Panic Attacks

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Zen, Mar 3, 2015.

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  1. Twice this morning I experienced a panic attack. The first one happened around 4 AM, and was rather mild in comparison to the second one. I kept telling my husband that my heart was pounding, and it felt like my heart was beating irregularly. I kept insisting on having him listen to my heart, but he said that other than it beating fast, there was nothing wrong. It took me a while to get back to sleep, but I did.

    At 7 AM, the big one hit.

    I am very prone to nightmares and night terrors. I've gotten close to screaming awake, although it hasn't come to that yet. Most of the time I wake up gasping and panting. I was having another nightmare involving protecting myself, and keeping myself from dying. I was in charge of protecting this tower from a horde of soldiers and I failed. That failure prompted me to wake up.

    When I first woke up, my lower jaw was aching. That'ls typically normal, since I've been known to clench my jaw when I am sleeping. What wasnt normal was the tingling sensation in my feet, and when I moved to sit up my entire chest was hurting. I felt like I couldnt breath, and I started crying out in panic. It literally felt like I was dying.

    I didnt want to lie down, so I got up. My eyes were open, but I couldnt see. Well I could but... I couldnt see color. I saw gray and black spots, and the outline of everything was blurred. (I typically need glasses to see by the way). I made the mistake of standing up. I remember bracing myself on the table, telling my husband that I couldnt breathe and I felt like I was dying. He was scrambling with the Kindle, trying to find out what my sypmtoms were. I try to get out of the room, and I end up slumped up against the bookcase, nearly knocking it down. I dont remember him touching me, but my husband had me sit on the edge of the bed and told me to calm down. My hands and feet were completely numb. I was sweating all over my chest and back.

    After a few minutes my vision returned, I could breathe again, and feeling started to return to my hands. My husband was deathly afraid I had a heart attack, since his mother experienced the same thing. I found out that I had a panic attack, one that began while I was sleeping.

    I never even thought that was possible.

    So this episode has me and my husband wondering if I should get medication. I've experienced panic attacks before. Most of those times were when I had to go to work, and my job was absolute crap. I once had a panic attack that lasted for several hours. Yes, several hours.

    I would like to be comforted about this... If anyone has had any experience with anxiety or panic attacks, please let me know. Should I get medicatoin? Therapy? Should I get medical help? Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. Feel free to message me on Skype about this and I will get into more detail.

    For some people speaking with a counselor/therapist/psychologist and working on coping techniques can make a huge improvement for them. Others do need medication, but that is something I would recommend working on with a counselor and psychiatrist, not just your regular doctor. The psychiatrist will be more experienced in those medications.

    For me panic attacks vary from being a little 'twitchy' to severe hyperventilation that lasts hours without medication.

    Personally for me there is a mix of four things.

    1. Daily medication to try and level out my mood.
    2. Coping techniques to try and deal with it without medication.
    3. 'Emergency' medication (Xanax)
    4. A trip to the emergency room.

    The ER used to give me large doses of ativan, occasionally morphine and other meds. They switched to haldol which worked quickly but made me miserable for 2-3 days after and now they give me a shot of geodon instead which works well.
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  3. Basically what @jared555 said.

    If you haven't talked to your husband already, you could try to discuss what he could do if you end up having a panic attack. Many might feel scared or confused or helpless when somebody they're with have a panic attack, and if they're aware of the possibility of it occurring and what to do if it happens, it could make it easier for both parts. It might make it easier for the affected in particular, as panic attacks can render a person pretty much helpless. Having somebody there who knows what to do and can handle the situation could be a huge relief both during and after. It could provide an extra sense of security and control.

    You could also try to identify the signs of a panic attack before it sets in, and try to prevent it from happening. Distractions, breathing exercises or soothing music might help prevent it if it's stemming from anxiety or stress.

    Oh, and never feel ashamed of your panic attacks. They're legit problems and should always be taken seriously, like any other handicap or illness or disability.

    I've had panic attacks before, so I know how terrifying they are. Usually they're triggered by stress and anxiety that build up over about 40 minutes, until the actual panic attack hits. Chest pains, numb feet and hands, blurred vision, dizziness, disorientation, loss of vocal capabilities, white noise/loss of hearing, crying, shaking and hyperventilation is usually what these infernal things bring me. They're often followed by days of being emotionally out-of-synch, extreme fatigue and mood swings (like suddenly bursting into tears or getting angry for no reason).

    Something that might help during the actual panic attack is to try and anchor yourself in the present. I focus on something, like flexing my hands, trying to steady my breathing or tensing up and relaxing repeatedly. It prevents the panic from taking over entirely, because I still feel a sense of control, like I'm still the master of my body. I've never taken any medication for my anxiety and panic attacks, so I'm not entirely sure how that works. I've gone through CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) though, and so far it worked for me.

    But yeah, I'd suggest seeing a shrink first and foremost. Panic attacks often come from other underlying problems. If you can figure out what triggers you, it's easier to work to prevent those situations from occurring. Avoiding it isn't all that good either, since it could possibly leave you incapable of doing certain things and living your life to its fullest.

    Everybody are different though, so some things might work, others might not.

    Excuse the slight rambling. It's way past midnight and I shouldn't even be awake.
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  4. Here's some more first-hand advice to add to @jared555 and @Koschei, mostly of the non-medical/medication variety.

    Try to wean yourself off of/avoid caffeine. When I was hospitalized for my first panic attack, the nurse said that caffeine can exacerbate the effects of anxiety. My morning cup of coffee made me anxious after drinking it, though that may have been my subconsciously linking coffee/caffeine to anxiety. Either way, I cut coffee out of my life.

    Get some exercise. Just walking for half an hour each day can help. If you don't exercise pick the same time each day to help get into a pattern and after a month or two, you'll start wanting to go on your walk. As cynical as it may seem, a panic attack is an excellent reason to start exercising.
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