Next Came the Panic Attacks….

Let me start off this post with a little primer on just what panic attacks are and why many women with postpartum depression (PPD) may experience these frightening and debilitating episodes.   You will hear me say this over and over again:  Knowledge about PPD before having the baby is so important and parents-to-be should never think they will be immune from it and avoid reading about it.   Had I known that I was experiencing PPD, which was temporary,  I could’ve avoided the panic attacks from happening.

PPD usually occurs by itself, though it may also be accompanied by postpartum anxiety (with or without panic attacks). Women with a personal and/or family history of anxiety and/or panic disorders are at risk for developing postpartum anxiety.    Some anxiety/concern about your baby is normal, especially if this is your first and/or only child, and your fear has to do with visitors picking up the baby and either not holding her right or passing on their germs.   But some women are, like me, prone to anxiety and worrying.  These women who, as first-time mothers, may have anxieties about their mothering capabilities and worry constantly about whether the baby is taking in enough milk or formula, something’s wrong with the baby if there is no bowel movement for 1-2 days, the baby fails to reach certain developmental milestones in the usual timeframes (e.g., smile, laugh, react to your voice), the baby cries too little or too much, etc.  Many of these anxieties stem from the fact that this is your first, and perhaps only, shot at parenthood and you have no previous experience to compare this to.  I will go into more detail in my next post on IVF as a contributing factor to anxiety levels and PPD.

Strangely enough, before my insomnia started, I didn’t feel particularly anxious and I thought I was handling everything pretty well. It was after my insomnia kicked in that my panic attacks began. I thought I had a handle on the mothering thing, even my nightmarish first few postpartum days. Sure, I periodically checked on her at night to make sure she was breathing, and I was concerned I wasn’t feeding the baby enough, her poops were normal, she was going to get sick for the very first time with a cold, and I would not be able to find the right care provider to enable me to go back to work.  But there’s only so much anxiety my body was willing to take, especially since my body was already physically weak to begin with.  The following chain of events contributed toward my growing anxiety until my body gave way to panic attacks:

  • traumatic delivery experience that resulted in a partial hysterectomy resulting in loss of ability to have any more children
  • negative experience in the hospital–e.g., constant sleep interruptions in the hospital, constant moving from one room to another and changes in hospital staff, multiple attempts to replace IVs in my arms/hands, food deprivation (I only had about 2 meals the whole week I was there….otherwise what I had were ice cubes for the most part, plus an occasional broth or jello), below-par treatment of certain hospital staff, searing pain (felt like someone was burning me) in my abdomen that came & went for 2 days after the surgery
  • constant sleep interruptions from the noises the baby made throughout the night, plus night feedings
  • baby’s bad case of eczema and cradle cap
  • baby’s one week colic
  • anxiety from not being able to fall asleep when my insomnia kicked in

What are panic attacks?  Panic attacks are intense and debilitating episodes of anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms often occurring out of the blue, seemingly with no reason at all.  Frequency and duration of attacks will vary. They may occur as often as several times a day and last a few minutes. I experienced panic attacks at least 3 times daily for several weeks (Feb 13 to Mar 19) – at sunset, at bedtime and upon awakening. It scares me to think that this would’ve gone on for many more weeks or even months, had I not sought treatment when I did.

According to the Diagnostic Manual of Psychiatric Disorders-IV (DSM-IV), a panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four or more of the following, mostly physical, symptoms develop abruptly and reach a peak within 10 minutes and may last longer:

  • Palpitations (racing/pounding heart)
  • Trembling or shaking body and/or hands
  • Numbness, tingling and/or coldness in the extremities
  • Feeling chilled, having hot flashes, sweating, waking up in a sweat, sweaty hands and/or feet
  • Nausea, stomach pain and/or diarrhea
  • Feeling dizzy, shaky, unsteady, light-headed or faint
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath or feeling as if you’re choking or about to suffocate
  • Feeling like you’re losing control and/or going crazy
  • Feeling trapped
  • Feeling agoraphobic (fear of going outside)
  • Feeling like you’re going to die

Quite paradoxically, the fear of having more panic attacks brings them on – it becomes a vicious cycle.  Panic attacks are such a frightening and debilitating experience that it is only natural that those who suffer from them will feel apprehensive and on edge about the onset of the next attack.  I was caught in a vicious cycle of fear of not being able to sleep, which drove my anxiety up to a level my body obviously couldn’t handle, which then triggered my panic attacks, which caused me to fear trying to go to sleep, and so on and so forth.  Did I mention that my panic attacks would even happen while I was sleeping?!  That’s how bad it was.

