Help me please - non-cycling health

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Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby justD » Sun May 01, 2011 2:04 pm

Hi all,

This is not a cycling related topic at all, but I'm just desperate for some advice and had some useful comments on my previous post - Blood pressure and weight . I'm fully aware that nothing on here is meant to be taken as qualified medical advice and I am talking to my GP, just hoping for some suggestions on how to proceed or what I should be asking my GP to check.
Previous suggestions were thyroid and adrenal glands. TSH levels are elevated (5.0 I believe), but the doctors don't seem to think it's high enough to cause problems. I see on the Internet that there is some controversy about whether the upper limit should be 3.5 or 5 and I do have a lot of the symptoms associated with thyroid problems??
I did ask for my adrenal glands to be tested with the thyroid, but didn't hear or see anything specifically about the adrenal glands in the results and none of the doctors thought any of my results were alarming.

I've just written this long letter to my GP and going to paste it here.
My symptoms are at the bottom. what bugs me most is this burning sensation in my ears and head and if I check my blood pressure when that's really bad, then it's almost always high.

Any suggestions?

Dear Dr ,

I need your help. As you pointed out on Wednesday, I’ve been for doctor’s visits 12 or 16 times in the last few weeks (and I guess you can’t see the GP Access and other after hours visits). You and Dr "Y" seem to be convinced that it’s anxiety whereas I feel there’s something else wrong and stress (about my health) is a side effect, which obviously makes things worse. Either way, some weeks I’m lucky if I get more than 4 hours sleep every second night and that’s just making things worse. Even if it is anxiety, surely we can’t just leave my blood pressure at these high levels?

I feel like I’m drowning and I don’t know where to get help if not from my GP.

This letter has turned out pretty long and I don’t expect you to read it all during your own time. I’ll book another appointment in the week when you should have the results of my holter scan, but I’m writing this letter so that you can be aware of where I stand and that I’m truly desperate at the moment.

You said I pay doctors to tell me that I’m okay, but I’d never been to see doctors this often before the 6th of March when all this started, why would I start doing it now out of the blue? I don’t want someone to tell me I’m okay, I want you to say “this is what’s wrong with you and this is how we fix it”. Despite being overweight, I do think I’m generally healthy. Up till the end of February I was training to ride the Loop The Lake charity cycle, so I was cycling either a 40km or 46km route after work 4-5 days per week at a fair pace. Now I feel exhausted after a slow 20km ride. One day in March I couldn’t keep my eyes open after an 8km cycle, checked my BP and it was something like 105/69 – from only 8kms? That’s not nearly far enough to get dehydrated enough to cause such a low BP. I know doctors don’t trust my home BP monitor, but the fact is I only checked my BP because I was feeling so tired all of a sudden in the middle of the day. Also, When they took my BP at John Hunter on Tuesday, their reading was 180/100 and mine 30 minutes earlier was 186/103. Pretty close.

I went to see a psychologist as suggested, though only the one appointment and then he moved up to Darwin. I’ve now booked another appointment for next week. Not that I believe that’s the problem, but at least exploring all options. I’d just like you to do the same on the physical side in case anxiety is not the underlying cause.

We’ve checked all my major organs I think, but when I look on the Internet at what causes flushing, heart problems and cancer/tumours seem to feature the most. Shouldn’t we be checking for cancer? This pain in my left side which often occurs without anything else (mostly with burning face though) is probably the most common pain. Only thing that’s there (as far as I can see from pictures on Google) is my colon, shouldn’t we be checking for colon cancer? Not because of the single pain there (which comes and goes), but because of the pain coupled with the flushing and headaches and everything else.

Why can I hear and feel my heart beating in my head and why does my head feel like it’s under pressure at those times?

Both times that I had antibiotics in March I felt completely fine for a few days. Once Dr "Y"gave me antibiotics when I mentioned the frequent urination and the other doctor gave me antibiotics for the ear infection. Is it normal for antibiotics to make you feel better if an infection is not the problem? Could there be a virus or bacteria that would cause this and not be completely wiped out by either of those antibiotics treatments?

