The first anti depressants didn't go too well - I ended up having panic attacks and any glance in the mirror made me want to scratch my own eyes out. No idea why I had that particular reaction to them but two weeks later I was put onto a different type, which I've been on for a three or so years now. They work, the depression is under control and what have you but the anxiety has gotten progressively worse, to the point where I ha vent left the house for almost three months.
It seems I have developed agoraphobia without even realising it.
Definition from About.com (their source - American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author)
Agoraphobia is often misunderstood as a phobia of leaving home. However, this is not quite accurate. Agoraphobia is a phobia of being in a situation where escape would be difficult or impossible, or help would be unavailable if a panic attack should occur.
Agoraphobia is often a progressive phobia, and may eventually lead to a fear of leaving the house. However, it is the panic attack, rather than the act of being in public, that is the cause of the fear. Symptoms of agoraphobia may include:This rings true with me -
Agoraphobia often develops out of an untreated panic disorder. More information about panic disorder with agoraphobia can be found at What is Agoraphobia? However, agoraphobia sometimes develops with no prior history of panic disorder. A mental health professional can determine whether your symptoms are those of agoraphobia or another disorder.
- Panicked Feelings: Agoraphobia can become a self-replicating cycle. The sufferer is anxious about having a panic attack which can, in turn, lead to a panic attack.
- Avoidant Behavior: Limiting life activities in an effort to avoid situations where help for a panic attack may not be available.
- Clustering: A pattern of avoided situations is generally present. Common clusters include public transportation; shopping; driving; and leaving home.
Panicked Feelings - I suffer from panic attacks and I fear having them which in itself causes a panic attack. Hyperventilation, at least for me, causes me to feel sick, dizzy, shakey, hot, sweaty and if I don't calm down quickly my hands go into spasm, both my arms and legs go numb and I get pins and needles in my face.
Avoidant Behaviour - I avoid leaving my flat which is my "secure" place. When I'm at home I rarely have a panic attack and the ones I do have at home are because I'm about to leave it/should be leaving it.
Clustering - I didn't actually realise just how much I avoided situations until it became so bad I wouldn't leave my flat. Thinking back, I've always had a fear of going to new places, I'd stick to my usual haunts and would usually refuse to go out with family and friends if they wanted me to go somewhere new, it then progressed to avoiding certain public transport, then avoiding going to places that weren't close to my flat, to eventually not leaving my flat at all.
The problems that anxiety has caused me have been awful - financially, I've screwed both myself and my other half up, I have no friends, I don't visit family and I cant even remember the last time I walked on grass or touched a tree trunk.
I will be seeing my GP this week (well, I'll arrange a home visit) and I will be able to discuss treatment with him. I'm just terrified I will never become well, that I'll never be able to go outside and enjoy the sunshine without being terrified. That I'll never be able to go shopping or to Chester Zoo or get married because of these stupid fears that I don't really understand. But, there is treatment, therapies and all sorts that I can try so I will never give up hope that's for sure, I control the depression, I can control the anxiety too!
Sorry for the "poor me" type post - with the docs appointment this week I've been thinking a lot about my illnesses and wanted to share my own experiences with it, maybe someone out there with similar feelings will realise that they aren't alone.
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