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Hi all, this is my first post on the Anxiety board. I'm hoping to get some feedback on some things.

I have pretty much always been an anxious person. I remember being shy and awkward as a kid, and that has continued into my adult life (I'm 31 now). I feel decent if I'm around people I know pretty well, but if I have to go to the store, I get somewhat anxious - not bad enough that I can't function daily though. Work is ok, I keep to myself, and for the most part they leave me alone.

About 3 years ago my now ex-wife decided to leave me. It was at that point that I finally decided to try to get some help for my depression/anxiety issues. I went to my primary doc, who prescribed Zoloft (which made me paranoid for about a week), then 10mg of Lexapro along with 0.5mg Ativan for breakthrough panic etc. I had never experienced a panic attack until I started taking the Lexapro. I was driving for my job at the time, and felt like I was going to pass out (and nearly did) on the highway. That happened to me a couple of times, no big deal, the Ativan always took care of it pretty quickly.

I quit taking the Lexapro about 4 months after I started it. I was feeling better, so I figured I'd try to live my life drug-free. Felt fine for a good while! Then this past November, I went to my doc because I had been experiencing a chronically sore throat. Doc assumed it was due to acid reflux (although I didn't have any other GERD symptoms, but that's another issue), and gave me samples of PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) to try. I took those for 4 weeks, during which time I became increasingly anxious, to the point where I had to leave work early several times, nauseous daily, and, in fact, much worse than I had been before I went to the doc in the first place. I ended up seeing the doc probably 6 times due to side effects of the PPIs (which the doc basically refused to believe were caused by the drugs). I found myself having panic attacks all the time, so I took Ativan, which helped for the most part.

In the meantime, I have been feeling fairly decent. I haven't felt the need to take any Ativan for nearly 4 months. . .

About two weeks ago, my wonderful girlfriend and I decided to ride our bikes to the art museum. I felt fine on the 7-mile ride there, and felt ok when we got there. When we got inside, I started to feel lightheaded, nauseous, short of breath, very hot, my vision got blurry, and my chest started hurting. I was scared I was having a heart attack. We went outside, laid down on the grass for a little while, and I started to feel a bit better. We went back inside, and the same feelings all came back. Everything eventually went away except for the chest pain.

I found myself in the ER the next morning because the chest pain was severe. They did blood tests, an EKG, and chest x-rays. Everything came back fine. The ER doc told me I had an asthma attack, although it sure didn't seem like one to me. (I've had shortness of breath due to allergies for a long time, but it's never been so bad that I've needed anything other than an occasional dose of Albuterol, very rarely). He prescribed a 6-day course of steroids, and an inhaler. I believe the steroids caused me to become very angry and anxious as well. It has been over a week since I've been off of them, and I have been feeling ok since, almost back to "normal". I went to a cardiologist, and had a stress EKG, which the doc told me was "completely normal." So, I guess my heart is good.

A couple of days ago at work, after I had eaten lunch, I got very hot, slightly lightheaded, and had to go to the bathroom to try to calm myself down. I don't think this was a panic attack, but who knows.

Today I felt fine until about noon. We had a short meeting during which we discussed some new things that will impact me directly. Started feeling short of breath around that time. I went to Subway for lunch at 1, and just felt "weird" while ordering. I felt like the staff was talking about me. Got back to the office, and took a dose of the inhaler to see if that would help my SOB. When I got back to my desk, I sat down, and felt the panic coming on. My heart started racing, I got very hot again, the shortness of breath continued. Luckily I had an Ativan handy. This is the first one I've taken in 4 months. I thought I had it beat...

I really don't want to have to rely on Ativan to get me through. I know I am not addicted because I haven't taken it for so long, but at the same time, I know how addictive benzos are, and I don't want to be there. I am reluctant to start taking Lexapro again, as well, because there are no studies of the long-term effects of SSRIs. Also, I don't really think I am depressed... but I know it's for GAD as well. I really don't want to wake up one day in my 50s (if I make it that long) and find I have turned into a complete zombie.

I really want to live a drug-free life. I take a multivitamin, 1000mcg of vitamin B-12, 2000 IU of D3, and 250mg Magnesium. Have been thinking about trying out fish oil.

I used to be pretty active - used to ride my bike daily, up to 50 miles a week, as well as going to the gym a few days a week. I have never been super-fit, but I do care about my health. I could probably eat better, but I think I do better than most people, by avoiding most fast food, and going very easy on meats. I only eat fish, if any meat at all. I don't get nearly as much exercise as I used to, but I walk at least 30 minutes a day on my work breaks.

Does anyone have any insight here? Have I been experiencing panic attacks? Could it be something else?

In addition to the heart tests, recently I have had a CBC done, had thyroid, liver and kidney functions checked - all normal. I had an upper GI barium swallow, and a RUQ ultrasound, all of which came back fine. My triglycerides were slightly high, but the doc said not to worry... that's another reason I'm wanting to try fish oil.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

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