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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

When Will They Stop?

04/15/2008

Question:

i am 24 years old and i have been having panic attacks for about 8 months now and i have been taking zoloft for about 7 months. i was taking 50 mg but now im down to 25 mg because i have learned to somewhat control them. i still have days when my throat gets tight and i feel like i cant breathe. my skin starts to itch sometimes as well and i start to think im having an allergic reaction but when i calm down it just stops. i have days when i think its something more than just anxiety but i know when i relax it all goes away. it seems to happen the most in the evening when i sit down to relax or during my time of the month! what can i do to make them just go away?

Answer:

Anyone who has had any chronic illness will ask the same question, "what do I do to make it go away?"  unfortunately, rarely is the answer what we want to hear.  Anxiety disorders are usually relatively long lasting.  While some people may only have significant symptoms for a few months, for many people, the struggle will go on for years.  Probably most commonly, symptoms will wax and wane, with good weeks, months and even years, and then some recurrence of symptoms and problems.

It is important to look an treating anxiety disorders the same way you do any chronic illness -- it likely will take medications, some counseling or therapy, some lifestyle changes and some patience.

It is important with anxiety disorder to get plenty of sleep on a regular schedule, as well as eat healthy (whole grains, fruits, veggies, plenty of fluids) and get regular exercise.  You need to find time in your life for pleasurable activities, and to have a strong network of friends and family to help you deal with the stressful events that will occur in any life.  Limiting your use of alcohol is important, and staying away from cigarettes, other tobacco and other drugs is a must.

Working with a counselor or therapist to find triggers to panic and anxiety and use relaxation methods to prevent and treat them is important.  If you aren't already doing this, then I would recommend it.

Medication is anxiety disorders is usually used for a minimum of 6 to 18 months.  if you find your symptoms worsen when you and your doctor start to decrease your dose of medicine, then it is likely not yet time to stop the medicine.  Some people do need medicine for an extended period of time (years).

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati