Conquering Your Panic: Dave’s Success Story

– Posted in: Panic Attacks

success-sm2A reader named Dave left a comment on the post, “I’m Dying: What a Panic Attack Feels Like” that told the story of how he overcame his panic attacks.

It tells how he had panic attacks for many years, but has not had them now for 11 years! He conquered them with therapy — and without medication. I thought that Dave’s story should not remain buried in the comments, so I asked Dave to expand his comment into a post. 

Anxiety Disorders cause us to turn inward, to focus on our woes. We tend to believe that no one else has the same problems, and that there is no hope for ever becoming fully functional again.

So it’s doubly reassuring to hear Dave’s story: it lets us hear that we are not alone, and that there are effective treatments that can help us learn to control and manage our symptoms for a lifetime!

Check out the article What Panic Attacks Have Taught Me for more help for overcoming Panic Attacks.

Rachael, Louis, Angela, Itsme, Kenny, Sara, Samantha and the rest of you that are suffering. While all of our panic attacks are different, they are also all the same, so with that I say “I know how you feel.” I suffered with panic attacks for 12 years.

So many nights, days, mornings – hit out of the blue with an attack that put me on the edge of sure death. But… my last attack was more than 11 years ago! Yes, there is hope!  So with that as my purpose for writing, I thought that I’d share my experiences with panic attacks and my freedom from them. 

My first comment, as Mike says, is that this truly can be beat! You do not have to continue to live in fear of yet another horrible, fear-filled episode.

In 1987, I had my first panic attack

I am now 48, hold a senior position in the software industry, have an awesome wife, a marriage of 23 years, and two great kids (and one big 18 pound cat). In 1987, I had my first panic attack.  I had no idea what was happening.  Like many of us, I ended up in the ER, certain I was having a heart attack, followed by trips to my doctor to see what was wrong.  When they ruled out all things cardio, the diagnosis was “panic attacks,” of which I knew nothing.  Well, nothing really happened for several months until 2 years later when I had my next attack: More tests, etc. 

Yes, the diagnosis is still “panic attacks”.  And it was at that point where they began to increase in severity, frequency, and symptoms.

I had all the symptoms on the list

This went on for 12 years. If I look at the list of symptoms for a panic attack Mike has listed on this site now, I’d say “Yep, I had all of these” — many in one attack!  For sure, they were some of the most fearful events I have ever had to deal with. I’m not sure how many times I was seconds away from calling 911.  But I kept it all to myself and didn’t do anything to try to solve the issue for a very long time — and things got worse.

Didn’t want to try drugs. Didn’t want to talk to anyone about it.  Too humiliating, too proud, too scared.

A web of panic attack sites, no place or activity was safe

My wife and two kids didn’t know for several years. I think my wife didn’t know for probably 10 years. As my life began to become the “web” of panic attack “sites,” no place or activity was safe. When I’d say “No” to doing something with my wife, she thought that I just didn’t want to be with her, as there was no other explanation.

I couldn’t do it by myself

Finally after a few of my worst attacks, I decided that I couldn’t do it by myself and I’d have to tell someone. I told my wife. One of the first things that she did was find a book and got it for me (Overcoming Panic, Anxiety & Phobias by Shirley Babior). When it arrived, I opened the cover to find that Shirley had signed it herself — wow, that alone made such a huge difference knowing that I wasn’t alone in this and that some other person actually knew what I was experiencing!

And since you’re reading this blog, you already know that to be true. That’s a good thing.

Well, that was 11 years ago.

Re-training the brain

I went to my doctor, who referred me to a psychiatrist. He wanted to start me on a set of meds, one being Paxil. I tried it for 2 days and it wasn’t for me. My reaction to that medication (which can be different for each individual) was like I was on 12 cups of coffee.  So I stopped the meds and just went through the steps of cognitive therapy.  This type of therapy basically re-trained my brain to not “react” to the various triggers that set off my attacks, as well as learning how to control my body stress/tension to prevent a panic attack from getting out of control or even starting to begin with. This was done using bio-feedback and other relaxations exercises/techniques. 

