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Fighting GAD-General Anxiety Disorder at 46

by Billie
(Tampa, Florida)

I'm 46 years old, and for the first time, I feel like my life has been turned upside down. I've lived a blessed life, chasing my dreams and living life to the fullest.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to go back to school while working full time. Working from 0600 to 1500 hrs, then going to school from 1700 to 2100 hrs made for some long days, but I fought my way through it for a year before the trouble began.

My first symptoms were acid reflux and accompanying chest pains. I shrugged it off for about six months, but finally it started making me wonder if I had something seriously wrong. Shortly thereafter, I experienced my first panic attack, which I had never experienced before in my life.

All of a sudden one day I felt like I was going to pass out. I told myself everything was okay, but it kept getting worse. I didn't want to go to the hospital, so I went to bed and tried to sleep it off. The next day I felt better, but was rattled by the whole experience.

Over the next month, I noticed I felt unusually tired and rundown, and I just couldn't shake the general malaise I was feeling. I finally went to the doctor, and he sent me for blood work, chest xray, gall bladder check, and put me on acid reflux medication nexium. The doctor diagnosed the fainting spell as GAD (general anxiety disorder) and told me to try to reduce stress, eat right, and exercise. He offered medication for the anxiety, but I chose to try to beat it without pills.

All the tests came back with good results. I am perfectly healthy according to the results. Over the next several months, my anxiety would haunt me almost continuously. It seemed every time stress came into my life, I would start experiencing feelings of anxiety. The feeling would vary, everything from chest pressure and pain, general weakness in arms and hands, heart palpitations, dizziness, and shortness of breath. If possible, I would go for a walk or jog to try to cope with the situation.

Things seem to be slowly getting a little better, with the anxiety becoming less severe. But I seem to have lost my zest for life, not really wanting to do the things I used to enjoy like golf, fishing, or going out to movies or dinner with my wife. I find myself just wanting to stay home and veg out watching tv laying on the couch. My energy level is still very low, and I have to force myself to go to work and exercise.

I've read extensively about anxiety and midlife crisis on the internet, and everything I read seems to confirm that I am experiencing both. I'm not sure which came first the midlife crisis or the anxiety, but they sure make for a terrible combination when experienced simultaneously! I'm just living life day to day now, trying to remain positive and hoping things will sort themselves out over time.

Noel's comment

It sounds as though you might be mildly depressed. Some research shows that regular exercise is just as effective as medication in relieving depression, so I recommend you keep on exercising, and know that, as with all things, this too shall pass.

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Some suggestions
by: Bernie

Billie, I am 63 and have come through my midlife transition/crisis pretty well.

Here are some suggestions which may be helpful ...

Get a pet. Dogs and cats are the greatest thing for relieving anxiety.

Be gentle with yourself. Sounds like your job + your studies are way too much of a load. Reschedule your studies so that they take a few extra years but give you a chance to breathe.

Take up Mindfulness meditation.

Consider testosterone supplements.

Good luck.

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