panic attacks. Anyone have similar experiences?

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Jack Secret

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for the past month I find myself going through what I consider to be a panic attack. My mind Suddenly and rapidly starts filling up with feelings of dread and doom. It's not one thing in particular that sets me off… I really don't understand all of this. Anyone share their experiences and what you do you manage.
 

missyj1978

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I use to have panic attacks really bad. I still get them once in awhile but nothing like I use to. Maybe try going to the doctor and talk to them about it. A lot of people suffer from them and they can be so horrible and scary. Im sorry that you have to go threw this, I wouldn't wish them on anyone. I have over the years learned to control them more. Just know your not alone and when you feel one coming on just take deep breaths and try to take your mind to a peaceful place. I take Xanax when they get really bad and it helps but makes me so sleepy. Good luck I hope you find something that works for you :)
 

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If you are having panic attacks it's best to go to the doctor about them for medication and they may be able to give you advice on how to deal with them or where to get advice about dealing with them. Not every technique for coping with panic attacks works. The relaxation never worked for me, I was always the opposite and had to keep myself busy during panic attacks and try not to think about what is happening.
 

CastingPearls

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I have anxiety and am recovering from PTSD from an abusive childhood and marriage. I used to have debilitating panic attacks where I felt I was dying. Now, at times I feel overwhelmed, but it's lessening as I'm being more proactive about my emotional health by exercising No Contact with abusive family members, as well as celebrating my divorce from a very damaged man, on Dec 2. Additionally I spent two years in therapy with a therapist who specialized in PTSD and took what I could afford. I had no idea she was a big deal and wasn't taking new patients but my doctor and my domestic violence center advocate took up for me and she accepted me and as she said, 'helped me save my own life'

I have prescriptions to help with anxiety and just knowing I have them, and can take them anytime, is usually all the help I need but I do take them because I have something called 'racing thoughts' at night when I'm trying to sleep.

Also meditation helps, tremendously. I started off slow and easy with guided visualization which is all over YouTube and began to work from there with CDs, and was so encouraged with my improvement I decided to join the healing community by studying Reiki and am a first degree practitioner. I keep busy, I have a new apartment, and am making new connections and surrounding myself with people who love and support me. All of that contributes to lessening my anxiety.
 

Jack Secret

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This is all very unusual for me. This year has been quite hectic on a number of levels. I lost my mother back in June, So I've been thinking a lot about her as well as my father and how he is coping. He seems to be doing well… I live with the guy and he seems to be handling it better than I ever could. I've also been desperately trying to track down my son (his mother actually) for the past six years. He's been hiding from me to keep him away from me. We finally FINALLY went to court on the 18th where he was legitimated and set up a visitation schedule.

When I have these panic attacks I don't think about my mom, my son or other recent goings-on. It's just a generalized panic. I'm sure that it is still related to these things as well as my seven years as a quadriplegic. I'll take a Xanax or whatever, and it does help, but I just wish I was the way I used to be. Before these attacks, psychologically I've been a little shaky, but way better than now.

I'm really encouraged by the feedback and I truly appreciate it.
 

CastingPearls

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My former therapist (She's since 'graduated' me, lol), explained that panic attacks often occur during times of stress but not necessarily at moments when a highly stressful event or memory or mood is happening. They can occur when you're feeling safer or more relieved and then you can get what I call, 'slammed', so while you have multiple things going on, and I'm no therapist myself, this might make more sense.

Do your physical limitations prevent you from trying relaxing breathing exercises while you're experiencing these attacks? Even a general internist would be able to coach you a bit with them. Preferably someone who knows what you're able to do, and your body's needs, should walk you through them. At first they might not seem to be working, but over time, they actually do, and there is a great deal of research and evidence to back that up. Please don't give up. Ask for help for them, and not necessarily more meds. Although meds are very helpful, they may add to or hurt your physical well-being right now due to your challenges.

EDT: I have to add that while I myself take Xanax or a Valium when I absolutely need it, you develop a tolerance for it over time, necessitating increasing dosages, (meaning, a tweak might be in order), which is why I suggest alternative methods or modalities rather than compromise the stress on your respiration levels.
 

Ms Charlotte BBW

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I also suffer from anxiety/panic attacks and am recovering from PTSD from a very abusive childhood which followed me into adulthood. My panic attacks come at times when I am overly stressed, and extremely nervous. I don't do well in large crowds either. When I go out into social situations, I need to familiarize myself with the area and the people that will be there. If there are going to be people there who I am not familiar with, I need to prepare ahead of time for that. Thankfully with years of therapy behind me, and anxiety medication, I am able to control it better.

I also try to separate myself from people who are toxic...which isn't always easy, since many of them are family members.

