Panic/Anxiety Disorder - REALLY need to talk

Hi. It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, but I’m at my wit’s end and having some SERIOUS issues. I don’t know who to talk to and I’m driving my family crazy. I might blather but I’m hoping someone can or will talk. I just… need some help.

I’ve got Panic/Anxiety Disorder with a side helping of Major Depression. Translation: without good medications, I am prone to absolutely insane freak-outs of terror that grip me and don’t let go and can last for weeks or, in one case, months. I’ve never felt suicidal because of it, thankfully, but I have had ONE bad occasion where I wanted to die. Not kill myself, just… die.

Suffice it to say, I don’t like not having the extra help. I’ve been bad my whole life, but I didn’t get diagnosed until around 2006 or 2007 (I had this irrational fear of psychiatrists and therapists). I think around 2007 the doctor put me on Wellbutrin and it worked great. I had good insurance because I worked at the local Kroger’s (a union-run grocery store chain here in Texas - goodness, I use a lot of parenthesis!) and my meds were well covered until I left there in June 2008.

June 2008 I got a good job working for an oil company that had great benefits. I went off the Wellbutrin for a bit because I didn’t have insurance yet - I was a temp-to-hire and then had a follow-up 90-day period before I could get benefits. I was able to get insurance around late November or early December 2008, went back on the meds, and was quite happy.

Then we had a mass lay-off.

That was in March 2009, and I couldn’t afford the Wellbutrin out-of-pocket, so again, I went off of it. I didn’t have too many issues during that time but I was generally not the blithe spirit I felt like when I had been taking the meds.

I got a new job August 2009, again temp-to-hire. I was hired on permanently in November 2009 and had to wait another initial 90-day period before getting insurance. In January 2010, I got sick with the flu and made the mistake of taking some over-the-counter meds to help. Apparently whatever OTC thing I took was a BIG mistake because it lead to one massive panic attack that left me in a depressive funk for the better part of January, and I was having issues dealing with the loss of a neighbor who lived across the street. Between his death and my anxiety, I was in a funk that started affecting my work performance.

At the end of February/beginning of March 2010 I finally had insurance, went to the doctor, and got him to prescribe my meds, which I desperately wanted. And one week after that doctor’s visit I got laid off.

(The story was that my boss had gone on maternity leave and so they moved my department under another manager, who was trying to save money and decided that one person could do my job, not two, and that they could use interns during the busy times to make up the slack. I have a feeling that my breakdown contributed to it, though.)

In desperation, my doc wanted to put me on Lexapro because I could actually AFFORD the stuff out-of-pocket. Now, I’d tried Lexapro ONCE. That stuff worked for exactly two days and then it put me in such a massive tail-spin that I swore I’d never go back to it again. He agreed yeah, that would be a bad thing, so he put me instead on Effexor.

Effexor works really differently from Wellbutrin, going after different parts of the brain in different ways, but I had to admit it seemed to work okay. I wasn’t a total freak and I was feeling a lot better. Also, despite being laid off, I could afford it because it was only $80 to $100 out-of-pocket, compared to the $220 to $315 I was quoted for Wellbutrin.

Why does this stuff have to be so darn expensive?

Anyway, I’ve been on Effexor since about March 2010. I really needed to stay on something because my father, who’d had colon cancer, had it come back and was dying. We had a lot of issues, but I was able to cope and get through them okay, and be there for my dad when he needed me. I spent all of 2010 working temporary positions only, which was good - I had money to cover bills, I could afford my meds, AND I could leave my last post a little early when he went back into the hospital and we found out he was actively dying.

Mom got time off, I was unemployed, and my best friend was on disability because she’d had a bad car wreck and couldn’t work. So we were all at home with Daddy his last few days, and he didn’t die in a hospital. He didn’t want to. I was happy he was home.

So, I got a temp-to-hire job in February 2011 but wasn’t feeling quite up to the task. May 13 (I remember this because it was Friday the 13th, and I’ve got a nose for irony) I was let go, never got insurance, couldn’t get back on the Wellbutrin. By now the Effexor was getting expensive out-of-pocket, too, so I was really looking forward to getting a job that had benefits. I was out of work until November 2011, when I got hired the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. NOT Temp-to-hire - direct hire!

Continuing below - sorry this is so darn long! I just need to talk…

On March 1, 2012, I got my benefits! Now, I’d already bought my Effexor, so I was looking forward to being able to actually AFFORD my meds again.

