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Anxiety? Anyone have anything that works for them?

Puppmom

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Within the last year or so, my husband has started dealing with anxiety. He's 40 with no previous mental health issues. It started creeping up on him during the tail end of a 2 year period of staying home with our kids, learning a new trade and transitioning back into the work force.

He tried managing on his own with some success - he meditates daily and plays music as a creative outlet - those help a great deal. He also recently started acupuncture and gets relief from that. But he needs something more. He's tried medication twice - the first did nothing, the second (zoloft) caused depression. It's starting to impact his ability to function. He's a developer and was given a 15 minute task at work but it took him almost 3 hours to complete yesterday. He's noticing he has to go back to his project manager and ask questions that he knows he should know the answer to. At home, I've noticed an inability to complete basic tasks. This morning, I left him to cut and butter waffles for our children while I blew my hair dry. I came out of the bathroom more than 5 minutes later and he was still standing over the waffles cutting them. I thought maybe he got distracted (kids are needy) but he had been working on it the whole time.

Yesterday was the worst day he's had. He had to leave work. He cannot articulate how he is feeling. He says his head is filled with fast moving thoughts but he can't even tell you what it is that he's thinking about. And, for the first time, it paralyzed him. He could not function at all. He called me and kept saying "I feel like I'm losing my mind." and I instructed him to tell his manager he was sick and had to leave and to call his therapist immediately. He called her and she instructed him to take a Xanax (the doc gave them to him a while back when he started zoloft *just in case*). He took them once before and it worked. Last night it didn't work. He sees his therapist this evening and they're going to try to get him to a psychiatrist with some urgency.

I am worried sick. It's to the point that it's distracting me from my work and it is an extremely busy time of year for me. I am the main income and must keep up at work. But, between picking up the slack, nudging him through life and worrying I'm about at my breaking point. I don't know what to do to help him or if I can even help.

Anyone have anxiety or have a spouse with anxiety and have any advice? We're really struggling. :blackeye:
 

PintoBean

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Similar field as a project manager here! DH in similar field as well. It IS stressful...
5mg of Lexapro (escitalopram) under my GP has been life changing. It takes the edge off, as in, some weight lifted off my shoulder, and what once seemed all impossible to do, is possible again. I was originally supposed to do a week of 5mg then transition to 10mg, because some people get upset stomach for a week while adjusting, but luckily I only had it for a day or two, I felt that the 5mg really was enough and continued. The GP explained the goal is to feel this way ("better") for about 6 months, then taper off/get off the med, and if things become overwhelming again (hopefully not), then revisit this option.
 

missy

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I'm sorry your dh is going through this puppmom. I find I work through my anxiety via exercise. It allows me to get my frustrations and worries out and the anxiety quiets as I am working out building up a sweat. The endorphins allow a sense of well being and peace to take over the anxiety. It almost sounds as if (and I could be wrong because I am not in the field) your dh is experiencing panic attacks. Think about having him get a check up to make sure he is healthy and then consider increasing his activity level and if need be as Pinto wisely suggests see a professional for talk and med therapy. Best wishes and hugs to you both. Anxiety is very challenging and unpleasant to deal with but I know he can work through it and will be OK with the proper help. (((Hugs))).
 

lyra

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Has he seen a neurologist? Or other specialists? His inability to complete physical tasks is worrying. Has he had a CT scan, EEG or any other diagnostic testing done? It's possible that the feeling of anxiety is a symptom of something else, and not just a manifestation of a mental illness type disorder. Just an idea. Best to look at the problem from all angles IMO.
 

azstonie

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lyra|1478099456|4092943 said:
Has he seen a neurologist? Or other specialists? His inability to complete physical tasks is worrying. Has he had a CT scan, EEG or any other diagnostic testing done? It's possible that the feeling of anxiety is a symptom of something else, and not just a manifestation of a mental illness type disorder. Just an idea. Best to look at the problem from all angles IMO.
Yes to the above. Knock down any causes that originate in illness/disease. While/when that is being done/completed, you can investigate medication or complementary methods to address stress/panic/anxiety.
 

