Panic Attacks-AM I having Them? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 09-11-2006, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I have been dealing with this for about 5yrs now, actually longer I think since I was a teenager, but back then I thought it was normal, now I'm realizing, maybe it isn't. I haven't been diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure I have panic attack.
Shortness of breath, can't get air
Chest hurts
Fingers and hands go numb
Mind is racing uncontrolably
Feel like I will die, or that dying is the only thing that would stop it
This happens at least once a week sometimes more if I am around too many people, too many days in a row.
Pretty sure that is a panic attack, but don't want to see a doctor.
I used to have really bad episodes where they would come a few times a day, and one whole arm or leg would go numb or ache and I'd have to go to the hospital for muscle relaxers.
My Grandma and her sisters and their kids (not my mom though, curiously) had them and a few developed agoraphobia (sp?).
I feel like I am on the verge of this.
I do go out.
I used to be a social butterfly as teenager, but now I get really stressed out around people other than close family, I can't handle it and want to just move to the middle of no where to get away from EVERYBODY. It started getting really bad after I got married. My IL's hate me and I couldn't understand why someone would feel that way, turns out they have their own problems and some are on medication themsleves for bi-polar.
Well, now I have a huge fear that people won't accept me, since my panic attcks seemed to come from stress about the in-laws. Now I don't want to be around anyone. This past week I had to have dh's family over and I about broke down a few times. It really freaked me out that I couldn't control myself. I keep trying to make or stay in touch with friends, but I always find an excuse to stay home or not call in fear that they will want to meet somewhere. Although it may also come from the fact that I have 3 little ones and want to stay and take care of the house.
Does it sound like I have a problem? Should I look into it or am I being dramatic?

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#2 of 8 Old 09-11-2006, 11:53 AM
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to you, Mary. I'm so sorry you're having such a rough time.

The symptoms you described definitely sound like a panic attack, and perhaps a touch of depression. As you know from your past experience with panic attacks, you can't control them on your own or control when they occur. And I know how terrifying and incapacitating they are. Once you've had a panic attack, you don't want to go anywhere for fear you'll have one in public. Sound familiar?

You said you don't want to see a doctor, might I ask why? Do you not want to take meds? If you feel that a doc isn't the right solution for you, I would suggest a good therapist. Therapists can teach you techniques for recognizing "triggers" and warning signs of an impending panic attack. Once you know an attack is coming, there are techniques you can use to minimize the symptoms (deep breathing, focusing your attention outward, etc.). The the thing that helps me most is to remind myself that I am experiencing symptoms of an illness ( in this case an anxiety disorder). It helps me to feel more in control and bring a rational component into an irrational situation.

I strongly encourage you to seek out either a doc or a therapist. You deserve to feel better and not have to deal with the constant threat of a panic attack.

Best to you!
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#3 of 8 Old 09-11-2006, 01:36 PM
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One word. Klonopin. Not sure if you are bfeeding or if it's safe while bfeeding. But it really calms down the panic. It is addicting if you take massive amounts for a long period of time, but if you just take it when you feel an attack coming on, it will abort the attack. It can make you a litte sleepy until you get used to it. But I highly recommend it. Why suffer when you don't have to? I also recommend counseling.
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#4 of 8 Old 09-16-2006, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by kimkabob5
One word. Klonopin. Not sure if you are bfeeding or if it's safe while bfeeding. But it really calms down the panic. It is addicting if you take massive amounts for a long period of time, but if you just take it when you feel an attack coming on, it will abort the attack. It can make you a litte sleepy until you get used to it. But I highly recommend it. Why suffer when you don't have to? I also recommend counseling.
I second this! I've been taking .5mg as needed for over a year now and I only need to take it about once or twice a week. And I took it through a whole pregnancy and now while BFing. Usually my attacks only happen at night so I find the drowsy side affect helpful.

I also agree that this totally sounds like panic attacks.
Blessed Be,
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#5 of 8 Old 09-17-2006, 06:52 PM
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I am so sorry that you are dealing with this. Anxiety is terrible. I have been attempting to manage it for the past 10 years.....some times more successfully than other! I have never gone the medication route, but counseling did help. Also, this book really had a huge impact on me and I recommend it to anyone who struggles with panic:

Good luck, and know that you are not alone, you are OK (even when you're sure you're not), and you will get through this difficult time.

