Anxiety and Panic Attacks
So many of us have suffered for anxiety and panic and I would like to share something that has helped me . In my Recovery group I learned that
nervous symptoms are ” distressing but not dangerous i.e.” NO DANGER.” If I ever feel myself getting anxious I repeat those in my mind-
it is a “secure thought ” and helps me to relax and avoids the escalation of symptoms. It takes a little practice but can make a big difference. I would love to hear if any of you find it helpful too.
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Depression & Anxiety Support Group.
Any help about when you are living alone and are having a full blown panic attack and hot flashes and are scared to death and it is the middle of the night and there is no one around to talk to, what do you do?
@ainsleigh your advice might help me during the day, but still what do I do when I am alone and shaking at night?
My own way of dealing with anxiety is to visionalize a memory of a waterfall that I saw at a national park many years ago. It helps me remember a special moment as my late husband and I silently heard and watched the tumbling water and that comforts me. I also use that image during meditation. Does anyone else use imagery to help anxiety?
Hi @joanm65– Welcome to the group. Thank you for posting. Both my daughter and sister suffer from anxiety and panic attacks- it's so tough some days. We live in the moment during those attacks- one moment at a time- reminding ourselves that we need to get through the current second or minute then move to the hour and day. Then off to the next moment or day. Kudos to you for finding this group, please keep sharing your thoughts and what you have found to be helpful for your anxiety- you never know what you post will in turn help someone else.
@ladybugmg, I often use an image I experienced on a beach in Mexico 12 years ago when the sun was hitting my face, it was such a calm moment, I can still feel it and it's been stuck in my mind all these years. I also use an ap called Breathe which has taught me to meditate (@joanm65– you should check it out). I started with 5 seconds and have worked my way up to 15 minutes. It's helped me so much.
I don't remember where I found this suggestion but it said to "think like a poet" using images not words. My
husband and I were fortunate in having a motor home and we traveled to many almost isolated place where we could enjoy nature without being distracted by other people. I make it a point to have a "memory bank" with many images of sights and sounds accumulated in my brain over a long lifetime to ease anxiety and tension. I have read that some people use "sounds", such as that of a song bird or recalling a favorite melody that brings back a favorite memory. I hope this helps someone reading this post.
@ladybugmg, you are spot on about the sights and sounds we have fond memories of. When I have gone through hypnotism for smoking cessation, the pyschologist always suggested that to get relaxed that I go to my happy place, whether that be a beach, mountains, or wherever I have found relaxing. I did learn some relaxation techniques, but did not stop smoking until a few years later when I wanted to for myself and not someone else or some other motivation.
I have one question for all of you how does this help when you are frightened, in the midst of a full-blown attack and are aa alone? My panic attacks and anxiety have led to agoraphobia. I really want to hear from you all who live with it everyday.
I understand what it means to be alone and frightened after losing my husband to whom I was married sixty-years. Even though he has been gone for over 12 years there are places that we shared that bring on anxiety when I walk into them. I admit that I have never overcome it but still do try once in a while. I sympathize with what you are experiencing and as I learn more about what others are doing, mostly self-help and self-healing, and will pass it on using Mayo Clinic Connect to share.
When you wrote that you stopped smoking "when I wanted to" it was a very profound statement. One of the life lessons I have learned since the death of my husband is how important self-motivation is overcoming the resulting panic of facing life and making decisions alone after being married sixty years. Each one of us needs to find their own way to that, sometimes using the suggestions of others.
I'm so sorry to read that you're experiencing panic attacks, especially in the night. I have had panic disorder, which is different from anxiety. I know how it feels when you're alone having an attack and it was extremely frightening for me. I have a couple of questions before I give my experience that may help:
1. Are you seeing a physician for your panic disorder/agoraphobia?
2. Do you take any medications to help with the anxiety/panic?
3. If so, what are you taking and how often?
If you aren't seeing a doctor or psychological professional, I highly recommend that you contact someone in your area and get an appointment as soon as possible. The physician or professional can order medication such as Ativan (Lorazepam is the generic) to help you for the short term. It sounds to me as if that would help quickly. However, I'm not a medical professionals and am just stating what worked for me. I could only take airplanes if I first had 2 mg. of Lorazepam, which made my anxiety tolrable. In the past I would get so panicked about having to fly for work that twice I couldn't get on the plane. The second time cost my job as I was fired for not attending an out of state meeting. I just couldn't get on the airplane. I have had panic attacks in stores and worried that I might start screaming and they would call for guys in white coats to take me away. Lorazepam helped with those times when I was activated and panicked. However, Lorazepam is addictive, so it's not good to take over the long term. I only got 10 pills at a time and they lasted me several months.
