Is Panic Disorder curable? When you are in the middle of a panic attack you might not think so. But I have good news for anyone who suffers from panic attacks.
There is an effective non-prescription treatment that works to eliminate panic.
Hello and welcome to Fearlessly Holistic
My name is Irma and I want to share my journey to improved health by eating whole foods, moving my body and eliminating stress as much as possible.
It is my hope to inspire you to make daily changes.
Why? Because eating fresh, seasonal food and getting some sunshine is the best way to increase longevity. But you do not want just a long life.
You want a quality long life.
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The Difference Between Anxiety and Panic Attacks
*NOTE* If you are having health problems and think that you may harm yourself or others please call 911 and ask to be directed to a mental health professional. Over-the-phone, online, and email counseling options are available to most people.
Today we look at what panic is and what you can do to help yourself if you have it. I will share what I did to get rid of my panic attacks.
Panic attacks can happen at any time and any place without warning. Many people with panic disorder develop intense anxiety between episodes.
Anxiety is a type of mental health issue.
Anxiety is persistent worry, and can be happening all day.
Like if you know there is a get-together after work, you might have anxiety about large social gatherings or meeting new people.
Panic attacks are a sub-set of anxiety, as are phobias which are irrational fears of specific things, like dogs or spiders.
Related Post: How To Stop Social Anxiety
A panic attack is when you are gripped in panic and you cannot think clearly.
Panic attacks are sudden, appear to be unprovoked, and are often disabling.
- A panic attack is not specifically related to anything else going on around you.
- They can happen anywhere, anytime.
- During a panic attack, you also have scary physical feelings like a fast heartbeat, trouble breathing, or dizziness.
- Some people believe they are having a heart attack.
I was fortunate, in that I found help for my panic within a few months of developing a panic disorder.
I personally believe that panic attacks are an early warning system that is telling me to deal with things in my life.
Panic Disorder refers to the appearance of panic attacks in everyday life.
Panic disorder is characterized by reoccurring panic attacks that often happen spontaneously and unexpectedly.
There are a lot of people who have been suffering with panic attacks for years who have no idea that they can eliminate their panic attacks.
What Is Panic Disorder?
Almost three percent of adult Americans, or about 9 million people, will have panic disorder at some time in their lives.
Panic disorder is a serious health problem and is very different from other types of anxiety. If you have panic disorder, you may feel suddenly terrified for no reason.
It is not unusual for a person with panic disorder to develop phobias about places or situations where panic attacks have occurred, such as in supermarkets or other everyday situations.
As classified by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), panic disorders are technically under the umbrella of anxiety disorders.
Other anxiety disorders include social phobia (social anxiety), post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and agoraphobia, among other conditions.
Over 20 million people in the United States alone suffer some kind of anxiety disorder or another.
Panic attacks often begin when a person is under a lot of stress, for example after the death of a loved one or after having a baby.
My Panic Attack Story
For me, I was on 2 anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I had excessive stress from work and a death in the family. And I was being stonewalled for a position that I wanted at work.
I also developed Agorophobia during this time period, and I spent months hiding from everything…people, bills, phone calls…everything.
I had no choice but to move for more job opportunities, which compounded my stress.
When I moved, it was to an area with no available family doctors.
I had to drive an hour back to my old doctor. #pita
Eventually I decided to wean off the drugs and fix myself the old-fashioned way.
Because no way was I driving an hour in winter to get a prescription that I didn’t even want to be on. I had already decided anti depressants were not helping me.
My panic disorder appeared 3 months after I weaned off my last prescription drugs.
Which goes to show how long those drugs are in your system. #fakehelp
My first panic attack freaked me out so bad.
I was getting ready for bed and I suddenly had the thought that if I go to sleep, I will die in my sleep.
Now to be clear, this also happened to me when I was sick with bronchitis while I was about 5 months pregnant with my daughter. But it only happened once and that was about 10 years prior.
There were no triggers this time. It was just a weird random thought that appeared in my head.
I was not sick, like before. There was no reason for me to even consider that I had a reason to die…in my sleep.
