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strangebird

Day 2 of lexapro - feeling scared

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I'm a 36 year old mom of two little girls. I've had really powerful anxiety my entire life. I pretty much walk through each day only seeing potential worst case scenarios. I think of every improbably, unlikely disaster. The thing with my anxiety is that it's always given me comfort because I've felt like it gives me control. I was in a really bad car accident when I was 20 where I was the passenger and after that, if I wasn't driving, I'd have throat-closing panic attacks. This extended to fear of flying. Anyway, so feeling aware of all the potential dangers makes me feel like it can't catch me off guard. The problem is that my 6 year old is starting to really emerge as having the same anxieties and it's the first time I've seen it as an outsider. She says no to fun activities because of fear of dangers, she chews her finger and toenails down to stubs. And I don't have the tools to help her because I've never addressed my anxiety other than years of talk therapy which did nothing. So, I started lexapro (generic actually). I actually tried it a few months ago at 10mg but quit after the first day because i couldn't handle the side effects. 

This time though, I'm committing. I started 5mg yesterday and had a pretty awful day yesterday. I felt really jittery, very nauseous, headachy and anxious. Today, I woke up and decided to take it after I'd had some food and reduced my caffeine (tea) intake and so today so far is more tolerable. It's by no means great but it's a lot better than yesterday. 

I really don't know what to expect - how will I know when this works. Will I just stop having my worst case scenario thoughts? What does it feel like? I can't imagine NOT being anxious all the time as it's a huge part of who I am. My family has been begging me for a long time to deal with my anxiety so I'm glad I'm finally doing this. Anyway, I'd love to know what to expect. At some point, I'm supposed to go up to 10mg but am afraid of that.

Thanks

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Hi and welcome to the Forums Strangebird !

     I am so sorry you are suffering from anxiety !  Having suffered from anxiety and panic attacks for many years, I can understand what you wrote of from personal experience.  Lexapro was quite helpful to me and I was disappointed when I was swtiched to Citalopram because my insurance wouldn't cover the cost of Lexapro.  Citalopram, though seems equally effective for me.  It took about 5 weeks for the Lexapro to show  anxiety reducing effects noticeable to me but I continued to improve for about a year.

     I hated my anxiety but at the same time did not want to give it up for the same reasons you stated.  But my physician convinced me that anxiety and over vigilance were not as productive as I thought they were.  He told me that the stress hormones involved in anxiety, while invaluable during emergencies were unhealthy in excess.  I can't remember everything he said, but he told me that they increased my risk for heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression, Alzheimer's disease and also harmed the immune system.  I remember him saying that in anxiety disorder, the alarm is worse than the fire.

     There is a 2 minute 57 second video by by one of the leading experts on anxiety and stress related illness on the internet called "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers."  It summarizes the scholarly work of this expert in an easy to understand way and perhaps you might find it to helpful to view.  It explains the difference between treating matters of life and death with life and death concern from treating non-life and death matters with life and death concern.

     In any case, I hope you will find these Depression Forums as helpful as I have.  I grew up in a family where one of my parents was severely afflicted with anxiety and treated almost every problem as though it had life or death urgency.  I think I perhaps inherited my propensity for anxiety from her, genetically and as a result of her parenting style. She suffered so much.    I don't believe you will lose "yourself" in becoming less anxious.  I think you will find you will be not only happier, but healthier.

     I remember something else my doctor told me.  He said:  "You think you are avoiding harm by your vigilance but you are actually daily harming the 30 trillion cells in your body."  He said my goal should be " to learn to distinguish between productive stress and unproductive, in other words: moderation.  The body was not designed to be constantly bathed with stress hormones."  The medicine helps. 

     You deserve a good life and a healthy one.  I am not an expert or authority of any kind and I can only speak of my own personal experiences, but  I hope you will be helped by the Lexapro.  If I was a doctor or medical professional I could perhaps give you more than the mere fallible opinions of a layman.  But I am not.  I am just a fellow sufferer.  But  I am certainly rooting for you!   - epictetus

Edited by Epictetus

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I'm 42 and took Lexapro starting 2 years ago when I had severe anxiety and depression. Like you, I was scared starting it and had negative reactions to it at first. I actually tried Effexor a few months earlier but gave it up after a couple of days because of the side effects. But then, like you, I started Lexapro determined to tough it out to see how it might help.

I honestly believe that my own anxiety about the medication made the start up symptoms worse than they otherwise would be. For me, also honestly, I experienced considerably heightened anxiety before things improved. After several weeks, I increased my dose from 10 mg to 15 mg and after a couple of weeks, that's when I had a significant reduction in my anxious symptoms (I had benefits for depression earlier than that). I believe that higher doses are often needed to address anxiety.

I read about Lexapro constantly online and sought reassurance here (which was quite helpful). Many of the "horror stories" I read about online frightened me, as it turns out needlessly. I experienced heightened anxiety, but it went away. I was also scared for what would happen when I came off it--but tapering down in a controlled manner allowed me to come off without incident. I had barely any symptoms. So, Lexapro was quite useful for me and I didn't have any significant adverse effects. (It did make my insomnia worse, but adding Remeron to my regimen addressed that.)

Sorry to hear that talk therapy never really helped you. I found reading Claire Weekes book "Hope and Help for your Nerves" quite useful. As well as watching David Daish's Youtube videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/OldRockMan58/videos

They might not resonate in the same way for you, but might be worth a try.

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Thank you for such thoughtful and thorough responses. Theres' a lot of value that I've taken from what you've both written and I appreciate you sharing. 

Just to clarify, talk therapy was fabulous for me. It helped me through extremely challenging times in my life - but it didn't help me with my anxiety. A lot of this is because my anxiety is almost parasitic at this point. It's like another being that's burrowed in my brain and it doesn't want me to get rid of it. So, my therapist didn't really understand the level of my anxiety problem because I knew how to talk around it and keep flags from being raised. My husband, on the other hand, is so tuned in that he can tell the exact second my breathing catches and what I'm thinking. He said that driving with me as a passenger is like having a co-pilot. That I check the mirrors when he's changing lanes or turn to look when he's reversing. I could NEVER fall asleep in the car. I don't take my eyes off the road. He's very patient. 

It's funny all that you said about the impact on health. I have severe health issues - autoimmune, chronic fatigue syndrome, arrhythmia. I've reached a point where I'm not sure I'm depressed because I generally feel ok. But then I also find that I avoid seeing friends, am very irritable and over-reactive, have sleep issues and I don't get that into books anymore or excited about things the way I used to. But I kept telling myself that's because I'm older now. That seems silly though. I used to get swept away with a good book or excited to sit down and write or draw. That doesn't happen so much anymore. 

The other big concern I have is around sex. I've pretty much lost all interest in it anyway, which is awful since I'm young and I love my husband. I know these drugs can make that even worse, which stinks. Although, I wonder if I've lost interest cause of depression/anxiety and then I relieve that depression/anxiety, might I enjoy sex again?

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