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  1. Three years ago we relocated 2000 miles from where we'd lived for 30 years, so I had to start over with all new doctors. Because of my medical PTSD, I chose to work with an internist that runs a concierge practice. I get more of his time, and I have his personal cell number. He knows of my medical trauma (I was born with a birth defect that required three major surgeries to my mouth and lip that required reconstruction), and has been very careful when referring me to specialists who are not only skilled, but have good bedside manners. I've only used his personal cell number twice in three years - once was six weeks ago when I sliced my finger open on a food processor blade and didn't know what was the best place to go for, for stitches (wanting to avoid a long wait at an ER). So I don't take advantage of him, but he knows me very well now. I also talk with my therapist when I have procedures coming up (well, I couldn't exactly brief her on the finger episode BEFORE it happened, LOL) such as dental work, colonoscopies (I have a genetic mutation, putting me at high risk for colon cancer, so I have to have them done every year), etc. I used to have to pre-medicate for the dermatologist, dental cleanings and GYN, but the last visits with them have been without Xanax, and I survived. I mean, my mind KNOWS logically that I have to take care of my physical health, but my body screams back at me and tells me to keep them all away from me, which ultimately leads to panic. Seven years ago, I also had a cancer diagnosis that required a complete hysterectomy, which I went through amazingly calmly, but several weeks after the surgery, I developed an abscess that led to sepsis (which has a 30% mortality rate), and I was hospitalized for five nights. I literally went from fine one evening after dinner, to raging sick by midnight. It was so scary - so yea, it adds to my health anxiety, because I've experienced how fast you can go from completely fine to being critically ill. My doctor knows all of this about me, and takes his time with me.
  2. Oh, I know it's absolutely the right choice, which I feel is what adds to my anxiety. I know I don't really have a choice - it's the intelligent thing to do, to get the shot. So my mind says yes, you have to do it, but the other part of me is screaming, "What the hell are you doing? You might have some nasty side effects from it." That's where the health anxiety comes in. I had major medical trauma as an infant/toddler, as well as a nasty case of sepsis seven years ago, and because our bodies have memories, mine is telling me to not let anyone do anything to me that might cause discomfort, even if it is in my best interest.
  3. I haven't been on this site in a while, but I am scheduled to get my third Pfizer shot tomorrow evening. I had no reactions to the first two, other than a pretty sore arm. My H had his booster last weekend, and had some serious chills and body aches, although the body aches weren't too bad. As it is, when I got my first two shots, I had to take some Xanax before I got to the clinic. I'm definitely seeing Xanax in my future for tomorrow. I absolutely trust the science behind the vaccine - H is an accomplished researcher in the pharmaceutical industry, and he has no doubts about getting it whatsoever. So I know it's safe; I just don't want to start to feel sick, because that's when I panic.
  4. What Mark G says is so true. I can promise you whatever you tell your therapist, it will not be the worst or most challenging thing s/he will have ever heard, or will hear in the rest of their careers. And it won't be the least troublesome, either. It's what they do... all day long, with people on a continuum who are in therapy because they really want to be, and people who are there as part of a court mandate, and could care less. Do you have children? If so, for me, it was a way of modeling for my kids that I was doing what I had to do to take care of myself when I needed help. One of them eventually ended up in therapy, and the other one runs away as fast as anyone suggests it. They both suffer from anxiety, too, like me, but it manifests itself in very different ways. I do wish the younger one would be more open to it. I do feel like my helicoptering parenting (as a result of my own anxieties) contributed to theirs and I just want them to break the cycle.
