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Panic Attacks

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From my post in the main forum:

Good morning!  I learned something new last night.  One of my friends is an acupuncturist, and I was lamenting to her last night about my frequent flashbacks and panic attacks.  They've been getting worse since I made the decision to face and move through my process.  The gatekeepers are hard at work...  I'm doing a fairly good job of breathing through them and going about my business.  But, when my guard is down they are much worse (i.e. talking openly with friends, etc).  I've been using Bach's Rescue Remedy, but sometimes I don't feel comfortable whipping out my little bottle, you know?  

My darling friend taught me a gentle technique to use.  Turn your hand so your palm is facing up.  Place the thumb of your other hand parallel to the crease line (or bend )of your wrist (right under your palm).  Kind of like you're going to check your pulse, but with your thumb.  Then, slide your thumb back (towards your elbow) a distance of 2 thumb-widths away from the crease of your wrist.  At that spot, press firmly but gently into the middle of your wrist.  Apparently, it works even better if you have someone else press on both sides of your wrist, on that spot, using 2 hands (thumbs on one side, fingers on the other).

I love this because it's something that can be done discreetly and I'm finding it to be very grounding.  Just wanted to share with my beautiful Pandy friends.  Hope it helps.  I have my first acupuncture appointment, next Wednesday, for some extra support during my transformation process.  If you're interested, I'll let you know how it goes.  

Take gentle care, Dear Ones.

love,

Yemaya

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Just wanted to update that this acupressure technique has been working well for me.  Also, yesterday, my friend put some "ear seeds" in my ears for additional help with my panic attacks.  They are little gold balls, with stickers on them, placed at specific points on/inside the ears.  I've had a very stressful day, and just got really triggered reading a post on the main forum...but I haven't had a panic attack yet.  This is amazing!  Like I said last week, I'll let you know how the actual acupuncture appointment goes.  

Much Love,

Yemaya

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sorry to bump this, but someone was asking about panic attacks in another post, so I thought I'd direct them to this wonderful thread!

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I had severe panic attacks regularly about 15 years ago. (Even in my sleep)

I learned to recognize one coming on.  I learned to never fight it.  Just let it come.[fearing & fighting them make it worse]  I did relaxing breathing, & I prayed, I even learned to do this in my sleep.

As the problems I was dealing with were resolved they disappeared & I have not had one since.

If they are so severe that they are interfering with your life, please be kind to yourself and seek help.  I wish I did, but I was so used to being my own caretaker it never occured to me to ask for help, and I was afraid to ask, be braver than I was.

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Boosterrific

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(((Hugs)))

Thank you so much for giving that information. It helped alot

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Guess I find it strange that there aren't more people active on this thread. I have had panic attacks regularly since the age of 16-17 (am 43 now), sometimes quite often and severe, other times just generalized anxiety that never goes completely away. As was mentioned above, the FIRST and (for me) most important thing was getting info, finding out you are not alone, you are not losing your mind, you aren't going to die or lose control--but none of that happened until about 7 years ago. Some therapy, breathing techniques, etc., made it liveable but still not pleasant. Major item learned here was (as mentioned above) the idea that it IS temporary, and really truly will pass.

The MOST helpful thing I have found is yoga. I began a practice about 3 years ago and noticed changes almost immediately. During the "relaxation phase" at the end of each session, I would often feel like crying. As time went on, I noticed - hey! haven't had a panic attack in a while! I have been virtually symptom-free for those 3 years now, and even when I begin to feel edgy and wound up, it never develops into the type of experience I used to have. I would highly recommend this to anybody having panic attacks. An experienced teacher can even give you specific poses or series of poses to help this particular problem.

If you do check into yoga:

1)  Try to get a teacher w/many years of experience, not an aerobics instructor who took a weekend class on teaching yoga. You will get much more help w/the spiritual aspects, not just the physical positions.

2)  Look towards the more relaxing types of yoga--hatha yoga or kripalu yoga, rather than ashtanga or Iyengar. The more active types may work well for some people, but for me, they just increase the judgemental type of thinking that (in my case) helps bring on panic attacks.

3)  Yoga does not have to be a religious experience--it can involve Hindu or Buddhist beliefs if you want it to, otherwise it's just a great system for relaxing your body/mind/spirit and feeling peace.

Hope this is of some help.

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If you can, I find that it helps to have something in my hands.  At work I cut things out of magazines.  This is a good idea.  Or I got a worry stone for graduation and whenever I'm nervous about anything I hold that in my hands.  It helps a lot.