Best of luck to you...try to remember it's not the end of the world. There is help out there. Just don't be afraid to ask for it. ((hugs))
 

Jah

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This is all very unusual for me. This year has been quite hectic on a number of levels. I lost my mother back in June, So I've been thinking a lot about her as well as my father and how he is coping. He seems to be doing well… I live with the guy and he seems to be handling it better than I ever could. I've also been desperately trying to track down my son (his mother actually) for the past six years. He's been hiding from me to keep him away from me. We finally FINALLY went to court on the 18th where he was legitimated and set up a visitation schedule.

When I have these panic attacks I don't think about my mom, my son or other recent goings-on. It's just a generalized panic. I'm sure that it is still related to these things as well as my seven years as a quadriplegic. I'll take a Xanax or whatever, and it does help, but I just wish I was the way I used to be. Before these attacks, psychologically I've been a little shaky, but way better than now.

I'm really encouraged by the feedback and I truly appreciate it.
Sounds like you are developing a panic disorder and you should probably start taking meds for it otherwise it will become chronic like mine. If you are lucky, meds will help it go away and if you aren't it will get worse. It seems like you developed this problem from having such a hectic year. Sometimes people suddenly develop panic disorders for no reason at all. Mine started when I was 14 and went to the doctor about them when I was 17 and had therapy for years that didn't work. I ended up on medication and that doesn't even work fully. I also have to be careful how much caffeine I have and be careful with my asthma medicine because that's a stimulant also. Eating too much sugar is also bad, so if you control these things that will help as well.

With panic attacks you won't necessarily be thinking about the things that are stressful for you but the feelings of dread and doom and that is normal for a panic disorder. Whenever I'm stressed and my panic attacks increase I start believing that I'm going to die and for no apparent reason, it's all just part of it. Panic attacks can be very scary.
 

lille

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Ok, meds can be great but they are not something that should be handed out by your regular doctor, this does happen but really a psychiatrist should be the one writing the prescription. It's also important to learn other methods of dealing with anxiety because the anxiety meds can be habit forming and guess what the side affect of stopping them is, yup, anxiety!

One thing that works well for me during panic attacks is deep breathing exercises. Progressive muscle relaxation can also be good.
 

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Additionally I spent two years in therapy with a therapist who specialized in PTSD and took what I could afford. I had no idea she was a big deal and wasn't taking new patients but my doctor and my domestic violence center advocate took up for me and she accepted me and as she said, 'helped me save my own life'.
Is it too intrusive to ask who your therapist was?
 

Imp

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Hi, Jack ... I'm a psychologist who frequently treats PTSD and other anxiety disorders.

It is quite possible that your experiences will pass on their own because they often do. Fear of their recurrence is one of the factors that leads to them becoming panic disorder. The truth is that no matter how uncomfortable the feelings are, you can (and do) endure them and they pass without lasting impact --perhaps with a little social embarrassment.

I also would counsel against meds. Benzos are highly addictive and are only designed for immediate treatment (a course of about three months or so) of severe, temporary anxiety (often when people have recently had a major loss). This does not sound like you. In addition to the physiological addiction, which feeds into the occurrence of panic attacks, there is an even stronger psychological addiction. Benzodiazepenes have such a pleasing, calming effect that the reduction of even normal levels of anxiety they cause can be powerfully addicting. (It turns out things that help us to escape our anxiety are among the highest psychologically addicting things there are.) In truth, panic almost always subsides prior to the time that the benzos have a physiological effect (about 20 minutes to metabolize). If meds are absolutely necessary, I would look at antidepressants, which are not addictive. Of course, those lack the pleasing immediate relief of benzos, so people will often tell you they don't work. The anti-depressants actually increase the threshold for a panic attack to occur in the first place. Again, at this point I wouldn't pursue either treatment unless you specifically know of factors in your life that you haven't shared that would suggest seeking med treatment would be beneficial.

I would much more suggest seeking cognitive therapy from a therapist experienced in treating anxiety disorders. The meditation CastingPearls mentioned (which can range from breathing and stretching to serious meditation based on your preferences) are always a central component of these treatments because they directly affect the physiology involved with a panic attack. Cognitive therapy for this is most often very brief (ten session is recommended--I often see people for 3-5 and it works just fine). You probably don't have to do any deep exploratory work into your life or your past to find out why the attacks came on. Sometimes the best answer is that they did, and now they don't anymore. Client after client has told me that the simple introduction of deep breathing into his or her life has been revolutionary. You'd have thought I gave them a million bucks they're so grateful.

Anyway, chances are these will pass, awful as they feel for now. Hopefully you can avoid psychological addiction to benzos and focusing too much on this problem and therefore avoid its becoming a chronic disorder. Best of luck.
 

