Thanks Thanks:  0
Likes Likes:  0
Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    2
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    One man's story about panic attacks.

    This is my story and spans many years, but I'll try to keep it concise. Some of the details may or may not be pertinent, but may strike a cord with someone else.

    It all started when I was in my mid-30's. I worked for a very large, well-known computer company in various highly stressful positions. One particular assignment lasted almost a whole year, and being the only one trained on this particular piece of equipment, I was on my own and was working at it 7 days a week and 16-18 hours a day. Some days I wouldn't even go home at night, but rented a motel to avoid having to make the 2-hour round trip. One morning, traveling from my home to the customer location, I was passing over a high-rise bridge just like I've done hundreds of times before. This particular day however, I got my first panic attack. My heart started racing, I was sweating, nauseous, my mind was racing, and I felt like I was going crazy and would jump out of the car screaming and running around aimlessly. There was no rationalizing my feelings at the time. I got to the end of the bridge, turned around, and went right back home. The rest of that day and throughout the night I was totally incapacitated by this unknown fear that kept welling up inside of me. The next morning I forced myself to leave for work, and took a route that didn't take me over that bridge, although it took an additional half hour. You may be now thinking acrophobia, but that isn't the case. During my time in the service, I have made over 400 parachute jumps; many for the fun of it, and have flown my own airplane many hundreds of hours. This was something entirely new.

    The attacks became more frequent and more severe, finally resulting in my driving myself to the hospital for treatment. My physician met me there the following morning and prescribed Valium. On follow-up visits with him, his diagnosis was simple stress, and he continued me on a regimen of Valium. It calmed me down, but did nothing to prevent the attacks. What it did was leave me in a drugged-out state and took away any desire to go out and do things that used to be a part of my life. I dreaded hearing the phone ring, avoided social situations, left my various hobbies and interests sit idle, couldn't even stand to have the television on. This went on for many months. Then I read about a clinical trial for a new drug to treat panic attacks, and they were seeking volunteers. I went (with great difficulty) to the clinic and was interviewed for participation. As a condition of being accepted, I had to be drug (Valium) free for the preceding two weeks, verified by blood tests. Those two weeks without it were horrible. Once accepted, I started taking the drug or placebo, double-blind test, and after a week the panic attacks got so bad that I called the emergency contact and told them that I couldn't continue. I was told to take my Valium again, and was scheduled for a 'test program exit interview'. After the interview, I asked if they could recommend a psychiatrist who could help me. To my amazement, there was one in the same clinic who, it turned out, specialized in panic disorder, and is a recognized expert in the field. I should mention that I had gone to various self-help clinics and seminars, but all the rationalization, positive thinking, breathing exercises, etc., did no good for me. To continue, during the first consultation we discussed many things, all geared to home in on the cause of my problem. Dr. Stienhaus then started me on a combination of Alprazolam and Prozac, and we tailored the dosage over the next several weeks until the desired result was achieved. We also tried different drugs, but this combination was, by far, the best for me. I have been taking this now for over 15 years (he said I may need to stay on it for the rest of my life), but I haven't had an attack since, my interests and hobbies are back in full swing, I love meeting new people and trying new things! For me, the drug regimen did the trick. We did reduce the Prozac dosage once because it affected my ability to function sexually. I could still get an erection, but orgasm was not to be.

    As a footnote, Dr. Stienhaus told me that my problem was a chemical imbalance in the brain, and could be hereditary. That was later confirmed, at least in my own mind, because in discussions with my Sister and Mother, they both said they had similar problems at various stages in their lives. My Sister was able to overcome hers without the use of drugs; my Mother not. I'm certainly not disparaging general practitioners, but it's my opinion that few M.D.'s have adequate psychiatric training to successfully diagnose and treat this condition. Had I found this psychiatrist earlier, it would have spared me years of additional suffering and a life of apathy.

    I would suggest to anyone suffering from panic attacks that they seek competent medical/psychiatric help without delay. This is a valid disease or medical condition or psychiatric condition (call it what you will) , and you needn't be ashamed of it. Discuss it openly and have it done with!

    Best wishes,
    Karl

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    656
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Re: One man's story about panic attacks.

    Thank you for you story Karl.

    Its great to hear anothers perspective on panic attacks - and I wanted to ask everyone else if they have been perscribed valium for panic attacks? It just seems like a weird perscription to me??

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    4,104
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Re: One man's story about panic attacks.

    Thanks for sharing this life-experience with us, Karl! It's always good for people who suffer from panic attacks, or any similar problems, to hear that there is a way out, and that suffering is not just something to be endured.

    You're to be commended very highly for reaching out for the help you needed and for the work you've done, and your committment to wellness. Kudos!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    4,104
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Re: One man's story about panic attacks.

    Quote Originally Posted by ^^Phoenix^^ View Post
    Thank you for you story Karl.

    Its great to hear anothers perspective on panic attacks - and I wanted to ask everyone else if they have been perscribed valium for panic attacks? It just seems like a weird perscription to me??
    I think the GP thought Karl was just suffering from anxiety, and could be relieved by an anti-anxiety medication alone. That, of course, was not the case. It took a professional in this kind of thing to see what was really going on and find a treatment that worked.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    2
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Re: One man's story about panic attacks.

    Phoenix,
    It just seems like a weird perscription to me??
    It was weird - and totally wrong; did nothing about the underlying cause and very little for the symptoms.

    Let me make a correction: My doctor is/was Dr. Randall Steinhaus; not Stienhaus. The reason I say "was" is that I'm qualified for V.A. benefits, so I go there twice a year to a doctor in the outpatient psychiatric clinic. It's not a rubber stamp session, but after talking about many things which may have changed (and they haven't to any significant degree), his philosophy has been "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." That suits me just fine

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    1,549
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Re: One man's story about panic attacks.

    Welcome to the forum Karl...

    like TL says well done on reacing out and finding the help you needed.
    I'm inclined to agree with you, most g.p's are not able to help poperly with severe panic attacks\disorders. I'm glad you were able to find a psyc would was.

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Disclaimer: PsychLinks is not responsible for the content of posts or comments by forum members.

Additional Forum Web Design by PsychLinks
© All rights reserved.