Hi, my name is Chris, and I am new here. This post is long, but I felt I needed to give you some of my background. I am male and 39-years-old now, in my late teens I was diagnosed with depression and panic attacks, and they were bad. In my attacks I felt like I couldn't breathe automatically and had to work to do it, consequently I had to stay up all night, until my body just gave up and fell asleep, controlling my breathing. Back then there were reasons for my panic attacks, I had a very chaotic young life. I was prescribed Zoloft, but I rarely took it. The one time I did it just sedated me and made me feel like a zombie. From my early 20s on I was always tired and depressed no matter how much sleep I got, so I would self-medicate, first with crack cocaine and methamphetamine, then with over-the-counter caffeine or ephedra pills. I took ephedra for over 10 years practically every day with some bad side effects if I accidentally overdosed, but no breathing problems. When i couldn't afford the ephedra pills, I would take caffeine pills. Again, very few adverse side effects, no breathing problems. My panic attacks, and the fear of not breathing, had been gone for those 10 years or so I was taking those stimulants. I was very energetic, happy, outgoing and sociable...when on the pills. Off of them, I am tired and depressed. So for years, on the ephedra or caffeine pills, I felt good and had no panic attacks.
Then just three weeks ago I took a different chemical...pills that had coca (and a few other ingredients) in them. The first few days I felt great with no bad come down. On the third day, though, I became very conscious about my breathing and felt like I couldn't breathe. Thinking back now, I think it is the coca chemical that may have triggered or re-triggered my panic attacks. When I did crack cocaine in my early 20s it did the same thing: on the come-down I would have panic attacks with the feeling of not being able to breathe. So I think it was the coca pills that re-triggered this. I have not taken any stimulants, even caffeine, for the last two weeks, but I still have constant anxiety and constant panic attacks. It is worse at night when I am trying to sleep and all I can think about is my own heart and breathing. I feel like I can not automatically breathe so I am deathly afraid of falling asleep. And there has been times when I woke up in a panic feeling like I wasn't breathing.
I went to Urgent Care, and they took a few tests, including an EKG, and said my heart rate and breathing were normal. But I felt like I was dying. I saw my primary care doctor yesterday, and he is thinking that my nasal congestion, my sinusitis, may be contributing to my breathing problems at night and he wants to test me for sleep apnea. I am also getting all my blood work done this weekend. My doctor doesn't want to prescribe any anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication until we know if I have sleep apnea or another illness he can find through the blood work. But even if I have sinusitis and sleep apnea, I also do have anxiety and panic attacks that are probably caused by them, and frankly, I need immediate relief. I am going crazy! The panic, fear and anxiety about my breathing is affecting my job performance and social life. I am 39 years old, but I am regressing to my teen years! I know this will eventually go away, like it did in the past, but I really can't wait. My doctor says that anti-anxiety meds are just sedatives, so since I am very tired already and may have sleep apnea, he doesn't want to prescribe them. Are there any anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants that takes care of the symptoms or feelings anxiety causes, like feeling like you can't breathe? That are not sedatives? I know there are no "magic pills," that meds have side effects, and I will still have to work on my anxiety even with them, but can any medication work against these feelings of not breathing automatically, along with the other average anxiety symptoms? Thank you very much for your stamina in reading this long post! And I appreciate any advice or support you can give.