ZocdocAnswersI'm suffering from severe anxiety attacks and can't sleep. What do you think would help me medically?

Question

I'm suffering from severe anxiety attacks and can't sleep. What do you think would help me medically?

I booked an appointment with a psychiatrist. I feel faint, short breathing. My legs feel like they want to walk off by themselves at times and I can't sleep... My dad just died and I guess I'm having panic attacks?

Answer

I think you took the right first step by booking an appointment with a psychiatrist. You have been through a lot lately and I think it would be helpful for you to be able to talk to someone. When we lose a loved one, especially a immediate family member, we go through a period of extreme grief in which sleep is disturbed, panic attacks can happen, and depression can set in. This period is an important part of the healing process and patients are generally not given medicines for depression during this time. In the first month after the loved one's death, these feelings are most prominent, but should begin to resolve on their own over the course of the next few months. You will still feel sad at times, and you will still miss your dad, but the sleeping symptoms and panic attacks should resolve. Sometimes the grieving period ushers in real depression and panic attacks that are not normal. If this were to occur, then you would need treatment. The best type of treatment for your symptoms will depend on your other past medical history and will be carefully chosen by your psychiatrist. Most likely, he or she will give you a 1-2 month trial of an SSRI, a drug class used to treat panic attacks and depression. Good luck.

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