Coping: PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, and Panic Attacks

Article #2. Article #1 is title, "How my life changed forever in less than 10 minutes."

Los Angeles County - It has been over two years of therapy and medications since I was held at gunpoint during an armed robbery. I wish I could say that I am back to 100 percent, but I still feel like I am left picking up the pieces as I try to make sense of my new life.

After I decided to leave, I knew I needed professional help as this was uncharted waters. Everyday was becoming more and more difficult. I would have these perverse thoughts that paralyzed me and made simple things like getting out of bed feel like climbing Mount Everest. These thoughts were; F*ck!!! I almost lost my life for what, over some material items? You left this type of job to go to college, what are you doing? Why did you get yourself into all this debt for college, if you're not going to use your degree? This can't be the rest of your life? If so, are you going to be happy. If not, is it worth continuing? What next? Do you want to go back to school? Are you willing to get into more debt? Are you willing to go grab coffee again? Is California still where you want to be? Do you even want to go on? What is the point? These were just a few examples.

"...some experience severe distress, anxiety, and depression for months or even years. They frequently re-experience the event through intrusive thoughts, upsetting reminders, or nightmares; relaxing, concentrating, or sleeping become difficult...these are symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.

Sundays were especially hard because I never left the house. It was the only day I didn't go to the gym. I would try to sleep all day or I just wouldn't get out of bed. When I did, it was usually early evening. My depression would trigger my anxiety and if I couldn't calm myself, I would have panic attacks. Panic attacks were the worst. It is like some weird out-of-body experience. What usually starts out with fast heart rate can quickly escalates. My body would shake uncontrollably, especially both my hands. Within minutes, I'm lightheaded and my vision is blurry. Sometimes, I would wonder if this was it. After each episode, I was exhausted. My clothes would get soaked with sweat.

"Many of us have witnessed or experienced a serious illness, an accident, a personal assault, or other traumatic events. with time the grief typically passes, the pain lessens, and life eventually gets back to normal. Most people recover from traumatic events, but some experience severe distress, anxiety, and depression for months or even years. They frequently re-experience the event through intrusive thoughts, upsetting reminders, or nightmares; relaxing, concentrating, or sleeping become difficult. They often feel detached or estranged from loved ones. These are symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)."

This would go on for several months, it was this vicious cycle I didn't know how to stop and therapy progress was slow. I was becoming increasingly frustrated and my symptoms felt like they were getting worst. After having a lengthy conversation with both my therapist and my doctor about dependency, I decided to go on medication.* It took roughly three months for me to get the right medication and the right dosage, but then something began to change. The thoughts slowly started to fade and I started gaining an upper-hand. For now, the tide seem to have turned.

*Side note, I'm not by any means trying to promote taking medication. What might work for me, might not work for you. The medications brought on a host of other issues [side-effects]. I will discuss that in another article. I believe and my therapist would agree that it was a multi-prong approach: gym, books [learning], mediation, therapy, and medication.

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