I’ve lost 14kgs since January of which 10 has been since the 6th of March. I think I’ve gotten a big enough scare through all this that I’ll continue on till I reach my ideal weight. Threw away the salt pot at home and eating a lot less take away, so my salt intake should be considerably lower. Exercise has been a problem because I’ve just felt too bad and scared to ride, but slowly getting back into cycling now. That’s as much as I can do to help my BP myself. Still drinking coffee, but now replaced every second cup with Rooibos tea (caffeine free).

Symptoms
- Headaches
(I had multiple headaches every single day throughout March and early April). They’re better now, but I still get this tingling feeling (almost like pins and needles) on the top of my head sometimes accompanied by shooting/pinpoint headaches that last for less than a minute at a time. Plus a regular dull/tension headache at the back of my head.

- Flushing
In March when I started the extra BP meds (some calsium channel blocker) and the Physiotens thereafter, I had extreme flushing which came about very quickly, disappeared as fast and was all over my upper body (face, neck, shoulder blades, chest).
Now I only get my ears and face burning, it comes about much slower and lasts much longer. I don’t think it’s the same thing.

- Hearing/feeling heart
I can sometimes hear and feel my heart beating in my chest and in my ears/neck. When I can feel it in my ears and neck it feels like there’s too much pressure in my head and sitting up generally makes it stop.

- Tinnitus / left ear
Early in March while I was still on the Physiotens and the flushing and headaches were at their worst, I had a terrible headache one night and left ear made a swooshing (??) sound followed by an abrupt closing up. For the rest of the night that ear closed up as if I had gotten water in the ear and since then I can’t hear as well through that ear as the right. Told Dr "Y" about it, he had a look and said it’s nothing. On the next visit I told you about it and you suggested Waxsol. Put waxsol in, but when I turned over to let it out, my ear didn’t open up and I assume not all the Waxsol got out. Few days later the ear was throbbing with pain, another doctor there (don’t know his name) said I had a pretty nasty infection and prescribed antibiotics (eardrip + oral).
Ear seems fine (infection wise), but I still can’t hear as well through that ear and, I know this will probably sound stupid, but my Tinnitus has “changed”. Previously my tinnitus was in both ears, but most often when I paid attention to it, it was loudest on the right to the back and above the ear. Now it’s loudest in my left ear + it is irritating to the point where I can’t help but to focus on it far more often than before.
Quite often when I can’t fall asleep it is because my ears are burning and the Tinnitus in the left ear is overwhelming.

- Abdomen
A pain on the left side (flank, not front) which sometimes feels like there’s something hard in there, other times just a slight discomfort like folded skin.
Pain bottom of left chest on the corner of my ribcage – sometimes a burning, sometimes just a dull pressure.
At times I have burning pains (more irritation than pain most of the time) throughout my abdomen.
Bloating!!! Sometimes I’ll wake up in the morning after not having eaten much the night before and still feel bloated. Sometimes I can feel the bloating getting worse (over a few minutes without eating or drinking anything, often while sitting on the loo).

- Chest
I get a number of different chest pains, but some of them have been around for years and I believe are not related.
New pains: Right in the middle of my chest, feels like something is pushing my rib cage together. I have it right now very mildly (Saturday afternoon, after not having slept much last night), but when it gets bad I feel like I can’t breathe and I feel weak overall. Had similar pains when I had gall stones and also shortly after I had my gall bladder removed (Nexium fixed it the second time), otherwise I would have assumed it’s a heart attack.
Had a really bad case in the middle of the night about a week ago, took two bites from a carrot and it passed – which is why I asked you to put me on Nexium.
Existing pains: Top of my chest on the left about where my collar bone is. Feels like it’s the pectoral muscle, but it does seem to get worse when all the other symptoms come about. Also, below the left nipple and a little to the right – sharp shooting pain that I think sometimes gets worse with breathing. Sometimes mild, sometimes bad enough that I can’t focus on anything else.
Few times (once or twice only) I’ve had a dullness / numbness in the whole bottom section of my left chest.