My Experience

As I mentioned in my last post, I feared I would depend on Ambien to sleep for the rest of my life.  It was that fear that dragged me into a cycle of fear and despair, which developed into full-blown panic attacks that caused me to shake, my arms to go numb and my body to go so cold that a thick blanket wrapped around me didn’t help. I would wake up in the morning with my feet and hands all in a sweat but my body freezing cold. I couldn’t bear the thought I was going to be like this for the rest of my life.  I felt so despondent that I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I had nowhere to turn, no one to talk to that understood. If at that point I didn’t receive the help that I ended up receiving in the form of Paxil (and Xanax), I don’t doubt that I would’ve wanted to die to escape the torture I was going through on a daily basis.

February 13, 2005:   I tried to substitute Ambien with Tylenol PM on the advice of one of the nurses at the OB/GYN office. Thinking that I was saved from dependency on Ambien, I was thrilled and relieved at having stumbled on such a simple OTC remedy. When I took the Tylenol PM and it didn’t help me sleep at all, but in fact made me feel worse…..I had trouble breathing and my head started to spin…..I had my very first panic attack. I was frantic. I didn’t know what to do. At that point, I was totally at my wits’ end. I waited as long as I could before paging my OB/GYN. I knew I should only do that for emergencies, but I didn’t know what else to do. I needed someone to talk to. He didn’t sound pleased at all when I explained what had happened. I explained that I was still experiencing insomnia and experiencing what seemed to be a panic attack because I was out of Ambien and Tylenol PM didn’t work for me. I asked if he could prescribe me some more Ambien. He said “I’m afraid not. I can no longer help you. You need to see your regular doctor.” Since I was looking for a new doctor, he referred me to his own doctor. Right at 9:00 that morning, I called to make an appointment with that doctor. He had an opening for me 2 days later. Two days is not a really long time in a normal person’s perspective, but from a panic-stricken person’s perspective, it felt like an eternity. I had to force myself to get through the next 2 days without being able to consult with anyone. It was such an awful experience….quite beyond words.

February 15, 2005:  I told this new doctor what was going on (reiterating the fact that I had had a baby on December 10th, I had my uterus removed on December 13th, and a month afterwards, I started experiencing insomnia and have been on Ambien for the past 2 weeks). He prescribed me more Ambien. I had another panic attack that night. I felt so helpless and needed to talk to someone so badly that I paged the doctor. I left a message for him, apologizing for feeling compelled to call him despite the fact that this was not a medical emergency. He did not call me back.

February 16, 2005:  The nurse called me back saying that the emergency number was for medical emergencies only. I explained what was going on and she scheduled another appointment for me that afternoon.  During that appointment, the doctor listened briefly to my symptoms and prescribed Paxil (anti-depressant) and Xanax (for the panic attacks). I told him I understood why he’d prescribe me an anti-anxiety medication like Xanax, but why Paxil? He explained that Paxil is a broad-spectrum medication that is prescribed for depression and anxiety, that there is such a fine-line separating the two and that anxiety is most oftentimes attributed to depression. He reassured me that the Paxil is not addictive but Xanax can be addictive so I had to take that only when I absolutely had to. He warned me that it would take at least 4 weeks before the Paxil would take effect. And let me tell you, the next 4 weeks felt like an eternity to me. It used to be that there weren’t enough hours in a day, with my main complaint being that time was flying by way too fast. Now each day crawled by as if there were 48 hours in a day instead of 24. It was tortuous. He had me take 12.5 mg of Paxil everyday for one week, at which point I would have to double the dosage and stay on it for several months.

Being that this is the first time in my life I was prescribed a medication to be taken for an indefinite period of time, and this meant I was on 3 medications at once, I felt more anxious than ever. It’s crazy that I’d go from never taking any drugs to taking three at once. But I was desperate to be back to my old self again.    I didn’t like the idea of being on 3 new drugs simultaneously, especially when they didn’t appear to have any immediate effects, they made me feel strange (not myself), and the doctor didn’t provide adequate explanation in terms of how he chose these and why.   It was shocking to see that I needed medication for so long.