I also was going to talk therapy for several years, which was extremely helpful. I learned huge amounts about myself, my emotions and the things from my childhood that drove many of my reactions to situations. I also learned that my panic attacks only lasted for about 20 minutes at a time. I learned that since they would end within a short time, I could handle them. I would lay on my bed, close my eyes and become aware of my breathing. I then began to slow my breathing down by breathing in to a count of 4, and out to a count of 5. Then slowly up to breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 6, then in for 6 and out to a count of 7. I would repeat each count 4 times. At the end, I would imagine my "safe place" (which for me is my secret flower garden down a beautiful stairway) and I could stay there as long as I wanted.
Two good things about the actions I took are, I forced myself to concentrate on counting my breaths and slowing down my heart rate (which always raced, sometimes up to 180 bpm and once measured at 220 bpm in the ER), which occupied my mind and kept me from disasterizing about the feelings I was experiencing. This exercise was the most helpful thing for me, and I still use meditation in my life for relaxing. Concentrating on breathing relieved my panic after a few minutes.
But, the very best thing I did was begin taking an antidepressant 6 years ago. I was depressed and spoke with my doctor about the possibility of taking an antidepressant. I had been dead set against medication for depression prior to my asking as I thought I should be able to find a "cure" for my feelings and fears by talking about them and figuring out what to do to overcome or accept the feelings. I had done that for 25 years and still had this problem. I was given a prescription for Citalopram which is generic for Celexa. I had a hard two weeks as I was adjusting to the 1/2 dose of 20 mg. per day. After 6 months, I was prescribed the full 40 mg. dose. I could tell a huge difference at 4 weeks of taking the smaller dose. I started feeling happy, perhaps for the first time in my life. I was 63 years old and had lived my entire life in fear. I was successful in spite of my fear, but it was a struggle for me everyday. I just refused to give in to my fears, except when they became overwhelming and resulted in panic attacks. After 9 months, I realized that I hadn't had any panic attacks or bad headaches since a couple of months after I had started taking the Citalopram. I am now able to fly anywhere. I just returned from a vacation in French Polynesia where the plane ride was 8 hours long–no problem for me. I even zip lined down 7 lines on a mountain in Costa Rica 2 years ago.
I would never have been able to have these wonderful experiences if I hadn't started the antidepressant. Now, not all antidepressants are the same, and many people who take them work hard to get off them and some are unable to do it. The one I take hasn't caused me side effects that I'm a reward of, and I know I will take it for the rest of my life because I need it. I think I have had a physiological chemical imbalance in my brain my whole life. This medication fixed it. I feel good and can live my life openly now. I know each of us is different and what worked for me may not work for you. However, I do believe that the combination of Lorazepam, talk therapy, and finally Citalopram greatly improved my life.
If you decide to check out an antidepressant, please ask your doctor to have you genetically tested to find the one that will work best for you. There is information on the Mayo Clinic site about genetic testing for medications, that I recommend you to read. I hope this helps you in some way to better handle your panic attacks and possibly move beyond them to living life without agoraphobia. Please let me know if I can give you any more information or support. I know what you're going through and I want to support you in a path to freedom.
@joanm65 Would that I had an answer. I have read what others do and the suggestions are insightful. Also reading these various ways that others deal with anxiety I can see where it sounds so easy-not so when in the midst of a full blown panic attack. Personally speaking when I am in this terrifying place bringing a happy place to the surface-well, this does not work for me. Once in this place there are boogey men everywhere and breathing becomes seemingly impossible. This is not a "happy place" and the best I can do is "try" to remember I have been in this scary place many times before and lived through it. I will admit that even this does not help immediately. I cannot always leave my home and there are times even my home does not feel safe.
I have lived with this for years and I feel like such a weak person when I have these silly (this I tell myself) attacks. There are times when everything is far too big to face. Having someone else near only frightens me more-if this makes sense. Being honest. I hope you one day can learn how to handle these attacks better. After many years I am still learning and still struggle. Therapy helps some people.
Be kind and gentle with yourself.