- Urination
Friday night while fishing I probably urinated every hour, while I only drank a 600ml bottle of Coke Zero over the 6-7 hours (haven’t had alcohol in weeks).
Comes and goes, but some nights I’ll wake up every 1.5 – 2 hours to urinate. Most often when I’ve woken up with the burning face and headaches, I’ve also needed to urinate and often the headache passes soon after having urinated.

- Blood pressure
High as you know, but often it’ll drop to pretty normal levels during the day and even 115/75 and once 105/69 after a short cycle mentioned above. I understand everybody’s BP changes throughout the day, but why such big differences?
“Unfortunately” I felt pretty good the day that I had the ambulatory monitor on, so don’t know what that showed.

- Thoat
Never by itself, but sometimes when the other symptoms are bad, I get a pain on the left of my throat, just below the jaw.
Don’t know whether it qualifies at the throat, but I also have difficulty swallowing at times.

This week as an example

Tuesday night I couldn’t sleep. I had a headache, my ears and face were burning, when I lay down I couldn’t focus on anything but my tinnitus, my chest was shaking and I felt weak when I breathed out . The tinnitus is always there, but during these two months it seems louder at times and that seems to be when I have one of these episodes. I checked my blood pressure and it was 160/100. I started worrying about it, drove to the John Hunter where they took a reading of 180/105 (later dropped to 150/95 while I was there) and you took a reading of 170/100 on Wednesday (All approximate values).

Wednesday night I had a similar experience, but I stayed at home as you’d just started me on Nexium and I thought I’d wait to see if that makes a difference. I sat up in bed and tried to relax until it passed.

Thursday night same thing again, I drove to the John Hunter, but sat in the car and after a while my BP dropped so I went home. Both nights the burning face and ears remained.

Friday night I went fishing and in the cold and rain I didn’t realise that anything was wrong, until I got into the car and felt my ears and face were burning (around 2am). In bed my chest started shaking again, checked my BP and it was 152/103. Sat up in bed again and after a while it dropped a bit and I fell asleep around 4:30 Saturday morning. Woke at 7:00 and didn’t sleep again.

At 12:20pm Saturday afternoon (while writing this), my BP was 132/94 (good compared to the above), but my face hadn’t stopped burning all morning. I had the burning pain / hardness in my side and a bit of discomfort throughout my stomach + my stomach had been bloated since I woke up. Saturday afternoon I drank a Valium with the hope of sleeping as I hadn’t slept much the night before and I had the shaking at the bottom of my left ribcage and in the middle of my chest (two at different times during the afternoon). Didn’t sleep, went out for a while but only drank a can of coke. Tried to go to sleep at around 20:30. Turned on my left side and had some pain on my left side (first time that it was related to movement/position – so may have been coincidence). Turned on my right and after a while it left like my left ear wanted to pop from the pressure (see tinnitus symptom). Stood up and it passed within a minute. Sat in front of the PC for a while, checked my BP (137/87 – pretty normal) and drank another valium. Listened to some loud, but relaxing music, which distracts me from the tinnitus, and fell asleep. Slept through to 7:00am!!

Note that apart from Tuesday night when my pulse was around 85-90 (which isn’t too high anyway), my pulse was between 66 and 72 for all these other readings. I know I do get worked up about these things and I don’t doubt that stress/anxiety plays a part, but surely my pulse wouldn’t be 72 while my BP is 152/101 (one of Saturday morning’s readings) if it was anxiety?
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by BNA » Sun May 01, 2011 4:14 pm

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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby The Womble » Sun May 01, 2011 4:14 pm

