Dealing with Anxiety / Panic Attacks

Updated on October 19, 2014
A.H. asks from Canton, OH
13 answers

Is there any type of self meditation that works for panic attacks or anything over the counter (vitamin) you can take to deal with panic attacks / anxiety? My SO has been having them again (started ealier in the year). His doctor put him on a very expensive anti-depressant which really wasn't working so he slowly stopped taking them. He was fine for awhile (about 6mths) but the last week or so he's been having the panic attacks again. The only thing that seems to help is if he gets a Xanax from his Mom. But we're not really pill people so he's worried about taking those and our doctor isn't really keen on handing them out and we understand why.
But since his panic attacks are so real and he gets so upset, I don't know what else to do. Any suggestions?

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So What Happened?

Thanks ladies for offering the helpful suggestions. I will try them. And for those that offered the negative comments...
1) He weigned himself off of the anti-depressant with his doctor's knowledge because it just seemed to be a waste of money
2) We know he shouldn't take other people's prescriptions but Xanas is the only thing (so far) that seems to stop them
3) He gets plenty of exercise. We've been on a healthy diet since February (low fat/no cholestoral)
We have been under an extreme amount of stress lately with unless we can get rid of our kids and jobs - we can't get rid of the stress!
He just needs to learn to deal with them in a different matter - the reason for my question!

More Answers



answers from Atlanta on

Hi A.,

Nutrition that absorbs, really absorbs, will do wonders. The body these days with our food supply, the nutritional deficiency of our soil, the chemicals used in processing and preservatives all lead to the body malfunctioning. A take a vitamin that is guaranteed to absorb and not cause free radicals. In addition, the toxicities in the house can create anxiety. Household cleaners are terrible but if he works in certain environments, it can be even worse. Detoxing the body and the home is key. Sleep is also incredibly important.

After that, if he still needs something, there are several things that work with focus and anxiety. Omega-3 are necessary for everyone. The brain needs fat. My husband takes GABA. It works great for him. Phosphidityl serine helps me...more information would help as well. Some anxieties are different than others...


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

A few questions: Is he active (walking, running, working out, biking)? How is his diet (good real foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, or fast food, food from a box, beer and potato chips kind of snacks, lots of ice cream, etc)? Is he employed and satisfied with his job or unemployed or unhappy at work? Is he overweight, or does he have limitations due to back pain or headaches? Has he had a checkup for heart problems, diabetes, general health? Does he have stress, like finances, an ex who causes problems, the roof leaks, his car got repossessed, whatever?

I worry about a couple of phrases in your post. The first one is that you're "not really pill people" (whatever that means!). Usually, people would rather not take pills. We'd all like to be healthy and to have our loved ones be healthy. But disease happens, even to the seemingly healthiest people (that whole "ice bucket challenge" that was all the rage this summer was started to honor a very young super-star athlete who did all the "right" things and was in better shape than most of us will ever be and who now has that horrible disease and is nearly completely paralyzed). Medication can help. That doesn't mean that you pop every pill known to mankind, but you seek competent help, take the best medication for you in moderation, make sure your lifestyle is as healthy as possible, comply with your doctor, and appreciate modern medicine and research and how it can help you. Yes, you and your SO should worry about his taking someone else's prescription. That's the worst kind of "pill people". You can't call yourself "not-pill-people" and at the same time take pills intended for someone else. So you are "pill people".

Secondly, doctors don't "hand out" pills. Responsible doctors write thoughtful prescriptions when they believe that medication can provide relief to their patients and that their patients will take the pills as directed and will do their part to become healthy (stop or decrease drinking, stop smoking, lose weight if necessary, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, get enough rest, etc). Perhaps your doctor isn't "keen on handing out pills" because your SO borrows other people's prescriptions and therefore hasn't demonstrated a proper medication ethic. My daughter takes many medications and she is required by her pain specialist to sign a form that promises that she will not seek multiple pain doctors for multiple and duplicated prescriptions, that she'll do her part to take responsibility for her health, that she won't skip or double up on dosages, that she won't share her medications with anyone else.

Another point: some (not all) anti-depressants don't treat anxiety. If your SO is having debilitating panic attacks, he needs to see a psychiatrist who can perhaps provide him with a prescription but also work on lifestyle changes, relaxation techniques, counseling, etc. A psychiatrist can determine what will help the most, and it might be a medication. That's nothing to be ashamed of.

