Questions About Panic Attacks
Today I am answering readers questions about panic attacks. Here is everything you need to remember about panic attacks.
1. Panic attacks are an experience. They feel awful, but physically you are OK. You are not dying.
2. They are temporary. Lasting from a few to 20 minutes for most people. They do not last forever. And you do not have to have panic attacks for ever! You can get rid of them!
3. Anxiety medicine is only one way. Other ways are distraction, breathing, and making new meaning out of them. Consider medicine a back up plan. It is there if you need it and sometimes this gives added security.
4. Panic needs you to work. If you dread the panic and feel desperate, it feeds it. The trick is to know it is a panic attack and that you are not dying. Then realize it is an experience that feels uncomfortable but there is nothing to be afraid of. As soon as you are no longer afraid of the panic attack, it dissipates. It cannot live when you are not afraid.
5. Have confidence that you can handle it. Find your skills and believe in them. See a counselor to help with this. Recovering from panic is a short process. (My shortest lasting clients.) Yes! There is hope!
6. Do something! Actions help a person feel empowered and this obviously has an adverse effect on panic attacks, which make a person feel disempowered. Remember, it is just a feeling, not real. Read the Biology of Fear.
7. If your panic is from a history of trauma read PTSD Memories of Trauma Effects On Anxiety.
Questions About Panic Attacks
This is Jared who wrote me last week:
I just started having panic attacks last Tuesday and it felt like I was paralyzed also. (See Anxiety Makes Us Feel Unreal) My body instantly overheats and my chest and shoulders feel very tight and it feels like I’m having a heart attack. That’s the scariest part for me. For me its not the fear of anything that sparks them its just pure stress and anxiety. I was playing video games when I had my first one and tonight I had a very light one just simply watching football on TV. I stopped it quickly though by chewing two Xanax. I used to think it was just mental but I now know that its not. Anyone have tips for me because I would really not like to experience these for the rest of my life.
You don’t have to have them for the rest of your life! The scary part when you think you are having a panic attack, that part is what gives them energy. If you remembered that it was a panic attack and you could handle it and it would go away soon. It would pass quickly and come less and less until the panic attacks realize you are not afraid and just go away. The meaning you make about them is everything. If you thought they were nothing, they would become nothing. If you think they are horrible and scary they become that.
It may not seem like a trigger, but you are getting scared about the heart attack. Try rethinking it. Try remembering it is just an experience, if it doesn’t work, see a counselor, (maybe one who know EFT) and you may only have to have one visit to get rid of them. Act fast, the shorter you have them, the easier, because before it has not become a habit!
I know you can do it!
Julie wrote me yesterday:
I have suffered with panic attacks and anxiety for about 15 years. I was first put on Serzone, which made me feel like a zombie. I remained on that for about 3 years then when off when I became pregnant. I suffered through the panic and anxiety during both of my pregnancies, then in 2003, I saw a psychiatrist for the very first time. She prescribed Remeron, Neurontin and Klonopin. The Remeron and Neurontin was a NO GO! But the Klonopin helped and I am still on the very same dose after 9 years. I take 0.5 mg 3 times per day, but it just doesn’t seem to be helping much anymore. I believe my body has reached a “plateau” with that dose, but my family doctor refuses to up my dose. I recently tried fluoxetine (Prozac) with HORRIFIC side effects. I’m hoping that through prayer, relaxation techniques and changing my thought patterns, that I will be cured or at least lessen my panic and anxiety episodes. Any feedback?
Well, the good news is that you can lessen and eliminate your panic attacks! (And I am sorry your practitioners haven't helped you do this yet. Klonopin is addictive, so that is why she won't increase it.) You have the right tools to do it: prayer, relaxation techniques and changing my thought patterns. These will work fine if you know how to implement them: You think about panic attacks differently by changing their meaning. In this way you change your relationship with them. Hopefully, you read all the above and this post: Ten Thing To Do In A Panic Attack and Is Anxiety Really About Having Control Issues? Those should give you some more ideas.
How come you never went to a counselor to help with them? The right counselor can help you with 1-2 sessions. I am not trying to sell professional counterparts (or myself–though I am available by Skype!) I just know that panic attacks feel awful and everyone would want to get rid of them fast. I did not do the fasted method when I had them, but now I know how to help other people do it.