Gall stone thingies?
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby gtfpv cycler » Sun May 01, 2011 4:28 pm

listen mate i havent read all of thast long post . but i would get a chest xray if i were you , to check your heart size , get an ecg at the medical centre , this will diagnose if you have a heart problem , get your neck arteries scanned , this will explain blood pressure in your head . and finally , of course anxiety will be present with any of these things , you can go onto an anxiety medication which will calm you down , this will then help with diagnosing anxiety causes versus blood pressure symptoms , also a blood test can tell you if you have ever had a heart attack , and the condition of your heart and kidneys .
a good medication which treats blood pressure and anxiety at the same time is a BETA BLOCKER. this slows down your heart rate , which reduces your blood pressure and anxiety .
good luck , you have a right to proper diagnosis and medical care , your doctor should not assume anything untill all these tests are done .
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby greyhoundtom » Sun May 01, 2011 5:35 pm

While not all of your symptoms can be explained as a panic attack, some of the symptoms appear to have some origen in this area.
The first thing I would do in your shoes, is ensure I had the right medication to treat panic attacks so that the possibility of some of the symptoms being caused by such events could be eliminated and then see what else remains to be sorted.

I suffered similar symptoms for about four years before I found a doctor that precribed the right medication, and it was only then that a calcified gall bladder was diagnosed, and removed. I have had no poblems since and went off the medication three years ago after taking it for five years.
The medication that sorted me was generally prescribed for obsessive/compulsive disorders, but other than being someone that was something of a perfectionist (I can't leave well enough alone) I had no idea it caused the symptoms I was suffering.

Cheers,
Tom

Panic Attacks
Blood pressure during a panic attack
Burning skin on face during a panic attack
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby sogood » Sun May 01, 2011 7:04 pm

You need to find a competent and patient family doctor. May be hard to find but it's worth the effort.
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby wombatK » Sun May 01, 2011 8:06 pm

In the 70's and 80's, all too many housewives were doped up on "mothers little helpers" (aka valium) to get them through their anxieties - and it's not always the best way to go.

Might be worth considering non-drug methods like meditation - it can help you can take control of your reactions to the events that are bothering you. Your cycling (exercise) is another good method for keeping anxiety and stress at bay, but you probably need to add another weapon to the arsenal to beat the troubles you're now experiencing.

If you can moderate the anxiety, it will make is much easier for the doctors to find the underlying physiological trigger. The challenge is to do your best to hide your anxiety when consulting your doctors. Googling up symptoms and diagnosis and giving doctors pages of letters is probably the opposite of meditation and of hiding your anxiety, so reducing how much of that you do could be helpful too.

Cheers
WombatK

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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby justD » Sun May 01, 2011 9:40 pm

The Womble wrote:Gall stone thingies?


Yeah, it is similar symptoms to when I had gall stones, but I've already had my gall bladder removed.

gtfpv cycler wrote:listen mate i havent read all of thast long post . but i would get a chest xray if i were you , to check your heart size , get an ecg at the medical centre , this will diagnose if you have a heart problem , get your neck arteries scanned , this will explain blood pressure in your head . and finally , of course anxiety will be present with any of these things , you can go onto an anxiety medication which will calm you down , this will then help with diagnosing anxiety causes versus blood pressure symptoms , also a blood test can tell you if you have ever had a heart attack , and the condition of your heart and kidneys .
a good medication which treats blood pressure and anxiety at the same time is a BETA BLOCKER. this slows down your heart rate , which reduces your blood pressure and anxiety .
good luck , you have a right to proper diagnosis and medical care , your doctor should not assume anything untill all these tests are done .


They did do a chest X-ray and ECG on Tuesday as well as check my blood for a heart attack. The ECG said irregular sinus rythm, but the doctor said it was most likely because I was stessed and my BP was 180/100 at the time. Also had an ECG a couple of weeks ago and then it was "normal sinus rythm". Getting the results of a 24 hour holter scan this week, but I doubt my heart is the problem. I'll speak to my GP about the neck arteries, thanks.

greyhoundtom wrote: The medication that sorted me was generally prescribed for obsessive/compulsive disorders.