Except my insurance company doesn’t cover Effexor. I didn’t argue because I noticed something about the Effexor - if I missed a dose (which I almost never did, as I am afraid of going into another anxious/depressive state) I would seriously lose it. I’d have migraines and a massive panic attack and a crying jag. I found that out working at this company I’m at right now, because I was getting used to working the new schedule and missed a few doses of it, and got left a serious mess. This was shortly before I got my benefits, so I didn’t lose any sick time to it, but I did lose pay for a day.

Having gone through that, I decided I didn’t want to stay on the Effexor. I don’t think it does as good a job for me as Wellbutrin, although it does keep me more even than having nothing. I also NEVER had any problems like this when I missed a dose of Wellbutrine.

So I saw my doctor, and told me to cut my remaining pills in half and take one-half of an Effexor with one Wellbutrin. When I was out of pills I was to start taking two Wellbutrin pills. By the way - the insurance company happily pays for my Wellbutrin. And it’s only $30 for the generic for me, yay!

So I cut down, and now I’m taking two Wellbutrin in the morning.

Last night I had one MASSIVE anxiety attack that hasn’t gone away yet.

I’ve been a wreck, sobbing uncontrollably, I feel dizzy, I feel sick, I’m listing like I’m drunk, I have “brain spikes,” I’m exhausted, have hot flashes, sweat and freeze at the same time…

Guess what? If you Google “Effexor Withdrawal Side Effects” you get FORUMS full of people who talk about going literally through Hell on Earth while getting off the stuff.

Unbeknownst to me, I was on what is commonly called “The Evil Little Pill.”

Here’s an example:

*A little over two months ago I stopped taking Effexor after slowly weaning off of it. I had horrible withdrawal symptoms: nausea, fatigue, and dizziness. After two months I don’t feel any better. Needless to say, I’m really scared. I can hardly function at my job and am very frustrated and angry. This medication has ruined my life. Waking up in the morning is the worst part of my day. All I have to look forward to is dizziness, fatigue, and attempting to function.

How long did you symptoms last? Are they supposed to last this long?*

This person got 561 comments! The very first comment freaked me out a bit:

*I am wondering the same thing. I was on 150 mg Effexor XR for 5 years and weaned myself off of the drug during the course of a month and have been totally off it for 3 weeks now. I too had nausea, extreme fatigue, horrible body aches, diarreha, short temper, etc. etc. I am now starting to feel better, but still get those horrible brain shivers and my eyes have a tendency to bounce around when I look from one thing to another real fast. All I can suggest is that you hang in there, what else can we do. *

Effexor causes SEVERE withdrawal symptoms… I have been tapering for almost 6 months now & i STILL feel the effects of this drug & my dose is down to 10mg per day. I get the disorientation, sinus-like headache, very vivid dreams, increased anxiety, dizziness, etc. …sound familiar?? … Hang in there & check out this forum where everyone who is experiencing the exact same symptoms you are posts about them…

These are some terrifying responses - and I’ve only posted some of the short ones! The long ones - brrr! I’m scared, on top of already having SEVERE anxiety.

I’m scared that I’m not going to be strong enough to get through this.

I’m scared because I can’t afford to lose this job and that’s what I think happened last time, when I was let go for not being in good shape.

I’m scared because whenever I get like this I can’t function around my non-Christian family - instead of praying and being able to trust God, I end up a mess of terror.j

I’m scared because I feel like I’m failing God, my family, my priest, my whole life.

I’m scared because I’m a total failure and I can’t do anything right, not right now, and I just want the pain to go away.

I’m scared because I offered it up to God for the conversion of my family members and what if I can’t handle it and things go wrong and they end up in Hell and I didn’t do enough?

I’m scared because I feel so ALONE.

I’m scared because I’m bad. I don’t do enough good things and I hurt people by being like this and I get on everyone’s nerves and I don’t mean to but I’m really, REALLY lost right now.

I’m scared because my Daddy’s gone and he always took care of me when I was having a breakdown and I never had to go through this without him here and I’m so sad and SCARED because I miss him and I need him.

I’m scared because I’m 35 years old and I live with my mom and best friend and they won’t be around forever and I don’t think I can ever really take care of myself.

I’m scared because I don’t know what to do right now.

I’m scared because I missed Mass and haven’t gone to confession for it yet but I’m going tomorrow but I’m such a mess…

So, yeah. That’s why I came here. I’m sorry to have dumped on whoever reads all this. I just…

I’m sort of falling apart right now, crying my eyes out, trying to keep the dogs quiet because Karen’s in the next room trying to get some sleep, and I don’t know what to do.

…I know this is selfish but please shoot a prayer out for me, please.

