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Sudden onset acute anxiety?


My whole life I've been a very stable, optimistic, resilient person. I've never struggled with emotional issues or any health issues. About six months ago I began experiencing isolated, infrequent symptoms consistent with panic attacks (increased heart rate, sweating, feeling of impending doom). These episodes lasted only briefly (less than 10 minutes) and only occurred once every month or so.

In early July, one day out of nowhere my heart began beating rapidly and continued doing so for seven hours. I went to the doctor and received an EKG, with negative results. I was prescribed Xanax and Citalopram; I took my first dosage and went to bed. I awoke that night feeling severely depressed, a feeling I'd never experienced before. For several days thereafter, my depression was debilitating and was coupled with episodes of severe panic/terror, where I sweated profusely, trembled, and felt like I was literally going crazy. I felt like I wanted to die; very unusual for me, as I love my life.

My doctor shifted me to Zyprexa, which made me feel zombie-like and did little to alleviate my depression/anxiety.

After several days taking Zyprexa, my doctor recommended I switch to Escitalopram (Lexapro), which I took at an initial dose of 10mg and continued until around September 1. My emotions and symptoms stablized during this time, though I felt a constant low level of what I can only describe as stress/anxiety (a feeling that something was wrong), along with feelings of depersonalization and derealization, which I've never felt before in my life.

I discontinued Lexapro on September 1 (roughly 2 months of taking it), after weaning my dose for 8 days. I've felt a notable improvement in mind, emotions and overall physical wellbeing -- I feel about 95% of how I felt prior to the first episode and prescriptions. Yet, the constant low level feeling of 'something is wrong' persists. It doesn't interfere with my emotions (I'm feeling happy) nor my outlook (I feel positive), yet the feeling is very annoying and I experience it around-the-clock -- I find sleeping difficult and am waking every two hours. I continue to feel depersonalization and derealization, yet i can objectively recognize them for what they are and ignore them - they feel like a physical symptom, not a psychological one.

I've had a series of tests run; blood test, liver test, kidney test, thyroid test, heart CT scan, heart EKG, 14-day holter monitor... each test has had negative results. one supplemental fact: whereas my whole life i've been able to drink alcohol in quantity, i now feel slight nausea when drinking even a small amount of wine.

Could my symptoms be a result of a brain lesion or some kind of neurological problem?
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replied September 14th, 2010
I don't know about the brain or neurologica problem, but i do know about panic. I've been suffering from it for about 5 years or so.

You're story sounds alot like how mine started. I've gone through many medications and combinations before i found what worked for me. Alot of the ones i tried either didn't work, made my panic worse, caused confusion to the point i didn't even recognize where i lived (ya that was scary), too zombie like, the list goes on and on.

Currently i take zoloft every day, and ativan as needed. I was taking zanax, but that can be addicting and i believe i started getting addicted so I asked my doc to change it. I've also found that seeing a psychologist helps me a whole lot. She was able to teach me alot of techniques to help me keep my panic under control.

I've done alot of research on the web about it trying to figure out what causes it all of a sudden. I've read everything from a chemical inbalance in the brain, to a chromosome defect, to it's just in our heads. I don't think anyone really knows what the cause is. Personally I think it's a combination of different things. Maybe the chromosome defect causes the chemical inbalance to make the panic start then our own thoughts about how it feels like we're having a heart attack makes it worse.

I can only say to hang in there. Keep trying differnt meds until you find what works for you. If it makes you feel off, try something else. Just watch out for signs that you might be getting addicted to a perticular drug.

p.s. I also had the same reaction to alcohol and i know a few others that suffer from panic that have said the same thing. I don't know the reason but i find it interesting.
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