Should I take antidepressants for my panic attacks?


This is another old post from my blog. The reason I am reusing this one is, several years down the line, I am now able to answer the question I have posed in the title. First of all here is the post from 2011. 

 I had an appointment with the Doctor last week, to discuss my panic attacks. I booked a double appointment and certainly made the most of it by bombarding him with questions. They were mainly about the panic attacks and my ever-growing hypochondria. I also managed to show him the giant bruise I had. It came from dropping a 2 litre bottle of  mineral water squarely on my foot. As every good hypochondriac knows, under the bruise there may well be a fracture, or possibly cancer of the big toe and it’s best to get it checked out by a professional! 

Cheeky doctor noticed that the bruise was in the shape of a bottle cap and said if he looked carefully enough he could just make out the word ’Schweppes!’ Anyway to cut what could be a very long story short, he prescribed me anti anxiety medication. ( For the panic attacks not the bruise.)  

I have suffered from panic attacks, on and off for the last 12 years and have always coped with them by myself. I never wanted to take pills. This time they have returned worse than ever. This time I do need help. I am not entirely sure why I have always been so opposed to taking pills? Maybe because of the side effects? I have always imagined they might turn me into a bit of a zombie. I am also ever fearful of taking anything that might lead to weight gain, because I am more than capable of gaining weight all by myself – thank you.I worry about the possibility of becoming addicted, if these pills do make me feel better, then how on earth will I manage without them?

I also worry about other people’s reactions, when they find out that I am taking a low dose of antidepressant. But most of all I worry about how it makes me feel. I don’t mean that it might make me feel nauseous or peculiar. To be honest with you, it makes me feel something of a failure. Rationally I know that’s a silly reaction, as the Doctor said, why not take advantage of a little help? He even told me he had prescribed the same medication already that morning. So I know that I am not the only one taking it.

One glance on Facebook however, makes me think that perhaps there really are only the two of us taking these type of pills. My friends and acquaintances all seem to be living the life of Reilly. There are new babies, exotic holidays, straight A student children, new homes and romances. I, on the other hand, am somewhat too fragile for the grown up world and need to be cushioned gently by Prozac. Even as I type this, part of me can see that I am being ridiculous and many things go on behind closed doors that we don’t know about.

No one, as yet, knows that I intend to take these pills, my Facebook status certainly hasn’t informed anyone of the fact. And that’s the problem, don’t you wish for a more realistic social networking site? Anxious Mums R US? Hypochondriacs Reunited? My life is Somewhere you can announce to all and sundry that you are on Prozac, your child is a straight C student and that you won’t be going to the pub with your friends, as you only have 57p to last the rest of the month and even that was found down the back of the sofa. 

For now I guess I will have to content myself with telling only you, that I am suffering a bit of a blip and hopefully normal service will be resumed soon.

         I took Citalopram for a little over a year and I did eventually end up telling a few people that I was taking them. Mostly close friends and family. All were supportive and the pills did indeed work, so the answer to  my question was a a big fat yes. For now I am in control of the panic attacks without the need for antidepressants and I hope it will stay that way. If not, I will have no hesitation in taking them again. The attacks not only an unpleasant experience but they had a massive impact on my daily life.

         I found myself scared of almost everything, I worried about tall buildings suddenly collapsing on me. I convinced myself that I would suffer from anaphylactic shock should I ingest anything containing nuts. Even a hangover became a worry that my symptoms weren’t caused by overindulgence, but by some undiagnosed potentially fatal disease. I would wake in the night with breathlessness and convince myself I was having a fatal asthma attack. I would be awake for hours trying to calm down. The pills put a stop to the worst of the attacks, I wasn’t completely cured. I did still suffer from anxious moments, but I no longer lost sleep or worried continually that was about to die.  

Sadly I still don’t feel comfortable with telling everyone, I do wish people could be more open to admitting to the more negative parts of their lives. Then maybe I wouldn’t feel so inadequate, or feel pressure that my life needs to be picture perfect all of the time. So this post is my own attempt at rectifying things. Life is sometimes crappy and we shouldn’t be afraid of asking for help or sharing our worries by talking to others about them.