I am a 39 year old male who is terrified of my anxiety medicines. I have had anxiety for the past 4-5 years. It was pretty much manageable until this past January when I had a massive panic attack that seemed to last for weeks. Since then I am unable to leave my "safe zones" I go to work throughout the week. On the weekends I pretty much stay home. When I am left home alone I have panic attacks. My quality of life has drastically declined. I have seen my primary care physician several times and been prescribed: Xanax 2.5 mg as needed, hydroxyzine 2 times a day 20 mg, and Prozac 10 mg for 10 days then up to 20 mg once daily. I am terrified of taking any of these medicines. I see a therapist as well. All my therapist talks about is my fear of medication and I do not get much out of our sessions. I feel I need the medication (Prozac) but I can not bring myself to try it. My main concerns are side effects and I feel once I start I will be trapped into a life of being on medicines. I have read several horror stories regarding medication. Can anybody here give positive details about taking Prozac? Has anybody overcome this anxiety on their own? Thanks in advance!
Hi, Herb! Clinical anxiety/panic disorders don't resolve on their own. You are doing the right thing seeing a therapist to help deal with your fears.
The facts are that millions of people benefit from anxiety medications and are living happy functional lives. The horror stories that you read are written by the <10% of users that have problems with their meds... and often it's their own anxieties that defeat them. It's a vicious cycle of letting your emotions control your life.
Both your doctor and therapist are professionals who are highly qualified to diagnosis and treat these disorders. They are trying to help you and you need to take a leap of faith and let them.
Are you a gambling man? What do you want to bet that by following professional advice you can live a "normal" life like those other 90%?
Personally, I suffered for most of my life with Major Depressive disorder, Bipolar ll, and associated anxiety disorders. Now, because of the medications I take daily I'm a happy and healthy person who enjoys my life.
I hope you can make that leap too!
Best regards, Wildcat
P.S. You should always feel free to post here with any questions or concerns you may have, okay?
I can completely relate to what you are going through having gone through debilitating anxiety and panic attacks for a period of many years.
I'll try to be concise here, but my first point is that for me the most important benefit of my medication therapy with respect to Xanax was not in actually taking it but in KNOWING THAT I COULD TAKE IT. Yes, I experimented with the effects of Xanax (I was prescribed .5 mg) and I became familiar with what it could do and I I took great comfort in the fact that the medication could end a panic attack withing 30 minutes or so of taking it. I wound up carrying Xanax around with me like a security blanket for years but actually did not take it that often. But it helped me desensitize myself to the external stimuli that led to anxiety and panic attacks.
At the time I was initially dealing with this condition I don't think it was well known what the effects of SSRIs were on anxiety disorders and panic disorder in particular. But I wish that weren't the case because it turns out, and this is my second point, that many SSRI's including Prozac can block panic attacks at relatively low dosages.
My 3rd point is that consistent anxiety can lead to depressive symptoms and this is another reason to consider taking the Prozac.
So I would encourage you to experiment with the Xanax but don't become dependent on it. Become dependent on the knowledge that it can end or prevent your panic attack. Also, I would encourage you to try the 10 mg of Prozac - actually for several weeks. It's possible that 10 mg is sufficient to reduce your anxiety and block your panic. Worse case is that if you do have to bump up to 20 mg the adjustment will be easier after several weeks than it will be after 10 days. Also, 20 mg of Prozac is still a low dose (considered the lowest "therapeutic" dose) as the maximum dose is 80 mg.
Limit or eliminate alcohol consumption during this period as well as caffeine. Also, get some exercise if you aren't already - even if it is just walking a mile or two each day at a brisk pace. But don't do it in the comfort of your home unless you absolutely have to. Do it at an indoor or outdoor track or on a treadmill at the health club. You have to continually work at getting a little bit outside your comfort zone during this period.
Take care for now and all the best.
First, you are not alone. It can be scary to start taking medications not knowing how they will affect you and it seems your anxiety has got quite a grip on you. As Wildcat said, you are doing the right thing seeing your therapist.
I wonder if you are able to take a GeneSight test? The test is used to determine which medications would be the best fit for your genetic profile and therefore eliminate medications that might cause significant side effects.
I have had awful panic attacks where I too couldn’t leave the house but once I got on the right medication, my anxiety abated and I didn’t feel “drugged” or anything negative- just my normal self, minus the crippling anxiety. I’m now able to live a healthy productive life!
I can’t speak on Prozac because it is a drug on my test that I cannot take, but I can tell you the medications I can take have helped me tremendously and I’m super grateful I worked through my anxiety with my therapist and my psychiatrist.
I would encourage you to try at least your anti anxiety medication so you can have some relief and know that you have options for finding the best medications that will work well for you.
Xanax is a short acting anti anxiety. hydroxyzine tends to have a longer half life and is an antihistamine used off label for anxiety. If it were me, I would take the Xanax and see if it calms you to the place where you can get clear on your next steps
Ask for the Genesight test and do your best to trust your prescribers. None of those medications are a life sentence.
Personally, I’ve also found beta blockers to be extremely helpful with anxiety. They are non habit forming, gentle and work on the part of the brain that generates the anxiety. Perhaps you could start there.
As Wildcat said, you have come to the right place - many are here to support you and many have walked a mile in your shoes. Good luck and keep us posted!
- Prozac Information for Consumers
- Prozac Information for Healthcare Professionals (includes dosage details)
- Side Effects of Prozac (detailed)
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