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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Panic Attacks

   
Author Topic: Panic Attacks
Bella Bee
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Recently I've been suffering from panic attacks, once to the point where I couldn't breathe - in the middle of the street - which was very scary. I'm under some pressure at the moment owing to exams I'm taking, and I tend to over react to these things. Anyway, I can't concentrate and I can't sleep, and it's driving me mad.

I mentioned it to some friends and family members, and apparently almost everyone in my family has the same sort of attacks as I've been having, but no-one else seems to be dealing with their attacks very well, if at all. Generally, everyone seems to just put up with them or has them combined with other issues for which they are taking medication.

So I was wondering if anyone here has any suggestions of things I could try. I've been taking the usual (legal [Wink] ) herbal remedies available at the chemist, listening to music, etc, and nothing seems to be working... [Frown]

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littlemissattitude
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Just knowing what they are has helped me a lot.

As a matter of fact, I had one yesterday afternoon in a restaurant (restaurants and grocery stores have been particularly bad for me). I was able to get back to my booth and and wait for my mother to finish eating before fleeing the place. At one time, I would have had to get out of there IMMEDIATELY.

One of the things that helps me when I have a really bad attack is finding something else to focus my attention on. It's difficult, I know, but if I can sit still (not always possible under the circumstances, I know) putting my attention off of myself and onto something else seems to calm me down. If I have access to a computer, playing a game helps - something that takes concentration like maj jong solitare works for me. Or putting the radio onto a station where someone is speaking, and concentrating really hard on each word that is spoken has also helped calm me down, again, because it gets me out of myself.

Physical activity also helps me. I get more housework done when I'm in anxiety mode. The physical activity seems to work to dissipate the nervous energy of the anxiety. Before I started having so much trouble with my knee, I also used to take walks if the anxiety got too bad. I would just go out and walk as hard and fast as I could until I started to calm down.

I do have one question for you: do your attacks come on out of nowhere, or can you tell they are coming, or are they different different times? With me, some of the worst ones come out of the blue - I'll be fine one second and in full panic the next. Other times, I can tell they are coming, which helps because I can start to do things to counteract them.

Anyway, I hope this helps.

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Peek
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peek has panic attacks to the point she passes out for up to an hour at a time. if you cant learn to control them with mindpower, you need either medication or a plan. i take xanax when i begin to feel the chest pains i normally feel before one comes on. some people might not like the idea of taking such an addicting drug so there is some other stuff you could try. theres always the famous breathe into a paper bag technique but that never worked for me. you could try breathing exercises, such as inhaling for 5 full seconds and exhaling for 5 full seconds and if you focus on your breathing enough, the attack will subside. but do not freak out if you cant do the full 5 seconds either way, youll just scare yourself and hyperventilate more. just find the amount of time you feel comfortable with and work with it. another exercise is folding your hands together and pointing your thumbs at your chest. hold them far enough away so that your thumbs only touch your chest when you take a deep enough breath and keep doing this until your breathing is under control. you could also try drinking hot tea, which can calm you down, or just call someone to talk about something else until your mind stops obsessing over the problem. the last suggestion i have is having someone talk you through your attack. by this i mean the encouraging comments like, "okay, now just slow your breathing a bit" and have someone monitor you. i know the frustration you must feel, ive been going through this for years.

Dude [Cool] peekaboo

Yeah.

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Phanto
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I had a bunch of panic attacks, but nothing continuous. Good luck dealing with them --> for me, they just messed up my life for a short while, hurt my GPA, and freaked out a bunch of people.
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Bella Bee
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quote:
I do have one question for you: do your attacks come on out of nowhere, or can you tell they are coming, or are they different different times?
Yeah, that was part of the reason why the one one I had in the street a couple of days ago was so scary. I usually have some idea that one's coming on, although there's never that much that I seem to be able to do about it.
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Will B
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I don't have 'em, but I have a friend who does. His wife is his help in this case.

He (in panic): "My heart's beating really fast. Oh, my God -- I think I'm going to have a heart attack!"

She: "Well, you didn't last time, or the time before that, or the time before that."

He: "Oh."

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Stasia
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Bella Bee

I used to have horrible panic attacks. I thought I was going to die each time. I recommend that if you can afford it, you should get professional help. I went to a Behaviorist (who was also a psychiatrist so he could prescribe drugs if the behavior therapy failed or didn't work fast enough). He taught me a number of breathing and relaxation techniques that actually worked. I only went to him for 3 months, once a week.

Although the panic attacks kept happening, I was able to dispel them more and more easily. Now (12 years later), I haven't had a panic attack in a year and when I do have them, they only last a minute or two.

You could probably learn relaxation techniques on your own through meditation, yoga, or through those special relaxation tapes. But I still recommend a professional just so you keep on track and know that you're doing it right.

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lem
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Belle, panic attacks run in my family. I have a brother who gets them really bad. At one point he took medication for it. He uses alcohol to manage his anxiety--not the best solution, but he is enjoys a more bohemian lifestyle.