Each day, I’d stand by a window, staring out at the snow (there was so much snow that winter!) and pleading for God to help me get through all this. I’d find myself running around just to keep busy and avoid the sensations I’d inevitably start experiencing each night, as the sun went down. I just wanted to shrivel up into a tiny ball and disappear. As night approached, in the back of my mind, there was dread that I would soon be trying to go to sleep. I’d start having a panic attack where coldness would creep down both arms, I’d have a tough time breathing, and my stomach would turn to knots. Very quickly the cold would take over my entire body and I would start shaking. I just wanted to tighten myself into a ball…anything to stay warm. We kept the house at a consistent 70 degrees all winter long to make sure the baby wasn’t ever cold. There were drafts by the couch where I’d sit to watch television, and to compensate, we kept a radiating heater there. But that didn’t help me much during my bouts of coldness. I’d be shaking with cold, even under a blanket and with my husband’s arms around my shoulders. One too many times, I gave him a miserable look and told him how scared I was that I didn’t know what was going on with me and I was afraid that I’d never get better. There would be tears in my eyes but I couldn’t cry. Most of the time, he didn’t know what to say. It was way after I had fully recovered from PPD that he finally admitted that he had feared I would never get well, never return to my old self, and never appreciate watching our daughter grow up.

March 19, 2005:  The Paxil kicked in and I was off the Ambien for good!  Hurray!

August 18th, 2005:    Initially, the doctor told me I’d be on the Paxil for 6 months. By the time August rolled around, I felt I could stop taking the medication. I asked my doctor about starting the weaning off process. He told me I should take my time. I told him I wanted to be off the medication by year end. He reduced my dosage back down to 12.5 mg.  You can imagine how happy I was!

March 18, 2006:   It ended up taking me about 7 months to get off the medication completely, after first halving the dosage and then taking the medication every other day to every 2 days and every 3 days.  During the weaning off process, I experienced what I thought had to be vertigo…the sensation of losing balance while walking and everytime I turned my head.  It was a weird feeling indeed and the main sign that I wasn’t ready to be completely off Paxil yet.  Finally, at the direction of my new doctor (I finally got up the nerve to drop my original doctor), I stopped taking it on March 18, 2006. She told me that Paxil taken at such long intervals and at such a low dosage was basically not taking any Paxil at all, and I should be able to stop taking it immediately. It is critical that you wean yourself off the medication in close consultation with your physician. Look what happened to Brooke Shields when she went off Paxil cold turkey. She suffered a major relapse.  So at a minimum, you should be taking your medication until you feel you’ve returned completely to your old self, and then taking as long as necessary to wean yourself off.

Seeking Treatment

A sign that you may need medication–but let the medical professional tell you so– is when your symptoms are so bad (e.g., inability to sleep or stay asleep for several weeks, panic attacks, loss of appetite, quick weight loss) that they get in the way of your day-to-day functioning and taking care of your baby properly.

If you’re not experiencing severe symptoms and you have adequate support, you can give a few sessions of therapy a try to see whether it alone will be sufficient. Of the many stories I read about, I was amazed at the number of women who were so ashamed at how they were coping so badly-and it didn’t help that they didn’t know they had PPD-that they endured their symptoms for many weeks, months or even over a year. Perhaps their PPD didn’t debilitate them to the point that they could no longer function. I don’t know about them, but my PPD was SO BAD, I felt my only option was to seek medical help immediately. In my situation, therapy was not a practical option. But I dreaded the thought of having to rely on any medication. In fact, just the thought of having to take 3 medications simultaneously for insomnia, depression and panic attacks-all for the first time-increased my anxiety even more. As soon as the medicine kicked in, my insomnia disappeared, I was able to return to work, smile, appreciate all that I used to enjoy before my PPD set in, able to go outside without feeling overwhelmed, and function near 100% on a day-to-day basis….all without having to see a therapist.

