Unwanted Side Effect: Anxiety

Before beginning treatment for bipolar, I had very little trouble with anxiety.  I was bold and free of worries.  I went to sleep when I wanted to sleep.  I was as active as I wanted to be.  Nothing daunted me.  But a few months into my treatment, my psychiatrist upped my dosage of Geodon from 40mg to 60mg.  This turned out to be a disaster.  I started having panic attacks in bed after taking the medicine.  I felt like I was going to die, and what’s worse I felt like I wanted to die just to have relief from the terrible feelings of panic.  It happened four times.  Eventually, I persuaded my doctor to take me down to 40mg, which wasn’t as effective a dose for me, but it made the panic attacks go away.

But panic attacks can have debilitating effects even after they are long gone.  I’ve been suffering from nighttime anxiety ever since.  It starts at sundown.  I get an ache in the pit of my stomach.  Little things freak me out.  I especially feel it when I think about going to bed.  Eventually, it got bad enough that I began having sleep troubles.  Sleep has become a nightly trial.  A few times a month, I go without sleep entirely.  And sex?  Out of the question.

This anxiety has put a strain on my marriage.  I’m no longer a relaxed, fun-loving guy in the evenings.  I’m often somber and withdrawn.  I get nervous about going out in the evening because I worry that it will throw off my chances of getting to sleep.  The anxiety feeds into the insomnia and the insomnia feeds into the anxiety.

I’ve mentioned this to my therapist and my psychiatrist.  My therapist has been useless in helping me.  My psychiatrist told me to take a supplement called Theanine.  He always tries the non-pharmaceutical approach first.  One time I talked him into giving me a short supply of Klonipin.  It worked great.

At my next visit, I’m going to discuss the possibility of taking a regular medicine for anxiety.  I hear that Zanex is good.  My concern (and his) is that Zanex is a habit-forming drug.  This is so frustrating.  I feel like I’m already taking enough medicine.  (My Regimen)

Some days, it feels like I have more problems now that I’m in treatment.  My wife would disagree because my mania is under control, but this anxiety thing is a BITCH.

So doc?  If you’re not gonna let me drink scotch anymore, at least give me some Zanex!


10 thoughts on “Unwanted Side Effect: Anxiety

  1. It’s terrible having to take medicine for the side effects of the medicine you take for something else! I had panic attacks when I was young but fortunately they had dissipated for the most part by the time I was 30. That’s not to say I didn’t have anxiety, just not in that form.
    I currently have prescriptions for Klonopin (for sleep and anxiety) and Ativan (prn, for anxiety and general out-of-control behavior). I have heard that BuSpar is good for anxiety and is not so habit-forming like the benzos are.

  2. I like Klonopin… it has been my saving grace. I build a tolerance to it… I have never had withdrawals other than having insomnia a few days once I stop taking it. It helps the anxiety too… which is awesome.

    • I slept without medication last night. I used music instead. Even though the anxiety was bad last night. It was my daughter’s birthday, and I spent the whole dinner in agony, trying to act normal and be social. I couldn’t eat. I need something.

  3. I took Xanax once it was awful. It only worked for about half an hour and then the anxiety came back and it was worse.

    I take Ativan for anxiety 1-2 mg a day, but usually only at night if I can’t sleep. There was a time when I was taking 2-3 mgs but I am better now. I have been on Ativan since 2006. I know it’s habit-forming but it’s better than the alternative in my case.

    • I’m taking a benzodiazepine for sleep (Tamezapam). Same class of medicine as Ativan. Does it make you drowsy? I want something I can take when I get home from work that doesn’t knock me out, but calms my brain enough for me to sleep. My next psych appointment is not going to be pretty. It’s going to be me begging for new drugs and my doctor furrowing his brow with both consternation and concern. Then finally, he’ll pull out his magic prescription pad and scribble some form of mercy on it.

      • I love how docs are such drug pushers for certain pharmaceutical companies, but refuse meds that will absolutely help you. Pisses me off. I hope your Doc gives you what you need. Anxiety is brutal… worse than any other co-morbid condition. At least cutting would release something. Anxiety does nothing but kill you slowly.

      • He has me on such a strict regimen. No drinking, no smoking, no coffee. Booze and cigarettes would REALLY help this situation a lot, but doctors have their own drugs to give. I think my way is a lot more fun. If I was a cutter, I suppose he would ban that, too. My only release right now is music, writing, and laughter with my family.

  4. I refuse to leave the booze… lol… though it isn’t much, and I KNOW I need to stop. I will. I am not a cutter either.
    I would rather run a muck and cause trouble than exercise, take meds, blah blah. But I am getting too old to keep starting over. I have done that one too many times.
    Ya know though… if I died, i can’t say I would have any regrets with lack of experiences… I would regret not being with my children the way I need and want to be.
    Laughter with your family is priceless… ♥

  5. I try to limit my Ativan consumption, so that it keeps working for me. I have built up a tolerance where I have to take at least 1 mg of Ativan a day, or I will start having anxiety or withdrawal. 1 mg does not usually help me sleep. I take it because I will freak out if I don’t. So, if I’m having trouble sleeping, I just take another one. Sometimes, it helps. Sometimes, it doesn’t. I only feel awful anxiety if I haven’t taken any Ativan at all. So, I would say my anxiety is not as bad anymore. But I also avoid a lot of things, and stay home most of the time. My lifestyle is not very healthy, but at least, I am writing. I used to cut, and I have an Axis II diagnosis borderline, which sucks worse than being bipolar, because borderlines get labeled a lot and people see them as troublemakers. It’s also very confusing and painful because you don’t know who to trust, and most especially yourself.

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