I’m falling apart little by little. I don’t know how long this will last. I don’t know if I can make it through the withdrawal and stay sane. I just want to not hurt again.

Awwww. I am sorry to hear this. :hug1: I will definitely send out a prayer for you tonight. As for your nausea, fatigue, and dizziness, and any other concerns you may have, bring them up to your doctor. Ask for his/her advice, and what has been common in his/her other patients’ experience with this drug. Try not to work yourself up too much over OTHER people’s symptoms, because they are just that–other people’s symptoms. Lots of women make that mistake before they have their first child. They read horror stories of long, horrible, painful labors, and are totally freaked out, not realizing that other women’s experiences are not necessarily going to be their own. These people often go on to have short, and/or relatively low pain level labors and wonder why did they even worry! So I’d say read the information packet that came with your prescription, but avoid strange websites. Talk to a pharmacist. They have a lot of practical knowlege about meds. Deep breaths, you can do it!

I’m sorry you’re going through this, will definitely be praying for you. You are certainly not a failure by any means, you sound like a nice person. This is just a season of your life. God bless you.

From one OCD/Anxiety disorder patient to another: Don’t look up other people’s experiences. I’ve done it millions of times, and it’s really hard to resist, but it does absolutely no good. People who have had good experiences aren’t online writing about them. The people posting are posting about their negative experiences that scare them. Then we post back. And we feed off of eachother. The truth is their experience has nothing to do with yours, it’s not an indication of how yours will go. I’m not talking about support groups online, I’m talking about other people’s experiences/opinions about their own psychiatric treatment. The only people you need to be consulting at all are your psychiatrist and counseler. And you need both, as well as a spiritual advisor with experience with this sort of thing.

As far as your doctor goes, is it a psychiatrist? It is equally important that someone with your level of seriousness with these disorders is treated by a psychiatrist and not a general practitioner or ObGyn. Find a psychiatrist that you feel comfortable with and stick with them. Meet with them regularly, at least once every three months. And don’t expect them to act as a counseler. While they’re trained in psychology they are mainly there to act as a doctor and prescribe your meds. Find a therapist that will work in conjunction with them. And meet with the therapist even more regularly. My psychiatrist knew that the form of my medication, capsul or pill, and whether generic or brand name, could have a huge influence on the effect, even if they were the same dosage. They know the smallest most nuanced things about these meds.

And again, I can’t stress enough, stop looking up your meds online. It does no good, and all you will find are horror stories. Psychiatrist, therapist, spiritual advisor. All three are absolutely necessary!!

Hi Tabitha.
It may be hard to believe that God is protecting you right now, but He is.
“Be not afraid”.
Jesus came as one of us, in order that he could conquer all of our fears, weaknesses, sin, even death itself. It says “He bore all of our diseases” and “was tempted in every way”.
“All” and “every” means exactly that. He went through every human suffering there was, even what you are going through now, and He was victorious.
It is with His victorious spirit, in us, that we too will be victorious.
Remember how most of the saints suffered. Many with mental/spiritual sufferings. God has a way of using this to our advantage. We sometimes can’t see how or why, we just have to have faith.
Keep using the Sacraments, as well as Sacramentals (holy oils,water,relics, etc.)
Read writings by the saints.
Remember we will always be sinners in this life, but we believe in the Divine Mercy.
We don’t have to dwell on our mistakes or our sins, like the adversary would like us to, making doubt in God’s mercy. Just trust in Jesus.
This are many “physical” factors that affect our thinking too, that we can alter positively. Examples of these are: Amount of exercise we do, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, allergies, just to name a few.
Stress causes imbalances of chemicals/hormones in the body. A program with 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily, helps purge the body of these harmful molecules, and also releaves stress.(see the internet for ideas on how to start a program). Processed foods have chemical/preservatives that most people are sensative to as well. I’ve had some success with NAET treatments for my allergies.
I will pray for you.


I wish you the very best. I know this is a tough time. While I’ve never been on meds… I’ve had anxiety attacks and they are very frightening. I would advise you to go to a doctor and just confide what you are going through. I will pray for you!

God bless.

I am glad you came here to type (talk) it out! All the things you have gone through can produce all sorts of emotions, and for brains like we have, chemical imbalances…

I am really sorry that you have not been able to stay on Wellbutrin, especially if it works for you. One alternative that you might consider from here on out is to order it from Canada. Most doctors know about this and will write a prescription - my psychiatrist knows we don’t have insurance and he suggested it to save money. A 90 day supply is $158. Still not that cheap but I need to take the brand name not the generic. And you can’t split the XR, but I take the highest dose of that so…

Ask your doctor if he can give you a small dose of Klonopin. It’s a take as needed medication for panic/anxiety and it works so well I almost never have to take it. I used to get terrible panic attacks alongside my depression (what misery!) and I took the Klonopin as needed but unlike the anti-depressant, I didn’t need it very often and I almost never get panic attacks any more. I am not a doctor but you can ask if you can take meds when you need them so you don’t panic and lose your employment.