Since my condition required immediate intervention by way of medications (first Ambien, then Xanax and Paxil) to enable me to function day to day-otherwise, I’d be rolled up into a ball crippled both physically (panic attacks numbed my arms and legs, I couldn’t sleep at all) and mentally (my state of mind was on the verge of complete and utter collapse), I am obviously going to present the case for psychotropic medications. There will inevitably, and unfortunately, always be the naysayers and Doubting Toms of the world who are ever eager to attack a person’s position on a topic as hotly debated as meds versus no meds. Hey, all I can say to that is, more people should learn to mind their own business. It’s fine for people to think that doctors seem to automatically prescribe medication for everything. In a way, I believe that the statement is true from a general trend perspective, particularly with respect to children being treated with medication for not having enough attention span to sit still for a few minutes at a stretch. But that’s my own opinion and I keep that to myself, rather than preach it everywhere….a hum, Tom Cruise, are you listening???!!!   Without knowing another person’s situation-and only immediate family and the individual himself or herself (if they are mature adults) can really know what their personal situation is, and sometimes even parents don’t know or understand what is going on with their child-how can you claim to know what is right or wrong for someone else?

In Conclusion:

A word of advice from someone who has been through panic attacks (while suffering from PPD) to a mother who is currently suffering from them:   You WILL get through this with the right treatment.  Do not endure this on your own.  Get help now.  Do not wait.  Do not worry about what other people may think if you take medication to help you be well again.  It’s not their business.  It’s your life and you must take control of it, so you can return to your old self and enjoy your baby.

56 thoughts on “Next Came the Panic Attacks….

  1. These posts have made me feel less crazy about what I am going through. I am 3 months postpartum and stopped sleeping about 2 months ago, even when baby could sleep. A couple of weeks ago, I started an anti anxiety me and an antidepressant. I do not want to take the anti anxiety med because I know that can become habit forming, but I am not able to stay asleep without them. I guess if I am using it for insomnia due to anxiety and not abusing them, I’ll be okay? I’m calling my doctor tomorrow about it. Anyways the antidepressants make my stomach hurt daily, but doc said that should go away in a few weeks as my body gets use to them. My antidepressants may take up to 3 months to fully kick in! Not happy about that at all – I want to stop the anti anxiety meds as soon as possible. I tried to take the prescribed dose, and it didn’t work, so now I am taking 2mg of Ativan/night but I feel like myself again during the day and am happy with my baby. I guess that’s all that matters.
    I too had a rough process in the hospital. While I didn’t have surgery like you, I got no sleep, the nurses basically forced me to supplement formula which made me REALLY upset (I don’t even breastfeed anymore because my supple never fully came in and now the meds), and I was on an uncomfortable delivery bed for 3 days with a pitocin drip and they had to break my water and then the epidural. I know this all started from there. I never want to experience this again – I don’t want another baby. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. My daughter is AMAZING – not fussy and sleeps through the night. But the impact this has had on me, I don’t know if I can do this again.
    I also am back to work and got promoted within the month of me being back! More responsibility on that front – I can’t afford to not be myself.

    • Hi Denise,
      I am glad you found my blog and hope that reading about my experience and other moms’ experiences will help you. As long as you follow your doctor’s orders with respect to dosage and frequency, you should be alright. Don’t stop your antidepressants suddenly. I took Xanax for the prescribed period and was absolutely fine. Did not get dependent on it. Came right off it when I no longer needed it/when doc told me to stop. Not sure about antidepressants hurting your stomach but at least your doc knows about it. Keep the doc posted.

      Yes, it can take a few weeks for antidepressants to kick in, which is why docs prescribe a benzo to help with the panic attacks, if any. It took 4 weeks for Paxil to kick in for me and by that time, I was off the Xanax (because my panic attacks ceased). Try to focus on one day at a time, which I know is very, very challenging. Like you, I desperately wanted to get off all the psychotropic meds (plus Ambien, so I was on 3 powerful meds) since I hate having to take any meds at all.

      Congratulations on your promotion! Going through pregnancy, childbirth and the months and years afterwards was a transformative process that I don’t have any regrets over. The only regret was that I couldn’t have any more children, even if I wanted to. Many moms who have survived traumatic childbirth and postpartum experiences do not want to go through it again….you’re totally not alone in your feelings.