Puppmom

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Pinto, I wish I remembered the name of the first medication he took but I'll mention Lexapro. After the first didn't work and the second caused depression, his GP bailed out and said he needed to see a psychiatrist for future prescriptions. The wait for the psychiatrist was long so that's when he started acupuncture and felt it was helping.

Missy, it's so hard to tell what he's experiencing because he has a hard time articulating his feelings (this is also new). So he'll tell me very vague things. He's also really uncomfortable talking about it which doesn't help. Before this he was seriously the most laid back person I knew - nothing phased him. He also has the most insane self control. I think he's always taken pride in that and feels disappointed that he can't will this away.

Lyra, I hadn't thought of that. He did have a full blood work-up - whatever that is. In an unrelated conversation, someone was telling me their husband had low testosterone and it was causing emotional issues so I'm trying to go back to his bloodwork from earlier this year to see if that was checked. It's weird - he seems to have the physical ability to complete the tasks - but everything is SO slow and his thought process disjointed. It's not all the time but it is often. He's seeing his therapist tonight so I'll mention the neurologist thing to him.

I'm really nervous that he's going to lose his job because of this - we'll manage financially but I'm afraid he won't be able to handle that blow emotionally. He is trying so hard.
 

msop04

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puppmom|1478096830|4092933 said:
Within the last year or so, my husband has started dealing with anxiety. He's 40 with no previous mental health issues. It started creeping up on him during the tail end of a 2 year period of staying home with our kids, learning a new trade and transitioning back into the work force.

He tried managing on his own with some success - he meditates daily and plays music as a creative outlet - those help a great deal. He also recently started acupuncture and gets relief from that. But he needs something more. He's tried medication twice - the first did nothing, the second (zoloft) caused depression. It's starting to impact his ability to function. He's a developer and was given a 15 minute task at work but it took him almost 3 hours to complete yesterday. He's noticing he has to go back to his project manager and ask questions that he knows he should know the answer to. At home, I've noticed an inability to complete basic tasks. This morning, I left him to cut and butter waffles for our children while I blew my hair dry. I came out of the bathroom more than 5 minutes later and he was still standing over the waffles cutting them. I thought maybe he got distracted (kids are needy) but he had been working on it the whole time.

Yesterday was the worst day he's had. He had to leave work. He cannot articulate how he is feeling. He says his head is filled with fast moving thoughts but he can't even tell you what it is that he's thinking about. And, for the first time, it paralyzed him. He could not function at all. He called me and kept saying "I feel like I'm losing my mind." and I instructed him to tell his manager he was sick and had to leave and to call his therapist immediately. He called her and she instructed him to take a Xanax (the doc gave them to him a while back when he started zoloft *just in case*). He took them once before and it worked. Last night it didn't work. He sees his therapist this evening and they're going to try to get him to a psychiatrist with some urgency.

I am worried sick. It's to the point that it's distracting me from my work and it is an extremely busy time of year for me. I am the main income and must keep up at work. But, between picking up the slack, nudging him through life and worrying I'm about at my breaking point. I don't know what to do to help him or if I can even help.

Anyone have anxiety or have a spouse with anxiety and have any advice? We're really struggling. :blackeye:
First of all, I am so sorry you're both dealing with all this... I feel you, I truly do.

Just based on the symptoms above, I would have him mention to his therapist that he be tested for attention deficit disorder.

I never noticed the obvious symptoms of ADD until I was in graduate school. I think it had to do with the fact that I was being seriously challenged scholastically (similar to your husband having to learn new things for his job). I found that it was taking me waaaaayyyy to long to read, but I didn't have a lot of comprehension for the material I'd just read. I was all over the place. I felt like I had so many things in my head, but couldn't quite articulate them like I wanted. I was also having a lot of anxiety and it was taking me forever to complete tasks (if they were completed at all) -- and this gave me even more anxiety. It affected everything - from grades to relationships - I was a MESS! It was vicious cycle for me.