I thought I could do without my medications too, but 2 years ago I crashed again. Everything just built up and it was too much. So now I have resigned myself to take them forever.

When you start to feel yourself getting anxious, you can say the Serenity Prayer - it always helps me. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Frequent confession, frequent adoration, frequent Mass, frequent reception of Communion.


Prayer to St. Dymphna, patron saint of mental illness. I will put you in my prayers too.

Hang in there. You will get through this.

I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder in 2000, though I started having anxiety attacks when I was 12. Social anxiety was always my main issue, but I do tend to be an anxious person overall.

I can definitely understand what you’re going through with the withdrawl. I took myself off paxil years ago and had to go through similiar things. There are herbs that sort of help and there are some cognative excercises that do help. Its important to understand that the more you think in detail about all the negative stuff that has been happening and thinking of what could possibly happen next, you are creating more anxiety. You have to break that cycle by focusing your mind elsewhere. There are plenty of relaxing exercises, but it may just help to absorb yourself in a fun book.

What I always found with my anxiety attacks is this overall compulsion to keep thinking about negative things. I actually realized I got some weird form of enjoyment out of it. It was very difficult to will myself out of those thoughts.

I am so sorry you are going through this, your situation is much more serious than what I went through, and my experience was bad. I was on Cymbalta for anxiety, and then I lost my job and my insurance and had to get off of it. Thanks be to God my symptoms were not terrible from the withdrawal, but I was not on it for very long. But made the same mistake of looking up “Cymbalta withdrawal” online. It is not a good idea. People with bad experiences post online and complain. The thousands of people with good experiences don’t look it up, or post about it, because they aren’t suffering from it, they just move on. I would talk to your doctor as soon as you can, and try not to think about it in the mean time. The anxiety of worrying about the withdrawal can have a compounding effect on your distress - you worry about the withdrawal, which gives you anxiety, which makes you worry about the anxiety from the withdrawal, which gives you even more anxiety…

Tabsie, I’m praying for you. Please call your doctor, tell him that you didn’t feel well these days, and schedule an appointment with the doctor. The doctor and you should go over the exact regimen of medication you are on, and perhaps adjust it (perhaps change the type of Wellbutrin/bupropion you are taking, change the dose, maybe change the time of the day when you are taking it, perhaps add some other medicine to the one you are taking now, etc). You need to see your doctor - I think it should be possible to help you feel better.

I also wanted to say that you are an amazing daughter and your daddy was blessed to have you around during his last years and last days. May God richly reward you for your goodness.

Probably for every person who posted a negative response, there are two people who don’t post anything because their responses weren’t anything like the negative poster’s. People react to medication differently. Try not to let the comments feed into your anxiety, if you can.

Just think of what you were able to accomplish even when feeling ill. You were able to keep your temporary positions. You were able to help take care of your dying father. Best of all, you got to spend those last few days with him. I think that’s pretty awesome.

You’ll be in my prayers.

Wow! Your post is a good example of why Obama Care may not be such a bad idea. It is nuts to have people’s medical insurance dependent upon their employment. It is even more nuts to make them wait until the insurance coverage takes effect after they get a new job.

Years ago, when someone lost a parent, they would wear black for a year. They were considered to be in mourning, and everyone knew that it would take time to heal. After my parents passed away, my doctor warned me that I would feel terrible for a long time. When you lose someone close like that, it is normal to think you feel fine for a few weeks and then burst into tears and be unable to stop crying. In our society, everything has to happen in an instant. We just go to the funeral, then all of a sudden we just have to pull ourselves together and act as if nothing has happened. That’s really not the way it works.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t give any advice about pills. I personally think that we should all take as few pills as we possibly can, but we really should take medications that we absolutely need. If you feel like crying, you should let yourself cry. I believe that scientists have proven that there is some kind of a chemical in our tears that actually does make us feel better.

If you’re not lactose-intolerant, a glass of milk might calm your nerves. Also, sitting down and eating a nutritious meal might help. Joining a gym and getting plenty of exercise can also help. You can also try listening to your favorite music, watching a stupid movie (one that YOU think is funny), and getting plenty of sleep.

I couldn’t help noticing that you are very articulate and write very well - great skills for getting and keeping a job!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit