Saturday, 12 July 2008

Medication for Anxiety

After a while, Marie got quite upset at the new, unexplained and unexpected deterioration in her condition.

Her first instinctive reaction was to retreat from the world until the nasty thing went away. It soon became obvious to her that this was, in fact, making her worse. She started having panic attacks for no obvious reason - sometimes several in a day. She was anxious all the time. She was unable to work. She started to become afraid to go out in the car with me - even the short distance to Joseph's school. She almost completely stopped functioning as a mother. Her days were either spent sleeping or online, talking to other sufferers. Eventually Marie decided that she would try anything that might help. It was the constant state of anxiety that was getting to her the most. So, for the first time ever, she rang that doctor and asked if there was some form of medication that she could take to alleviate her anxiety. Marie was always against taking medication; her theory was that if they worked, then she would have to take them for ever to prevent the condition returning. Better to be "cured" without meds, she believed.

The doctor prescribed Cipramil (citalopram). To be reviewed after 4 weeks or so.

The first two weeks on meds saw Marie get even worse, but her doctor and online friends, many of whom had taken/were taking citalopram, told her that this is normal and fades away after 2/3 weeks. And they were all correct. Marie's anxiety level is much lower now. So much so, that we were able to go to Brighton to see her sister - unthinkable a few weeks ago. She has resumed her previous rĂ´le as fun mummy.

Oddly, Marie's monophobia has neither deteriorated nor improved over this period. Weird world, isn't it?


The Fabulous SarahC♥ said...

Hi Robert,
This is the silver lining behind that cloud - isn't it? Talking of Brighton, thats a really positive step :)

In response to your question, yes, i have been given every flipping SSRI there is. Unfornately i'm not a willing participant in medication taking. I'm a believer that the chemicals only 'masks' the main problems, it doesn't get rid of them.
They definitely WORK, i agree, but they're not for everyone.


Chris said...

Robert, Having followed your blog for a while, I always thought that drugs were worth a try. It certainly changed the life of my agoraphobic wife. She was able to travel overseas and for a while felt free from her phobia.

I really hope they work for Marie.


Sweetie pie said...

Hey Robert...this is SarahC's friend Sarah....unfortunately had to dump my blog do to a stalker.

Anyhoo..I have also tried it all! I recovered from agoraphobia on medication...Cipramil actually! Although here they call it Celexa. But then I had to get off it while I was pregnant and had a HUGE relapse during post partum that made me soooo much worse then I ever was and lasted 4-5 years. I was petrified of taking meds (new phobia), so taking them wasn't an option anyways. But also, I was a little resentful in the thought I'd have to take them forever to avoid a relapse again. In the end, pure determination won out. I recovered "cold turkey" because I wanted to be recovered THAT badly. I have found though, that my attitude and determination is not common among sufferers. It is REALLY difficult to overcome some of those thought patterns on your own.

So where as once I recommended no meds, I now definitely say that if you've been stuck in panic disorder for as long as Marie has been, its a good option to look at. I think at some point you have to realize that taking meds for the rest of your life to be well for the rest of your life is definitely better then suffering. However, if she uses medication with CBT/Therapy, she has a greater chance of success off of medication. Otherwise, yes, you are basically taking medication to mask a problem. HOWEVER...when you're unwell with Diabetes, you take medication to survive and have better quality of life. Isn't being unwell with anxiety sorta the same in a sense?

I hope Marie will give it a chance...the medication. Hopefully it will help her feel better soon!

rosiero said...

That is great news that Marie managed to go to Brighton. She must be feeling chuffed with her success. I can understand why she is not happy to have medication to help the anxiety, but if it helps her for the moment and can kick-start her into fighting the agoraphobia (the Brighton trip is proof-positive that she can), then I think it is worth the try. Once she is feeling more confident and has a lot more successes under her belt, she can gradually reduce the medication and then drop it altogether. She will probably by then have learned to relax naturally by controlling her breathing anyway and won't need the drugs any more.

Robert said...