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the main thing for me was pinpointing when  are my high risk times for getting panic attacks.  for me is is usually when i've been triggered reading/seeing or hearing something or during stressful times at school or work or within the family, and then working on minimalizing/preventing the undesirable affects. needless to say that doesnt always work. but they r alot less severe than they used to be, especially from the last 2 odd yrs since most recent attack.

melissa

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I'm new to this board, just found it today and read through many topics, I am sorry that any of you have had to go through what you have but I am also glad to have found others who can understand my feelings.  I internalize, I drink, smoke and pretend to the world that I am fine.

I have a new topic to suggest .... How to learn to trust again! I've been alone for 16 years and I have been going through my first relationship since then and I am botching it big time.  I don't know how to trust anymore.

Have any of you had success in that area?  I would welcome any candid, brutal advice that only you are qualified to give me?

Liz :P

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boost

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I had one today at the music store. I felt like I was all alone with him all over again because my music teacher has the same haircut and looks kind of like him and was wearing black shorts. I kept wanting to tell him things but I couldn't say them out loud so I only thought them, like when he shut the door I was thinking "don't shut the door" and I had lots of obsessive thoughts. I think I really need to do some relaxation before my next lesson and practice telling a pillow or something that I want to keep the door open. and of course, give myself permission to leave if I need to.

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boosting

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Aaaaaannnnndddd... boosting again.

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I agree with the comment about yoga - it has helped me tremendously when I am suffering from a period of anxiety. I personally find ashtanga is best for me - just because when I am feeling anxious I am overwhelmed with anxious energy that has nowhere to go except ricochet around in my head...doing ashtanga, which is very vigorous and focused, helps me to literally channel that energy and calm it.

Other things I have found helpful:

* I do a breathing exercise. I inhale and imagine my body being suffused with a beautiful soft pink sparkly light (because pink is my favourite colour!), and when I breathe out I imagine I am exhaling the terrible anxiety fumes out of my body. Doing this a few times really helps.

* I yell at the anxiety. (In my head or on paper - but sometimes, if I'm alone, out loud.) I find it helps to think of the anxiety as an intruder, as some kind of external force or voice that is messing with me, and I have the power to tell it to go away and leave me alone. I say things like, "You're lying to me. Right now, I am perfectly fine and nothing bad is happening. I don't believe you. You can't make me feel bad. Leave me alone." (I used to give *myself* a talking-to, saying things like, "You're fine, relax, nothing's wrong, you need to chill out" etc. - but I actually found that talking to myself that way was locating the anxiety as *me*, as part of me, as an illness - and that didn't make me feel better. So instead I started thinking of the anxiety as separate from me, as something that visits me from the outside, and that *I* am actually fundamentally OK, was much more effective. That could just be a personal thing though. Hey, whatever works...use it!)

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I have panic attacks that have strange triggers. Eating sounds like someone eating potato chips or someone smacking food sends me into a terror state. I don't know why but ever since I was very small noises large and small have sent me into a panic state. There are many times when I will go shopping or to a noisy restaurant with ear plugs in.

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Something I've found helpful - especially if you're in the middle of work or class where you're expected to be paying attention. Carry some kind of worry stone/talisman/other small comforting object in your pocket (I have a religious medal). Hold onto it when you start feeling bad. It helps if it's something with some texture that you can run your hands over. I've found this especially helpful when I'm expected to be talking something (e.g. class discussions) during panic attacks.

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Hey,

My therapist taught me another really great technique. She told me to get in touch with my senses. Think of five things I can see, five things I can hear, five things I can feel, five things I can smell, if not five than just however many are present. It helped a lot, just like the breathing exercise you're talking about. Hope this trick can help some others out there. Panic attacks are awful, and I'm so grateful I was able to find ways to shorten them.

Best

Panic Attacks

A panic or anxiety attack is a radical and quick acting physiological reaction the human body can have when we feel fear. As people who have know true and profound fear we survivors are more prone to them than most. If you have them, you are not alone. Most survivors have had them.

# Signs of A Panic Attack Your heart may be beating quickly or seem to be skipping beats.

# You may have difficulty breathing or catching your breath.

# Constant shaking and/or twitching

# You may feel like you can't think straight, like you can't make decisions or have too many thoughts bouncing around in your head.

# Your mouth may become dry and you may find it hard to swallow.

# You may feel ingling in the hands, feet or other parts of the body (I get it in my back)

# Tense muscles, clenched jaws.

There are many more, but these are some of the major ones. Keep in mind, you don't need to have all of these to be having a panic attack. A friend of mine only has difficulty breathing but she was diagnosed as having panic attacks. If you have some of these symptoms I hope you'll talk to a counselor about them.

Thoughts on Confronting Panic Attacks

* It's OK to be having them. It doesn't make you wierd or abnormal. You'd be surprised at how many people have them. In fact, I had dinner with three other girlfriends and told them about my panic attacks, and they all told me that they also have panic attacks. We decided that only boring people don't have them.