    • Hi Lauren,
      May i ask how long you’ve been dealing with insomnia, and did you have a baby recently? I’m asking because I wouldn’t want you to learn the hard way what I learned.

      Not knowing any better /not knowing the right questions to ask because he wasn’t aware that the first sign of PPD is in many cases insomnia, my OB/GYN prescribed me Ambien, which he instructed that I take as needed. Since I wanted to see if I only needed half the pill to help me sleep, for the first three nights I broke the ten-milligram pill in half. But then the doctor’s office advised me to take the full tablet each night, as prescribed. Later on, my pharmacist indicated that my doctor should’ve started me at a lower dosage of five milligrams instead of ten milligrams. A patient is typically not supposed to start at a higher dosage right from the start.

    • Hi Jessica,
      I just read your post….feels great to get your thoughts and experiences out and trying to help spread awareness and helping other moms, doesn’t it! Great post and thank you for linking to my blog and sharing your story with others. I hope you’ve recovered now, and if not, I hope you will reach the end of the recovery process soon (and let me know if you ever feel like chatting).

  2. This post has really given me hope. My fear is taking drugs because of my baby. Were yu breastfeeding while yu were on medication?

    • Hi Mrs Fasuan,
      Like you, I was fearful of taking my meds, so I had to stop BFing once I started taking medication. Are you seeing a therapist right now and they wrote you the prescription(s)? If so, maybe speak to him/her about the meds and BFing?

  3. Thank you for this blog I’m going through a really anxiety I was diagnosed with panic disorder it has been hell! Reading your blog made me realize I’m not alone and I will get through this tough time.

  4. Hi! Great blog! It’s wonderful to read a personal account of something that is so horrendous, but yet you can relate to every feeling, emotion, and experience. I could write a novel myself on my experience, so I will try to be brief. My story is different in that I didn’t just have a baby. But this is what interests me. I did, however, have a IUD for five years that was coincidently expiring when my whole traumatic ordeal began. PPD (and some other mood disorders) requires somewhat of a “perfect storm” to evolve, I believe. And a big part of that is sex hormones. And sex hormones of course, effect the other hormones (neurotransmitters). Well, our sex hormones are all out of whack from pregnancy and, I believe, potentially, any form of birth control can cause an imbalance as well. For instance, I didn’t menstrate for five years. It must be all connected (though Doctors will tell you there is no connection between birth control and anxiety/depression) to our hormones. I don’t know if it was related or just a coincidence with timing, all we can do is just believe what we feel to be true, right? If PPD is accepted and acknowledged as being related to our “pregnancy hormones”, I would think that what are bodies go through with birth control, isn’t a far fetched notion to also make a connection. But, I digress.
    I have yet to try meds and it has been almost four years since the onset, and 17 months since it became really bad. Like you, it is just fear of the meds – will I go back to the worst, most dreadful place in time? Will it trigger more anxiety? Will I be unable to function well enough to work and care for my daughter, without her noticing any difference? How many different SSRI’s will I have to trial and error until I find one that works? – I was never a person, pre-1st panic attack, that questioned, doubted or feared much, if anything. Do you feel that aspect of anxiety/panic disorder also disappeared with your recovery? Well, nonetheless, it has taken months, but I have improved, sans meds, tremendously from my lowest point. Now, my ups and downs, SEEM to coincide with different phases of my menstrual cycle (I’m only 31 so not pre-menopause), but that’s not exactly confirmation that the hormones (i had every test imaginable that first six months when i was finctioning off pure adrenal induced anxiety -all fine) are the culprit to begin with, though believing that helps – I’m sure much like knowing in the beginning that its PPD and NOT your mind deciding suddenly to stop functioning, would have helped tremendously :).. Thank you for sharing your story. Perhaps one day I shall as well.

    • Hi Kristen,
      Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and taking the time to leave a comment! I hope you share your story some day, as it can help others the same way mine is helping others!

      My panic attacks ended within the first 2-3 weeks after I started taking Xanax and as the Paxil started to take effect. By the time the Paxil took effect for me (4 weeks), I had no lingering panic attacks, thank goodness!

