Anxiety and Depression Support

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Hi there. Here's a little bit of my story. I've always been a more anxious, "Type A" person, but have been able to live a fairly happy, productive life. Married, kids, successful career, the whole bit. Unfortunately, a year ago, it started to go awry. I gained a new boss at work, with whom I definitely do not get along. Everyone else that I worked with before has left because of the difficult situation.

Along the way during this past year, I started to suffer from some health issues. First, just a day every once in a while of feeling like I had the stomach flu. I spent 3 months earlier this year with severe upper back pain, requiring weeks of physical therapy to come back under control. And now, since July, I've had "spells" or "episodes" of feeling weak, having a racing heartbeat, hot flashes, trembling. This has led to numerous ER/Urgent Care/doctor visits and every test under the sun (heart monitors, blood pressure tests, thyroid tests, adrenal gland tests.) So far, all good news - there's nothing physically wrong with me.

But that's a little hard to hear when I still feel so terrible most days.

I didn't realize how bad it was until I "self-identified" as depressed during a doctor visit. This led to a leave of absence from work, with the idea that if we could separate the stressors, we'd see if there was really a physical issue going on. I'm still not sure if that was a good idea, as now I don't have that to focus on and the symptoms have become worse.

I've tried Lexapro - didn't react well. (Basically, I'm not very tolerant of any medication.) My doctor wanted to try Wellbutrin, but when I followed up with a psychiatrist, he said that wasn't really a good option for those already suffering from a racing heartbeat and anxiety.

So, for now, I've been seeing a therapist. She has said a lot that makes sense and gives some comfort in all of this - that it's transitional, I functioned well before and I will again, and that I need to remind myself that I'm healthy.

However, as before, it's difficult to stay with that thought pattern when I really don't feel well most days, and I have such difficulty eating...to the point where I've lost weight I couldn't afford to lose.

I'd like to know if anyone else can identify with this story and perhaps give some encouragement as to what I could do next. Thank you for your help.

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I can relate to having difficulty eating due to anxiety. There have been several time periods over the years where I struggle with what to eat because I worry about it causing a panic attack. I'm in one of those times now, after experiencing a particularly frightening panic attack a few weeks ago that I believe was due to low blood sugar. Now I feel like I need to perfectly plan each meal to avoid that from happening again. I end up worrying about it so much that I feel sick to my stomach no matter what I eat, and I'm so sensitized to changes in blood sugar that I start panicking a couple hours after each meal once my blood sugar starts dropping (I should point out I'm not diabetic and am a healthy weight and eat very healthy too - I'm just super sensitive to blood sugar changes and the adrenaline release that comes with it).

My advice to you is to try to eat what you can and try to pack as much nutrition into each meal as you can to help give your body what it needs. Of course avoid sugar and refined carbs as much as possible, those have a huge affect on anxiety. For stomach pain and upset or nausea, my go to is always just to challenge whatever my fear is. "I feel like I'm going to throw up" - ok let's throw up, it won't hurt you. "what if that meal I just ate causes me to get anxious?" - then I'll deal with that when the time comes, and anxiety isn't dangerous. Basically I just try to accept any stomach issues, even if I'd rather have them go away.

Last time I went through this was over 5 years ago, and in time I was able to recover completely and eat whatever I wanted without fear. Several factors have led me back to where I am right now and struggling with anxiety again, but the bottom line is if you practice acceptance (trust the doctors and accept that there is nothing physically wrong) then in time it fades away.

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I'm no doctor, but depression is an illness and if it goes on long enough, I am in favor of medication as a tool to getting better.

There are so many different kinds out there. Some can actually increase your appetite. A good doctor will listen closely to your symptoms, then try to identify the neurotransmitters that are causing your depression. Medication can them be described accordingly.

I'm sorry you've been through such a terrible ordeal. It does sound like a situational depression, but if the situation (the same boss) isn't going away, a medication along with some counseling on how to deal with this person might really help.

If you feel it's a hostile work environment, you can always complain to HR. They know how many people have quit. Unless it's a really sleazy, ignorant company, they will take your complaint seriously. They will also be obligated to accommodate your depression when you return to work if you bring medical documentation.

Carrying small packets of macademia nuts in your pocket might help. They have fat and protein. Ask your doctor or nurse if something like that would help your blood sugar. Lucky you - you get to eat fattening foods, and right at the holiday season, too.

I think you are very smart and brave for not quitting and for facing what's happening head-on. Good for you! Just keep going and using your good judgment. You are having symptoms, but this is not who you are, and they will get better.

I wish you all the best in 2018. Please let us know what happens!

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