He explained that imbalanced levels of the chemical in our brains, called serotonin, affects both depression and anxiety. And, he said, it’s common for people with severe anxiety to become depressed.
I was desperate for relief from panic. I was willing to try almost anything. I could hardly wait to get to the pharmacy and pick up my new prescription. For me, the antidepressant signified hope.
I took sertraline (Zoloft) that night. I noticed a difference in a few days. I could drive and not have a panic attack. I could shop at the grocery store and not panic. The doctor told me it’d probably take a couple of weeks before it started helping. I wondered if it was a fluke that I felt better. It wasn’t! I had fewer symptoms, and if I felt panic coming on, I could control it.
The downside was when I first started the medicine, I was extremely tired. I’d take Mackenzie and Talee to school, go home, and take a nap. Then I’d pick Talee up from kindergarten a few hours later, and fight to stay awake to make lunch and play dolls with my little girl. I was miserable, but stayed with it. I didn’t want to give up hope. After two weeks my body adjusted and I wasn’t tired anymore.
I felt fortunate that the first medication I tried, worked. Fortunate isn’t a strong enough word. To be honest, it was like a miracle. It changed my life.
Sertraline, or any other medicine, isn’t a cure for panic attacks. But it allows me to manage my anxiety. The fear of fear no longer dominates me.
There are times I still feel anxious. Sometimes I need to take deep breaths when I drive, to ward off panic symptoms. I prefer to shop at an outdoor mall, so I don’t get the “closed-in-feeling,” and the “I-can’t-get-out-quickly-if-I-panic feeling.” But that doesn’t stop me from going to an indoor mall, or even a huge, warehouse store with no windows, and only one exit at the front of the store.
Now I’m able to participate in life. I control my panic — it doesn’t control me.
First image courtesy of Quoteswave.com. http://www.quoteswave.com/picture-quotes/115050