      It certainly sounds like your menstrual cycle is a direct cause of your ups and downs. I wonder if you’re experience has anything to do with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)? You may want to check this post about PMDD, if you haven’t already:

      Just curious, during the 5 yrs that you didn’t menstruate, did you have any mood swings? Have you seen a doctor and have blood work done (to eliminate other physical conditions that could be contributing toward your current situation)? I know you are trying to improve on your own without meds, but you may find that taking the right med will mean a world of a difference to you (as it did for me once it kicked in. It could get you to the point of being free from your symptoms of anxiety/depression altogether. Everyone’s different, and so meds alone may work…and they may not. You may also need to see a mental health practitioner. I’m hoping meds can help you the way it has helped for me. I haven’t experienced any symptoms since my recovery. And I’m praying that, once menopause hits, I will be spared from the insomnia that so many of my friends are experiencing.

    • See my doctors agree that its hormones that cause ppd and also fear and events that happened through pregnancy and shortly after. with me it was weird never a depression issue i was always emotionally strong not much bothered me. I was fine after my first pregnancy(with my daughter) then i got pregnant w my son and had him 6 weeks and day later had surgery was still in a falling out w my mother but that was nothing unusual because she was always kinda mean when i was pregnant but what i find most odd is me and a friend both got ppd after sons but not daughters could it be the male hormones throwing ours off?

      • Sorry for the late response, Chanda! This week has been a real doozy for me! What your docs say happened to you is what happened to me, basically. And just like you, I never had emotional issues after childbirth, even with my traumatic childbirth experience. I just willed myself to keep on going because I had to take care of the baby. But I still got blindsided with PPD at the 6th week mark and quite suddenly and unexpectedly.

        I think it’s a pure coincidence that you and your friend both had PPD after having sons. You mention that you had surgery at about the 6th week postpartum. What was that surgery for? That and your falling out with your mother were add’l stressors that tipped the scale for you, most likely.

  5. Thanks Ivy and Chanda for your words of support and encouragement. I’m sorry it took me so long to reply. I haven’t been feeling well. I’m on 25mg Zoloft now- but I think it’s still considered a low dose… My dr may increase it in a week. My sleep is sometimes interrupted, sometime not. I don’t have panic attacks anymore , but I do feel a constant level of anxiety all day long. I’d been taking sleeping meds and nothing else for months and know all about its losing effectiveness. It wasn’t until I found this website and a few similar postings on that I realized and accepted that I needed more help. Blessings to you Ivy – your story gives me a lot of hope! Email correspondence would be great.

    • Hi mommyof2,
      So good to hear from you. I’m so glad to hear you are no longer experiencing panic attacks. You see, you are getting better! Give it a little more time. You said you were only on sleeping meds for months. It will take a little time for the SSRI to kick in. It is not immediate. Hope and support are key to recovery, and so glad to be able to help a little! I will send you an email shortly.

    • When i was on zoloft and even when i took celexa i felt very sever anxiety worse than before i started it you may need to switch and see if that helps any

  6. Ivy, did you have to wean off Ambien or were you able to stop completely? Also during the month before the Paxil kicked in, how was your sleep? Did the ambien (and Xanax) give you better sleep during that time?

    I’ve been on Zoloft 12.5mg for 2wks now along with klonopin and trazadone for sleep but I only get 4-5 hrs on a good night. And good nights happen like twice a week. Other nights I don’t drift to sleep until 4 am and even then it’s not very good quality sleep and I feel drowsy and very bad the next day.

    I’m praying I will have a quick turnaround like you did. It’s been a scary and lonely experience. And hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Hi Mommyof2,
      There is no weaning of Ambien required, so I was able to stop completely (once the Paxil kicked in). As my PPD symptoms worsened and before the Paxil kicked in, the Ambien was losing its effectiveness but I was able to get a few hrs of sleep a night. During that time, my panic attacks were scaring me so much, not helping matters at all. My biochemistry was so screwed up that it’s the SSRI that helped straighten things out, but unfortunately, they don’t work as fast as we would like them to. It does take some time…but it feels like an eternity. I remember what it was like all too well.

      When you say you only get 4-5 hrs of sleep a night, is that straight sleep or disrupted sleep? If it’s 4-5 hrs straight, that’s better that how I did before the Paxil kicked in.

