Talking About Panic Attacks

Updated on July 20, 2010
S.S. asks from Baton Rouge, LA
9 answers

anyone have panic attacks? Ok so I'm a 24 sahm, 2 kids pretty much laid back easy going, like to exercise etc pretty healthy person. Except for I occasionally get panic attacks. They come on so fast out of nowhere. I just wanna know if anyone else wants to share their experience. I have not been to the dr about them, but at my last check up everything like heart rate bp was fine breathing sounded great etc I know if I go to the dr he will just hand over a rx but that's not what I want I'm anti medication person and just the thought of taking Tylenol even scares me. So far this year I've had two extremely bad attacks both which awoke me from my sleep heart racing not knowing what's going on freaking out cause I'm in total darkness I got up and was just so disoriented it was so scary all I could think about was dying and not being around for my kids which didn't help. I'm not sure how to really explain them it usually starts with a tingling taking over my body followed by feeling cold all over then I start to feel like I can't breath even tho I can take in deep breaths, my gear begins racing thoughts of dying this is it omg I should have given my kids more kisses today etc these attacks are the scariest imaginable. The weird thing is most people say their attacks are short lived but I feel like this for an hour or more. Anyone want to share their horror stories?

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answers from Little Rock on

S., I totally know how you feel! I started having panic/anxiety attacks in October 2008 for no "good" reason. After multiple attacks of feeling like I was going to die and the attacks getting worse because of the same things you think of...the kids, I went to the doctor. I couldn't stand it anymore, I felt like my body was out of control! I am the same about taking medication, however, the doctor gave me anti-anxiety medicine and I took it. I wanted to do whatever it took to get rid of those terrible feelings...I also started therapy and went to a "healthy thinking" class and an anxiety group to learn what was causing this and how to stop it when it starts. The medication has helped get my body chemicals back into balance and the therapy and classes have taught me how to think more positively and react to situations differently. I personally recommend medication, only from experience. I never pin-pointed one thing that caused my attacks, but one big reason that I found after I felt better is that I wanted to do it all! My oldest daughter had started kindergarten and I wanted to be a PTO mom, go to all of the events, do all of the fundraisers, etc..., all the while being active duty in the Air Force, which raises more fears. Anxiety attacks are so scarey, if you have any more questions for me personally please don't hesitate to ask. Hope this helps. :-)

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answers from Fayetteville on

Hi S.. I am so sorry for you. I know how damaging these can be as I witnessed them with my ex husband for years. His started in college and we miss diagnosed until he was in the Marine Corps 7 years later. He went years in between attacks and then would have several a day for 1-2 weeks. They came on just as you describe. He would be walking along and out of nowhere, he drop to the ground and try to back up into anything solid. The fear on his face was horrible. He would hyperventilate and sometimes pass out. I kept paper bags with me at all times. I told people that it looked like his worst childhood fear had come to life and was standing over him.

They prescribed therapy and meds, which seemed to help. It took months to get him over these attacks as he became incredibly agoraphobic during and immediately after. I took the caring approach during and the tough but gentle love after to get him back out into the world. The good news is that they seem to go away, each episode getting father apart as he aged. From every 18 months to 3 years to 5 years and now, as far as I know, he hasn't had and attack since a few months after we divorced. You 'age out' of them, so to speak.

One trick we used was keeping a rubber band on his wrist (like overcoming an addiction or bad habit) and he could fiddle with it, or snap it to remind himself that he was ok, that it wasn't real and that he had control during an attack. Another technique was to ask him how bad it was (scale of 100 so that I could talk him 'down' in small increments). If he said 50, I'd say Ok, feel yourself coming down to 48...etc. If I was going to fast or too slow, he could tell me. At a major number, like halfway through I'd tell him to rest and notice his surroundings, that he was in control, that he could make the anxiety and fear go away. That seemed to really help, especially when he learned to do it on his own. He pictured it like floating, and as he got control, he 'felt' the ground under his feet, until he got you one, when he was stable and 'standing on the ground, in control'.

