Had I known that I was experiencing PPD, which was temporary, I could’ve avoided the panic attacks from happening. You will hear me say this over and over again: Knowledge about PPD before having the baby is so important and parents-to-be should never think they will be immune from it and avoid reading about it. Let me start off this post with a little primer on just what panic attacks are and why many women with postpartum depression (PPD) may experience these frightening and debilitating episodes.
But that didn’t help me much during my bouts of coldness. Most of the time, he didn’t know what to say. There were drafts by the couch where I’d sit to watch evision, and to compensate, we kept a radiating heater there. Very quickly the cold would take over my entire body and I would start shaking. Each day, I’d stand by a window, staring out at the snow (there was so much snow that winter!) and pleading for God to help me get through all this. As night approached, in the back of my mind, there was dread that I would soon be trying to go to sleep. I’d find myself running around just to keep busy and avoid the sensations I’d inevitably start experiencing each night, as the sun went down. I just wanted to tighten myself into a ball…anything to stay warm. There would be tears in my eyes but I couldn’t cry. I just wanted to shrivel up into a tiny ball and disappear. One too many times, I gave him a miserable look and told him how scared I was that I didn’t know what was going on with me and I was afraid that I’d never get better. I’d be shaking with cold, even under a blanket and with my husband’s arms around my shoulders. It was way after I had fully recovered from PPD that he finally admitted that he had feared I would never get well, never return to my old self, and never appreciate watching our daughter grow up. We kept the house at a consistent 70 degrees all winter long to make sure the baby wasn’t ever cold. I’d start having a panic attack where coldness would creep down both arms, I’d have a tough time breathing, and my stomach would turn to knots.
I took Xanax for the prescribed period and was absoluy fine. Don’t stop your antidepressants suddenly. Did not get dependent on it. Not sure about antidepressants hurting your stomach but at least your doc knows about it. Came right off it when I no longer needed it/when doc told me to stop. Hi Denise, I am glad you found my blog and hope that reading about my experience and other moms’ experiences will help you. As long as you follow your doctor’s orders with respect to dosage and frequency, you should be alright. Keep the doc posted.
According to the Diagnostic Manual of Psychiatric Disorders-IV (DSM-IV), a panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four or more of the following, mostly physical, symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes and may last longer:
I guess that’s all that matters. I know this all started from there. My antidepressants may take up to 3 months to fully kick in! Not happy about that at all – I want to stop the anti anxiety meds as soon as possible. I am 3 months postpartum and stopped sleeping about 2 months ago, even when baby could sleep. I guess if I am using it for insomnia due to anxiety and not abusing them, I’ll be okay? I’m calling my doctor tomorrow about it. I also am back to work and got promoted within the month of me being back! More responsibility on that front – I can’t afford to not be myself. I tried to take the prescribed dose, and it didn’t work, so now I am taking 2mg of Ativan/night but I feel like myself again during the day and am happy with my baby. My daughter is AMAZING – not fussy and sleeps through the night. A couple of weeks ago, I started an anti anxiety me and an antidepressant. These posts have made me feel less crazy about what I am going through. But the impact this has had on me, I don’t know if I can do this again. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. I never want to experience this again – I don’t want another baby. While I didn’t have surgery like you, I got no sleep, the nurses basically forced me to supplement formula which made me REALLY upset (I don’t even breastfeed anymore because my supple never fully came in and now the meds), and I was on an uncomfortable delivery bed for 3 days with a pitocin drip and they had to break my water and then the epidural. I too had a rough process in the hospital. I do not want to take the anti anxiety med because I know that can become habit forming, but I am not able to stay asleep without them. Anyways the antidepressants make my stomach hurt daily, but doc said that should go away in a few weeks as my body gets use to them.
The only regret was that I couldn’t have any more children, even if I wanted to. Many moms who have survived traumatic childbirth and postpartum experiences do not want to go through it again….you’re totally not alone in your feelings. Warmly, Ivy. Congratulations on your promotion! Going through pregnancy, childbirth and the months and years afterwards was a transformative process that I don’t have any regrets over.