I had no idea what “normal” was

I learned where I held the tension/stress in my body, how to recognize when it was building up, and how to release it. In addition, a key thing was to getting back to knowing what my body was supposed to feel like when it was in a “normal” state (i.e. healthy). With all of the chemicals that are pumped into our body during an attack (basically a fight-or-flight reaction when there’s nothing to react to), I always felt like my body felt totally “out of balance”. For me, these feelings could last hours to a couple of days.  I really got to the point where  I had no idea what “normal” was. So, getting off of all caffeine, alcohol, etc. (stimulants, depressants) as well as eating healthy and exercising helped in returning my body to normal.

I also learned that we are also most at risk of attacks when we are depressed.  This seems counter-intuitive since anxiety appears to be akin to a “hyper” state, but when our body is depressed, its unable to suppress the physiological reactions which initiate an attack (similar to how our immune system is unable to suppress disease when it is compromised and weak).

The “recovery” process took probably 2 years to get through, but I did make it! And I can truly say that I have not had any panic attacks since.

The mind strikes out at the body

I’ve spoken with several people about it since then who have suffered from them, normally at a very early stage luckily. The way I picture the underlying cause for myself is like this: all of us have an “emotional bucket” that we fill up with “stuff” over time – good stuff, bad stuff, various things that we don’t want to deal with at the time. Everyone’s bucket is a different size, but at some point it can’t contain any more. What happens when it is full and begins to overflow? That depends on the person. Some begin to strike out at other people angrily. Some people act out in other “dysfunctional” ways. Others like us have physiological reactions; our mind strikes out at our body — we have panic attacks.

So obviously, emptying out the bucket and keeping it from filling back up is key to living free from panic.

Mike – thank you for having this site and helping to educate those in need about it. It is truly a blessing.

This thing is not going to kill you

And remember – all of you who are currently struggling with panic disorder – when you’re having an attack, this thing is not going to kill you.  I understand how this is so, so very hard to believe at the time. At times, I had to count to 10 or 20 or 30 or walk 10 feet at a time, and then prove to myself that nothing really happened!

And See – we are all still here :-).

Seek help, understanding, and guidance

So, I encourage all of you who are struggling through this to seek help, understanding, and guidance.  Talk with people that are trained to deal with this as well as others that understand what you are going through. Don’t be ashamed or humiliated; take action before it does more damage to your life and to those around you.  Rid your life of this beast and return to living as it should be.  There is a path forward!

Take care,
Dave

What do you think?

Dave’s story is truly heartening. After suffering in silence and isolation, he reached out for help and found it. He found that he was not alone, and that there is effective help available. I wish that every person suffering from panic attacks could read it and take its message to heart!

  • Do you find Dave’s story as inspiring as I do?
  • What have been your experiences with panic attack treatment?
  • Do you have any words of encouragement to add for those suffering from panic attacks?

As always, your comments are welcome!

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44 Comments… add one
John Haydon
Twitter:
January 9, 2009, 10:01 am

Dave,

What a great story! I two suffered from panic attacks many years ago. After years of therapy, my Buddhist practice the support of good friends, I no longer have them.

Most of what was happening was about fear:
1) Afraid to look at something really ugly or scary in myself (childhood event, trauma).
2) Fear of losing control. When I felt the first dizzy tingle of a panic attack, I would get scared: “I’m going to fall down and people will have to pick me up.”

Awesome post – thanks Mike & Dave!

John

John Haydon’s last blog post..johnhaydon: @holtmurray LOL!

Mike January 9, 2009, 11:18 am

Hi, John, and thanks for commenting!

Yes, panic attacks are all about fear, and to a great extent, fear of being afraid. Panic attacks have a way of paralyzing your life by avoiding thoughts and situations where you are afraid you might have a panic attack. It’s a vicious cycle!

Tracy
Twitter:
January 9, 2009, 2:21 pm

Dave, I’ve nothing useful to add, just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story. I know many people will be inspired and encouraged by it.

Tracy’s last blog post..Ich habe das Telefonangst

Dave
Twitter:
January 10, 2009, 12:43 am

Hi Tracy and John,

It’s been a while since I’ve shared my story like that with someone. I do hope that it brings some insight and hope; I know that it was good for me to hear about others who were going through the same thing.