Does anyone have questions that this did not answer?
By Jodi Lobozzo Aman
I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
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Lobozzo, J. (2012, November 21). Questions About Panic Attacks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, March 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/11/questions-about-panic-attacks
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
What kind of counselor can help with panic attacks? I've been having them for years and they keep getting worse and worse. I have a six year old son and between the attacks and the drugs I wonder if I'll be around to see him grow up. The worst part is they like to happen while I'm asleep. Please advise and thank you.
There are many different theories and approaches to counseling, and different counselors apply them according to their own philosophies. There isn't a right and a wrong approach, but everything works differently for different people. Something that works great for you might not work so well for another person, and visa versa. Then on top of this, there is the counselor-client relationship, which is perhaps even more important that any theory and approach. The good news about this is that there absolutely is a counselor who can help you with your panic attacks. The bad news is that sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right counselor. The phone book is a good, albeit vague, start. Also, Psychology Today (. com) has a therapist finder. You type in your zip code, and available therapists and their bios appear. Not every therapist chooses to be in this directory, but many do. You are on the right track in wanting to see a counselor. Counseling is very effective in reducing and even ending panic attacks!
I have been really struggling with my panic attacks lately. I started having them about a year and a half ago, and my psychiatrist put me on Klonopin, as I was already on Zoloft. I work with a therapist weekly, but it is increasingly difficult for me to even admit to having such paralyzing attacks; and trying to talk about them and process them, and figure out the triggers is impossible. Any ideas about how to hopefully get to a point where I can talk about them?
Jodi is no longer writing for Healthy Place, so she therefore is unable to reply. I'm sure she'd absolutely reply to you if she could do so. My name is Tanya, and I'm one of the people who is now writing Anxiety-Schmanxiety. I'm not sure how interested you are in hearing from me, so I'll just provide a short response. It's not uncommon for panic to be so intense that it's difficult to even talk about it. Sometimes doing so brings on panic because you are focusing on the panic. Have you tried focusing instead on the times when you aren't experiencing panic? What are you doing during those times? What are you thinking? Feeling? Experiencing. Turn your attention to everything except the panic. You might find some relief and perhaps even the key. When you know what's fully going on when you aren't in panic, you can embrace that more and gradually reduce your panic.
Hi Jodi, I have a friend that has been dealing with anxiety for several years. He wasn't able to hold a job or keep his family together. Recently he has been in the VA hospital where they help him get his life back in order and he is able to get a job. It seems like it's just a revolving door because this is his third time around. Do you have any advice on how I could help him as his friend?
I guess I would find out what beliefs he is holding onto that is keeping him where he is. Something the treatment is either supporting or not getting to the bottom of.
Was he in combat? If so, read "War and The Soul" by Edward Tick. I am general since I am aware you must know all of the general tactics to get rid of anxiety, the next step with him is specific, which I can't give advice on unless I speak to him. Of course, that is an option to work with me one on one, but I know that is not what you are asking. I need more specifics.
Very helpful strategies to stop the dreadful feeling of anxiety and panic attacks. I am a Nurse Faculty and would love to use your article on my website. I hope you will consider.
Ok, I will email you! Thanks!
You said the right counselor can help you in one to two sessions. I saw a Ph.D. in Psychology for a year and I'm still on antidepressants. I also occasionally have panic attacks. Did I choose the wrong counselor?
Jodi is no longer writing for HealthyPlace, so she can't respond to comments. Sometimes people can indeed be helped in just a couple of sessions, but the help is a boost/catalyst rather than a cure. Every individual is unique, and panic disorder is unique to each individual. Some take longer to respond to treatment, and that's okay. Also, each psychiatrist/psychologist/therapist is unique. There are different theoretical approaches to healing, and there are many different types of medications. Plus there are personality differences. Finding the right psychologist isn't always easy, and it's not uncommon for people to try several before finding one that "clicks." It's important to give people and approaches a chance since things often take time, and you've done that. If you feel that you're getting nowhere, perhaps you might consider looking into a different counselor.
When I first started experiencing panic attacks and high anxiety It felt like my world was ending..I thought that I was going insane and feared I may be seriously ill. I suffered in silence for months until I sought help. Its great to see websites such as this genuinely helping people get through the maze of panic and anxiety. I made it through, and want to tell people that they can too...Dont fear the the panic...own it !