013, 09:54 AM   #3
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I also suffered serious panic attacks many years ago and Klonopin worked for me also.
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
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Ask your doctor is a low dose immediate action pill, like zanax or lorazepam, might be a good thing. My girlfriend takes a half a dose a couple times a month when she really feels like she's going over the edge. It could also be that you need a higher dose of the med you are already on. Be sure you are clear with your doctor about frequency, triggers, duration and what activity is being compromised. Also, I'm so sorry you're on overload-that's what it is-can you get some help in some way, like housekeeping or cooking?
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Old 01-08-2013, 10:23 AM   #5
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*Spoiler Alert - there may be TMI in this post if you don't have a strong stomach*

My daughter and I split the essential household chores - she is such a good kid that sometimes she looks for things to do for me. Our cooking has gone downhill - we're eating a lot of crap food right now because I can't get up the energy to cook well for us. Fortunately we do have someone coming into the house to bandage my hubby's amputation and monitor it - that's what threw me over the edge when he was having the problem, I was monitoring and bandaging open sores and seeing them get worse and worse, and every time I forced him to get medical attention, everyone acted like what I was seeing wasn't unusual and no big deal. Even after one of his toes fell off in my hand, the emerg doc just sent us home again with instructions to keep bandaging and seeing if it healed. Well, it didn't, and the rest of the foot went bad as well, until we finally saw a surgeon who didn't blow us off and wanted to do the amputation right then. He realized he couldn't because of my hubby's other health issues, and had to get a specialist to do it. We finally got it done a week later and things have gotten considerably better, after some serious complications began clearing up.

But in the meantime, my leave from work ended, and I came back to an uncertain situation - I had been leading a couple of projects that were reassigned to others while I was on leave. When I came back, the projects had not progressed as I thought they would, and my boss has not really sat down to talk to me about whether I should be taking back the reins or not. On one, the leader assigned while I was gone seems pretty eager for me to take back over, which is fine except everything is overdue and we've got to have it done yesterday, and on the other, the leader assigned is a very touchy woman who doesn't like me. If I try to take it over again from her, she will likely get offended and start looking for ways to undermine me - she's done it before in the not too distant past. Honestly I just want to go to bed and shut out the rest of the world, but I don't get that option, so I've got to buck up somehow and get going. Hopefully some more meds will help.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandynd View Post
*Spoiler Alert - there may be TMI in this post if you don't have a strong stomach*

My daughter and I split the essential household chores - she is such a good kid that sometimes she looks for things to do for me. Our cooking has gone downhill - we're eating a lot of crap food right now because I can't get up the energy to cook well for us. Fortunately we do have someone coming into the house to bandage my hubby's amputation and monitor it - that's what threw me over the edge when he was having the problem, I was monitoring and bandaging open sores and seeing them get worse and worse, and every time I forced him to get medical attention, everyone acted like what I was seeing wasn't unusual and no big deal. Even after one of his toes fell off in my hand, the emerg doc just sent us home again with instructions to keep bandaging and seeing if it healed. Well, it didn't, and the rest of the foot went bad as well, until we finally saw a surgeon who didn't blow us off and wanted to do the amputation right then. He realized he couldn't because of my hubby's other health issues, and had to get a specialist to do it. We finally got it done a week later and things have gotten considerably better, after some serious complications began clearing up.

But in the meantime, my leave from work ended, and I came back to an uncertain situation - I had been leading a couple of projects that were reassigned to others while I was on leave. When I came back, the projects had not progressed as I thought they would, and my boss has not really sat down to talk to me about whether I should be taking back the reins or not. On one, the leader assigned while I was gone seems pretty eager for me to take back over, which is fine except everything is overdue and we've got to have it done yesterday, and on the other, the leader assigned is a very touchy woman who doesn't like me. If I try to take it over again from her, she will likely get offended and start looking for ways to undermine me - she's done it before in the not too distant past. Honestly I just want to go to bed and shut out the rest of the world, but I don't get that option, so I've got to buck up somehow and get going. Hopefully some more meds will help.
I'm going to lay it out to you.

