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OT: non-drug treatments for anxiety and depression
#1
After years of taking antidepressants (SSRI's) for depression, I weaned myself off of them seven months ago. I wanted to see how I did without them (I also discontinued psychotherapy at the same time) and I wanted to save money. I felt pretty much okay until a few weeks ago, when I noticed some familiar and unpleasant symptoms creeping back. With the difficulties I've been having getting used to my Bipap machine and mask, plus being unemployed, my stress level is higher. This time, I notice a lot more anxiety as well as the typical depression.

I started seeing my old therapist again and asked her to put me back on the meds I had taken for years and tolerated well, Buproprion XL (generic Welbutrin extended release) and escitilopram (general Lexapro). I started them together, in the lower initial dosages, Sunday afternoon. By the evening, my blood pressure was in the 160's/90's and my heart was racing. I had also made the mistake of using an OTC nasal decongestant spray so I could better tolerate my mask, and that made things even worse. I didn't notice the warning on the spray bottle until it was too late (it's in the garbage now).

I had every nasty side effect of serotonin syndrome, a potentially fatal condition. I've got no appetite and have lost 10 lbs. since starting the meds, am restless, the insomnia is awful (can't sleep more than an hour at a time). I have a slight headache, diarrhea, and muscle tension like a band around my head.

My BP is back to normal as of Wednesday, but the meds don't wash out of your system for 8 to 14 days. I wouldn't wish the past week on my worst enemy. Most of the time I'm on the couch, pillows plumped up, trying to doze or rest as best I can. My internist said that it was probably from starting both meds at the same time, and I can't recall if I started them together years ago. She said I could restart the bupropion and see how I tolerated it. As if! I'll never touch these meds again.

Have any of you sought non-drug treatment for anxiety? How well did it work?

The doc who prescribed the meds for me said I might want to try Ativan for the anxiety I'm having, but I see that it might not be a good idea for an apnea patient because it affects breathing.

The only positive thing to happen out of this nightmare is that I'mnow almost 30 lbs. lighter than when I did my sleep study.
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#2
As a side note, Lexapro increased my nightly events. I also gained a lot of weight.

One thing I do is expose myself to as much joy as I can. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But we know it is not.

- I sit in the sun. I try to get at least an hour a day of sunlight on my face. I cannot stand sunlight in my eyes but one theory is to look upward with eyes open to let the sun indirectly hit the back of the eyes. Don't stare right at it, of course, just look up. In the winter I use "full spectrum" lights in my office.
- I avoid the TV news and instead read it online. I don't read "bad" news, just the headlines. I also stopped watching all crime shows. Heck, I really don't watch any TV right now. Football starts soon, though!
- I read several daily comics online. All of them are funny in some way.
- Any place I go in person or online must be positive. I've left several online forums because they dragged me down. I've also stopped going to a local restaurant. The staff drama was just too much.
- Vitamins. In particular, the Bs. Get blood work done to see how you are doing in all the important minerals and stuff.
- Speaking of health, eat right. Go speak to a registered dietician. Not a nutritionist, a dietician. Tell him/her your goals and ask how/what you can do to help that along.
- See if there are any naturopaths or homeopaths in your area. Do a consult with them as well. Do this after you get your blood work though.
- I read a lot. I walk to the mailbox each day, taking the dogs with me. I move as much as I can.
- Sleep. Hard to do with learning the whole sleep apnea thing but sleep is important. Don't hesitate to nap! But limit naps so you don't use them to escape.

But basically just seek joy and avoid anything that is not joyful.
PaulaO2
Apnea Board Moderator
www.ApneaBoard.com


Breathe deeply and count to zen.

INFORMATION ON APNEA BOARD FORUMS OR ON APNEABOARD.COM SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN BEFORE SEEKING TREATMENT FOR MEDICAL CONDITIONS, INCLUDING SLEEP APNEA. INFORMATION POSTED ON THE APNEA BOARD WEB SITE AND FORUMS ARE PERSONAL OPINION ONLY AND NOT NECESSARILY A STATEMENT OF FACT.




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#3
ellen1159, I was also on Lexapro at one stage and it made my heart race so much I only stayed on it a couple of days, I was on two other meds for depression and but have luckily been off them for a year now. Once I started CPAP, I slowly weaned myself off them but that took me a year I was on such high dosages so I know how you feel. For me, I was diagnosed with depression but I never felt sad or down I always felt tired and the 5 specialists I went to all diagnosed depression, luckily as soon as I walked into my sleep specialist door he diagnosed sleep apnea and I have never looked back. One thing I have been doing for the last few years is I go to a out patient course on a Saturday morning called Mindfulness, it takes in meditation, yoga and we learn to accept our illness's. The meditation does seem to calm my mind, I find the guided meditations the best.
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#4
What Tez62 and Paula02 said. Try Tai Chi or Yoga. We have an Ashram near us where they offer many classes along these lines.
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#5
Currently I am on Effexor and am liking it. I'm not flat like with some of the other meds.