Please encourage your SO to stop taking other people's pills and to seek professional help. A competent doctor will not just drug him up, he will use a variety of tools, which may include medication and lifestyle changes and counseling, to make sure that your SO can function in a healthy way. It's important to take any new medication for the required amount of time to allow it to take effect, and to take it properly (at a specific time, with or without food, etc), and in conjunction with whatever else is needed to become well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

The fear of the fear of a panic attack is what keeps them coming.

There are several really good books by Dr. Claire Weekes that explain the process in the body and how the attacks cannot in anyway hurt you.

They come and go...fight or flight response in a non dangerous situation.

There are some really good therapists that can nip this in the bud with what is called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for short.

This can be helped with out medication if you treat it quick and early. Hugs!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

His body is doing this and the proper medication will help him.

BUT he isn't going to get better, sorry. I'd try to figure out how you're going to handle this but if he's going to keep doing this like this he's not going to ever be anything except what he is now and it will get worse and worse until he doesn't leave the house or work or leave the couch.

So, if that's "not" how you want to live you have to decide what you "do" want. Do you want children some day? Not going to happen with this guy, he's a horrible role model and won't be a great parent.

Want to marry him? It is going to get worse. Most people who don't seek professional help for mental stuff end up self medicating, they drink bottles of alcohol each night and they start taking drugs so they can feel calmer and feel better. It's not a pretty path to take.

If you don't want to live like that and you care about this man then this is the stand you need to take.

He needs to get a medication his insurance covers. Then he needs to get his meds BEFORE he pays any other bills. If he asks a pharmacist to give him a list of anti-anxiety meds on the $4 list at Walmart he might find there are quite a few.

Then he needs to call his insurance company and find who they have a contract with that takes patients dealing with panic and anxiety. The purpose of medication is so the person is able to deal with the issues that come up in counseling where they can come to terms and eventually heal from the traumatic events that lead his body to start these reactions.

I have been where he is and it's a horrible place to be. He needs to take his meds and then see someone so he can work through his stuff.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I listened to a podcast recently off of Essentials of Healthy Living (EHL) Sept., 14, 2014 called "Anxiety management and the healthy alternatives to anti-anxiety medication. " I thought it was pretty interesting, the talk is given by a naturopathic physician and he discusses 3 alternative supplements that can be taken to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. They're not addicting and one can stop taking them at any time, unlike other prescribed anti-anxiety meds which one needs to be more careful with.

I'm not one who usually strays from my traditional family practitioner, but having had some anxiety issues myself and never seeking treatment...I'm considering trying one of these supplements. I figure, if a natural supplement can work for me, why not start there first before signing up for something more potent. I also know that aerobic exercise and yoga help alleviate anxiety issues. Caffeine worsens it as does alcohol.

I can't remember the names of the supplements but you can listen to the podcast yourself. You can most likely just walk into a naturopathic doctor's office and just buy them...I know the ND in my town works that way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would absolutely go back to the doctor and say the doctor must investigate other anti-anxiety medications that are less expensive. Period.

Is there any real, compelling, medical reason why there is one and only one medication that might work for your husband? I would ask the doctor to give full and written medical details of why NO other med can be considered, if that's what the doctor thinks.

I would also consider a second opinion and another doctor who might know more about these meds. Is the doctor you're referring to here a "general practitioner" or a psychiatrist or other specialist? If the doctor is just your general practitioner, please get your husband to a specialist who deals in anxiety issues, not just a GP doctor. A specialist will know much more about other medication options at different price points.

How long did your husband take the meds before he started to wean himself off? Did he take them long enough to KNOW they weren't working, or did he start tapering off after just a few weeks or even a few months? Some of these meds take a long, long time to kick in, but if he doesn't give them adequate time to work, he will just assume they don't work and will never know if they give him any benefit.

I know you say his doctor was OK with his going off the med. And you do not say that the doctor made any other suggestions or recommended any other meds. That is what leads me to believe that the doctor in question is not a psychiatrist or specialist.