Don't know if I want to admit it after my long rant, but yes, I do have some obsessive compulsive behaviors. Nothing extreme, but I count how many times I move my tongue in a certain direction, tap my fingers in equal and even numbers and count my steps on cement blocks etc. Don't go completely insane if I don't do it, but just naturally do it all the time.

wombatK wrote:In the 70's and 80's, all too many housewives were doped up on "mothers little helpers" (aka valium) to get them through their anxieties - and it's not always the best way to go.


Yeah, the GP prescribed valium in about the middle of March as a filler while I waited for an appointment with a psychologist. One of my mistakes is probably that I've been reluctant to take them and after about 6 weeks I've only taken 25 out of a box of 50 - Saturday being only the second time that I took 2 in one day. I think I'm actually going to go to 1 per day until I get something else.

wombatK wrote:If you can moderate the anxiety, it will make is much easier for the doctors to find the underlying physiological trigger. The challenge is to do your best to hide your anxiety when consulting your doctors. Googling up symptoms and diagnosis and giving doctors pages of letters is probably the opposite of meditation and of hiding your anxiety, so reducing how much of that you do could be helpful too.


lol, I thought about that, but after 6 weeks of multiple visits to multiple doctors while appearing to be fine and not making progress, I thought I'll try something else. Probably a mistake.

Well, I think you're all on the same track - that I need to eliminate the anxiety to see whether there is anything else. I cycled 17kms this afternoon (after the letter) and my BP was fine and I generally felt fine after that, so I'll return to regular cycling from now on, get an alternative for the valium and take it from there. WombatK, I did think about the meditation, but wasn't sure how to get started. Might find a beginners medication class somewhere around here.

While I've had the pain in my side all day and some jumping in my chest earlier today, for the rest I actually feel pretty okay right now.

Thanks people.
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby justD » Sun May 01, 2011 9:52 pm

sogood wrote:You need to find a competent and patient family doctor. May be hard to find but it's worth the effort.


Sorry, I missed this one. I hear you sogood, but despite all this I do think this GP is pretty good. Unfortunately she was on leave when all this started and by the time she returned the other doctors in the same medical centre had already diagnosed me as having anxiety.
Finding a good GP in Newcastle is also a difficult task. On a previous occasion I had asked everyone I know for recommendations... Three names came up of which two's books were closed for new patients and this one's the third. She's in a medical centre that doesn't take bookings, which is the only reason I was able to get in to see her - you just end up waiting 2-3 hours in the queue every time.
To show it's not just my imagination, the one medical centre has a message on their answering machine something like "you're probably aware of the shortage of medical staff in the Hunter...". I love living in Newcastle, but I'm thinking of moving back to Sydney just because of this.
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby Crittski » Sun May 01, 2011 11:09 pm

It wouldn't be useful for you to think that you don't have an anxiety disorder. You may also have other medical issues, but that first post could have only come from someone suffering with anxiety... If I had high blood pressure and a tendency towards anxiety attacks and OCD, I would not be drinking coke...

Take sogoods advice and don't worry about your neck arteries. I could pick a hundred tests that you could have for your symptoms and most of them would be highly inappropriate. You are being taken seriously by your treating doctor, don't be in a rush to diagnose colon cancer or any other cancer...
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby gtfpv cycler » Sun May 01, 2011 11:44 pm

ok mate , all your diagnostics so far are very good . seeing that you have some NORMAL health , the neck arteries would be clear. dont worry about that one unless your doc thinks its necessary and believe me , it sounds like they are eliminating things with medical technology , and the results as you describe seem quite good . now thats a win . i know how health issues can worry someone into panic attacks , taking your blood pressure often isnt really necessary mate , you havent died yet , and if it was very serious you would have already , but the tests are telling the doctors youre looking ok , so the next step really is to accept that , the urgency is now not necessary as primary suspicians are proving negative . so really really really mate relax , accept that what will be will be , the odds are highly in your favour that your ok . when you get hyped up remember trined proffessionals are telling you your ok, you have plenty of time to get further tests , so in the meantime relax , dont panic , the worst is over , and its only going to get better from here , if you arent happy with different DOCS , you can ask for referral to a PSYCHIATRIST, which is a DOCTOR , who can treat you medically for all medical problems with extra concern and more patience and explain all aspects to you and talk you through it . this sometimes can be better than referrals to different doctors and psychology proffessionals to treat one person .
all in all mate its looking good for you , look on the bright side you are being given good news , the urgancy is not needed now , so get more tests done on a secondry basis with one doc and relax and expect everything is going to be ok , your 1st tests have already pointed to most likely ok :wink:
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby justD » Wed May 04, 2011 7:23 pm

