NS needs help with Anxiety

Nurses General Nursing



I have a question for you guys. Out of no where last weekend I started feeling really anxious and my arms and hands were tingling and my heart was racing...i thought maybe i was dying or i had something wrong with me neurologically so i went to the ER. Well after doing a neuro check the MD said that I was suffering from anxiety attacks, he said the tingling was realated to the anxiety and being as young as i am (24)that anxiety was def. the culprit..he gave me some atavan and i went home. well the tingling went away but the anxiety did not.

Then Monday I went to see my reg. MD and he started me on LExapro and told me that I would feel relief within 3-5 days. Its been 5 days and im still pretty anxious...not quite as bad as last weekend but im wondering, what if this med doesnt work? What if I never feel normal again? Im so worried, it was so sudden and I just want to feel like myself again. I think some of my anxiety stems from the fact that im worried about all these diseases we learn about. For awhile I was worried I had cancer (I went to the MD and she told me i have a small fatty tumor in my back and its nothing to worry about.) Then I was worried that I had or was starting to get MS as I had all the tingling in my arms and back....well the MD check my neuro system and said I was fine. My arms don't really tingle anymore and the MD said it was normal in anxiety attacks and that it was basically my nerves being frazzled. I guess it would be easier if i knew why i was so anxious.

I have been taking the Lexapro for 5 days now and ive noticed that ive been clenching my jaw, is this a normal side effect? I read the info on the drug but it didn't mention that...also my anxiety attacks only seem to come on mid morning..dont know why...ive also been taking Atavan prn...im worried about becoming addicted...sorry so long...just looking for some reasurrance i guess. I go back to the MD in 3 weeks...


150 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry.

Not sure if this is similar or not, but I started suffering from really bad anxiety attacks I think we all do but each of our bodies deal with it in a different way. Like you, I felt really really "sick" i couldn't explain it but it always happens when I am really stressed and just feel like I am falling apart. I too was given Lexapro, but like you said did not notice a change in how I felt, mine wasn't all the time. Just sporadically. (but mainly in the Afternoon) I don't even take that anymore but I still have it. I do take Xanax prn and it works wonders. i was nervous about the addiction aspect of it too but I only take it when absolutly necassary (Never more then once every few months primarily for test anxiety.) I think it works great! Now that I am prepping for the NCLEX I need it now more then ever. Goodluck, hope you feel better soon. youre not alone out there though!!!

suzy253, RN

3,815 Posts

Specializes in Telemetry/Med Surg.

Relax, breath! OK..I'm a nursing student myself but I think the Lexapro needs more time to kick in. It's an SSRI (like Paxil that I take) and I know it takes awhile to feel the full effects. Don't suddenly stop taking it because you feel it's not working--or when it does start to work because you feel better.

I used to suffer from GAD myself and one problem I had was if I was given meds for something, I would fear the meds wouldnt work and the countdown began--what if, what if, what if....OMG it must be something else b/c this med is not helping me. That is only making your anxiety worse. I know it is extremely difficult when your anxiety level escalates but you must try, try, try to bring it down to a more manageable level. Sit down in a quiet place, take deep breaths, try to visualize something comforting to you.

Good luck to you. I'm sure you'll be feeling better soon. Do try to relax (I know it's hard). Hugzz

zacarias, ASN, RN

1,338 Posts

Specializes in tele, stepdown/PCU, med/surg.

So sorry to hear that the anxiety just snuck up on you. I deal with anxiety too and I know it's not a fun thing to have to go through.

Lexapro is an antidepressant with antianxiety properties. I think the soonest you might notice improvement is 11 or 12 days. But generally, Lexapro takes about 4 weeks to see signs of improvement.

Clenching jaws and grinding teeth is a possible side effect of SSRI antidepressants. I've had that too. Keep in mind that a lot of side effects diminish or disappear after a while on the antidepressants.

Let us know how you're doing!


193 Posts

Here's a blurb http://www.lexapro.com:

"When will I start feeling better?

In clinical studies, many patients treated with LEXAPRO began to feel better within 1 or 2 weeks, although the full effect may take 4 to 6 weeks. You should follow up with your healthcare professional or doctor and report your progress."

HeartsOpenWide, RN

2 Articles; 2,889 Posts

Specializes in Ante-Intra-Postpartum, Post Gyne.

I worked for a FNP that has a special interest in Depression and Anxiety. I talked to a drug rep right after Lexapro came out about two years ago. I can not remember the reason for it, but he told me that it really helps to take an antihistimine for the first month when starting out on lexapro. Did they Dx you with GAD? Effexor is designed for that. Lexapro is the insomnier of Celexa which from what I under stand, by changing a few molecules it does the same things as celexa but with less side effects. Did they consider giving you Lorazepam or Xanax SL (under your tounge) for when you get those attacks? It suprises me that they would put you in an anti-depressant after one event.

As far as clentching your teeth. I used to get Anxiety at night. I would wake up around 1 am and could not fall asleep and my jaw would ache from clentching it so hard. They gave me .5 mg of Lorazepam (ativan) for Noc and it worked. I do not need it any more because I no longer work for the provider I was working for when I had the problem.