Suddenly, I was gripped in panic. I don’t want to die! And I could not get the thought out of my head. I knew in my heart that I would die. I. Knew. It.
And I was so scared! I started wondering if my will was up to date or if I had money in place for a burial, which created even more panic.
I started walking really fast around my room, trying to figure out why I thought I would die in my sleep.
And of course sleeping was now out of the question, so I got dressed again.
I didn’t know what was happening to me, so I drove to the Emergency room. Halfway there I realized it was a long weekend, and the ER would be packed.
From working at a hospital, I knew that many people would be triaged (prioritized) ahead of me, and I could be there many hours.
Considering I now had claustrophobia, I couldn’t imagine being stuck inside for that long, so I drove back home.
But I could not be in my house now either.
I couldn’t breathe at home and it made my panic worse.
So I went for a long, fast walk. I power walked around my block. It felt good, but I needed more so I went on a longer walk.
I walked for almost an hour total before I felt in control enough to go home; then I took a sleeping pill and went to bed. Death did not come for me.
Anyone Can Have Panic Disorder
It sometimes runs in families, and more women get panic attacks than men.
Since I’ve helped my mom move twice recently, I realize that she has anxiety and is basically afraid of a lot of stuff. So yup, familial.
It is a good idea to look at the common symptoms before really deciding if you have panic disorder.
The reason this is important is so that you can have a better understanding of why you are dealing with the anxiety and fear, and what you can do about it.
Like all mental illnesses, panic disorder will have a lot of different symptoms, and you may not experience every single one of them.
You need to remember that every individual experiences things slightly different.
Also keep in mind this may be in combination with another anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Symptoms of a Panic Attack
The main sign of having panic disorder is having frequent or random panic attacks.
The panic attack is mental. For the most part, there is no real danger.
However, your body will perceive the threat that your mind “sees”, and will send you a burst of adrenaline to help you escape the danger.
So you may also experience a lot of physical symptoms at the same time:
- Pounding, fast-paced heartbeat (tachycardia)
- Problems breathing
- Chest pain
- Sweating and raised temperature
- Tunnel vision
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling like you are choking
- Stomach problems
- Numbness or tingling
These are all the most common signs of having a panic attack.
Many of these symptoms are based on what your body does for you to help you escape from, for example, a bear attacking you.
Aka, flight or fright.
To help you escape danger, you get adrenaline for speedy escape and tunnel vision to help you find the best escape route.
Your body also re-routes non-essential systems to ‘stand-by’ so that you have resources to stay alive, i.e. your digestion is slowed down.
Your body does not know that the threat is not real, so now you have adrenaline coursing through a body that does not need it.
Keep in mind you may have any combination of Panic symptoms.
Some people might always start sweating and have tunnel vision, while others feel more like they are having a heart attack.
One panic attack does not mean you should be diagnosed with panic disorder, but if this condition occurs a number of times and interrupts your life, you should see a doctor immediately.
Most people experience a panic attack at some point in their lives.
While this may be a scary experience, you should generally not be concerned.
Unless the month following the panic attack leads to constant worry about have another panic attack.
Or constant worry about a condition that could be related to the attack, or major changes in your lifestyle.
When you have a panic attack, even for the first time, consider seeing a doctor.
Try to clearly think about the symptoms you’ve experienced and note the time and length of the attack. This information will help your doctor find the best treatment options available for you.
Do not be surprised if you do not remember all of the details about your symptoms.
Often, panic attacks occur simultaneously with other anxiety disorders. Being clear about your experiences will help your doctor to understand your experiences.
Remember, panic attacks are real.
While there may be a few cases where people pretend to have attacks to get attention or for other reasons, this is not the norm.
If someone around you is experiencing a panic attack, offer your help and call a doctor immediately to get help for the person.
Panic Attacks versus Panic Disorder
What differentiates panic attacks from it becoming full-blown panic disorder? Basically, the frequency.
A single panic attack may be related to a current situation, like being ill.
Panic disorder means that the panic attacks happen more often and become crippling in some cases.