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I am no pro, nor have I spoken to one in the past, so this is just how it worked for me.. I had my first panic attack years ago, I think I was middle school aged at the time.
I actually had no idea I had a panic attack, I had no idea what one was. I was at the sitters and for some reason she had me sleep in a room alone and everyone else camp in the living room. I wasn't in trouble or anything, I guess she thought she was being nice since there was a bed in there, but I REALLY didn't want to be upstairs all alone.
Anyways, I was up there in the dark all alone and I was freaking out. I was thinking to myself how I was all alone, etc etc and all the sudden I couldn't breathe. I thought I was dieing. I was alone and scared and DIEING. I pretty much fell down the stairs hypervenillating and my daycare lady and her friend had to calm down and get me to breathe.
They assumed I had been having an asthma attack since I am asthmatic, and I hadn't had one since I was a child so I just assumed they were right. They had my mom get off early and get me and she was PISSED. She knew straight off when they told her what happened that it was a panic attack. So I got in trouble and sent to bed when I got home since she had to leave early.

Since then I have had a few panic attacks, and to be completely honest I also find that they happen at weird time. I know that I have major issues with stress and I have major social anxiety so I avoid doing anything with people, etc. But my panic attacks do seem to happen at non eventful times in comparison to some high stress situations.

I have tried to figure out why I am the way am. There could be a lot of reasons- I grew up in a pretty bad situation which I am not going to go into details of, but that could be part of it. Though I don't recall having panic attacks when things used to happen to me.
I am very afraid of the dark and being alone, and that has never went away. Not sure why again, but I think if I had to guess it is probably anxiety/ocd type stuff. Who knows >.<

Basically I was just saying I understand what you are saying about them being so weirdly placed. Like you feel like, "Why didn't I have one when my mom passed? Or at her funeral? Or during that break down session? Why at these random times when nothing has happened??" Because that's what I always wonder too!
 

Jah

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I am no pro, nor have I spoken to one in the past, so this is just how it worked for me.. I had my first panic attack years ago, I think I was middle school aged at the time.
I actually had no idea I had a panic attack, I had no idea what one was. I was at the sitters and for some reason she had me sleep in a room alone and everyone else camp in the living room. I wasn't in trouble or anything, I guess she thought she was being nice since there was a bed in there, but I REALLY didn't want to be upstairs all alone.
Anyways, I was up there in the dark all alone and I was freaking out. I was thinking to myself how I was all alone, etc etc and all the sudden I couldn't breathe. I thought I was dieing. I was alone and scared and DIEING. I pretty much fell down the stairs hypervenillating and my daycare lady and her friend had to calm down and get me to breathe.
They assumed I had been having an asthma attack since I am asthmatic, and I hadn't had one since I was a child so I just assumed they were right. They had my mom get off early and get me and she was PISSED. She knew straight off when they told her what happened that it was a panic attack. So I got in trouble and sent to bed when I got home since she had to leave early.

Since then I have had a few panic attacks, and to be completely honest I also find that they happen at weird time. I know that I have major issues with stress and I have major social anxiety so I avoid doing anything with people, etc. But my panic attacks do seem to happen at non eventful times in comparison to some high stress situations.

I have tried to figure out why I am the way am. There could be a lot of reasons- I grew up in a pretty bad situation which I am not going to go into details of, but that could be part of it. Though I don't recall having panic attacks when things used to happen to me.
I am very afraid of the dark and being alone, and that has never went away. Not sure why again, but I think if I had to guess it is probably anxiety/ocd type stuff. Who knows >.<

Basically I was just saying I understand what you are saying about them being so weirdly placed. Like you feel like, "Why didn't I have one when my mom passed? Or at her funeral? Or during that break down session? Why at these random times when nothing has happened??" Because that's what I always wonder too!
Sounds similar to my first experiences with panic attacks. I thought they were asthma. My advice is that if you ever have to put up with them regularly, then go on medication. I put up with them for way too long. I wasted so much life putting off medication.
 

lille

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Sounds similar to my first experiences with panic attacks. I thought they were asthma. My advice is that if you ever have to put up with them regularly, then go on medication. I put up with them for way too long. I wasted so much life putting off medication.
I just wanted to mention that anxiety medications such as Xanax are not meant to be used long term. They are designed to be used so that someone can function enough to get in to therapy and learn coping coping techniques and for emergency situations where you are unable to use your coping techniques. Ideally people should only be using anti-anxiety meds regularly for a few months because they are highly addictive and a side affect of coming off them once you are addicted can be panic attacks.
 

Jack Secret

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I don't know if I would call it "attacks", but I've been dealing with a ramped up level of anxiety in the past few days. I had forgotten how consuming they are. I've never really thought much about death, but when I start having the spells that is almost all I can think about.. Really dark doom and gloom thoughts of any kind. I couldn't imagine this being something I had to deal with all the time.

