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August 8, 2011 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I'm new to the world of anxiety and I'm wondering: can general anxiety end as quickly (and nonsensically) as it starts?

I've never had anything like this happen, here's some background:

I'm a teacher and in April I was told I wouldn't be rehired for the upcoming school year, completely shocking me and my colleagues (I had been nominated as state teacher of the year, had 3 years of outstanding reviews).

A few days later, I started getting generalized anxiety and I couldn't face stepping back into the school. I was mostly queasy, lightheaded, just a sense that I was going to have a panic attack (or burst into tears) at work. About 1/2 hour after waking up, I'd start getting an awful anxious feeling.

Went to a psychiatrist, got Klonopin for as needed basis, did some decent CBT therapy, cut out caffeine, increased yoga and aerobic exercise, etc.

Still shaky every morning, I'd pop 1/2 a Klonopin and I'd be mostly okay (except I'd get really panicky at the thought of going out to restaurants). I was able to return to work 3 days later.

I'm also 47, a divorced mom of 3 kids (19, 17 and 13), most definitely about a year into peri-menopause and was diagnosed with Celiac disease within the past year (I have no idea if any of that is relevant).

Last week I woke up and felt fine. No it never happened.

So my question: is this the general nature of sudden anxiety? Does it just leave as suddenly as it starts?
posted by kinetic to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Mine does this. But it does come back. I will go through periods of nearly debilitating (assuming I'm not taking my meds) panic attacks. And then one day I will wake up, and they will be gone. However, it found it was best if I stay on my meds all the time, to prevent the panic from ever reaching that stage.
posted by strixus at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Keep doing what you've been doing, i.e cutting out caffeine and exercise. Keep the CBT up as well.

I've had acute anxiety for almost ten years. It comes and goes. Mine is worse in times of stress. I take Citalopram every day and have trained myself to recognise when my mind goes into hyperactive overdrive. Now if I can only get rid of the clenching the Citalopram causes. Eh, lesser of two evils.
posted by New England Cultist at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2011

Best answer: Don't overthink this. You're feeling fine; go with it. I've been told: "The number one cause of [mental health] relapse is worrying about relapse." Cheery thought, right?

Is a sudden recovery possible? Sure, you've experienced it. It's not nonsensical: you've made healthy choices and had time to heal. Remaining anxious would be the nonsensical situation. It makes just as much sense as your very natural to reaction to your sudden job loss. Keep doing what you're doing. Trust your recovery and plow onward in good health.
posted by reren at 5:13 PM on August 8, 2011

Best answer: Yup. It comes, it goes. Sometimes we know what triggered it, sometimes we don't. But it sounds to me like you were reacting to a very particular stimulus. Perhaps it will not come back?

The good news about anxiety coming & going is this: It's not permanent. When anxiety's got me, I find comfort in the knowledge that, if I just hang in there, this will go away. Because it's not real; it's just my brain screwing with me.
posted by Ys at 6:50 PM on August 8, 2011

Best answer: Menopausal hormone changes can definitely play these tricks on you.
posted by Corvid at 7:28 PM on August 8, 2011

Best answer: In a word, yes. My experiences with anxiety have been very on and off. Everyone is different, but it can just stop. Good luck!
posted by gibbsjd77 at 9:52 PM on August 8, 2011

If you've already had some exposure to CBT via a counsellor or psychologist you may find use in asking about ACT (Acceptance commitment therapy) as well. It's a mindfulness based therapy, it can help with situations where you would normally try to escape / control them but you can't (eg, anxiety attack).

ACT, when applied correctly is very useful for riding through "events" like this with no clear end time. Won't make the anxiety go away, but will help with feeling more calm / in control while you experience it.

The main book on the topic is "the happiness trap" but I'd recommend engaging with a pro. to help step you through the program that's been established around it.
posted by bbtomo at 12:06 AM on August 9, 2011

I've got a number of ideas about what happened to you and also have experienced a similar episode several years ago : sudden anxiety, preventing me of doing the usual everyday stuff, but it's only relevant to some extent. Best move : seeing a therapist.
posted by nicolin at 2:16 AM on August 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. I will keep doing what works. Good to know that it can just stop (and someday decide to start again).

And I'm going to find menopause and punch her in the f*cking face.
posted by kinetic at 9:03 AM on August 11, 2011

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