Once I was diagnosed (ADD with OCD tendencies AND mild anxiety... throw clinical depression in the mix and WOO-HOO!! My life felt out of control and completely sh!tacular most days). I seriously felt like I was going to have some kind of mental break... or what we Southerners like to refer to as a "conniption fit"! :lol: :|

That said, I was started on a (different) antidepressant, which took the edge off better and really helped me. I was also prescribed a low-dose extended release amphetamine (think Adderall XR or Vyvanse) -- I felt human again. Drugs... gotta love 'em. 8)

I'm in no way saying that any combination of said drug classes should or would help your husband, but it's a starting point for a frank and much needed conversation with his therapist. Also, don't get discouraged if the first couple of therapies don't help out -- there are so many good drugs and combos that can be used... we're all different, and our bodies respond in different ways to any and all medications. Have him keep up his meditation and playing (that's always good)! I wish you and your husband the absolute best of luck!
 

msop04

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lyra|1478099456|4092943 said:
Has he seen a neurologist? Or other specialists? His inability to complete physical tasks is worrying. Has he had a CT scan, EEG or any other diagnostic testing done? It's possible that the feeling of anxiety is a symptom of something else, and not just a manifestation of a mental illness type disorder. Just an idea. Best to look at the problem from all angles IMO.
Very good point, lyra! ...As a pharmacist, my mind always goes to drugs first, but it's always good to have these checked out as well. :))
 

partgypsy

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yes you have gotten good advice. This sounds like something more than anxiety disorder, either he is having a nervous breakdown, or something psychiatric or medical is manifesting itself.

I am prone to anxiety. What has helped me is intense exercise, and doing the things that make me anxious to get over those fears. Also it is better for him to take time off of work (sick or annual leave), than to show up and not be able to perform and get fired.
 

tyty333

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I agree with the others that say he needs a thorough physical workup. Also sounds like he is having compulsive intrusive thoughts.

Every highly anxious person has to cope with intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are frightening thoughts about what might happen to you or someone you care about, or what you might do to yourself or another person. They seem to come from outside of your control, and their content feels alien and threatening.
Try reading this...there might be a few questions you can ask him to see if he is having intrusive thoughts.
http://www.drmartinseif.com/resources/intrusive-thoughts.html


Edit...exercise helps me with anxiety but he needs something more right now...the right doctor. When things calm down exercise should
be something he adds to his arsenal.
 

Puppmom

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Msop04, thank you. I never really thought of ADHD and DH definitely (at least from my perspective) doesn't have that antsy, high energy thing. But, he does get hyper-focused on things which I understand is sometimes a sign of ADHD. I think pursuing all possibilities/avenues is worthwhile at this point including the fact that this could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.

Gypsy, DH has used the terms "nervous breakdown" and "losing his mind" but it is so hard for me to comprehend what he is feeling by the way he describes it. He doesn't explain it so well and I have a hard time relating. I agree that he needs to take a sick leave or something. I've told him he needs to talk with his boss (she's in Las Vegas for the remainder of the week). He's so private that it'll be a struggle.

I'm so perplexed by the whole situation. He is a completely different person - more like a shell of a person. He's functioning at a very low level a good bit of the time and the failures that result just perpetuate his bad feelings. The one bright spot is our children bring him such joy and I have not seen that light dim one bit. If I notice a change on that front, I will be extremely concerned.

On a side note, he has assured me he has no thoughts of self harm or suicide. His therapist checks in with him often regarding that.
 

Puppmom

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Tyty, sorry I missed you. I think you're right. His therapist has talked about managing the next days and weeks all the while hopefully integrating a long term plan. But he needs a Psychiatrist for that. The other things like exercise, meditation and acupuncture are really effective maintenance tools but I guess we're in full on defensive mode right now.

