Psych Central

Extreme Anxiety

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

For as long as I can remember I have had extreme anxiety issues. I have social anxiety, but the main source of my anxiety is my health. I can’t do anything, and I mean anything without worrying that I am going to die. For example, me and my family went to Disneyland the other day, I was having panic attacks and worrying that I would either just drop dead for no reason or since I had a little bit of a headache that day I was scared was going to have a brain aneurysm. Its always something everyday with my health, it’s exhuasting. All I want to do is sleep all day or just zone out in front of the TV so I dont have to think.

I also have other symptoms, but am not sure if they are part of the anxiety or not they are: feeling like I am in a dream or like a spaced out feeling, weird “what if” thoughts (ex: What if I killed myself or someone else?) and by no means do I want to do this or even have the urge, but since I thought it I get anxiety about it, thinking I am crazy for thinking such things or I am afraid I might sleep walk or something and do it out of my control.

I dont have a job right now and no health insurance, I am just trying to figure out whats going on with me. I am sick of feeling like this. I just want to feel “normal”.

I should mention that I have been on Effexor XR since my daughter was born in 2006, I had Postpartum Depression. I am still taking the Effexor XR, which doesn’t seem to help much anymore, and I am taking 1mg Ativan as needed. I hope you can give me some insight and direction from where to go from here.

Thank you

A: Thank you for writing. The first thing to do is to go back to the doctor who prescribed the Effexor. The period of time that a postpartum depression generally lasts is long over. If you haven’t been back for a discussion about your symptoms and how you are doing on the medication, you should immediately make an appointment. One of the potential side effects of Effexor is anxiety. What you are taking for depression may possibly be contributing to your anxiety. If your PCP or OB-GYN has been prescribing your medication, I do suggest you see a psychiatrist to get a specialist’s take on whether you still need the medication or if you are taking the right one.

Meanwhile — you really should consider finding some therapy for yourself. Some cognitive-behavioral therapy could help you get your anxiety under more control so that you can enjoy life. I know you have no health insurance. Before you give up on the idea of getting any help, I do suggest that you talk with your doctor or spiritual leader about any free or low-cost resources that may be available in your area. Many private therapists also offer a sliding fee scale or low-income slots.

Please be more concerned about finding treatment and less concerned about finding a label for yourself. As you said, the important thing is to get back to feeling “normal.” You deserve it. Your daughter deserves to have a mom who feels stable and able to cope.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Extreme Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/04/09/extreme-anxiety/

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