      I’m so sorry you are going through this, but you WILL get better! I remember all too well what it was like to be in my dark PPD tunnel. I know how scary it can be and how hopeless it can make you feel like you are never going to get better.

      If you would like to correspond by email, let me know. I’ll send you an email and we can keep in closer touch.

    • my doctor gave me seriquil until my meds kicked in to help me sleep because he said that things wouldnt get better if i couldnt get rest i needed so maybe try that it is a bit costly but some docs have samples and may give them to you mine did its worth a shot hope it helps and feel free to email if you need or want to talk

  7. Hi Ivy, thanks for your blog. I’m in a somewhat similar situation. How often / how long did you have to take the xanax? Did you stop both Xanax and ambien once the Paxil kicked in?

    • Hi, thanks for leaving a comment on my blog, and hope it has been of some help to you! I took the Xanax for 2-3 wks (can’t really remember, but it was def < 1 month). It took a month for the Paxil to kick in. By the time that happened, I was able to confidently stop taking the Ambien. Let me know if you have any other questions!

    • mommyof2 i take paxil also i take the 20mg and it actually kicked in fairly quick and my doctor also gave me atarax for random periods of anxiety which doesnt happen often anymore and neither meds make me feel bad like the others i had tried. I wish you the best of luck

  8. Hi Ivy,
    I am currently going through what you describe here and terrified. I am 8 weeks PP and this is my first baby. I started lexapro a week ago and tried xanax and ambien but they have not helped with the panic attacks at night. I just saw a psychiatrist today and he started me on Ativan to see if I can get some relief until the lexapro begins to work but I am terrified to go to bed at night because I fear the panic will set back in. I would love to talk or email because I feel like I’m gonna live like this forever and it’s miserable.


    • Hi Merrill,
      Sorry for not getting back to you sooner! I got home late after a doctor’s appt, ate dinner and helped my daughter with her homework. I know what it’s like feeling terrified that there is no end in sight. But you WILL get better with the right treatment and when the meds take effect. I was on Ambien first to help with sleep, as you probably read in my blog post. But then the panic attacks started and I ended up on Paxil and Xanax (until the Paxil could kick in). I can’t remember exactly how long it took for the Xanax to kick in, but it was within 1-2 weeks before my panic attacks stopped. In about another 2 weeks the Paxil took full effect and I was able to sleep without the Ambien and I was more like my old self again. Please note, though, that everyone is different. I will reach you via email in a little bit. Just have to go put my daughter to bed.

  9. I am so glad to have came accross this. Thank you so much for posting this you have no idea how much better I feel knowing that i’m not the only one having this bad enough to feel the way i do all the time you gave me so much hope that i wont be like this for the rest of my life thank you so much

    • Hi Chanda,
      Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! If you are currently struggling with PPD, just know that you will indeed be well again! Is your PPD being treated with meds right now? Take care, and anytime you’d like to reach out, feel free to do so! I can send you my contact info.

      • I’m not on medication or anything right now I don’t have insurance right now so affording meds is hard for me and the panic attacks are hard on me if you’d send me contact info it’d b amazing because I don’t have anyone to talk to who understands

        • I just sent you an email. I suggest you contact Postpartum Support International’s warmline (800-944-4ppd). For your panic attacks (from PPD, since you just had a baby), I really would suggest you seek medical treatment. Are you experiencing insomnia, lack of appetite? From my experience and what I’ve read, it is hard to overcome/cope with these physical symptoms without medication.

          • Thanks, Joaney, for reaching out to Chanda! She does need all the support she can get through this tough time! Hope you are doing better than the last time I heard from you….it’s been a little while. Hugs to you!

          • Thank you Joaney for reaching out to me. The help and support the two of you are willing to give me means the world to me and i’m not sure how to thank you all enough. I’m 23 and my son is my 2nd and last child and I didnt think PPD would happen to me because things never really bothered me much or at least I didnt think they did

            • Chanda, sorry it took so long for me to approve this comment. Was on vacation and had no Internet access for the past 5 days. You have my contact info….let me know if you need any add’l info/support. Will continue to try to do what I can to help.