Quite paradoxically, the fear of having more panic attacks brings them on – it becomes a vicious cycle. Did I mention that my panic attacks would even happen while I was sleeping?! That’s how bad it was. My Experience. I was caught in a vicious cycle of fear of not being able to sleep, which drove my anxiety up to a level my body obviously couldn’t handle, which then triggered my panic attacks, which caused me to fear trying to go to sleep, and so on and so forth. Panic attacks are such a frightening and debilitating experience that it is only natural that those who suffer from them will feel apprehensive and on edge about the onset of the next attack.
August 18th, 2005: Initially, the doctor told me I’d be on the Paxil for 6 months. He told me I should take my time. He reduced my dosage back down to 12.5 mg. By the time August rolled around, I felt I could stop taking the medication. I asked my doctor about starting the weaning off process. You can imagine how happy I was!. I told him I wanted to be off the medication by year end.
Do not worry about what other people may think if you take medication to help you be well again. Do not endure this on your own. Do not wait. It’s not their business. It’s your life and you must take control of it, so you can return to your old self and enjoy your baby. Get help now. A word of advice from someone who has been through panic attacks (while suffering from PPD) to a mother who is currently suffering from them: You WILL get through this with the right treatment.
And let me l you, the next 4 weeks felt like an eternity to me. I told him I understood why he’d prescribe me an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax, but why Paxil? He explained that Paxil is a broad-spectrum medication that is prescribed for depression and anxiety, that there is such a fine-line separating the two and that anxiety is most oftentimes attributed to depression. During that appointment, the doctor listened briefly to my symptoms and prescribed Paxil (anti-depressant) and Xanax (for the panic attacks). February 16, 2005: The nurse called me back saying that the emergency number was for medical emergencies only. Now each day crawled by as if there were 48 hours in a day instead of 24. He reassured me that the Paxil is not addictive but Xanax can be addictive so I had to take that only when I absoluy had to. It was tortuous. He had me take 12.5 mg of Paxil everyday for one week, at which point I would have to double the dosage and stay on it for several months. It used to be that there weren’t enough hours in a day, with my main complaint being that time was flying by way too fast. He warned me that it would take at least 4 weeks before the Paxil would take effect. I explained what was going on and she scheduled another appointment for me that afternoon.
A sign that you may need medication–but let the medical professional l you so– is when your symptoms are so bad (e.g., inability to sleep or stay asleep for several weeks, panic attacks, loss of appetite, quick weight loss) that they get in the way of your day-to-day functioning and taking care of your baby properly.
Like you, I desperay wanted to get off all the psychotropic meds (plus Ambien, so I was on 3 powerful meds) since I hate having to take any meds at all. Yes, it can take a few weeks for antidepressants to kick in, which is why docs prescribe a benzo to help with the panic attacks, if any. It took 4 weeks for Paxil to kick in for me and by that time, I was off the Xanax (because my panic attacks ceased). Try to focus on one day at a time, which I know is very, very challenging.
Many of these anxieties stem from the fact that this is your first, and perhaps only, shot at parenthood and you have no previous experience to compare this to. These women who, as first-time mothers, may have anxieties about their mothering capabilities and worry constantly about whether the baby is taking in enough milk or formula, something’s wrong with the baby if there is no bowel movement for 1-2 days, the baby fails to reach certain developmental milestones in the usual timeframes (e.g., smile, laugh, react to your voice), the baby cries too little or too much, etc. Women with a personal and/or family history of anxiety and/or panic disorders are at risk for developing postpartum anxiety. But some women are, like me, prone to anxiety and worrying. PPD usually occurs by itself, though it may also be accompanied by postpartum anxiety (with or without panic attacks). Some anxiety/concern about your baby is normal, especially if this is your first and/or only child, and your fear has to do with visitors picking up the baby and either not holding her right or passing on their germs. I will go into more detail in my next post on IVF as a contributing factor to anxiety levels and PPD.
