Anxiety Medication, Getting Help for an Anxiety Disorder, Recovering from an Anxiety Disorder, Root Causes of Anxiety

Why You are Losing the Anxiety Battle!

Anxiety disorders are linked to low levels of Serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical and neurotransmitter in the body. Serotonin regulates:

  • mood and social behavior
  • appetite and digestion
  • sleep
  • memory
  • sexual desire and function

There is a link between low serotonin levels and anxiety and depression. For this reason, one way to control an anxiety disorder and depression is through the use of “Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors”, or an “SSRI”.

According to Psychology today, “Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors are a class of antidepressants prescribed for depression and anxiety disorders. They work by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter, Serotonin.”


  • Fluoxetine (Prozac and Serafem)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil and Pexeva)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

Side Effects

  • Blurred Vision
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry Mouth
  • Headache
  • Constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
  • Weight loss, or weight gain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Anxiety, nervousness, or agitation

Well, no wonder I had such a hard time taking these!! Beginning around 12 years old, I would experience “sensations” that I didn’t understand – racing heart, shortness of breath, cold sweats, clammy hands and an overall feeling of unwell. I would think I was going to faint. I never knew what these sensations were, but after checking my heart and blood, I was in tip-top shape. I endured these sensations when they would come and just wait for them to pass. They were a little scary when they showed up, but tolerable. Also, I only had to worry about myself. I could sit and focus on breathing and after a short while, the sensations would pass.

After the birth of my 2nd child, I found myself in a situation where these sensations worsened. They were much stronger and scarier. I seriously started thinking I had some rare disease. I noticed that the fear of having these “sensations” also increased. I was avoiding events and running errands alone with the kids. I would think twice about taking the kids to the park, or for a bike ride, without my husband. This was difficult since my husband is a fire fighter and a fishing guide. With his schedule, he was rarely home.

Having a panic attack when I only had myself to worry about was much easier than having to also worry about two toddlers running around! I didn’t like living this way – depending on someone to accompany me everywhere, restricted and afraid. I went to a doctor again.

This time, after checking for all of the standard probable causes and coming up empty-handed, my doctor suggested it could be a chemical imbalance. It made sense that if these sensations were caused from a serotonin deficiency, medication to increase serotonin would be the way to go. Fluoxetine (Prozac, Serafem) at 20mg was prescribed.

I definitely had loss of appetite which was actually great! I also noticed an increase in energy, which I correlated to an increase in anxiety and nervousness. At work one day, I started focusing on the anxiety, nervousness and loss of appetite and worried that maybe this wasn’t the right medication for me. This obsessive thought ended up in THE major panic attack that sent me to the ER. Needless to say, I stopped taking Fluoxetine.

When I got home from the ER, I researched Fluoxetine and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had experienced pretty much ALL of the “side effects”! Surely stopping the medication would stop these “side effects”. Well, that was not the case. After a couple of months of not taking any medication, I still felt extreme nervousness and nausea 24/7. My heart rate was through the roof and I always wanted to cry. I decided to see a psychiatrist.

He explained that I was not experiencing “side effects” of the medication, but rather SYMPTOMS of an anxiety disorder. Why did these SYMPTOMS start when I started Fluoxetine? He reminded me that I had always had these SYMPTOMS, just MUCH milder. He mentioned that Fluoxetine was probably not the best SSRI for an anxiety disorder. It seemed that Fluoxetine tilted the anxiety axis just enough to send me over the edge. Not everyone has this experience! In fact, most people I talk to do GREAT on fluoxetine, especially if they have more of a depressed mood.

My psychiatrist prescribed Sertraline (Zoloft) at 100mg. Again, I had all of the “side effects”, which according to my psychiatrist were SYMPTOMS. I still did not believe that what I was experiencing was anxiety or panic, so I told him the medication was making me feel worse and that I just couldn’t take it.

Seeing that I was not easily convinced about having an anxiety disorder and not easily persuaded into taking an SSRI, he prescribed Alprazolam (Xanax). He explained that this was a quick way to reduce the anxiety and end a panic attack quickly. He also mentioned that this could not be the final medicine. The fact that Alprazolam worked to get rid of the “sensations”, made me realize that MAYBE I did in fact have an anxiety disorder and these “sensations” were actually panic attacks.

After months of suffering, crying, remaining inside my home, afraid of driving and on short disability at work, I decided to try again. This time it was Paroxetine (Pexeva) at 20mg. I continued to feel the “side effects” for several months. It would take approximately 6 months to fully get rid of the “side effects”, which I could now finally admit were actually SYMPTOMS. I did in fact have an anxiety disorder and the sensations I had felt ALL OF MY LIFE, had been panic attacks.

Note: Most people I talk to feel the effects of an SSRI after just two weeks and then at about four months, feel REALLY well. I, as usual, am just an anomaly in all things medical. I think it took so long to work for me, because I wasn’t eating that much and drinking A LOT of water. I was obsessed with cleansing my body of toxins and maybe I was diluting the medication? Just a thought.

Anyway, Paroxetine (Pexeva) is a brand name medication and insurance companies don’t play nice with brand name medication. I was on Pexeva for a few years when I decided to switch to a similar generic medication. It would be cheaper and much easier to get. The pharmacies seem to always be “out of stock” on brand name medication and I didn’t need any more anxiety in my life! I slowly switched to Paroxetine and went up to 40mg. I tried to stay on it for a month, but the palpitations were just to powerful to ignore. I remember reading a story to my daughter at night and actually seeing my heart beating on the outside of my shirt! I switched back to the brand name medication, Pexeva.

I ended up on 30mg of Pexeva and felt AMAZING. After a few years, I NEVER gave my anxiety disorder or panic attacks a second thought. I took one small pill every night before bed and was able to function like any other “normal” human being all day, every day! I was even better than I was in my 20’s, or any other part of my life that I can remember. During this time, I NEVER experienced so much as a tiny heart palpitation. ALL OF MY PANIC ATTACKS WERE GONE. All of the scary sensations were gone. I had no ACTUAL side effects.

The fact that I never had panic attacks re-trained my brain to not be afraid. I became much more adventurous. I wasn’t afraid to do anything, or go anywhere. For a total of 6 years, I was FREE! I felt so great in fact, that I decided to try to switch to a generic once more. These are the medications I tried:

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac and Serafem)
    • Sexual dysfunction
    • Still had palpitations
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
    • Increased tics
    • Still had palpitations
    • Sexual dysfunction
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
    • Works ok
    • Still on it today at 300mg

I have been on Fluvoxamine for a year or two. I am not as great on this one as I was on Pexeva. I have trouble sleeping, have minor palpitations and every now and then have decreased energy. It could be the medication I am on, or just plain aging. My next plan of action will be to begin to research how to naturally increase Serotonin and slowly decrease the dose of the SSRI.

My ultimate goal is to be medication-free, but only if it leads me to living my best life.

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