  5. I met with a second psychiatrist this week after feeling like the first one I met was non-committal when it came to consulting with my previous psychiatrist. I've tried a lot of different anti-depressants and I don't want to start over again and she hemmed and hawed about how full her schedule was, and the time difference in trying to reach my previous psychiatrist. So I found someone new, and at the first appt., he didn't even bring up a long-term plan of taking me off of benzos. He was one of the most thorough p-docs I've ever met, and instead is approaching the anxiety with adjusting anti-depressants, so I feel like I have a bit of a reprieve. I see him again this coming week. I know he's already reached out to my new marriage counselor and new therapist, and maybe my old psychiatrist (also will probably reach out to my old therapist because he knows me better than any of them) I really hope I notice a difference in my anxiety with the new anti-depressant. Can I just say, one thing that drives me nuts about Xanax is how I get the hiccups so much more often when I'm on it. I don't know if it's the same with other benzos, or just Xanax. And it always seems to happen fairly soon after I take my bedtime dose, which is frustrating when I'm trying to go to sleep!
  6. Exactly... they only tell you how well your liver metabolizes the medication. It won't tell you if it will work or not. I did the test about two months ago and found out a longer-acting benzo I was switched to from Xanax, then weaned from in 2.5 weeks, was in the red category, which could explain why I developed such severe diarrhea for at least four weeks. I'd say my GI system is probably back to 80% of being what it was before the benzo substitution, so it was a BAD choice. Xanax is in the yellow category for me with a footnote that my liver metabolizes it slowly, so I need less of it to get the same effects as someone else (and yes, it does work for me) My psychiatrist at the time (we just relocated so I have a new p-doc) met with the representative of the company (GeneSight) and when push came to shove, he had to admit it doesn't tell you which drugs will work or not... just gives you clues as to which ones you might have side effects with; she also said none of her colleagues at the teaching hospital she is on staff with are really using it. So in a way, it can help you rule out certain medications, but it doesn't mean those in the green category are going to work... it just means your liver metabolizes it appropriately. My new p-doc that I met this week was very interested in the test results, and I think is using it (along with my history of the many meds I've tried in the past) as he considers which approach to take with me. I'm green for the Pamelor and Remeron I'm on now, but they aren't working, so he's weaning me off of the Pamelor and introducing Effexor, which is actually in the yellow category. The footnotes for why it's in the yellow category basically say again serum levels could be high (because my liver metabolizes it more slowly, so it stays in my system longer), so I would likely do better with a lower dose, if it's going to work. Remeron is in the green. He started me on the lowest dose possible of Effexor... 37.5 mg. Medicare is covering the costs of the test. I had it done when I was at an inpatient facility, so I haven't seen a bill. I hear it costs around $1400 if you submit it to insurance, but if your insurance doesn't cover it, the company charges under $400. I think as time passes, the tests will become more refined and offer better information. My H is a chemist in the pharmaceutical industry, and explained it all to me, and says hopefully the day will come sooner rather than later that refinements of these kinds of test are more precise and reliable. If I had to gauge, though, I'd say it's years away from that.
  7. I know when I'm anxious I swallow more often, thus more air gets in my belly, so yea, I burp more. It took me many years to realize I do this, but once I started paying attention to it (my anxiety when it's particularly ramped up), I just sort of expected the burping to come along until my anxiety settled down. In fact, sometimes when I feel bloated, drinking water will help, because it helps me get the air out when I burp, so I feel less bloated. But yea, try to pay attention if you're swallowing more when your anxiety is higher than usual. Then it would make perfect sense. BTW... I also have GERD but it is fairly well managed with meds.