    • Hi Joaney,
      I am sorry to hear you are dealing with PPD and panic attacks, but just know that you are definitely not alone in your experience. I too went through the same thing. Just like me, once you get the right treatment and it starts taking effect, you will be able to smile, eat, sleep, enjoy all that you enjoyed before PPD and the panic attacks hit you. Speaking of treatment, are you on any medication?

      • Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me. I’m currently on 15mg of buspirone. I’ve been taking it for 30days now. I’ve never in life been so depress. The panic takes feels like I’m about to die or lose my mind. I’m trying to not let it get the best of me but it’s so hard.

        • Joaney,
          So, you’re not on any antidepressants at all? Buspirone is a benzodiazepine, which is commonly prescribed for women with PPD until their antidepressant kicks in. They work well in small doses and usually in combination with SSRIs (especially during the initial weeks where the SSRI has not kicked in yet and you need something to help control the panic/anxiety). If you’re not on an antidepressant (you need to be on one to treat your depression…buspirone will NOT treat it), please consult with your doctor. Also, have you had this doctor for some time? Is he/she knowledgeable in treating PPD?

          • Wow I had no clue I thought this would control my depression & panic attacks ;( this Is a new Dr. I had a bad delivery with my old Dr so I left his practice.

            • Is this doctor familiar with treating PPD? Doesn’t hurt to ask and to see why he/she only prescribed a benzo. You may want to find a doctor familiar with treating PPD. Perhaps contact your local hospital and/or the Postpartum Support Intl state coordinator for your state ( to see if they know of any practitioners in your area that specialize in PPD.

              • My Dr told me half of her patients went had PPD. She told me she don’t want me on any long time meds but I’m going to tell her it’s getting worst and I can’t control my mood swings anymore. She told me I only can take 15mg of My meds and that does nothing for me. I’ll call her today I’m just scared that my body will get addicted to meds. Are you still dealing with PPD if so how long?

                • I would call your PSI state coordinator first. Explain to her the situation and see what she has to say. I had PPD back in 2005. The exact timeline and details are described in this post. I was on Xanax (benzo) and Paxil at the same time. Paxil kicked in in 4 weeks and I was able to sleep, eat, smile and enjoy everything I used to enjoy before PPD hit. Sometime within those 4 wks, my panic attacks stopped. I was on Paxil for a total of about a year, but started the weaning process within 6 months after I started taking it. Granted, everyone’s different, but from all that I’ve read, benzo’s alone are generally not used to treat PPD (just the panic attacks UNTIL the antidepressant kicks in).

          • She told me to stop taking the buspirone and start my new meds tomorrow. I start a new job next week I pray I don’t have panic attacks at work.

            • Have you had any panic attacks recently? Not sure why the doc had you stop buspirone before the lexspro has had a chance to kick in, which can take a few wks to slowly do that.

      • Sorry that last message was sent from my cell phone. I did not call my state program. I told my doctor my depression was getting worst but my aniexty was much better. She put me on Lexapro 10mg. 2 day was the first day I felt better on Busprione 15mg not sure if I should keep using Busprione or try Lexapro.

        • Did the doc tell you to continue taking buspirone? Lexapro is an SSRI, an antidepressant, similar to the Paxil that I took. There won’t be immediate results. With SSRIs, you’ll feel a very gradual improvement over several weeks’ time. Don’t ever quit cold turkey. Follow the prescription.

          • Ok I’m glad you told me that because my Dr. Told me to stop taking the buspirone immediately and start the new meds. I have’nt been having panic attacks on buspirone just feeling a lil depress befor the meds kick in the am but around 1 I’m feeling great!

  10. As sufferer myself I can relate to all that you have said your article. I’m sure it will be of benefit to others too. I suffered from been a child so I can understand the problem of panic attacks more than most. Thank you for listening to me.

  11. Pingback: Next Came the Panic Attacks…. « Ivy’s PPD Blog | Panic Anxiety Attacks

  12. Pingback: Next Came the Panic Attacks…. « Ivy’s PPD Blog | Panic Symptoms

  13. Pingback: Panic Attack Treatment

  14. Hello, holy did we ever have similar experiences….I hope that you are much much better (you are by the sounds of it). I’m a mom with a blog too, hopefully you’ll check it out (and perhaps take part in the project I am developing for my son by writing my own letter)….let me know what you think about it….i love your banner by the way 🙂

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