* Many of us fear having one in public, at work or school etc. First of all, even though you feel like you are going nuts, there are few outward symptoms. If you are scared of having one in public give yourself permission to go to the bathroom and spend some time by yourself.

* A lot of people are terrified of having them. Look at it as practice, to gain control of them and learn techniques to deal with them, what works, what doesn't. Fearing them gives the panic reaction more power over you than it deserves.

* Putting pressure on yourself to deal with them RIGHT now is not a great idea. It makes them worse. Try and give yourself permission to have them wherever you are. Find a quiet place, go to the bathroom, go outside. Do whatever makes you comfortable.

* If you are going to be in a stressful situation and fear panicking, it may help to visualize yourself going through the experience calmly before it actually occurs.

If You are Panicking

* Take deep breaths from the stomach, not the lungs. Lie down and watch your tummy move up and down to practice these deep breaths. Someone gave the tip of lying down with a book on your stomach and watching the book. I don't remember who, but I can't take credit for this brilliant idea.

* I try to stay focused on my breathing, by counting the breaths or just thinking.

* I might inhale and thing "Focused" Exhale and think "Centered"

* Sometimes I inhale and think "It's going to be..." Exhale..."Okay"

* Simple repetitive tasks can help. At work, I used to make flashcards for my students, which is dull but focusing. One good idea might be to organize all of the change in your pockets. Put the pennies in year order, then the nickels, then the dimes, then the quarters. Just a stupid non-thinking but focusing task. Count how many people are wearing red and how many are wearing blue and compare the numbers.

* Herbal remedies have helped me. Lavendar essential oil is a very calming scent. I used to wear it constantly. In addition, I like Rescue Remedy, which is a natural solution for stressful moments. However, my doctor did prescribe medication for me and I carried it around with me for months, just in case I had an attack.

While you try these it's important to think positively. Thinking "Why isn't this working? It has to start working!" doesn't help and makes the situation worse. It may take a few minutes, it may take more. That doesn't mean that you are doing anything wrong. It just means that it's taking time.

-Jes

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I used to have panic attacks in college (and still do occasionally, although they are drastically reduced). My T in college gave me some helpful things to remember. She tried to get me to think of something that made me feel safe and happy. I chose the feeling you get when you are allowed to lay in bed, with no fear of missing an alarm, a warm comforter, and it is still dark outside. It is a safe and comforting feeling.

Didn't really work, but I tried it tongue.png The second suggestion helped a lot more. Breathing exercises where I count, breath in/breath out type stuff.

I guess they stopped happening as much because I got out of the situation I was in and into one I controlled. I came home to my house and my family and since then I have felt a lot better. I played softball in college and couldn't handle the pressure, hence the anxiety attacks.

Thank you all for your suggestions on how to help them (I will try to remember them next time I feel one coming on.) And thanks to the OP for posting this topic!

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Thank you for the suggestions, I will try the simple repetitive tasks. Unfortunately, herbal remedies including rescue remedy and valerian have largely failed for me, only making things worse and breathing exercises have had limited success.

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How do you breathe from your stomach?

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One way to learn how to breathe from the stomach that I learned is to lay down on a bed and lay your arms over your head on the bed above you.

What this does is open up the rib cage.

When you do this your stomach muscles do the breathing work, which is how we are naturally designed to breath.

I find it hard to do this type of breathing when I'm sitting. So, another thing I learned is to stretch my hands above my head, holding them loosely together and reaching up high. Not making my upper body tense, just reaching up high, but comfortably. This also causes your abdominal muscles to do the work of breathing.

My therapist says to breathe in slowly through the nose and breathe out slowly through the mouth but to blow gently.

I will breath out as far as I can trying to completely empty my lungs. For some reason that really helps me on the next breath to breathe in fully. I have a tendency not to be able to take in a fully breath.

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I tried it, it did help me breathe with my stomach, but being in that position was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad trigger for me. Can't do that again. weep.gif

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I tried it, it did help me breathe with my stomach, but being in that position was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad trigger for me. Can't do that again. weep.gif

Oh, I'm so sorry! Maybe you'll find some way to do this that isn't triggering. I'm sitting with you, if OK.

Intrepid

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Hey Harbor - maybe this might be of help? http://www.clear-mind-meditation-techniques.com/breathing-techniques.html

You don't need to lie down to practice belly breathing, if that is triggering for you.

I find belly breathing to be very calming and grounding. The video in the clip at the site above shows a technique of placing one hand on your chest and one on your stomach - I find it more helpful for me to place two hands on my stomach, one above the other, rather than one on my chest, but again, whatever works for you is the thing to do. And really focussing on inhaling through my nose calmly, and exhaling through my mouth slowly and steadily and breathing out every last bit of air from my lungs is more soothing and relaxing than I could have ever imagined! :P

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