  8. Hi, I'm a newbie here and just finished reading through this entire thread. Was wondering if anyone had any updates they'd be willing to share, particularly the Effexor use. For the last five years, a very low dose of Pamelor and Remeron was all I was taking for anxiety and depression after having ECT. But in the last 18 months, there has been a LOT of PTSD in my life and the debilitating anxiety returned. On top of it all, my husband and I relocated less than two months ago, 2000 miles away after living in the midwest for almost 30 years, so I had to find a new 'support' team, including therapist and psychiatrist while still trying to process all the PTSD events. The psychiatrist I saw this week was incredibly thorough, and felt like he needed to start some sort of medication change at that first visit because I was so desperate. Unfortunately I don't have the list of all the meds we tried prior to my agreeing to do ECT, but he was very upfront that he was going to reach out to not only my psychiatrist back in the midwest, but my therapist, too to get whatever information he needs. But this new guy asked so many more questions than anyone (other than my previous psychiastrist), and said he really has so many more questions for me that he didn't have time to ask this week. So I see him again next week. He actually weighed me (I've lost quite a bit of weight with this latest bout of anxiety) and took my blood pressure. He has had good luck with Effexor and Remeron together. So I am lowering the Pamelor and this morning took my second 37.5 Effexor (I think it's the extended or sustained release). I've heard horror stories of how difficult it is to come off of Effexor when people have wanted to (hey, if it works, I have no problem being on it the rest of my life), so I was a little reluctant, but am trying to remain open-minded. Thankfully as I go through this, I am also on .5mg extended-release Xanax, twice a day (AM and PM), and have short-acting Xanax I can use for breakthrough anxiety. But I'm in my late 50s, in a brand new world with really no friends here, and tend to obsess about medication changes because I don't feel all that motivated to get out (although I do run some sort of errand at least once a day), and we're in a temporary apt. until we close on our new home at the end of the month. I do not work. So I've turned to the internet. I am hoping everyone who has posted here about their new meds will chime in and provide an update that will offer me some hope. Oh, I did provide him with the results of GeneSight testing I had done a couple of months ago, and he was very glad I had already done that and made copies for his file. I also have been attending, on average, two DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) meetings a week, which has been helpful some nights, and just so-so other nights.
  9. Due to a relocation, I am in search of a new psychiatrist and one that I've interviewed recommended this drug - I'd never heard of it before, despite thinking I'd been through almost every SSRI out there. I confirmed with my psychiatrist back at home the indications for this medication, and she says she uses it, so I would definitely be interested in hearing anybody else's experience with it. No one has ever officially diagnosed me with OCD, although I'm learning mental health professionals sort of see OCD as on a spectrum, and I am probably low enough on the spectrum that an official diagnosis of OCD wouldn't apply to me. Right now, the majority of my anxiety is exacerbated by things that are completely out of my control... major losses (including three deaths) in the last 18 months, as well as diagnosed chronic health problems due to a genetic mutation, and this relocation 2000 miles from where we spent 30+ years of our lives. With the little googling I did, though, it did say there could be an issue with taking it and certain benzos. My current cocktail is 60 mg. Pamelor, 30 mg. Remeron and .5mg extended release Xanax twice a day, with occasional .25mg. of Xanax in an orally dissolving tablet for breakthrough anxiety. I probably take it for breakthrough about half the days of the week. Yes, I know my Pamelor really isn't in within therapeutic range, but I was put on it after having ECT in 2013 because it is shown to work well in conjunction with people who have had ECT. I did so well after the ECT that I didn't feel it was necessary to increase the Pamelor. The first psychiatrist I met with left me with a feeling that she wasn't committed to talking with my previous psychiatrist back home before making changes, and I'm not OK with that, so I am having a consultation with another psychiatrist this afternoon.
  10. Yes, anxiety can DEFINITELY cause diarrhea. It gave me really bad diarrhea for four weeks - I even ended up in the ER dehydrated and with very low potassium. Now, I was at a residential treatment facility that doesn't believe you can do the deep therapeutic work if you are on any dose, no matter how small of a benzo, so they weaned me off of a low dose of Xanax in 2.5 weeks (which I have since learned is basically inhumane - it should be done over many, many months). I actually developed colitis from the unrelenting anxiety I was experiencing. I'm doing better now, but I'd still say my GI system is not 100% despite being back on Xanax. So yes, anxiety can cause major GI issues, or visa versa, having major GI issues can cause anxiety. In my case, my GI system was fine until they weaned me from the Xanax. I did eventually have a abdominal CT scan, which showed the colitis, but because I just had a colonoscopy in May, no one is jumping in to recommend another one right now, and again, the GI issues are better than they were a month ago.
