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Hello all; I've been lurking on these boards for the past couple weeks. Most everyone here seems super supportive and kind, so I hope to integrate myself into this community. It's nice to be among you all :)

With that said, I'll just jump right into my problem in hopes that 1) a few of you can relate to my symptoms mentioned below and if so, 2) a few of you have been successfully treated by zoloft or some SSRI.

Brief medical history: for about the past year I had problems with breathing where I felt like I could not take deep breaths or yawn at random points throughout random days. I could however take deep breaths if I forced them. Last month I went to the emergency room due to an event where I almost passed out in a class and then arrived home alone, freaking out that I might pass out and asphyxiate. ER Doc said heart was fine, x-ray fine, bloodwork fine. He thinks I might have GERD but really feels that I have an anxiety disorder. He prescribed me Ativan/Lorazepam and they seemed to help off and on, but more often than not.

I just saw my regular doc about this and he prescribed me more ativan, suggested omeprazole for my GERD symptoms and 50mg (then 100mg after a week) of Zoloft. He seems to believe that I have GERD but that its causing panic attacks or that maybe my panic attacks are causing stomach issues -- which came first is the mystery at this point.

My general symptoms are as follows:

Mostly every day now:
- random pains throughout body, specifically in chest, lateral to the sternum and also in the back, medial to the scapulae.
- breathing tightness sometimes accompanied with a cough. This tightness feels like there's a pressure that wants to prohibit deep breathing.
- right dull, minor eye pain at various intervals.
- post nasal drip? There's a constant feeling of mucus being stuck just superior to the soft palate in the nasopharyngeal region.

Before my visit to the doctor:
- fear of death due to not understanding what was going on with my body.
- tingling lips, face, fingers, arms after aforementioned breathing issues seemingly would worsen.
- loss of motivation in school (very unusual), I felt confined by these conditions. Felt worried to be alone.
- feeling of a lump being stuck in throat on rare occasions.
- 2 days before the doctors appointment, most all of these issues disappeared and then reappeared after.
- periodic feelings of tiredness. I'd sometimes nap after school despite having 8 hours of solid sleep the night before.
- I'm generally always moody (usually bad moods especially around people I don't trust or know)
- I'm generally easy to frustrate. I get really irritated when I play games and lose at them or get below an A in my classwork lol but maybe thats normal?
- I'm very anti-social in college. Talking to people requires much effort -- not because I don't like them, I just worry about anything that I think about saying.
- I overeat or want to overeat, have been obese most my life (losing weight though, lost 30lbs so far with exercise and a healthy, nutritional diet.)
- I have a high sex drive. I can't control when I ejaculate, I usually last 2 - 3 mins max if friction is constant.

Now here's my main problem right now: I started the zoloft and it made me feel like my spine was on fire one morning and I felt really wired. The day before I was totally "out of body" to best describe my feeling. I helped my dad move some stuff and he said I had a deer in headlights look. I called the doc and he said these were normal and they should subside over the weeks. Then I started reading about zoloft withdrawal problems and some people saying they had permanent side effects after using the drug or said they couldnt quit the drug. So I freaked and tapered myself off over the next week and stopped.

I want to get better, I'm just scared of the long term effects of Zoloft and I want to make absolutely sure that I need it before I start really taking it. Do you guys share the anxiety symptoms I've listed above and has a drug like Zoloft truly helped you? Have any of you successfully stopped with no side effects? If so, was life normal or better?

I really appreciate anyone's input on this. Thanks guys and gals!
I tend to agree with your doctor about the GERD causing anxiety and panic. Acid reflux (GERD) is very common in people who are overweight, and the symptoms can mimic those of a heart attack. It would make sense to treat the GERD first to see if the anxiety subsides. The SSRI class of antidepressants do work well in treating panic and anxiety, but they require a long term commitment to get the benefits. Antidepressants usually take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to be fully effective, and during that time (the start up phase) you will usually feel worse while you are adapting to it. SSRI’s also carry a high risk of discontinuation syndrome when they are stopped. Many of the side effects of SSRI antidepressants never go away and some can be quite bothersome like weight gain, which is a very common side effect of SSRI type antidepressants. Another very common side effect of SSRI’s is delayed ejaculation in men, which sounds like something that might actually benefit you. Low doses of SSRI’s are often prescribed for men with premature ejaculation, so you might discuss that with your doctor. Lorazepam is also a very effective anti-anxiety medication, but it is also very addictive if taken long term, so I would be careful with that. I would use the Omeprazole to see if that controls the acid reflux and in turn relieves the panic and anxiety, before committing to Zoloft, and I would use the Lorazepam sparingly as needed.

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