Azstonie, thanks for seconding the medical opinion. We really hadn't even considered that and I don't know whether or not his therapist mentioned that to him because he's not said anything to me. I think I mentioned this - he did have bloodwork but that's it.
 

madelise

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I switched from xanax to Ativan. It works better for me. I only take it when I feel an anxiety attack.
Another alternative is marijuana. I haven't yet gone towards using that yet, but have heavily considered it. The side effects of xanax/Ativan are so much worse than medicinal marijuana.
 

minousbijoux

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I would post haste rule out any brain abnormalities with an EEG. A good friend had somewhat similar symptoms and it turned out to be a treatable brain tumor. Good, calming thoughts heading your way.
 

msop04

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puppmom|1478116698|4093020 said:
Msop04, thank you. I never really thought of ADHD and DH definitely (at least from my perspective) doesn't have that antsy, high energy thing. But, he does get hyper-focused on things which I understand is sometimes a sign of ADHD. I think pursuing all possibilities/avenues is worthwhile at this point including the fact that this could be a symptom of an underlying medical issue.
The "nervous, high energy" symptoms you are thinking of is associated with ADHD (attention deficit HYPERACTIVE disorder), not necessarily ADD. I wish I had that one... could use the energy -- I don't have a lot! (medication helps that though...)
 

VRBeauty

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Ditto what people have said above - it sounds like a complete physical is in order, with blood work, is in order.

A note on the ADD suggestion: I have ADD without the hyperactivity component. I'll just add that it can be very hard to diagnose in people who are high-functioning enough to have hidden it throughout their school years and even into their careers. When someone introduced me to the concept of ADD in my early 40's and I started reading up on it - I knew right away that the description fit for me. The first "specialist" I went to essentially told me that because I had done well in school - I couldn't possibly have ADD. (I should have become suspicious as soon as I walked into his sparsely decorated, neat-as-a-pin office! :lol: ) It took another specialist and quite a few tests to uncover my ADD. And I'll also add that I have yet to find a medication that's helps me without unacceptable side-effects - so medication is not an option for everyone. But just knowing what I'm dealing helps.

I've been there, and I actually can imagine, at least a bit, how frightening this must be for you both. I hope your husband finds some answers and help soon.
 

Puppmom

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Looking at the symptoms of ADD and he definitely fits that profile moreso than ADHD. I'm also going to discuss with him getting a physical. About 10 years ago his grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. When she died 6 months later they learned she actually had a brain tumor. So I definitely don't want to discount the possibility of something physical.
 

Puppmom

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VRBEAUTY, DH was never a good student. He's a musician and said he decided to stop paying attention around the third grade because he just wanted to play music. But he's pretty much self taught as a web developer and that does not look easy to learn! He definitively has the hyper focus thing going on which sometimes benefits him and sometimes creates challenges.
 

Puppmom

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DH saw his therapist last night. In short the plan is:

- take two xanax two times today. She said the dose he took was too little.
- make an appointment for a physical. Although, based on her experience with him - she's leaning toward no underlying medical cause. She would still like to rule it out. As I mentioned he had bloodwork come back "normal" but I don't even know what they looked for.
- make an appointment with the psychiatrist and, if the wait is long, call therapist back for plan b.
- if he's not able to manage in the meantime with the xanax tell work he's having medical issues and needs time off.

I asked him to inquire about low testosterone and ADD. He did not. But I think the Plan they laid out together makes sense. I'm on the edge of my seat hoping I don't get a phone call from him today.
 

tyty333

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Sending good, healthy thoughts puppmom...hopefully the zanax is enough to take the edge off and get him through the day.
 

Puppmom

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Update - DH says he feels "regular" today. I'll take that as a good sign. One day at a time.
 

Tacori E-ring

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ADD/ADHD is rarely correctly diagnosed in adults. Anxiety can "paralyze" someone. Sounds like he was experiencing a panic attack. There are many CBT skills to help control anxiety. His therapist should be able to teach them to him. Medication can be helpful, but talk therapy is also important. In the meantime cut out any stimulants (caffeine or nicotine). Those stimulate anxiety.
 

tyty333

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puppmom|1478193974|4093292 said:
Update - DH says he feels "regular" today. I'll take that as a good sign. One day at a time.
Excellent!...but, yes, one day at a time...
 