Hi Sarah

I'm just waiting to see how well the chemicals work. It would be nice if they substantially altered Marie's life. Because she's been agoraphobic since her teens, there are many things she doesn't miss - because she has never experienced them. New experiences might give her more motivation to fight harder against her anxiety.

Robert said...

Hi Chris -

Are you the same Chris that emailed me about a year ago? Well, whether or not you are, you are welcome here.

It's only Marie who has had a problem with taking medication for her agoraphobia. My attitude to it is the same as yours.

Robert said...

Hi SarahC's friend Sarah...

Bit of a long title, isn't it?

Didn't I visit your blog during its short life? It's a shame that, if you were finding blogging useful/enjoyable, you had to abandon it.

Anyhow, Marie is determined to give this chemical a "proper" try, so fingers crossed for a good result...

Robert said...

Hi rosiero -

Unfortunately our trip to Brighton wasn't a triumph over agoraphobia. Marie just felt that she could do it, and, despite some moderate anxiety just before we set off on our journey, she did the whole trip without a problem.

If the meds work, I'm hoping that Marie will do some CBT so that the meds will eventually not be required.

Coffeecup said...

Pleased life is a bit better on the meds. I think years ago I took cipramil and it did seem to work. I forgot to take some and felt rotten so went cold turkey and just stopped. Years later when I tried again they made me so ill I couldn't tolerate getting started. No wonder Marie has felt bad! I now take Mirtazipine which has had zero impact. They're not for life as they're not addictive, just have to withdraw slowly to prevent possible side effects. Reading this post I'm gonna consider a rethink with my GP about the meds. If they work then that's GOT to be worth it?

Fingers crossed that they really work for you Marie. You've done the hard part and got going on them. Hoping that you'll go from strength to strength babes.....X

tashi said...

Tashi agrees with Sarah, its a bandaid. His own personal experience with an SSRI (Zoloft) was not good : psychotic storms whilst both aclimatising to and giving up the drug. Plus, whilst using it, he found his thinking was really 'dulled' ...
though ...
that may have been more a function of increasing age, television watching, and live-in grandchildren lol.

Hopefully those meds will at least give Marie (and the family) a break from the misery of constant panic attacks that you spoke about :)

tashi said...

Wanted to mention what a merrygoround and minefield the world of meds can sometimes turn into. You might like to check the following cautionary tale ... its a classic, and beautifully written ...

chris said...

It is the same Chris:)

Amy said...

I have agoraphobia too, its more mild to moderate thank god. i was on that same medication as your wife. i was taking it for a week and then i woke up with anxiety and i paranoid that i was going to kill myself! I cannot take antidepressants i tend to react badly to them, i get really bad tremors of some, my anxiety gets worse and then others make me very paranoid. some people cannot take antidepressants

Peter said...

Break ups and falling apart of relationships is one of the most potent causes of mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Dealing with depression after divorce is definitely a much tough and asking task. Unfortunately, outside factors are not that much of a help as far as dealing with depression after divorce is concerned. Though one can take the help of depression drugs like xanax , fighting depression after a personal calamity depends much on the person.

Jo said...

Hi Robert, I've spent all morning reading through your blog. It's great that you have so much support and understanding for Marie.

I wondered if Marie had ever tried meds for her condition, so now I see this post I had to leave a comment.

I do agree that medication can mask the problem if it is taken on it's own - it is not a cure all, BUT I think it can really help in conjuction with other methods like CBT.

I have been taking fluoxetine (prozac) for 3 weeks during my latest episode of panic disorder (and subsequent agoraphobia). My previous episode was 2 yrs ago and after 6mths with a combination of of the prozac and CBT I was back to my normal self again and came off the medication with no problems.

Taking the meds lifted my mood, helped me feel more positive and therefore more receptive to counselling. It's not an instant relief, they take a week or more to start working (during that time I felt awful) and usually reach their full effect after a month, and yes, unfortunately they are not suitable for everyone.

I really hope this is the answer for Marie, she is so young and beautiful with a lovely family, she (and you too) deserve to have a full and happy life.

Jo x
(I have kept a blog diary of my progress on my meds so I can look back on how I felt if I go through this again)