Anxiety – Steroid Induced

Anxiety is Real. Real people experiencing Real symptoms.

Anxiety can be a monster. It is present due to a number of reasons. It’s NOT all in your head.

Understanding the origin of your particular anxiety is key to management and treatment.

I’ve had anxiety rear it’s ugly head from two different sources two separate times in my journey thus far. Neither one of them pleasant.

Anxiety is like a train going full speed ahead on tracks with no brakes and no certainty of how long it will take to stop nor any assurance of what lies at the end.

I’ll discuss my first encounter with anxiety in another post. The latest encounter relates to medication. It happened tonight same as last year. So frustrating.

January 2019 I was ill with allergies as with every January it seems. I was coughing and my throat felt like it was going to shut it was so inflamed. I went to an urgent care clinic and they prescribed a Medrol dosepack which is the generic for prednisone. It’s one of those medications where you take six pills the first day, five pills the second day, four pills the next and so on. I have taken prednisone booster shots before when ill years ago so I thought nothing of it. I took the first three days worth and felt very dried up and a little better as far as my throat was concerned but that Saturday night I fell asleep and within an hour I woke up and I thought I was going to die. My mouth was so severely parched I could barely open it. I grabbed my water bottle by my bed and started drinking as much as I could. I was dizzy, confused, and my heart was racing and I did not know what was going on. I live in a three-story townhome and my son was staying with me at the time. I had him call 911 and the paramedics came. They came up to the third-floor as I was at the top of the stairs not able to go downstairs and I was in full-blown panic mode. This was not going to go well I remember telling myself.

They checked me out and did an EKG, checked my blood sugar and all vitals and said everything was fine but recommended I go to the emergency room. I was immediately thinking that this had to be a reaction from the Medrol because I had never experienced anything like this. I think one of the paramedics may have mentioned anxiety but this was not the anxiety that I knew from past experience. I declined to be taken to the ER. Paramedics left and I was able to go back to sleep after drinking tons of water. Of course I was afraid to go to sleep because I did not want to wake up like that ever again.

I work in an emergency room and went to work the next day asking one of the doctors if it was OK if I stop taking that medication because I didn’t want to take any more of it and he said yes I had already had the higher doses and it was OK to stop it. Normally prednisone is not stopped abruptly if taking it routinely. That I do know.

My week went by okay and I kept multiple bottles of water beside my bed anticipating another dreadful night. The following Friday I went to sleep and woke up within an hour with the same symptoms calling 911 again but this time I did go to the hospital because I thought there must be something wrong.

Even though I thought it might be the Medrol pack because this occurred again it had me worried something was seriously wrong. This was getting a little out of control. There’s no way I could live like this. Of course the emergency room runs all sorts of blood tests and sends me home with a diagnosis of anxiety. I’ve had anxiety in the past and this was not the anxiety I knew.

I take thyroid medication due to Graves’ Disease which occurred back in 2010. I know that thyroid trouble can also contribute to anxiety so I started my own investigation into this dilemma. I went to the doctor and had my thyroid blood levels checked and everything was good there. She also wanted to talk about anxiety and depression. At this point I was getting worried because I did not know what could be causing this anxiety. If this was truly anxiety, then it was a different anxiety than what I experienced prior to my cardiac ablation in 2009. I was baffled. I was in tears and I was still ill from allergies and I didn’t feel good at all. We were going to get to the bottom of this I assured myself and the doctor.

Within 2 days I was waking up after being asleep for an hour and a half with the same dreadful symptoms only this time not quite as severe. I drank lots of water as before and it lasted about 20 minutes and I was able to get back to sleep.

Within five days the same thing happened again and I asked a pharmacist if all of this could be from the Medrol dosepack and they said absolutely and that it will have to get out of my system and that will take some time. Time I really didn’t want to spend. I like to look on the humorous side of things but this was no laughing matter.

I felt a little bit of relief that I wasn’t losing my mind. I would wake up after an hour of sleeping a few other times and the symptoms would lesson each time and I would just get through it the best I could. I eat a lot of bananas because they are a good source of potassium. While all this was going on I wanted to make sure that I was getting good nutrients as well. Bananas are my comfort food. Find yours.

Fast forward to today. All this nonsense is happening again and I’m not taking any steroids. 🤔 Allergies are still bothering me. It must be a really bad allergy season this year. I had a slight cough and I asked my daughter to bring me some hot tea as I was having trouble falling asleep.  I added eucalyptus and peppermint to my diffuser hoping that would help diminish my cough. I drank about 3/4 of the cup of tea and eventually was able to fall asleep. I woke up within an hour or so feeling exactly as I felt last year! 😳 It is something never to be forgotten. My mouth was dry, my heart was racing, I felt a little dizzy and disoriented and I did not feel good. I reached for my water and started drinking furiously. I thought “could it be the diffuser I had going with the eucalyptus and the peppermint”? So many things running through my head at once. I reached for my phone and called my daughter and she didn’t answer. I called multiple times but no answer. I was going into full-blown panic mode. When your heart is racing and you think it’s not going to slow down it just throws all your clear thinking out the window. I needed to get downstairs and figure out what tea my daughter had made because this past January I had been feeling similar and made some green tea and woke up with a racing heartbeat and wondered why on earth that had happened thinking maybe it was the caffeine in the tea or I was allergic to the soy. 🤷🏼‍♀️

I made it downstairs and my daughter was asleep but now awakened. I sat and calmed myself drinking lots of water and trying to wrap my head around all of this. I went to the kitchen and looked at the tea and sure enough it was the same one. I thought “am I allergic to soy“? I looked up symptoms of allergic reactions to soy and I didn’t have any of them. I thought maybe ingredients in the tea could be reacting with the Delsym that I took for coughing. I then looked up the Panax ginseng and this is what I found; the active ingredients consist of “steroid like components called ginsenocides”. That’s it! Steroid induced anxiety AGAIN! 😡 If I had only known I would not have drank the tea. You only know what you know. 🤷🏼‍♀️ Mystery solved! I have thrown that tea out never to be seen again! I need to stay completely away from anything that contains steroids. I know everybody is different and some people need to take prednisone and steroids but that stuff is dangerous… least to me. 

There are different articles and publications that will list causes of anxiety and they’ll say ‘some medications’ as a cause but they’ll never tell you specifically those medications and prednisone is one of them. You can definitely experience prednisone induced anxiety and even mania and I have seen it in other people as well. That’s one of the reasons why I even thought it was the Medrol pack last year to begin with. It is most definitely on my DO NOT TAKE list. Anything with Panax ginseng (true ginseng) will be put on that list as well.

I have included an article below that someone wrote to add additional information to my experience as well as a link to the Mayo Clinic with their information on anxiety.

Yes, there is a genetic component to anxiety for many but there are other factors as well. Medications being one of them. While my first experience with anxiety had nothing to do with medication, my second experience 10 years later has everything to do with medication, specifically steroids and I’m finding many other people have experienced the same. 

Know your body. Know what you’re putting into your body. Ask questions. Don’t assume. Not everything is as it appears. There could be multiple explanations for what you’re going through. Explore them all. Trust yourself. Love yourself. 

You Are Not Alone.


Published by ICare.Let'sTalk.

Hello and Welcome. My name is Melody and I Care. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. This is a place where people can come together and connect sharing their similarities as well as their differences helping one another. You are NOT alone. Everyone has a story. I will share mine along the way. You Matter to the Hatter! I Care. Let's Talk!

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