  11. I have to disagree with the thought that no one died of feelings - I absolutely believe that Debbie Reynolds died from stress related to her daughter's death. There is substantial medical literature out there that shows death from a broken heart is a well-established occurrence. Now, how often does it happen? Probably not very often, but for someone like me who has had a LOT of major loss and PTSD in the last 18 months, I do worry about it, particularly because my mother was my age when she had a silent heart attack, one of my brothers was my age when he had a stent put in, and another brother died from his second heart attack in two years just eight months ago. Heart disease runs in my family, and any physician will tell you one of the number one things you can do to reduce your risk for a heart attack is to reduce the stress in your life. But when you've experienced everything I have in such a short amount of time, it is completely unrealistic to have that kind of stress NOT impact your health. I am working through it as best I can in therapy, but part of my additional stress is that we just relocated 2000 miles away from the area I called home for 29 years. That's where my therapist, psychiatrist, marriage counselor and entire support system was, and now I am having to start over. I've never felt so alone in my life, but other than taking baby steps and hoping things improve, it's a fact of life that my stress level is off of the charts devastating. I developed such bad GI problems that I ended up in the ER incredibly dehydrated and with incredibly low potassium. Had I not insisted I go to the ER (I had some medical people calling into question my need to go even though they knew how often I was going to the bathroom), that low potassium could have wrecked havoc with my heart. So yea, feelings that are unmanageable because they are so overwhelming can contribute to early death. By the way, I did not create my own problems... everything that I am coping with now happened to me and was completely out of my control - three deaths of people very close to me in a very short period of time, finding out my partner had cheated on me with three women in a two-year period of time, and finding out I have a genetic predisposition that puts me at a 50% risk of developing colorectal cancer in my lifetime... PLUS relocating across the country to an area where I have to recreate a new support system. All the literature says the infidelity will take an average of three years to recover from. I haven't even begun to deal with the loss of two of my brothers 12 days apart because there are too many other crises on my plate. Every time I turn around, another crisis slams me in my face and all the previous crises get put on the back burner. I'm sure I'm not the only person who has been dealt such a traumatic hand in life, and I hope that I can get the help I need sooner rather than later. And I'm one of the proactive people who seeks out support groups, or whatever might be available to alleviate the stress. But sometimes it's just too much.
  12. Due to cross-country move less than two month ago, I have a new psychiatrist. I LOVED my psychiatrist who is still in touch with me until I fully transition to the new psychiatrist - the meds I'm taking were prescribed by her, so she feels an obligation to me until the new psychiatrist has fully assessed me (three full appts.) and is willing to start writing scripts. I have PTSD due to many events of the past 18 or so months (details are in my post in the Introduction forum) and have ended up on a dose of .5 mg extended-release Xanax twice a day... once in the AM and once in the PM. But even taking the two a day, I have breakthrough anxiety a few times a week and occasionally have to take an additional .25mg or .5mg. I have somewhat isolated, which is not good when you move to a new area and need to make new connections with people. So the new psychiatrist has said that's the problem with Xanax (and I know it)... is its short half-life. She started planting the seed for a switch from Xanax to Valium, hope it stabilizes, and then start switching around my anti-depressants to see if something else will help with the anxiety (current anti-depressants are Pamelor - very low dose - and Remeron). In a previous episode of severe anxiety and depression from 2011-2013, I went through a LOT of medications and none work. I eventually had ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and it worked... took away the depression and anxiety so I no longer needed Xanax. It wasn't until this recent string of traumas began happening 18 months ago that I slowly started using it from time to time, until within the last couple of months I'm back on Xanax on a prescribed (as opposed to PRN) dose. I hate trying new medications, and the new psychiatrist isn't telling me I have to do this right this second, but she seems to think I will have more stable coverage of a benzo if I'm using Valium, which has a much longer half-life, than Xanax. Wondering if anyone here has made a switch from Xanax to Valium and what it was like. At one point many years ago I did attempt a switch from Xanax to Klonopin, and the Klonopin just didn't offer the same anxiety relief as Xanax, so that's one reason I'm afraid to switch to Valium.