I'm coming up on two unhappy anniversaries of sorts. My mom's birthday and the death (about 10 days apart) this month. She passed last year. I know all of this was on my mind Even if I'm not consciously thinking about.
 

Jah

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I just wanted to mention that anxiety medications such as Xanax are not meant to be used long term. They are designed to be used so that someone can function enough to get in to therapy and learn coping coping techniques and for emergency situations where you are unable to use your coping techniques. Ideally people should only be using anti-anxiety meds regularly for a few months because they are highly addictive and a side affect of coming off them once you are addicted can be panic attacks.
That's if the psychiatrist uses anti anxiety medications. I was put on antidepressants.
 

lille

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That's if the psychiatrist uses anti anxiety medications. I was put on antidepressants.
Yup. That's why I specified anti anxiety meds like Xanax. Any of the benzos.
 

GamerGainerGirl

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Sounds similar to my first experiences with panic attacks. I thought they were asthma. My advice is that if you ever have to put up with them regularly, then go on medication. I put up with them for way too long. I wasted so much life putting off medication.
Yeah.. I do plan on seeking help at some point. I'm just really not sure how to go about it. To just walk in and pour all this stuff on a stranger seems weird. And I feel guilty doing it, since my mom has always been avid about how therapists are just there to label you with some bs and make money off of you. I know it's not true but it still makes me feel like I'm letting her down since she always said you just need to grow up and get over it and stuff like that. Not that she would have to know I ever went.
A lot of my family has issues (depression, bipolar, and other disorders) and she always viewed then as weak for not being able to handle their own problems. Her sister is the type who is overly loud about her life and will complain to anyone who will listen, lol.
I have huge problems with depression, and I always have since I can remember. In middle school I used to talk to the school councilor when things got bad, but she had to go to my mom when she found out about me self harming and it all snow balled out of control at that point. My mom got really mad that I was seeking attention, I got grounded and wasn't allowed to be alone in a room or do anything apart from school, etc. so I stopped talking to the councilor.
 

Jack Secret

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Yeah.. I do plan on seeking help at some point. I'm just really not sure how to go about it. To just walk in and pour all this stuff on a stranger seems weird. And I feel guilty doing it, since my mom has always been avid about how therapists are just there to label you with some bs and make money off of you. I know it's not true but it still makes me feel like I'm letting her down since she always said you just need to grow up and get over it and stuff like that. Not that she would have to know I ever went.
A lot of my family has issues (depression, bipolar, and other disorders) and she always viewed then as weak for not being able to handle their own problems. Her sister is the type who is overly loud about her life and will complain to anyone who will listen, lol.
I have huge problems with depression, and I always have since I can remember. In middle school I used to talk to the school councilor when things got bad, but she had to go to my mom when she found out about me self harming and it all snow balled out of control at that point. My mom got really mad that I was seeking attention, I got grounded and wasn't allowed to be alone in a room or do anything apart from school, etc. so I stopped talking to the councilor.
that really sounds terrible! I think at this point, you can completely blame your mother for everything you are struggling with now. That, in itself is really sad. Do you have anybody close to you now, That you can talk about the same things you are sharing with us?
 

Tad

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Yeah.. I do plan on seeking help at some point. I'm just really not sure how to go about it. To just walk in and pour all this stuff on a stranger seems weird. And I feel guilty doing it, since my mom has always been avid about how therapists are just there to label you with some bs and make money off of you. I know it's not true but it still makes me feel like I'm letting her down since she always said you just need to grow up and get over it and stuff like that. Not that she would have to know I ever went.
1) Anything you can do to get your Mom's voice out of your head would be a good thing, it sounds like from here. That whatever her intentions, a lot of what she has said is not good for you. You might want to do some reading on your own about cognitive behavioral therapy -- basically ways to better control your own thoughts. This isn't going to be the solution to your anxiety, depression, etc, but it may help you identify and gradually prune out the thoughts that your Mom has managed to plant in your head.

2) Our brains all come out in different ways. If you were 4'11" would anyone tell you shouldn't use a stool to reach the top shelf of the cupboards, that not reaching it on your own was just being weak? If you have asthma such that your throat seizes up and you can't breath, would anyone say you are weak for getting help with that? (I really hope that those answers are 'no'!) If anything I'd say any weakness is in letting issues--of whatever sort-- limit you, without doing everything you can to overcome, work around, and mitigate those issues.

There are all sorts of different types of help you can get, and some will be more helpful for your particular set of issues than others. If you aren't quite ready to reach out yet, at the least I'd suggest start doing research (if you haven't already) both about what others with similar issues have found helpful, what resources are available to you, and what you might get from them. That would hopefully make it more likely that you get the help that will actually help, when you are ready to talk to someone about it.

Best of luck--in coping in the short term, in finding the right sort of help in the medium term, and in opening up the possibilities in your life in the long term.
 
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