Strangely enough, before my insomnia started, I didn’t feel particularly anxious and I thought I was handling everything pretty well. But there’s only so much anxiety my body was willing to take, especially since my body was already physically weak to begin with. It was after my insomnia kicked in that my panic attacks began. I thought I had a handle on the mothering thing, even my nightmarish first few postpartum days. The following chain of events contributed toward my growing anxiety until my body gave way to panic attacks:. Sure, I periodically checked on her at night to make sure she was breathing, and I was concerned I wasn’t feeding the baby enough, her poops were normal, she was going to get sick for the very first time with a cold, and I would not be able to find the right care provider to enable me to go back to work.
I didn’t like the idea of being on 3 new drugs simultaneously, especially when they didn’t appear to have any immediate effects, they made me feel strange (not myself), and the doctor didn’t provide adequate explanation in terms of how he chose these and why. It’s crazy that I’d go from never taking any drugs to taking three at once. It was shocking to see that I needed medication for so long. But I was desperate to be back to my old self again. Being that this is the first time in my life I was prescribed a medication to be taken for an indefinite period of time, and this meant I was on 3 medications at once, I felt more anxious than ever.
Of the many stories I read about, I was amazed at the number of women who were so ashamed at how they were coping so badly-and it didn’t help that they didn’t know they had PPD-that they endured their symptoms for many weeks, months or even over a year. If you’re not experiencing severe symptoms and you have adequate support, you can give a few sessions of therapy a try to see whether it alone will be sufficient. As soon as the medicine kicked in, my insomnia disappeared, I was able to return to work, smile, appreciate all that I used to enjoy before my PPD set in, able to go outside without feeling overwhelmed, and function near 100% on a day-to-day basis….all without having to see a therapist. In fact, just the thought of having to take 3 medications simultaneously for insomnia, depression and panic attacks-all for the first time-increased my anxiety even more. In my situation, therapy was not a practical option. I don’t know about them, but my PPD was SO BAD, I felt my only option was to seek medical help immediay. But I dreaded the thought of having to rely on any medication. Perhaps their PPD didn’t debilitate them to the point that they could no longer function.
March 19, 2005: The Paxil kicked in and I was off the Ambien for good! Hurray!
I felt so despondent that I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I would wake up in the morning with my feet and hands all in a sweat but my body freezing cold. I couldn’t bear the thought I was going to be like this for the rest of my life. If at that point I didn’t receive the help that I ended up receiving in the form of Paxil (and Xanax), I don’t doubt that I would’ve wanted to die to escape the torture I was going through on a daily basis. It was that fear that dragged me into a cycle of fear and despair, which developed into full-blown panic attacks that caused me to shake, my arms to go numb and my body to go so cold that a thick blanket wrapped around me didn’t help. As I mentioned in my last post, I feared I would depend on Ambien to sleep for the rest of my life. I had nowhere to turn, no one to talk to that understood.
She suffered a major relapse. During the weaning off process, I experienced what I thought had to be vertigo…the sensation of losing balance while walking and everytime I turned my head. It was a weird feeling indeed and the main sign that I wasn’t ready to be compley off Paxil yet. March 18, 2006: It ended up taking me about 7 months to get off the medication compley, after first halving the dosage and then taking the medication every other day to every 2 days and every 3 days. Look what happened to Brooke Shields when she went off Paxil cold turkey. So at a minimum, you should be taking your medication until you feel you’ve returned compley to your old self, and then taking as long as necessary to wean yourself off. She told me that Paxil taken at such long intervals and at such a low dosage was basically not taking any Paxil at all, and I should be able to stop taking it immediay. It is critical that you wean yourself off the medication in close consultation with your physician. Seeking Treatment. Finally, at the direction of my new doctor (I finally got up the nerve to drop my original doctor), I stopped taking it on March 18, 2006.
