In the last six months or so, I've experienced chronic anxiety for the first time, related to a new high-stress job I'm in. In the fall, after a lot of sleepless nights, I went to a doctor to get a sleep aid and was prescribed valium instead. I only took it a few times. First time I just slept for 12 hours. After that, I wouldn't say it had much effect, although again I just took it a few times. What helped best was taking a 3 week vacation at Christmas!
Now I've been back at work for a month and the symptoms are setting in again. I'm still functional, and I mostly feel on top of my work, but it's just like I have an undercurrent of anxiety that doesn't go away. I'm just a little keyed up all the time. This has translated into trouble sleeping again. I don't even feel tired at all, and my mind races at night.
So I'm just wondering what experiences others have had with anxiety? What did you do to combat it and do you recommend medication or not? Obviously I am riding and that also helps a lot, but my job for the next few months will keep me from riding every day.
Daily aerobic exercise can make a HUGE difference. MAKE time for it; it's a lot better than medication. Also, clean up your diet. I know you'd think that would make very little difference with anxiety, but not so. Try to cut out as much of the caffeine and alcohol as possible, drink lots of water, and eat lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy sources of fats. After all that, work on compartmentalizing your life. Leave work at work, and try to leave that stress behind when you leave each day. Don't let work leak into other parts of your life... you need to draw a line and protect your non-work time.
Valium seems awfully strong for mild generalized anxiety. I'd suggest finding another doctor, preferably a board-certified psychiatrist, who is committed to treating you rather than just dispensing powerful pills. Medications can be a fantastic tool to help you get things back in balance, but you do need to look for sustainable long-term solutions. Some people need medications long term, but it sounds like you haven't tried a lot of the non-pharmaceutical routes yet, which may be all you need!
"Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle,
but put me in summer and I'll be a... happy snowman!!!"
I completely agree with CatPS. I also have a very high-stress, ultra-consuming job, which doesn't help with my somewhat, er, intense traits. My anxiety (and ADD) goes through the roof in the wintertime, when I'm unable to exercise regularly. Caffeine makes things about a zillion times worse, which sucks because I love having a diet coke in the afternoon. I now know that if I want to lower that constant "buzz" of anxiety, there's no caffeine allowed and I have to have some intense exercise regularly. I don't have a problem eating healthy (aside from my stupid diet coke) but would imagine a diet loaded with sugar starches would make things worse.
The other thing that helped me sleep was creating a playlist on my iPhone with music I can fall asleep listening to. I make myself focus on the rhythm and beats instead of my racing thoughts. This helps immensely. If that fails, I pull out the benadryl
Good luck, I feel for you. Valium is heavy stuff, I would try and make some changes first and maybe talk to your doctor about getting something a little less serious.
I have very severe generalized anxiety and I was prescribed an SSRI (antidepressant, basically) to help, and it's made a huge difference. It sounds like yours is milder, though, and I don't think something like a daily med is what you need. And valium seems ridiculously strong for a case like yours....
I second finding another doctor, a psychiatrist if possible, and changing your diet can work wonders. Cutting most of the soda out (I still like my Dr. Pepper now and again, but much less often than before), and coffee if you drink it, can make a huge difference. Healthify your diet and it will make a big difference in how you feel.
Whoa -- valium?! I agree with the others that it seems a bit much.
I'm currently on Paxil and Xanax for panic disorder and generalized anxiety...but I don't think it's working all that well. I have an appointment with a new psychiatrist on Friday to hopefully discuss other options. Will keep you posted if I find something that works!
"A horse gallops with his lungs, perseveres with his heart, and wins with his character." - Tesio
Valium? Not ativan? Ativan is commonly prescribed for anxiety and is in the same class as valium.
Going to see a good therapist could really aid here, I think, as it sounds like your anxiety is definitely work-based and you may be lacking solid way to cope with that. A professional could really talk you through how to process and separate work life from home life.
I have terrible, terrible anxiety disorder and insomnia. I didn't sleep for several months, once, when it was particularly bad. I was treated with a variety of SSRIs (in addition to therapy) and the SSRIs did not work. Seroquel, however, has seriously changed my life. It makes me sleep, and treats the anxiety very effectively. I wouldn't think you're in a spot where you need to go to neurotropics as there are of other things to try first, but if your anxiety issues ever get out of control, Seroquel is certainly one to keep in mind.
I agree that from your description, your anxiety is situational rather than clinical. The best place to settle the situation ( and I speak from A LOT of experience) is to speak with a professional in the field -- probably your doctor and a counselor. Internet advice won't get it done.
Try going for a long really brisk walk (get your heart rate up) for about a half hr or so after work. Exercise really helps stop Cortisol production, which is increased under stress. Since Cortisol also contributes to plaque buildup in arteries, and fat storage, it really helps to get this aerobic exercise. Then before bed, try a hot bath or shower, and read for a little while.
Melatonin can help you sleep and is safer that prescription drugs.
I developed a low key anxiety as I got older. I also noticed that my blood pressure was increasing. The blood pressure issues really concerned me as high blood pressure runs in my family. My doctor put me on blood pressure meds. Not only did my blood pressure come down, my anxiety also went away. You don't say how old you are, but is it possible that the anxiety could be related to a health issue?
I would say that I have high anxiety all the time. It's just kind of how I am wired, and, incidentally, is one of the things that helps me be good at my job (attorney). I can immediately identify the worst case scenario in every situation, run it down, come up with 15 solutions, come up with all of the possible problems with each solution, and then keep drilling down like that until I've developed multiple end of the world scenarios and possible fixes.
And I do that for everything. From drives into work (me to self: "Quick! What would you do if the traffic in the opposing lane suddenly veered into your lane? WHAT WOULD YOU DO?!?!?"), to horse related stuff (what if he breaks the cross ties, etc.), to work related stuff (if I do x, then the other side will do y or maybe z, and then I'm stuck with a...so maybe I do b and force THEM to do x...), etc., etc.
Oddly, I rarely have trouble sleeping. I'm just so exhausted at the end of the day, I guess.
One thing that really helps with anxiety/stress is running. I ran every single day in law school and during my first year of practicing law. I didn't have a horse then, and had more time. It's tough to fit it in now.
I have generalized anxiety, social anxiety, major depression, and panic attacks. Diagnosed when I was about 20, but looking back on my teenage years I can see all the times I had bouts with these and did not realize what was happening.
Exercise and lifestyle changes (dumping caffeine & alcohol, taking vitamins, getting enough sleep, etc) helped a little bit but not much. Been through the SSRI/SNRIs... was on zoloft twice and effexor once for long periods out of the last dozen years. While they did work for me, they caused me to gain large amounts of weight (50+ pounds). Every time I was doing well for a few years, the doctor would have me wean off the meds. I would lose all the weight and feel ok for a while, but eventually the other problems would return.
After being off effexor for about 9 months, all the anxiety was back to the point of barely being able to function. I decided that I had to try something different this time, or it would be the same old cycle.
I started taking St John's Wort and have been for about a year and a half now. It has been working very well for me and does not have the weight gain side effect. It DOES have a lot of drug interactions, so is something that should be discussed with a doctor, especially if you take other meds. I feel like I'm doing the best I have been since High School.
Absolutely do some sort of aerobic exercise. DH's work goes in cycles (he is an opera singer but has a day job in PR) and although he tries to prepare for it he is always stressed by it. To the point of anxiety causing him to loose sleep just like you. He finds that if he makes the effort to walk was much as he can, as in walk 45 each way to an evening rehearsal really helps him, he is much less jumpy and sleeps better, he also seems better able to deal with the stresses of his day job.