Frequent Panic Attacks
Along with having the actual panic attacks, which anyone can get even without this disorder, many people have another thing in common when they have panic disorder: they get them more frequently.
This can be from something that triggers you, like thinking about having a panic attack, to nothing at all.
It is extremely common for someone with panic disorder to experience them at completely random times.
You may notice you are just driving down the street or sitting at home watching television when it begins.
Other people have triggers, from caffeine or alcohol to being in social situations.
If you notice that you are getting panic attacks on a regular basis, you might have panic disorder.
My first panic attack after I quit my prescription meds happened while I was awake. After that, most of my panic attacks happened at around 4 a.m.
I would be awakened out of a dead sleep to the instant anxiety of full-blown panic. Then I would be so full of adrenaline that I couldn’t go back to sleep.
I started taking Ativan (lorazepam) so that I could get back to sleep. But doctors don’t prescribe Ativan for that anymore.
Fear of More Panic Attacks
Another common trait among people with panic disorder is getting fear or anxious about having another one.
Once you have gone through a severe attack, you then start building up this fear of having another one.
They are debilitating and often make you feel like you are having a heart attack, so it makes sense that they would frighten you.
Finding Your Panic Attack Triggers
A trigger can be any person, place, thing, or situation that raises the risk for you getting a panic attack.
It is often something that triggers your anxiety, which can then eventually lead to a panic attack.
In my case, I was not living the life I wanted, and was getting further and further from my dreams. I did not know that this was causing my mental health issues, but I had my suspicions.
It took a few years of actively working on my mental health issues before I was released from most of them.
But it was being able to stop my panic attacks that showed me that I have the power over my health.
With mental illnesses like panic disorder, just about everything can be different from someone else you know with the same disorder.
The same can be said for the triggers. You may not be triggered by anything if you have this anxiety disorder.
However, if you are, you probably have certain things that continue to trigger you over and over again.
Before looking at finding the triggers, it might help to know what the most common ones are.
Keep in mind that yours may be similar to these or completely different.
Being in a social situation
This is often related to social anxiety, though it can also happen when you don’t have this particular anxiety.
You may notice that your anxiety is triggered by being in a social situation, such as in front of a crowd or at a wedding.
Doing something that scares you
This might seem like an obvious trigger, but it is worth noting.
If you have a phobia, such as a fear of heights, being up high not only causes anxiety and fear, but can lead to a full-blown panic attack as well.
Experiencing heart palpitations
This is a big one for many people with panic disorder.
Heart palpitations are audible, where you can feel them in your chest. This ultimately causes you to obsess over feeling the heartbeat, which can make you afraid of it stopping, skipping, or beating too slow or too fast.
This often leads to panic attacks.
Nearly choking in food or drinks
If you are someone that has an intense fear of choking and not getting help in time, you may have a really hard time when something goes down the wrong pipe. This makes you even more anxious and may lead to panic.
Having trouble breathing or swallowing
Sometimes you can be a little short of breath if you are hot or tired, or may feel like you are having trouble swallowing. While other people don’t overthink it, it causes you to get panic and anxiety.
I am pretty sure that this is what happened to me when I was pregnant. Besides being freaked out about taking prescription drugs while being pregnant, I did have a lot of coughing and chest congestion.
Chest pains after a workout
Exercise is great for anxiety, but it can be hard for someone with panic disorder. This is because you might get winded or experience chest pains, which your mind thinks is from something much worse than what it is.
How to Figure Out Your Triggers
With these in mind, you can start figuring out what your own panic attack triggers are.
Remember that they aren’t necessarily related to these. They can be something else entirely.
If you had something happen to you in the past, you might have some PTSD where certain memories can lead to panic attacks. This is one of many examples.
(I have often wondered if, by not pursuing my dreams like I wanted, that I created a level of stress from staying at a job I hated. Could this be a type of PTSD?)
So how do you find your panic attack triggers?
The best way is to record all the times when you do have anxiety and panic attacks. You want to be as detailed as possible, preferably in a journal or notebook.
You should record the date and time, what you were doing or who you were talking to, and what you think caused the anxiety. Sometimes you will be able to tell what it was and other times, it will seem random.