Also, and very, very importantly: Yes, there are behaviors, ways to think, that a person can learn to help stave off anxiety and panic attacks, but rather than trusting to books or web sites, please, please have your husband see a professional for the kind of talk therapy that will teach him coping skills in person and one on one. There are a lot of quacks out there offering this or that supplement or "program" and those people are not necessarily medically knowledgeable. I am fine with supplements in many cases (and use some myself) but panic attacks can destroy people's lives; he needs to start with real medical help.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

He could start by keeping a daily journal and trying to find out if there are any environmental or situational triggers to his panic attacks. He would need to track his food, drink, sleep and exercise at a minimum, and then after a panic attack go back and log any situational changes or environmental changes he experienced in 24 hours prior.

myfitnesspal dot com is a good place to track what you eat and free, but there are several resources like that available online.

Correlation doesn't equal causation, but many people find that stressful events, continued lack of deep sleep, and poor nutritional intake contributes to a whole host of mental health problems. He M. also notice a more direct pattern where he ingests certain food or drink or has specific environment changes that preface a panic attack every time.

As far as a natural remedy that works like Xanax, I don't believe there is one. If he chooses to go to psychologist rather than a primary care physician and can get a proper diagnosis, then he M. receive less of an issue with the prescription.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

He needs to keep working with a doctor.
What's the point of seeing a doctor if you're not going to follow his advice?
If this doctor isn't working (or your husband doesn't want to listen to him) then he should keep looking till he finds one he can work with/will listen to.
What ever the anti-depressant was doing it seemed to keep the anxiety at bay - so it wasn't a total failure - you're husband slowly just stop taking it.
You can Google 'home remedies for anxiety' but I have no idea how well any of that might work.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

He may need to try a different medication and take it daily to help eliminate that feeling of being hijacked by those anxiety chemicals in one's brain.

I'm not a 'pill person' either, but I found Celexa to be very, very helpful. Minor side effects for the first month which disappeared. I was dealing with some awful anxiety and this truly helpful. I started on a very low dose and then upped it just a bit (with the doctor's agreement) when I decided to deal with some 'old stuff' with a counselor. Knowing that this would be hard to revisit, I wanted to ensure this work would have as minimal an effect on my family as possible. Celexa is also very inexpensive: $4 a month with my insurance.

I also walk a lot, have good support in some solid friends, and eat fairly well.
From my own experience, meditation/self-talk is really only one small part of what helps me to feel well. I strongly suggest your husband talk to a counselor as well and find out where these anxieties/panic attacks might be coming from. What are the underlying, unaddressed fears? I know, for myself, that I have PTSD from a very abusive and terrible childhood. Just knowing that my brain wasn't quite "wired correctly" as a kid and why I had the reactions I did gave me a lot of hope and insight into my own thoughts and behaviors. Counseling years ago was incredibly helpful and healing and having been on the Celexa now for 8 months or so, both my husband and I feel our family life is a lot better.

All that to say, I strongly encourage counseling and trying a new medication. Good luck, A.. It's hard. I know. Hugs. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I use L-theanine which you can get at any healthfood store. You can also research Rescue Calm which I found online. The key is to figure out the stressers in his life & try to eliminate those. Also prayer, meditation and yoga are helpful.



answers from Washington DC on

Sometimes panic attacks come from the fear of having another panic attack. One big key is knowing it is just a panic attack, accepting it in the moment and moving on with your day. It can really make the feelings very much less intense. A healthy lifestyle is another big component. Therapy and l-theanine are also very helpful.


answers from Austin on

When my best friend/business partner found out she had Cancer, her husband began drinking this product.
Natural Vitality
Natural Calm Raspberry-Lemon (he drank the orange flavor)

He was already kind of a person that could become stressed and would show it by becoming a bit aggressive, other times kind of have panic attacks. So adding the stress of her Cancer really put him over the edge.

It really helped him. He said he could even tell the difference.
I think he purchased it at Whole Foods, but any Health store will probably carry it.

He also started riding his bike. This also seemed to help him blow off steam and clear his head. Make sure he gets lots of exercise, every day f possible and lots of good sleep and he needs to see a therapist. YES, he needs to be under the care of a therapist. And IF he finds he needs medication, I promise it will help to get his brain chemicals back in order. This is not unusual for men and women of certain ages to notice these imbalances in their brains. There is nothing wrong with taking medication to help us become balanced again. Especially if it can help him find himself again.

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