Depression meds need to be changed every 2-4 yrs, depending on the person. For many folks, their brain thinks the chemical composition during depression is normal. It will find ways to work around the medication. But regularly rotating between two or three of them, the brain can't keep up.

If possible, depending on symptoms, detox from antidepressants whenever you think it is safe to do so. We get so used to feeling a certain way, we don't know what is a symptom and what is a side effect. I detox from mine (with dr supervision!) every 3 years in between medication changes. But my way isn't yours!

And I second or third the meditation/yoga/Tai Chi/Qi Dong/etc.
PaulaO2
Apnea Board Moderator
www.ApneaBoard.com


Breathe deeply and count to zen.

INFORMATION ON APNEA BOARD FORUMS OR ON APNEABOARD.COM SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN BEFORE SEEKING TREATMENT FOR MEDICAL CONDITIONS, INCLUDING SLEEP APNEA. INFORMATION POSTED ON THE APNEA BOARD WEB SITE AND FORUMS ARE PERSONAL OPINION ONLY AND NOT NECESSARILY A STATEMENT OF FACT.




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#6
Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses. I've been reaching out to people (i've become very isolated last few years, post divorce trauma, unemployment, uncertain future) the past few days and that makes me feel better. Like Paula suggested, I am making a deliberate attempt to avoid stress and unpleasantness as much as possible. Went to the library and found a self help book on anxiety and panic attacks by lucinda Bassett (I used to hear her radio commercial and scoff at them for pooh-poohing meds, not anymore!) and started reading it.

I also attended an Alanon meeting that I used to go to and found very helpful (don't know why i stopped). It was hard to sit through it as the last bits of these drugs are still giving me symptoms (headache, muscle tension, agitation and suppressed appetite) and will be for a few more days, but I was able to lie down with my mask on for three hours this afternoon adn I drifted off to sleep for a little while. The fact that I could tolerate the mask (I lowered my pressures to 14 to 20 and find them perfectly tolerable, if a little drying) at all made me feel bettter.

I think the first time I'm able to go four hours with the mask on and sleep, will be a major, major propellant to my mood. I was feeling ok off the meds until just within the last month, that coincided with my temp job ending and being faced with my #1 priority, getting used to this machine. I've kind of let all my supports fall off over the months and years and at my worst, I have been feeling like my life is over at 53. Very morbid.

I like the idea of Mindfulness as a way of dealing with my emotional problems, and I think guided meditations would help. A friend suggested Rescue Remedy, a homeopathic liquid that you put into water or drop onto your tongue (made out of flowers). It's supposed to be for short term relief of anxiety. I got some tonight and I'll try that too.
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#7
Once you are able to get some better sleep your problems will subside.

Nothing you or any doctor can do will help if you are not sleeping.
Sleepster
Apnea Board Moderator
www.ApneaBoard.com


INFORMATION ON APNEA BOARD FORUMS OR ON APNEABOARD.COM SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN BEFORE SEEKING TREATMENT FOR MEDICAL CONDITIONS, INCLUDING SLEEP APNEA. INFORMATION POSTED ON THE APNEA BOARD WEB SITE AND FORUMS ARE PERSONAL OPINION ONLY AND NOT NECESSARILY A STATEMENT OF FACT.
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#8
(08-03-2013, 10:34 PM)Sleepster Wrote: Once you are able to get some better sleep your problems will subside.

Nothing you or any doctor can do will help if you are not sleeping.

That's the best reponse yet!

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#9
(08-04-2013, 09:12 AM)Elen Wrote:
(08-03-2013, 10:34 PM)Sleepster Wrote: Once you are able to get some better sleep your problems will subside.

Nothing you or any doctor can do will help if you are not sleeping.

That's the best reponse yet!

I agree 100%. Just trying to get to the better sleep is what's making me nuts.
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#10
(08-04-2013, 12:08 PM)ellen1159 Wrote: I agree 100%. Just trying to get to the better sleep is what's making me nuts.

If you use your machine every time you sleep you will get there faster.

Be patient. There's nothing else you can do to speed up the adaptation process, and there's nothing so important as following this simple rule.

Meanwhile, find a therapist to talk to.

Sleepster
Apnea Board Moderator
www.ApneaBoard.com


INFORMATION ON APNEA BOARD FORUMS OR ON APNEABOARD.COM SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED AS MEDICAL ADVICE. ALWAYS SEEK THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN BEFORE SEEKING TREATMENT FOR MEDICAL CONDITIONS, INCLUDING SLEEP APNEA. INFORMATION POSTED ON THE APNEA BOARD WEB SITE AND FORUMS ARE PERSONAL OPINION ONLY AND NOT NECESSARILY A STATEMENT OF FACT.
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