But remember, there are many anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds out there and some times it just takes a while to find one that works for you.


817 Posts

I know how you feel and I'm so sorry that you are having to go through this. I have suffered from GAD my whole life and for the past 10 or 15 years I have had on and off panic attacks. The last 2 years of my life have been very stressful, new job, divorce, my father dying etc... My panic attacks are coming on much more often and even though I know that all my symptoms are probably just nerves I still think I am going to have a heart attack, stroke, or die. It is a horrible feeling. I think the worst part for me is that I am so afraid that I will have a panic attack in front of people that when I do start feeling one coming on I freak out even more. I HAVE to get away from where I am and be by myself, even if its just geting in my car and sitting there till its over. I get hot, I mean REALLY HOT, start to panic, get tingly,shaky, feel like I cant breath, get dizzy, numbness, my vision and hearing get kinda weird, my heart races, I get horrible tension in the back of my neck and I get very weak. Its absolutely horrible. I've had 3 or 4 panic attacks in the last 6 weeks. I am going to go see my Doc to see if my meds need to be adjusted. I am on 50mg's of Zoloft daily and 1mg of ativan as needed up to 4 times a day. Most days I only 2 mg's. If I do have a panic attack I have to take two at once to get it under control. I have been on it for about 11 years, so yes I am hooked, I'm sure. It doesn't make me sleepy, or feel out of it and doesn't affect my thinking or driving etc... so I am lucky. I know its not a med you should stay on for an extended period of time but it is the only thing that I have found to really help me. I don't feel like the Zoloft works all that well. Now I said I dont get sleepy from the meds but I do stay tired all the time, of course I have been tired all my life. I don't ever remember there being a time in life, not even one day that I am not just totally worn out. But I manage to still get everything done, thankfully. I also clench my jaw, thats from the anxiety and also from the SSRI (Zoloft). My Doc says that he has another med that he wants me to try in place of the zoloft. He thinks I may do better on it. I don't know what it is but I am afraid to try it, although I probably will (if it doesn't have any side affects that I think will kill me).

You not alone so hang in there. Maybe we should start a support group for those of us with these problems. I bet there is a lot of us.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions. By the way watch what you eat and try to get some exercise. These type of med can cause some major weight gain!

I hope you are feeling more like your self soon. It took about a week and a half for the Zoloft to kick in for me. But your supposed to give any SSRI 4-6 weeks to see the full effects.


124 Posts

I feel for you. Anxiety attacks are *miserable*, but... they are self-limiting, they will go away. Give the medication a chance. (and yes, the jaw clenching is common with SSRIs, that will go away too). The worry about the diseases, "intern syndrome" is very common, but probably isn't the cause of your anxiety, rather, it is a symptom. When people have anxiety attacks they usually have what I call "free floating anxiety," caused by various life stressors, that is just waiting to latch onto any kind of outlet. What helps me is to think about the things that are genuinely causing me stress (remember, anxiety is not the same thing as "worry"- you do not have to be "worried" to have things to be anxious about). When I identify my life stressors- school, kids, work, parents- and acknowledge that I have a real reason to be stressed, the anxiety stops being vague and free floating, and the anxiety attacks go away.

I hope this helps.


193 Posts

Also.. if you haven't already, see about talking with a counselor. They can help you put a name to your anxiety (liked the "free floating" example above) which can help facilitate an intervention. Additionally, they can help you come up with coping mechanisms and methods for breaking the chain (I feel tense...which is making me feel tense about being tense..etc).


158 Posts

Don't forget to look at your diet,I was having heart palpitations and anxiety as a new nurse-I ended up in the ER.Alot of my problems were connected to all the coffee I was drinking,my magnesium level was low.Once I stopped the caffeine my symptoms resolved.It might help to review your diet.


83 Posts

Do you have to relate the diseases that you learn about to yourself? Why don't you just think of them as diseases that you have to study and not as something that you maybe have? I doubt that the chance that you have most of the diseases that you of study is high. In fact, I think it's pretty unlikely. Maybe you're overstressed with the school workload or overanalyzing what youre studying. Try to make some time for yourself couple days a week and let your brain relax and maybe it will help :) Get away from all the medical terms somehow


16 Posts

I suffered similar symptoms 3 years ago. I had tingling in my hands and feet. I also had a few panic attacks during that same time frame but didn't associate it with the other symptoms until later. In addition, my mind was foggy--I couldn't think, and I had trouble remembering everything. I, too, was afraid that I might have MS or some other neurological poblem. I did some investigating on the internet and discovered my symptoms were the same as someone with a B12 deficiency. I immediately started supplements and have been symptom-free since. I haven't had anymore panic attacks either. I have learned through a little more research that even people with "normal" levels of B12 can benefit with supplements. Some researches have suggested that we may need more B12 than previously thought. B12 is available in the diet in meat (beef, poultry, fish, etc.), eggs, and dairy. I am a vegetarian, however, I do eat eggs and limited amounts of dairy, so it's doubtful that I would have been considered "deficient" by current opinion. Your symptoms may have a different cause, but I wanted to share my experience in case it helps. B12 is cheap and easy to supplement, so it might be worth trying anyway. Good luck to you.

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