Fear of losing control – yes, most definitely for me. Ok, true story. The first time I had a panic attack, I was at a movie theater (the location of which was a site of a previously traumatic “bad drug-related experience” event for me) which joined to an indoor mall. As I was having the attack, I got up and went into the lobby (leaving my wife and my Dad to watch the movie; they didn’t know why I got up). I paced/sat in the lobby, trying to get control, trying to “feel better” some how. Well, that wasn’t working, so I walked off into the mall.

I walked down to one end and I thought that I was losing my mind – what was going on???!!! I went sort of off to the side and kneeled down on the ground. I laid my head on the ground and just stayed there for a few minutes, trying to get control… And of course there were people all around, but I didn’t really care; I remember hearing a little girl say to her Mom, “What is that man doing?”, to which the Mom replied “Oh, I think that he’s just praying.” Yeah, well that is probably what I should have been doing.

I finally made it back to the movie theater lobby where of course I found my wife and Dad looking for me. They took me to the ER, where they ran tests, etc. and then sent me home.

2 months later my wife had our first child. Yeah, I guess that I was stressed out about becoming a father, but I didn’t feel like I was. Sub-conscious stress is such a tricky, invisible thing.

Back to the Losing Control topic – of course this is a major issue when suffering panic disorder. If you let your attacks continue, over time you don’t want to revisit those places/conditions which “led” to an attack, because you know that when you’ve done that before, you’ve had another attack. So you avoid it – here, there, pretty soon everywhere and everything. You seek safety because you can control the environment. Stay home, stay away, etc. … not a good thing.

The key is to “re-gain” control of your life, which means conquering the things that you fear – normally by facing them when you’re brain and body are ready to; first the little places and then on to the bigger and bigger until you’re made it “over the hump” so to speak.

Of course, as Mike has said many times, you really do have to get at the root of the issue, which is normally the “emotional stuff” that is built up inside and which is now seeping/bursting out of you. Meds are only treating the symptom, but can of course be useful as part of the process to re-gain your life back.

Well, take care.

Dave

Gina February 21, 2009, 6:11 pm

Thank you for your story. I can relate completely and after reading more about cognitive behavioral therapy, I am hopeful I can fix my panic/anxiety without meds. I tried Lexopril for 4 days and I’m going to stop, it’s not for me. I’m always hesitant about taking medications, so therapy is what I would prefer. I’m going to make an appt with a psychology specialist.

Thank you again for sharing your story.

Gina

Dave
Twitter:
February 21, 2009, 6:50 pm

Hi Gina,

I’m very glad to. Please let us know how it goes! :-)

Take care,
Dave

Alec Satin
Twitter:
March 4, 2009, 9:55 am

Hi Mike,

Just dropping a note to let you know how much I appreciate you and your blog.

Alec

Alec Satin’s last blog post..5 Antidotes to Gloom

tony June 28, 2009, 5:08 pm

I thank you for posting your personal panic attack experience, but unless you have been on various medications for this condition, and suffered many years, they were not truly all that bad, nor did they truly disable you to the point of agoraphobia. If they did not test your marriage, ruin your enjoyment of life, make you terrified of doing the simple things, like opening your own front door – you have not suffered serious panic attacks.

Those of us who have suffered from severe panic attacks “for several years” are forced to take medications, “try” CBT and/or seek counseling. CBT is for those who have minor panic IMO. When you are so panicked and depressed from your situation that you want to just pull the skin off your body….then you have real panic.

The real test is trying to come off medication, which is well detailed on benzo island.com – and not very easy. Some medications can take months or years to come off.

I do not feel that you can cure everyone with this method, in fact, very few. CBT is akin to “the patch” in cigarette addiction to me. I have tried every method there is, including this book, Charles Linden’s exercises, etc. etc. Nothing has worked. Nothing. 12 years of non-stop panic.

In fact, I do think some people are pre-wired for panic attacks and certainly life factors can trigger them at any time, any place – even with a bad phone call. I think chemical changes do occur, some permanent, that make you panic for no good reason. I get panic for absolutely no reason at all, none. I wake up with panic, live with it all day, then struggle to even fall asleep with it I am so scared.

