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Anxiety vs. Depression

I have spoken to my doc regarding my anxiety several times. The answer is always the same: "All anxiety is routed in depression. Take this antidepressant". Well, I have been on no less the 6 different antidepressants over the years. They all make me depressed! One actually made me angry (like roid rage almost). tell me if I'm wrong here, I really do want to know if I'm wrong. What I describe is sudden elevation in HR, quickening respirations, unable to make decisions (for as long as the attack lasts), sweating. Sometimes my vision narrows and I hear a buzzing. Are these not classic signs of panic attacks brought on by anxiety? My heart is fine as I have had a yearly check with the cardiologist for 5 years now.

Thoughts, opinions?



Your Story Forum Monitor
I can relate to what you have been through. I started having panic attacks about one month after turning 19 years-old. It was a scary! I started having more frequent panic attacks at age 24, and from then on they became a regular part of my life. It wasn't until I suffered a major bout of depression that I was treated for the depression and the panic attacks. I have been on Zoloft for over ten years and have suffered only about three smalls bouts of panic attacks since I've been on the medication. I think I have forgotten a dose here and there. When my panic attacks were the most troublesome these were my typical symptoms: shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, fear (sometimes to the extreme), cold sweats, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing control, and very rarely a feeling of tunnel vision. I know that medication may not be the answer for everybody, but it made a world of difference for me.

I'm sorry that you've been going through those awful spells! That's too bad about the anti-depressants too. I wish I could be of more help, Michele.


Chief Dandelion Picker
Hi Michele:

All anxiety is not routed through depression. Anxiety and depression show themselves differently in the brain (both are difficult to map in the brain because there is no one "anxiety area" and "depression area," but they do tend to involve different patterns of activity in different regions of the brain). Caveat: Anxiety and depression CAN co-occur.

The treatments are also (typically) different. The options for medication are often different, and the options for therapy are often different. Medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy have approximately equal effectiveness for anxiety, although therapy usually produces lifelong results and medication does not (although it can get you through time-limited episodes, of course).

Same for depression: If it is determined that you are experiencing depression, therapy is about equal to medication (mild-to-moderate depression), so you might find that you consider therapy since the medications are causing such unpleasant side effects.

Next question: are the symptoms that you describe signs of anxiety. Possibly. What you have described does not sound like a full-blown panic attack, but you haven't described your full experience, of course (and I am not a trained clinician).

However: could anything else cause these symptoms? Absolutely. For example, too much caffeine (in some people, that's as little as a cup or two of coffee) could cause similar symptoms. A bigger picture might be needed for the source to be pinpointed (for example, a psychologist or physician might ask if you have recognized certain triggers of these symptoms, like every time that you walk into your doctor's office, whenever you are bickering with a friend, etc.).

Major disclaimer here: I am NOT trained in clinical or counselling psychology, the branches that involve delivering therapy.
Reason for disclaimer: I do have a PhD in psychology. My area of research is university student wellness, particularly mood-related factors in alcohol use (I felt anxious, I felt depressed, I wanted to feel some excitement, etc).
Thanks! I was beginning to think I was just going to have to deal. I've gone the traditional therapy route before (other issues) and still do kind of a check in from time to time. It helps. I have tried Xanax and it does work but doctors hesitate to prescribe it due to those that abuse it. Believe it or not, the one doctor that prescribed was my old, retired GI! I guess he knew me so well (inside & out) that he knew I would never abuse a medication. These episodes are becoming more frequent lately. Physical changes that go along with being a 45 year old female, increased professional responsibility, my grand babies having a life of their own, blah, blah, blah. I thank you both for your thoughtful answers and taking the time. I will find someone that will listen. In the meantime, I have you all!


The Prettiest Princess
Not everyone is going to abuse xanax. It bugs me when doctors won't give a patient something they really need because other people abuse it. I'd be lost without mine. I work through most of my anxious moments, but I can't always do it, sometimes I don't have the energy to do it!

Also question: was it wellbutrin that caused your rage? It did the same to me, although that was lessened when I went to the extended release kind. I also have two other meds I take that tone down that feeling some.
No, it was Zoloft for me. It works wonders for other people, I'm just weird! If one in 2 billion have a certain side effect, it seems that I am that one. Just weird.


The Prettiest Princess
I can't remember what I didn't like about zoloft, but I couldn't take it either. that was more than a decade ago now.
Hi Michele. It definitely sounds like panic attacks. I used to have them (for many years). I was able to get them under control by stopping birth control pills, stopping all sugar and caffeine, and learning relaxation techniques. I will be 40 this year and haven't had any panic attacks, but notice I am really stressed and agitated when I'm ovulating through standard PMS time. I went to a naturopathic Dr. who recommended that I use a natural progesterone cream for the second two weeks of my cycle and it has made a big difference. It is called Emerita and you don't need a prescription to get it. You might want to track when you get the anxiety and see if it corresponds to those times. I am just letting you know about my experience, as I am not a doctor, but it has really made a huge difference for me.