What peek said was really good. My mom is a nurse and my bro has seen a psychologist, and I have heard peek's' advice and applied it to myself.

I usually only have very mild panic attacks. In fact, if I didn't have family that suffered with it, I probably wouldn't recognize the symptoms. I did have one panic attack so bad that I thought I was dying. For the first time I appreciate how interfering they can be.

I was home alone and my breathing just picked up. I got dizzy and so....affected….I curled up on a ball in the floor trying to crawl to the phone for help. I couldn't reach it. I felt like I was dying. I remembered some of the controls for panic attacks and deescalated myself through breathing and stretching out.

Which brings me to my last point: Usually I can tell if I am getting one and I usually avert them through breathing exercises. Then again mine are infrequent and usually mild.

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Katarain
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I've had 2 panic attacks, and both were related to extremely stressful situations. They run in my family, too. I had many a sleepless night trying to help my mom through one in the middle of the night as I was growing up. Hers often were triggered by her anxiety over taking some new medication--or sometimes something as normal as tylenol. There were other triggers too, like driving over bridges and through tunnels, and other things like that.

I don't really have any tips. I think concentrating on regular breathing is really important. I was hyperventilating during mine, so that's what I had to concentrate on.

I feel for you. Panic attacks are not fun. But on the positive side, it is possible to get past the phobias and other triggers that start them. My mother can now drive over bridges without a thought, and goes through tunnels often, although she doesn't like it very much. She also has a much easier time taking medicines, although she'll turn to natural remedies first. Mine are too rare for me to really know enough to prevent them, but I have noticed that when things bother me and make my tummy all in knots, it's best when I talk to someone about it.

I know I'm connecting panic attacks to emotions and phobias mostly here, but that's only because that has been my experience of what triggers them. Believe me, I know for a fact that panic attacks are a physical not an emotional problem. They just are often triggered by emotional and stressful situations.

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Teshi
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quote:
One of the things that helps me when I have a really bad attack is finding something else to focus my attention on. It's difficult, I know, but if I can sit still (not always possible under the circumstances, I know) putting my attention off of myself and onto something else seems to calm me down.
This is how I dealt (deal) with my anxiety attacks (not panic)- through distraction and breathing. I would leave the situation, if possible, and concentrate on something else, breathing calmly. Smiling, laughing, talking, running and singing also helped.

I had a problem with movie theatres for a while (once you get an association you have to break your association or it'll get worse), so I would take notes for stories. Although, what really broke it was time. I didn't go to many movies for a year and by the time I went back, the association was gone.

I don't remember when I had my last attack- perhaps more than a year ago now, and it was very mild.

Isn't it weird how panic attacks (and the way they hit you) run in the family? I didn't know my mother had had them until she finally recognised the same symptoms in me that she had experienced herself. My mother is very military about these kind of things, and she promptly told me it was all in my head and not to be silly. That was a big help- because it is.

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katharina
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I've had a few, and it was under extremely stressful, unhappy conditions. I got rid of them by getting rid of what was causing the stress, but that's not a good solution. Very good things can cause stress as well.

Honestly, I would try talking to a professional therepist. They can give you coping mechanisms so you can deal with the stress in a different manner.

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plaid
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Besides stress, some of the triggers for panic attacks are supposed to be caffeine and some artificial sweetener (aspartame, I think).

I get panic attacks -- first had them back in '02 after some awful stress; mine took the form of feeling like I was having a heart attack when I was trying to go to sleep. Taking Lorazepam at night to help me sleep, and lessening the stress, helped me get rid of them after 6 months... but then last summer they flared up again, and I've been taking Lorazepam again to help me sleep.

In my case, I've got chronic fatigue, and I'm not able to be as physically active as I used to, so I think what's happening is that stresses build up for me -- my flight-or-fight mechanism is all screwed up because I can't physically work off my stresses -- and so when I try to relax at night, the residual stresses of the day flare up again.

My physical energy's been slowly getting better lately, so I'll try weaning myself off the Lorazepam again this summer. [Smile]

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pH
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I don't have panic attacks so much as acute OCD fits...honestly, I've found that the best way to deal with them is to take a nap. And ativan.

-pH

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scholar
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Try the five things game that my therapist taught me. Nice if you have someone to help you, but you can do it yourself too. So here's how it goes.
What are the five things that you can see?
I see .... (list five things)
Two deep breaths.
What are the five things that you hear?
I hear....(list five things)
Two deep breaths.
What are the five things that you feel?
I feel ....(list five things)
Two deep breaths.

Then you go through it again listing four things that you see. Then three, then two, then one.
Let's see- other things we did. Doubles. (2x2=4, 3X2=6, up to infinity) But, I have to agree that seeing a therapist is a good option, esp if affordable. As a student, most schools offer cheap therapy (five bucks at one school I went to, free at another). This can be a very good option because the therapists are very aware of the stresses caused by exams and such, as well as being the cheapest therapy you will ever get.

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