It’s fine for people to think that doctors seem to automatically prescribe medication for everything. Hey, all I can say to that is, more people should learn to mind their own business. But that’s my own opinion and I keep that to myself, rather than preach it everywhere….a hum, Tom Cruise, are you listening???!!! Without knowing another person’s situation-and only immediate family and the individual himself or herself (if they are mature adults) can really know what their personal situation is, and sometimes even parents don’t know or understand what is going on with their child-how can you claim to know what is right or wrong for someone else? In Conclusion:. In a way, I believe that the statement is true from a general trend perspective, particularly with respect to children being treated with medication for not having enough attention span to sit still for a few minutes at a stretch. Since my condition required immediate intervention by way of medications (first Ambien, then Xanax and Paxil) to enable me to function day to day-otherwise, I’d be rolled up into a ball crippled both physically (panic attacks numbed my arms and legs, I couldn’t sleep at all) and mentally (my state of mind was on the verge of complete and utter collapse), I am obviously going to present the case for psychotropic medications. There will inevitably, and unfortunay, always be the naysayers and Doubting Toms of the world who are ever eager to attack a person’s position on a topic as hotly debated as meds versus no meds.
Hi Lauren, May i ask how long you’ve been dealing with insomnia, and did you have a baby recently? I’m asking because I wouldn’t want you to learn the hard way what I learned.
Since I wanted to see if I only needed half the pill to help me sleep, for the first three nights I broke the ten-milligram pill in half. Later on, my pharmacist indicated that my doctor should’ve started me at a lower dosage of five milligrams instead of ten milligrams. Not knowing any better /not knowing the right questions to ask because he wasn’t aware that the first sign of PPD is in many cases insomnia, my OB/GYN prescribed me Ambien, which he instructed that I take as needed. A patient is typically not supposed to start at a higher dosage right from the start. But then the doctor’s office advised me to take the full tablet each night, as prescribed.
May I ask what dose Ambien you were on? I’m taking 5mg but doesn’t seem to help.
February 15, 2005: I told this new doctor what was going on (reiterating the fact that I had had a baby on December 10th, I had my uterus removed on December 13th, and a month afterwards, I started experiencing insomnia and have been on Ambien for the past 2 weeks). He prescribed me more Ambien. I had another panic attack that night. He did not call me back. I felt so helpless and needed to talk to someone so badly that I paged the doctor. I left a message for him, apologizing for feeling compelled to call him despite the fact that this was not a medical emergency.
I experienced panic attacks at least 3 times daily for several weeks (Feb 13 to Mar 19) – at sunset, at bedtime and upon awakening. It scares me to think that this would’ve gone on for many more weeks or even months, had I not sought treatment when I did. They may occur as often as several times a day and last a few minutes. Frequency and duration of attacks will vary. What are panic attacks? Panic attacks are intense and debilitating episodes of anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms often occurring out of the blue, seemingly with no reason at all.
Two days is not a really long time in a normal person’s perspective, but from a panic-stricken person’s perspective, it felt like an eternity. I can no longer help you. I had to force myself to get through the next 2 days without being able to consult with anyone. It was such an awful experience….quite beyond words. You need to see your regular doctor.” Since I was looking for a new doctor, he referred me to his own doctor. He had an opening for me 2 days later. I knew I should only do that for emergencies, but I didn’t know what else to do. Thinking that I was saved from dependency on Ambien, I was thrilled and relieved at having stumbled on such a simple OTC remedy. He said “I’m afraid not. I needed someone to talk to. February 13, 2005: I tried to substitute Ambien with Tylenol PM on the advice of one of the nurses at the OB/GYN office. I didn’t know what to do. I explained that I was still experiencing insomnia and experiencing what seemed to be a panic attack because I was out of Ambien and Tylenol PM didn’t work for me. I waited as long as I could before paging my OB/GYN. At that point, I was totally at my wits’ end. Right at 9:00 that morning, I called to make an appointment with that doctor. I was frantic. When I took the Tylenol PM and it didn’t help me sleep at all, but in fact made me feel worse….I had trouble breathing and my head started to spin….I had my very first panic attack. He didn’t sound pleased at all when I explained what had happened. I asked if he could prescribe me some more Ambien.Ambien for anxiety attack