NOYFB

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First of all, I want to say how sorry I am that your DH (and you) are going though this. My DH went through something similar about a year ago, related to stress at work, and his PCP prescribed Xanax which worked sometimes but not always, so he doesn't really take it anymore. However, I have to admit that when I was reading about your DH not being able to complete tasks, or taking a long time to complete tasks, my mind immediately went to ADD, not anxiety. It could also be a neurological thing as well, which others have pointed out. Bloodwork alone won't tell you much. He should probably get an MRI of his brain to rule out any neurological disorder.

To answer your original question, I have generalized anxiety disorder and have been on 1mg Ativan for about 3 years now. I take 2 a day and it keeps me at an even keel. Without it I feel overwhelmed, my chest aches, my mind races and I can't concentrate. Xanax doesn't work for me. Only Ativan.

I hope your DH feels better soon. Please keep us posted. And HUGS!
 

Puppmom

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Well, false alarm. DH clarified that he felt normal today but still not able to focus. Had to fix a website and he spent two hours trying to figure it out only to realize he wasn't even looking at the right site! He left work early again.

Tacori, I'm not familiar with CBT. I'll do some research. I feel a bit in the dark about what DH and his therapist discuss. He's been seeing her for sometime. Much before these issues started. I don't know if this is relevant but 3 years ago we found out our oldest was pregnant and dropping out of college. I moved on and adjusted pretty quickly. To say he was devastated is an understatement. During that time I went to therapy with him sometimes because how he was coping (or not) and just the way were dealing with it so different was taking a toll on our relationship. I stopped going after a few months because he really needed the one on one time. Typing this out I wonder if that was some sort of trigger for him? I might be grasping at straws.

And thanks for the thoughts on caffeine! He drinks a good bit of coffee!

Lilmisfit, thanks for the thoughts and sharing your experiences. We're definitely going to pursue the physical possibilities.

I'm trying to convince him to tell work pronto. He works a very technical job so being asleep at the wheel for a week will not go unnoticed.
 

Tacori E-ring

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is probably the most commonly use techniques for anxiety and depression issues. It is all about identifying distorted thoughts and changing them. You can find thought record sheets online which gives you steps on how to challenge and re-frame irrational thoughts. I think it is extremely helpful.

That is great he has a relationship with a therapist. Maybe what happened with your daughter did trigger a stress reaction internally. I hope he finds some relief soon.
 

rubybeth

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With the racing thoughts, I also wonder about OCD. Many people think of OCD as obsessive behaviors (washing hands, rituals, etc.) but it can also be obsessive thought patterns, or distorted thought patterns that lead to obsessive behaviors (rewriting an email until it's "perfect," and it can never be "perfect."). These are just other ideas to look into. My husband is a therapist, and I deal with anxiety, though nothing like what you're describing with your husband. I manage my anxiety with exercise and a bit of CBT techniques, like Tacori mentioned (checking in with myself on distorted thoughts).
 

Puppmom

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Thanks, Rubybeth. I never would have thought of my husband as having symtoms of OCD - seriously the most laid back, roll with the punches person I knew up until now - on the outside anyway. I think anything is a possibility at this point and I'm encouraging him to pursue all avenues but also trying not to overwhelm him.

It sure has been a rough week. This is the longest stretch of the inability to function. I'm exhausted. I know he is too. In hindsight, I think that has been building for some time. And, I think we're in it for the long haul. On some level, I was hoping he would "snap out of it" but I think that's just my naivety.
 

kgizo

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Hi puppmom, sorry to hear about this and hopeful things get better soon. I deal with anxiety too and the book When Panic Attacks by David Burns, $16, was helpful to me although it is lengthy. It also helped me better communicate symptoms I did and did not have to others. I like having a "tool" I have some control over so if this isn't the book for him another book may help. I'm cheap so I went to my library and checked out a few to look at before deciding which to buy. I was shocked at the number of books on anxiety/panic attacks my little library had.
 

Tacori E-ring

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You have to have obsessions and compulsions to have OCD. But it is stemmed from anxiety. Someone with OCD would feel like something bad will happen (to them or others) if they don't complete the rituals. It can be very paralyzing but it is highly misunderstood. If he is laid back, I doubt it would be OCD.
 
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