Hey all,

Just want to let you know that I've been feeling A MILLION TIMES better these last few days. As much as I didn't want to accept it, it can probably only be anxiety that can result in all the symptoms disappearing so quickly like this.

I think just reading that you all thought that the GP was on the right track and possibly the act of getting it off my chest by writing the letter seems to have taken a huge load off my shoulders. I'm also taking a valium at 5pm every day now whether I feel like I need one or not (short term).

Anyhow, I haven't had the burning face or chest pains once since Sunday. Still getting a few light headaches that come and go quickly, but they're mild and I'll give it a bit of time as I think my whole system was just overworked with the lack of sleep for 2 months. Also still got the pain in the side and stomach, but I'll wait to see what the Nexium does with that.

So generally, A LOT BETTER.

Went to see the GP yesterday and she was very sympathetic and took time to go through the letter with me (had also read it before). Prescribed a long-term alternative for the valium and said she's got 3 more tests to do for very rare possibilities just to be sure, but that I must give the anxiety medication a chance. Considering how much better I feel all of a sudden, I am finally willing to accept that it must be anxiety. I am still surprised that anxiety can cause such extreme symptoms that seem so real especially considering that, excluding the initial post in this topic, I am usually a very mellow person.

Anyway, thank you all for your concerns and for taking the time to read my long ramblings etc. It really did help.

cheers,

Dirk
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby gtfpv cycler » Wed May 04, 2011 7:38 pm

thats great to hear mate . i wouldnt worry about the anxiety either , that can be a completely normal and temporary reaction that can pass , once your mind is further satisfied , cheers .
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby wombatK » Wed May 04, 2011 9:39 pm

Good news Dirk. Maybe the drugs have given you some respite, and you can get out a bit more on the bike so that
the natural endorphins etc.,. can kick in and help. Hopefully, your doctor will have an end-game plan that doesn't
leave you drug-dependent in the long-term. Good luck with it.
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby greyhoundtom » Thu May 05, 2011 2:49 pm

Mate I’m so pleased that you are getting relief from those damn symptoms, and don’t worry about taking medication as most of us have had to, or will have to face that situation at sometime in our life.

Give the medication time to work as most take around 14 days to fully kick in, and don’t be to hasty in going off the medication when you start feeling on top of the world again, give it time to do its job.

I know in my case it took five years before life settled down enough for me to no longer need the support it was giving me.

Take care and all my very best wishes. :D

Tom
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby Eugene » Thu May 05, 2011 5:47 pm

Thats great news, really great.

Now you are feeling better, its the time to get back into your riding, start to enjoy it again, this will help your good feelings, the whole thing will snowball from there.

The better you feel, the more you ride, the more you ride the more weight will come off, the more weight comes off, the better you feel, ETC ETC ETC.

It works, I know, I went through this at the start of this year, stressed, angry, anxiety etc, all gone now, losing weight, riding, feeling great.

Keep your chin up, again, great news. :D
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Re: Help me please - non-cycling health

Postby Semar » Sun May 08, 2011 5:37 pm

Your Dr will have prescribed a first line medication - one that works for most people. If you find its effects aren't as good as they were at first, there are excellent alternatives. Too many uninformed opinions suggest that medications that assist with disorders are some kind of evil. I have known people to say that they have never felt such well being in their lives.

I still believe that having a long term relationship with your Dr is vital. But what are you doing for yourself? Mindful Meditation and Progressive Muscle Relaxation will make you feel even better. Self help books or CBT might also help.

Look after yourself. :wink:
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