I'm a firm believer in a conservative approach to everything and I don't feel that a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder necessarily requires medication. It may require medication, but first I believe other things should be attempted.
First, I think you should look at any stress you may have in your life because there may be something that is causing you stress and which can be bringing this on. Have you considered what might be happening in your life lately? Remember, stress builds up over time, so it may be something that has been something about which you were unaware as to how much it was affecting you.
The medication you were given, although originally formulated to treat depression, is now used for panic attacks. Since anxiety and panic attacks, usually, also have a component of depression, these medications have been found effective. There are, of course, other older medications which can be just as effective. It looks like your doctor was providing "bridge therapy" which means he was providing the Xanax to help you until the other medication was fully effective.
Research indicates that panic disorder may happen as we reach later midlife, even though we've never had them before. This may be a function of our changing biology and nothing more. It may also, however, reflect the change in stressors in our life as we age. For that reason, I suggest you look at your lifestyle and see if there might be something that is distressing for you
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