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Let me start back about 3 months ago. I kept having these episodes where I thought I was going to die and I had a new symptom everyday. I seen numerous doctors and they all did blood work and everything came out perfect. My primary care doctor told me it was anxiety and prescribed me to 25mg of Zoloft. I started taking it and felt better after about the 9th day. I felt fine for about two weeks and when my prescription ran out I didn't take it for three days. The first day I didn't take it I felt fine but the next day I was feeling lightheaded, dizzy, in a dream and had a shortness of breath. Today is the second day that I've been back on the pill and the symptoms haven't gotten any better, more worse actually. It's just hard to believe that I've only been on the pill for about a month and only 25mg and it's causing this much trouble. I feel like I'm in a dream (fog) I can't concentrate, i get shaky, headaches, my face feels numb and i feel like everything around me is fake. Any suggestions? This discomfort is interrupting my work and is keeping me from going out. How long will this last?

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OK, let's be clear on a couple of things. This isn't a clinic, I'm not a doctor, and this is an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas.

Nothing I say should be taken as contradicting or recommending a medical opinion, and ultimately your medical and other authorities in your country take precedence.

All that being said, it looks like you haven't had much success doing it their way, so let's consider a couple of things.

First off, I have a bit of an issue with any drug being used to control someone: typically (and I'm a smoker, and have done drugs, so I have some experience) anything you introduce to your body, especially that affects the mind, is generally counter-productive in the long run, but that's just a personal opinion.

More to the point, there are two (or three, depending on your perspective) fundamental systems that you're dealing with.

First off, the broadly medical approach, is that there's a chemical imbalance, foreign body, disease, something that can be treated with medicine. If there are no obvious physical symptoms, and any reasonable scans seem clear, it seems fair to rule that out. If in due course medical examination reveals a chemical, hormone or other clearly defined issue, then I refer back to my opening statements.

Secondly, as you indicate, it is your mind that is having these thoughts, and ultimately therefore we need to at least consider what's going through your mind. This is something you can do somewhat on your own, or you can explore this with someone else. It really doesn't matter who, but generally people with experience would get my vote over people without.

If you want to work with pure mentalists, therapists and hypnotherapists, they may be of some assistance. Ironically, psychiatry seems to have gotten mixed up with chemistry, so they and doctors are more likely to want to prescribe drugs, medication, whatever.

There is no harm in reading, provided that you realise that what you are reading is only a possibility: a hypochondriac sees in themself every symptom, whereas a rational individual appreciates that if there are no overt difficulties, it's an interesting hypothesis, but probably not relevant in any further or meaningful way.

Now, with all that said, there is a world I do not normally consider it appropriate or relevant to discuss on here, because this is a pretty physical, medical, tell me what pill to take environment.

However, you seem pretty distressed, so perhaps we need to be a bit more open-minded, and discuss things from a broader perspective.

--- the following assumes a willingness to consider a new-age, spiritual perspective - anyone disturbed by that, please feel free to not read from here on out ---

... having said which, I'm not sure religion or science are entirely pure, so let's cut new-age and spirituality a bit of slack, especially as it might turn out to be right ...

So, bottom line, I'll make this brief: you can either consider yourself as having a problem, or you can consider this an opportunity to learn more about yourself, learn more about who you are, what you are, and how you relate to the world. Check out the new age section in your local bookstore, start learning a bigger picture than the one you've been given so far, and see if you can begin to connect to and appreciate a wider community of resources that may be of help.

You don't have to be irrational: in fact being both open-minded and intelligently cynical are excellent foundations for the enquiry.

It's also a lot cheaper than some of the alternatives, and frankly, with a little common sense, there are more horror stories of surgery going wrong, teenagers buying into magazines and slimming themselves to death, and parents drowning their daughters because they kissed a guy, than there are horror stories in learning more about who you are, and how you might relate to the world, and the universer.

Don't go buying candles or silly scams 'we pray, you pay' - new age isn't a church, and most practitioners and interested people are decent, genuine people. Work from a reputable base: find a centre for tai chi, reiki, a popular new age book shop, whatever, and start to explore.

I can't promise you'll find what you're looking for, because I'm not you, nor do I know how or why you're inviting this anxiety upon yourself.

However I can offer two simple suggestions, one of which the rest of the world will basically agree with, one of which will be shocking to many people who aren't familiar with this perspective:

1. no one knows when they're going to die, for sure, ever - though there are many legitimate occasions when the hypothesis and the reality are pretty much done deals - falling out of an airplane without a parachute for example, although people survive even that

Other people die falling down the stairs or in their bath. Go figure.

2. no one dies before their time. To someone who sees life as a mystery, and the afterlife as even more mysterious, that seems shocking, but in fact it's simple and mundane. You're here to experience life, and ultimately you will be protected for as long as it is appropriate to enjoy and experience that life. Understand how that can be and why, and you may find some comfort and rationale for what you're experiencing.

In some ways, new age spirituality is mundane in the extreme, at its core you will find truths that leave you surrounded by a world gone insane, while your eyes look on in bemused wonder. The physical world may look on it and say the spiritual is unreal. I would say that invading countries for oil, murdering your own child for honour, these acts are unreal.

Whether you choose to explore or not, I can offer one thought:

it's not your time to die, and it won't be until 3/1000ths of a second before it is... and none of us knows when that will be.

So, science, medicine, new age, or whatever, embrace the investigation, embrace your life, and good luck.
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