Dear Ask The Doctor: I am a 45 year old father of five. Happily married, don't drink, don't smoke or take drugs. I exercise regularly, about 3-5 times a week. however, I feind that a few times a year the stress and anxiety of life practically overwhelm me. During these pockets of time I am irritable to the point of flat out rage, have insomnia, become lethargic and it spirals from there into feelings of hopelessness and despair. I feel one such bout coming on and plan on visiting my GP. I have tried to make appointments with mental health professionals but they seem impossible to book with. Is there a med that might be prescribed for me to get me over and through these periods?Also, these periods are accompanied by a real hard time breathing...
I highly suspect you have an anxiety or panic disorder and I suggest you see your general practitioner and tell him about these episodes. General practitioners or family physicians can diagnose these common disorders. Depending on their experience, they can handle it on their own but if the physician thinks the disorder is worsening or beyond his expertise, a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist may be done. What I am trying to say is you may need to see your GP first so you could get a referral to a specialist. For now, you may try to lower the stresses of your lifestyle if possible, avoid or at least cut down caffeine intake (coffee, pop, tea), have good sleeping habits, do meditation, yoga or other relaxation techniques. Some antihistamines also have anxiolytic (anxiety decreasing) effects. An example is Hydroxyzine (common brand names are Vistaril, Atarax) which can be used for this indication. However, this also causes drowsiness and and may need a doctor’s prescription. If these don’t help, then you may see your GP and talk to him about this, then you can both decide on what to do next. I do hope I have answered your question and take care always.