It is just terrible because you can't handle the activity around you when it is happening, so one person coming to help seems like 10. They thought he was having some kind of heart problem and all of the staff all over him really freaked him out. It was good once we figured it out. I also made him business cards explaining that he had Panic Disorder, what was happening, that no ambulance was required and how to help (keeping activity and sound low, counting with him, etc.) so that he could give them to someone if he had them in public.

Please see someone. Don't be afraid of meds, they can help. But if nothing else, find someone in your area who has dealings with Panic Disorder. There are also books and web pages. If nothing else, educate yourself and let your family know how to help you. Please don't doesn't really help, just masks the symptoms and can make it worse. Find the path that is right for you and take charge. it is good to know what you are dealing with. It is very scary when they think you are on drugs (as they did when my ex was in college) or Crazy (as they did for the first week in the Corp). It is a very disheartening thing to deal with, but you CAN control it and it will hopefully go away in your late 30's.

Good luck S....I hope this helps.

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answers from Little Rock on

I have only had a few panic attacks but my husband struggles with them regularly. He too feels as if he is dying and can't breathe. His also seem to happen when he is working out but he also has them at other times. He always wants me to be right there with him to keep telling him that it will be ok and that he isn't dying. That seems to help somewhat.

However, it is unfortunate that you are anti-RX. There are wonderful medications that are for this very thing. You only have to take the med if you are having an attack. They really do help. Not all meds are bad!

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answers from Tulsa on

I had panic attacks for several years. I took a PRN med that helped calm me down when one was happening. Waking up in the middle of the night isn't usually a panic attack but sleep apnea. My psychiatrist told me that when I went to her for something to help me sleep because I didn't like having panic attacks in my sleep. I did the sleep test and I have sleep apnea.

You need to talk to a doctor about panic attacks. When you can assert control over them in any way then they go away sooner.


answers from Dallas on

I would see a doctor and a therapist. Hormone changes could contribute to these and medication could make a world of difference.



answers from San Francisco on

Sorry to hear you are having panic attacks. I have been having them for years now and I am in my 40's. I usually lay down with a face cloth on my face and do breathing exercises. You can ask your doctor about breathing exercises. I also sometimes try and go sit outside and try to get a change of scenery and focus on something else. Also, there is a book that I have read a few times over the years that I find very helpful. It is called "Hope and Help for your nerves" the author is Dr. Claire Weeks. Once you learn how to deal with them, they are not as scary. Yes, they are very scary especially since they come out of the blue, but the more you know about them, the more you can understand them. Good Luck!



answers from San Antonio on

Mine started in college...I thought I was going crazy and didn't tell anyone about them for a very long time. I suffered for years even after finally figuring out what they were...still took me years to start to function again as I had eventually became housebound with agoraphobia.

My doctor did prescribe medication which I had avoided for years as well...but finally agreed to take because I had to start functioning again. i was able to start slowly getting back into life. I do think the medication saved my life as I was able to over come the constant worries about having an attack that consumed my thoughts. I do still take medication every morning and might for the rest of my life...although I am currently weaning off my anti-depressant.

I haven't had a full blown PA in years, but the flipping over of my stomach like being on a roller coaster and the cold sweats that start my attacks...sometimes start to show up...and I start my mantra that they are feeling and they cannot hurt me....take slow deep breaths...and if I really need it take a small dose of a Xanax like medication.

From bedridden to totally functioning...has been a long stay on top of the attacks and if they start getting worse or you start avoiding certain situations be sure to see your doctor. I have had almost 15 years to learn about the medications that can help if you end up needed advice don't just take any old medication they prescribe.

HUGS to you that are awful!!



answers from Erie on

just curious, i have never had these or actually know someone personally, Are they ever triggered by a past traumatic event??? If they were and you were able to connect the dots i wonder if you could deal with it better, again with out the meds. But i really have no clue just curious.



answers from Oklahoma City on


I know you said you are anti-medication but I wonder, are you taking a birth control pill? I only ask because I started having panic attacks about two years ago, and was eventually able to pinpoint that the attacks started happening about two months after I started taking birth control pills again. (I had taken them previously with no problems, but stopped for about three years). I told my doctor, who thought I was wrong, but switched my birth control pill at my insistence. No more panic attacks.

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