When you start recording them, you can look back at the journal and try to find patterns or similarities.
What to do About it
Once you know what your triggers are, you will be able to avoid or reduce them as much as possible.
Unfortunately, some of them can’t be avoided, like being around a certain person or when you have a work presentation you have no choice but to give.
But in these cases, you can at least prepare for the anxiety if needed.
The Best Panic Disorder Treatment
If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, panic attacks may be a part of your life.
Even with proper medication, many patients suffer from panic attacks. Is that proof that these meds don’t help everyone??
Although predicting when a panic attack will happen may be a bit tricky, you can take steps to prepare for these panic attacks in order to take back control of your life.
The challenge is to be ready for a panic attack.
How many treatment methods fit into a busy life?
Walking helped a lot that first panic attack evening, so I went with an evening walk.
But I needed to walk when I needed to walk, so for when the weather sucked….I joined a gym. I used the treadmill for 45 minutes 3 times a week.
But I couldn’t go to the gym at 4 a.m. even if I wanted to (and I didn’t).
So I tried an app for my phone that encouraged me to walk, then jog, then walk again. What the heck…get in shape and rid myself of panic!
The exercise helped for sure, but I hate jogging lol. And I couldn’t bring myself to get dressed and go jogging at 4 a.m. either. Sigh.
I went looking for books on panic, but most of them, like many blog posts, encourage prescription drugs.
I wanted no part of that.
Then I found The Panic Away program.
Click through my link and you will be taken to a page where you can sign up to get a free audio to end anxiety.
If you follow through, Barry McDonagh, the program creator, will appear on your screen to explain the benefits of the Panic Away program.
If you think that you must live with this disorder forever, I have good news for you. You don’t.
So many websites, and doctors, will have you thinking that anxiety and panic require medication for the rest of your life. I can confidently call BS on that.
Seriously, follow this link, sign up for the free file and listen to what Barry has to say. It’s free.
I signed up a few years ago and it was a pretty basic product. The program came with an eBook and an .mp3 file.
I was having second thoughts about purchasing.
I thought fixing my panic would require books, workbooks, journals, multiple audio and/or video files.
All I got was 1 book and 1 .mp3 fie.
I read the book and the main story was very relatable.
I felt lucky that my attacks happened at home. They could’ve happened while driving, at work, or on vacation. Ugh!
The .mp3 file is there so that you can be “talked” through a panic attack right now.
This is a key part of why it works so well. Put this on your phone asap, so you have help when you need it.
I listened to that .mp3 every time I had a panic attack, which was mostly around 4 a.m. After a few times I could talk myself through it without the .mp3!
I only did the program for about 2 weeks before the panic attacks stopped. They knew they were beaten.
But better yet, I have a shiny new skillset that has helped me multiple times since then.
Because my panic tries so very hard to get back into my life. But I don’t let it. Sometimes things in life get weird, and panic thinks that crack in the door is enough to get back into my life. Nuh uh.
You will be shocked by how simple it is to kill panic.
It may take you less time, or more time, than it took me to beat it.
But trust me, success will be yours.
This program saved my life. I do not think I am overstating it either. My panic has been gone for 5 years now.
I urge anyone to look at online reviews for the Panic Away program. The testimonials are real. I get it because those people are talking my language.
But you don’t have to suffer or be on prescription meds that are doing who knows what else to your brain and body.
There is a 60-Day money back guarantee, if you need it.
I have been working on my mental health issues for about 8 years now, bit by bit. And I allowed well-meaning friends and family to sway me into a life I didn’t want, which caused my depression and anxiety issues, including panic.
I would never encourage anyone to quit a job without backup income or to “run away and join the circus” while abandoning your old life.
I do encourage everyone to learn skills that help you challenge negative thinking, and to set goals that bring you closer to your dream life.
If you have mental health issues, don’t wait until something ‘snaps’ before you start fixing them.
Figure out what you really want in life and then make plans to go get it.
You only have this one life…enjoy it to its fullest.
Holism targets overall wellness, and when we are well, we only get better with age.
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Until next time, here’s to our health!