  13. They finally switched my BP med this spring because this was happening WHILE I was taking prescription potassium! It was too bad because the diuretic worked better than my current one, but since I'm in the middle of doing some other med changes, I'm not going to change my BP med. I'd like to maybe add propranolol. Something I learned about it... it works so well as a beta blocker (keeps the heart rate from going up and keeping people calm), that it is considered a banned substance in some professional sports in a lot of other countries.
  14. Someone else is now newer than me! Welcome. In my introduction, I shared a lot of my story, but what I didn't share is the number of emergency room visits I've had, too. And I hate it. Now, that being said, at some of those visits I actually had something going on, such as a bad GERD attack, or low potassium (I was on blood pressure medicine that depletes potassium), but it's my overreaction to some of these (what I think) more minor issues that might have waited until the next day when I could see my internist. And even when they do find something, and even when they've recommended I stay overnight, I feel such shame, as if I've failed some sort of test. I judge myself so very harshly for needing that reassurance that I'm not dying.
  15. HI everyone, Whenever I join an online group, I scare everyone off with my long posts. Sometimes I think people don't believe me when I tell them what has happened to me in my life in the past seven years, including a major treatment-resistant depressive episode, cancer, sepsis, two sibling deaths 12 days apart this February, H's best friend dying, finding out H had three affairs in two years with women at work (we have done a lot of healing around this, and I can't think how he could be a more supportive husband as this time... seriously) being diagnosed with a genetic mutation that puts my odds of developing colorectal cancer at 50% in my lifetime (I'm now 58), and after over 30 years in the midwest, relocating to the west coast where I know no one - we do have an adult daughter about 20 minutes away, but I refuse to put her in the role of my support person or confidante (all our kids know is that H cheated on me... not how many, not work-related, etc.; they've made it clear they don't want to know details). Some professionals have said I have PTSD. Xanax has been a great friend for 90% of my adult lifetime... PRN use prescription that always lasted longer than I needed to get a refill before the refill date would expire. I've done a LOT of therapy and have a pretty good understanding of my issues and triggers. But I am starting all over again with a new therapist and new psychiatrist (new internist, new oncologist, etc.) and it's been overwhelming. Just prior to the move, I did an inpatient rehab stay to try to get a handle on my anxiety, but their policy (and I knew this going in) is they don't believe you can do the necessary therapeutic work while on benzos, so they said they would wean me. I could write a book about the trauma of taking me off Xanax (I was taking it PRN and about an average of 1.25 mg/day prior to going there) in 2.5 weeks. My GI system is still not healed - I developed colitis. My psychiatrist (my therapist and marriage counselor agreed with this) at home put me back on Xanax (I take a .5mg extended release pill in the AM and PM and occasionally an additional .25-.5mg for breakthrough during the day) and told me now (uprooting my life and support system) is not the time to wean off of it. My new psychiatrist here (I saw her for the second time yesterday) has ideas about approaching it differently, and it has always terrified me to make medication changes. She is not going to push things on me I don't want, but what I'm doing isn't working. When my anxiety is debilitating, I get depressed. And I found this board, so hopefully will start to chime in. I feel so alone here - we are living in a temporary apartment rental while we find a house to purchase. Mostly my anxiety is health-related, but today in therapy, my new therapist suggested I look at my condition differently... my anxiety ramps up anytime I feel threatened (not just health-related), and I do have some chronic health issues, but mostly managed. My psychiatrist thinks I might be on the OCD spectrum. Anyway, I see her again next week. I have some experience in 12-step groups, but right now I'm focusing on getting to as many DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) meetings as possible... usually at least twice a week. That's the short story!