You are burned out. Caring for a loved one who has that kind of wound who did not choose to have that as a chosen profession.....its freakin hard to look at and physically handle. I'm am LPN and I love wounds (because I am a freak like that) but I chose to do that with my life. The emotional toil and pressure to try to heal and keep that kind of wound clean is pure tortue, esp. when its your loved one and you are putting so much pressure on yourself to heal the area and see that its not working, plus the discomfort and pain that you are causing someone who you LOVE.

The amp sounds like it was the best thing possible for your family and your mates health however, it still has an impact on how your life is different now and the adjustments that you have to make to deal with this transition time. That equals more stress. Did you know that the body, when in a heavy stress situation for an amount of time, is still stressed when you back down the level of stress because of a physical reaction to the stress?

You are drowning in stress and I hear your cry for help. I would see a medical professional and/or mental health professional, be it a Dr. or a Religious leader, or just someone you trust. You might need some meds to help you get over this, or you may not.

What you do need is to take care of yourself You have been in such a high stress level in a dire situation taking on much more then would be expected. It of course, has effected your health. That much stress can cause changes in your body that can effect your mental and physical health.

It is not wrong or weak to go see someone. You are not a broken or a bad person. You have been dealt a very heavy hand of cards and it has taken its toll.

Work stress on top of all that must feel like the entire world is on your shoulders. I am so sorry to hear about his and hope that this all egts better soon.

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Old 01-08-2013, 11:11 AM   #7
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Sounds like you are under tremendous stress and coping as well as you can right now with everything you have to deal with. Sounds like you have both depression and panic attacks, which is not an unusual combination.

You say that you have had some relief with your antidepressant. You may need an increase in the dose. Antidepressants usually take a couple of weeks to get some effect and about a month to get a full effect It is not unusual to start at a lower dose and increased if the med show promise of helping but has not completely resolved symptoms. You may consider asking the dr. for an extra med for the anxiety.

Also, be aware that psychotherapy can be very useful in treating panic attacks. In your case, psychotherapy may also be useful in helping you deal with the overall stress and depression that comes with being a caregiver and all the other roles you have to play right now. Basically, you have alot to cope with right now. Psychotherapy may help you learn more effective ways of coping. Some communities even have groups for people who are caring for family members with health problems.

Good luck to you. Sounds like you are doing what you can to help yourself and your family.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:30 AM   #8
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I suffer from both depression and panic attachs and have all my life. I've finally gotten the right course of treatment for me. It includes talk therapy. That part is very important. I wouldn't skip it. The meds are important too, but talking things through with a good therapist completes the treatment plan. As for the meds. I take effexer as an anti depressent - I used to take lexipro and it worked for about a year and then it stopped working. Sometimes that happens. You have to be sensitive to what is happening with your body and keep communication open with your doctor. I also take Burbarone daily for aniexty and I have xanex for when an attach happens. I take Topamax for mood stabilazation. This is a lot of medication, but it makes me "normal" and able to lead a productive, happy life.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:36 AM   #9
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Not sure how old you are but it could be the start of menopause.

My doctor gave me a pamphlet on it last week and I was stunned to find out what kind of havoc hormones can do to one's body.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Sounds like you are under tremendous stress and coping as well as you can right now with everything you have to deal with. Sounds like you have both depression and panic attacks, which is not an unusual combination.

You say that you have had some relief with your antidepressant. You may need an increase in the dose. Antidepressants usually take a couple of weeks to get some effect and about a month to get a full effect It is not unusual to start at a lower dose and increased if the med show promise of helping but has not completely resolved symptoms. You may consider asking the dr. for an extra med for the anxiety.

Also, be aware that psychotherapy can be very useful in treating panic attacks. In your case, psychotherapy may also be useful in helping you deal with the overall stress and depression that comes with being a caregiver and all the other roles you have to play right now. Basically, you have alot to cope with right now. Psychotherapy may help you learn more effective ways of coping. Some communities even have groups for people who are caring for family members with health problems.

Good luck to you. Sounds like you are doing what you can to help yourself and your family.
I want to agree with this and add, it can take 6-8 weeks for antidepressants to reach full effect. Your doctor may need to increase your dose or give you a short term anti-anxiety drug to use in addition to your current medication.

I completely sympathize with you. I have been a caregiver for a very long time and have suffered burn out and a nervous breakdown. You have a hard row to hoe there. Don't try to minimize the level of stress, fear and anger you are experiencing. A good therapist can help you learn how to cope with the drastic changes in your life. Many of us don't have the coping skills to deal with chronic illness and the changes it brings to your marriage and family life. The stress is real, but there is treatment available if you will seek it out.