Happy Mommy to one amazing girl (11y) and one sweet boy (7y), and wife to DH since 7/03 : :
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#6 of 8 Old 09-17-2006, 06:56 PM
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It does sound like panic attacks. I posted a while ago in response to another inquiry about panic disorder . . . let me see if I can find that and post it here.
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#7 of 8 Old 09-17-2006, 06:59 PM
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Panic (anxiety) attacks a few times in a lifetime, or even a few times a year, are normal. Sometimes your brain chemistry goes a little haywire and needs to be reset. A few times a month or more and you're looking at panic disorder. (I have this.) They're finding more and more evidence that panic disorder is genetic. My father, paternal grandmother, and paternal great-grandmother all had/have panic attacks, as does my younger sister. So I'd say that evidence is right, based on my own experience.

Panic attacks tend to manifest in one of two ways: chest pain or stomach distress, although feeling like your throat is closing certainly isn't unheard of. Many people think they're having a heart attack, but they aren't. I personally get extremely and violently sick to my stomach. For a while I thought I had stomach cancer. That's also pretty common. Luckily, you're not doing any serious damage to either your heart or your stomach (although you can get a sore throat from all the stomach acid). A lot of women, especially, also tend to get the "racing thoughts" feeling early in the morning or late at night when everyone's sleeping -- that's another form of panic attack.

Panic attacks happen when your brain chemistry gets off balance and signals a need for a fight-or-flight adrenalin response when there isn't any actual danger. That extra adrenalin is what makes you feel so sick.

There are a number of things that can contribute to your likelihood of having a panic attack if your brain chemistry is already off balance; these are called triggers. They're all things that physically affect your well-being and can change your brain chemistry. Everyone with panic disorder has their own personal list of triggers.

Some common ones are:
-lack of sleep
-poor diet
-caffeine (that's often a big one!)
-alcohol (which is also a depressant, and many people with panic disorder also have a tendency toward chronic depression)

What DOESN'T cause a panic attack: enclosed spaces, heights, etc. This is very important. A lot of people who get a panic attack while in a certain situation -- an elevator, or while out at a party -- connect those two and create a trigger for themselves by making that association. This can lead to agoraphobia, increased social anxiety, etc. But having panic disorder means you really are having those attacks at random times and it's important to disassociate your surroundings from the attack itself so that you don't create psychological triggers for yourself.

Treatment: I went to therapy twice a week for over a year. We talked about medications, which are certainly an option. We also talked about how I handle stress, my lifestyle, my diet, etc. For me, it came down to cutting out caffeine COMPLETELY for nearly a decade. No caffeinated coffee, soda, tea, iced tea, etc. Only very small amounts of milk chocolate, no dark chocolate. I realized I needed to give myself a more regular sleep pattern (I was in college when this started happening to me -- oy, the lack of sleep). I cut waaay down on alcohol -- maybe one or two beers or glasses of wine a week, or one hard drink. I also started eating more fresh food, less junk, and more regularly. I started taking tai chi classes, which helped me learn how to regulate my body's energy.

In the moment of a panic attack: breathe deeply and slowly, as if you were meditating. If you notice your thoughts circling around and around, recognize that and acknowledge to yourself that those aren't your true thoughts, it's just the panic attack creating that effect. If you're physically up to it, try to exercise to dump the excess adrenalin. Do tai chi, go for a walk, take a jog, get your heart rate up. It took me nearly five years, but I've gotten good enough at recognizing the signs that a panic attack is coming on that I can usually head it off at the pass by exercising until that feeling of an incipient attack goes away.

Medication would probably be easier, in a way, than the kind of lifestyle change I undertook, but this gave me the skills to really deal with it, no crutches involved. If I had needed medication to get over the hump and get to where I could learn those skills, though, I would have done it in a heartbeat. Just be wary of anyone telling you you'll need to be medicated for life -- that kind of defeatist attitude can be really damaging, you know? Good for you for being proactive and looking for help!
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#8 of 8 Old 09-17-2006, 07:02 PM
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it sounds like panic attacks to me too. and I took klonopin for mine as well. But first I went round after round with anti depressents and SSRIs that had side effects worse then the anxiety and didn't help. the klonopin was great for me cause I could just take them when needed (not everyday) and they worked fast and didn't make me feel too doped up. just relaxed. I would, however reccomend learning some non medicinal coping mechanisms - those help me now and I don't need to take anything.

I know it's horrible. I really really know and you feel like you're going to die but there is help and relief out there

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