UPDATE: I invite you to join our BRAND NEW anxiety discussion forum. http://discuss.panicanxietystress.com/
Living with Panic, Anxiety and Stress – Anxiety Treatment Options & Support
My name is Shannon & I’ve been living with panic anxiety disorder daily since 2000. Thank you for stopping by, I’m glad you’re here! No matter what – even if you read no farther – know that you are not alone! Anxiety treatment, while not always easy, is possible!
My story starts one evening after work – some 16 years ago as I write this. I was in my mid-twenties at the time, single & completely devoted to my career. I had been working incredibly long hours for a few months tying up loose ends on projects. One evening, I cam home, fixed dinner & sat down to eat. As I sat there I began to experience a sensation & feeling I had never before experienced. I was having a heart attack!
…or so I thought.
I dialed 911 & spent the next three days in the hospital. So began my journey.
Of course, everything checked out in the hospital. I had not had a heart attack. The doctors ran every conceivable test on me & could find absolutely nothing wrong with me physically.
I knew something was wrong, though. Through numerous trips to the ER over the next year, I tried my best to convince someone in the medical field that something was wrong with me & that I was on the verge of death at any moment.
Here I am, 16 years later. I suppose I was wrong! Honestly, I find myself asking that question every single day. My journey has been difficult – I’ve lost a marriage, sleepless nights, my freedom – and so many other things I wish I could get back.
I hope to share more of my story with you on this site along with tips & helpful resources I’ve found over the years. I also hope you will share your story, too. Connect by logging in & commenting. I invite you to join me on my Facebook group, Living with Panic, Anxiety & Stress.
So, What Is Panic Disorder?
Panic disorder is a nasty condition that is not only embarrassing, disconcerting, irritating, and scary but also sneaky because panic attacks can hit you right out of the blue when you least expect them! You most likely won’t realize it but these attacks are often caused by circumstances that occurred before the attack began. This may be due to the stressful day you had at work, thoughts revolving around your fear of keeping your job or the fact that you are unsure about how the bills will get paid.
I know just how exhausting it is to deal with the many symptoms related to anxiety. It can affect your work life, school life, and even social life. Anxiety can become a crippling mental health issue if you don’t take charge.
Long-term debilitating anxiety is often developed in a person’s adolescence or in response to a traumatic event, but half of panic disorder sufferers have had symptoms as long as they can remember. My earliest memory is being mortified, crying and trying to hide on my first day of Pre-school.
Panic attacks can have a significant impact in your life and can even interfere with your work and social relationships. They can range from mild to debilitating, preventing you from going out and doing the things you normally did. They can also place a dent in your self-esteem..
“It’s disrespectful, in my opinion, when people talk about panic attacks as if they’re just a slight hiccup.”
Panic disorders, also known as generalized anxiety disorder or panic attacks are caused when the mind perceives a relatively harmless situation to be a potential danger and hence triggers the physical anxiety sensations. When these anxiety levels soar up somehow, it results in extreme physical sensations like hands shaking, palpitations etc.
Not everyone who experiences a panic attack develops panic disorder. For example, most people experience a rapid heartbeat after running but do not perceive the sensation as dangerous. Those who develop panic disorder tend to interpret their physical sensations as more terrible than they really are. Some psychologists believe that early childhood experiences of separation from important people, such as parents, increase the risk of developing panic disorder.
Panic disorder, both with and without agoraphobia, results from a combination of biological and psychological factors. Some individuals may inherit a vulnerability to stress and anxiety and an increased risk of experiencing panic attacks. In addition, certain physiological cues may trigger a panic attack. For example, if a person experiences a racing heart during a panic attack, he or she may begin to associate this sensation with panic attacks. A rapid heartbeat, even if caused by exercise, may then trigger future panic attacks.
Traditional Anxiety Treatment
Mental health professionals approach to anxiety treatment consists of medications, specialized psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Benzodiazepines, a group of tranquilizing drugs that includes alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium), often reduce anxiety with few physical side effects. However, these medications can be addictive and may impair movement and concentration in some people. Some antidepressant drugs, such as imipramine (Tofranil), also reduce panic symptoms in some people but can produce side effects such as dizziness or dry mouth. Another class of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), appear to reduce panic symptoms with fewer side effects. SSRIs used to treat panic disorder include paroxetine (Paxil) and fluvoxamine (Luvox). Medication eliminates panic symptoms in 50 to 60 percent of patients. For many patients, however, panic attacks return when they stop taking the medication.
Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy, eliminates panic attacks in 80 to 100 percent of patients. In this method, therapists help patients re-create the physical symptoms of a panic attack, teach them coping skills, and help them to alter their beliefs about the danger of these sensations. Patients with agoraphobia face their feared situations under the therapist’s supervision, using coping skills to overcome their strong anxiety. These coping skills may include physical relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as cognitive techniques that help people think rationally about anxiety-provoking situations. About 70 percent of panic disorder patients who also have moderate to severe agoraphobia benefit from this type of treatment.
Get Help – You CAN Overcome Anxiety!
If panic attacks have completely impaired your way of life, consider meeting with a medical professional who can recommend a course of treatment. There are several techniques for people who suffer from panic attacks, including therapy or medication. Seeing a physician can let you begin developing a strategy that will work to combat your panic attacks.
It is important that you know how to control panic attacks. If you want to conquer your panic attacks, here are some tips on how to control panic attacks:
Find the trigger. All panic attacks have a trigger. Find out what yours is. Panic attacks usually occur during times of stress or times when you feel helpless or confined. Closed spaces and small quarters, for example, can trigger a panic attack. So will the thought of facing a group of people whether for a meeting, presentation or public speech.
“I get really frustrated at how little understood panic disorder really is.”
Learn to find the pattern of occurrence of your attacks and you’ll be better at predicting them. If you know what causes your panic attacks, you can better prepare for them before they occur and be able to control panic attacks and your negative feelings.
Learn relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques help train the mind to control itself in situations where panic attacks usually occur. By learning to relax, you teach your body to follow your mind and control panic attacks.
Learn meditation or self-hypnosis, which are both effective for helping you clear your mind and reduce muscle tension and heart rate. They also work well with helping you gain better control of your breathing and your reactions in case of another panic attack. Practice these techniques for at least 20 minutes every day to control panic attacks.
My Self-Help Recommendations
If you’re like me, you want to learn as much about the condition as possible. One thing I’ve found over the years (right or wrong, for better or worse) is that a lot of this disorder comes down to control – or lack of it. Knowledge leads to control. Probably why you’re here! I wasted so much time over the years reading things that did nothing to help & that only increased my anxiety. WebMD syndrome. I’ve put together a list of books that I’ve found helpful, you’ll find them below. I also invite you to join our Facebook group – a safe & supportive community where we discuss panic disorder & anxiety treatment.
If You Read Nothing Else, Read This Book!
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been suffering from your anxiety disorder or panic state. It’s not a situation where the length of time you’ve spent with the illness will determine the length of your recovery time. This is one of those special freebies in life. Everyone wins by reading Hope and Help for Your Nerves. I still find time to read it and I’m reminded each time that I’m going to be fine and that I will never die from one of these panic attacks and my fear of having an attack in public isn’t realistic now that I’ve read the book.
If you don’t see the book list please disable your ad blocker. I don’t run this site to get rich, but the few Amazon links I use do help offset hosting costs. Your support is greatly appreciated!
While I am NOT a professional – neither a professional writer nor a medical professional – I am someone who’s lived with this disorder for many years. I hope you find what I share here to be helpful. Please feel free to contact me, you’ll find the link at the bottom of this page.