One other thing---are you eligible for FMLA at work? If have not applied for it yet, talk to your HR dept. You may qualify due to your panic attacks or even with your DH's illness. FMLA protects your job while you are dealing with chronic or acute illness or accident for up to 12 weeks. You can take a day at a time or even a few hours at a time, usually. So that would give you some time to go to doctor and therapy appts, if you need it. Is there any way that you could drop back to part-time for a bit, while you're getting your meds in order?

ETA: I have been taking meds for depression and anxiety for several years now. I was in intensive therapy for about 9 weeks, then monthly for about 2 years. Now I see my psychiatrist(who manages the meds) every 3 months and I no longer attend therapy. I have many more coping skills that I did not have 3 years ago. Finding the right therapist and the right med cocktail has made all the difference for me. I also joined a support group for about a year and it really helped me a lot to discuss and vent my frustration with people who were walking in my shoes, or at least, understood the tremendous stress I was under. See if there is a caregivers support group of some kind in your area.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:52 AM   #11
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OP, sounds like a tremendous amount of stress. When my dh got sick, they wanted me to take care of his central line at home - I just couldn't do it, I had a newborn and 2 other children at home. So, kudos to you for hanging in there. I really have to wonder about who thinks it's a good idea for a spouse to be looking after someone who's that sick.

I also got panic attacks and depression. I was on the depression meds for a while before the panic attacks started. The depression meds really didn't do anything for panic attacks. I was prescribed lorazepam and that really helped settle the panic attacks and let me cope. Good luck.
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Old 01-08-2013, 11:54 AM   #12
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I want to add on just do not rely on drugs to make you better. Please seek professional counseling! Find someone that will teach you coping skills then make a point of practicing them and doing them.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:27 PM   #13
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OP, please don't beat yourself up for feeling this way. I don't think many of us could handle what you've been through and what you've had to do without having the same reaction you've had.

Really, it's OK, and it will get better. You've been so strong for your husband and your family, and it's OK for you to give yourself time to recover. To heck with the cooking, situations like this are why takeout exists. And never mind the cleaning. A few dust bunnies aren't the end of the world.

In fact, can you hire someone to clean the house? Just once, just to get it back in shape. Then that'll be off your list.

As for the work situation, if it were me, I'd have a one on one meeting with my boss. Tell them that you need some guidance on where to pick back up, what needs to be prioritized, etc.

We try to do it all ourselves, and sometimes you just can't. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. It's OK to ask for help, really it is.
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:54 PM   #14
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There are two main stream ways to medicate panic attacks.

First, we have Benzodiazepams such as Valium and Lorazepam. You take them when you start to feel anxious and they calm you down. The only problem is that they *can* be addictive and as such have declined in use over recent years. They earned themselves the nick name "Mother's Little Helper".

Second, my favourite approach, 1mg - 2mg Trifluoperazine (Stelazine). This drug mellows you out WITHOUT making you drowsy and is non addictive. The downside is that it is an antipsychotic and with the label come a lot of (unfair) hang ups.

Try here for help: http://www.crazymeds.us/ The forums are excellent for medical help.
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Old 01-08-2013, 02:08 PM   #15
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I just wanted to add that it's important to see a doctor. In September, I had an attack where my blood pressure shot up, my heart was racing, chest pain, etc. I was hospitalized to rule out heart issues. After my heart checked out fine, they thought it was probably a panic attack. I had another bad episode in October and then started experiencing spikes in blood pressure followed by periods of very low blood pressure. I kept insisting that I didn't think I was having panic attacks and they eventually took a look at the arteries to my kidneys because blockages there can cause blood pressure problems. As it turned out, I had a narrowing of 75% in the right renal artery caused by trauma from an emergency surgery I had several years ago. There was some tissue, probably scar tissue, wrapped around the artery like a rubber band causing lack of blood flow to my kidney which in turn caused the extreme blood pressure fluctuations I was experiencing. They opened the artery using a balloon right before Christmas and I feel a million times better. I think a lot of times, doctors default to panic attacks without considering other problems, especially for women with a lot of stress in their lives. So be sure to get checked out thoroughly!
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