I have done the immersion thing – “faced my fears” – and this did nothing. I bought resperate.com’s unit, did little. I have had more tests than most lab rats to find a reason for my chronic dizziness and panic. CT, MRI, ENG, VEMP, ECOG, TILT TABLE, BLOOD WORK, NUCLEAR STRESS TEST you name it……..I have done it, twice.

Again, I am not aware of anyone who suffers from real, debilitating panic, for 5+ years without being on some kind of medication (for less than 2 days). Maybe I am out of line, but I find CBT talk as reproachable as people who use “panic attack” when they feel stressed.

My feelings that are unless you have been to the ER at least 2 times a year, for 5+ years in a row, you likely suffer from some panic, but not THE panic disorder. Chronic panic is different than occasional panic.

When and if I find my cure, I will surely post it. Believe me, I have been searching for a long, long time.

tony June 28, 2009, 5:09 pm

When and if I find my cure, I will surely post it. Believe me, I have been searching for a long, long time.

John Haydon
Twitter:
June 28, 2009, 6:04 pm

Tony,

I hate to jump in on this post, but I find your comment problematic:

“but unless you have been on various medications for this condition, and suffered many years, they were not truly all that bad”

Anxiety Disorders, as I understand them, are very subjective experiences. Therefore, you really can’t say that you’ve had it worse than Dave.
Everyone’s experience is equally valid.
Just my two cents.

John
.-= John Haydon´s last blog ..Why Twitter is not a replacement for email marketing =-.

Dave
Twitter:
July 3, 2009, 4:55 pm

Hi Tony,

I’m glad that you found this site and that you posted your experiences to date. I am of course very sad to hear that you’ve suffered so long with such a debilitating disorder. It will be very helpful for many people when you do find your path out of this and post it here so that others can benefit from your success.

As for your comments about my particular experience, I really had to think about this during the week. In the “big picture”, the real motivation for posting the article was to (1) show people that there *is* a way out of this, that there is hope, and (2) here is one particular way.

As you know, there are so many people who suffer from various forms and levels of panic disorder, and it seems that most do not know what it is or how to stop it or even if it’s possible to stop.

Certainly the vast majority of cases can be successfully treated. The actual treatment depends on many factors and these are well documented. And of course the vast majority of people who suffer from panic attacks luckily have a mild to moderate level of the disorder with many fewer having a severe level such as yours. For this majority of the people, I would speculate that probably 100% of them can be successfully treated.

We also have to remember that just because they have a mild or moderate level does not make their experiences any less scary for them personally. They’ve gone from “life is good” to all of a sudden being hit with a panic attack where they think that they’re dying or that they’re going crazy! And no one believes them and no one can help them.

I’d also say that I know quite a few people who get on medication and then, unlike you, leave it at that, taking no further steps to get to the bottom of it; to get to the source of the problem and then deal with that. In this instance, the medication is just treating the symptoms. It is not the cure.

Now, what I am not saying is that medication is a bad thing or that it isn’t necessary for the short term or even for the long term. Medication is obviously useful for immediate relief as well as giving the person some “normalcy” where they can then move on to tackle it. And obviously the more extreme cases are going to take more extreme measures.

As for my particular experience and level of panic attacks, first I would say that I learned several years ago that while we can try to explain what’s going on with us, in many cases there is really no way to communicate this information in a effective way. In fact, in many cases things are actually so ultimately complicated that we can’t even figure it out ourselves let alone tell someone else about it such that they really can truly understand. And I think that this is true for anything but the general surface for Panic Disorder.

That said, as I did state in my post that my attacks stretched out over a 12 year span. They did start at a very infrequent level, but gradually increased over time to where I had attacks a few times a week, the majority of them being severe (based on symptoms), with a general level of anxiety always present, but of course always varying up/down. It’s hard for me to remember exactly, but that level certainly lasted for several years. And yes, I did go to the ER and my doctor many times. Yes, I almost got divorced (but, thank God, did not) in the process (although it obviously was not the sole contributor). Yes, I was very “house bound”, skipping much of “life” that was passing by me. My job required me to travel; that wasn’t fun. Airplanes. Foreign places. No place “safe”. Having a severe attack in Moscow at 3am in my hotel room was not the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life :-).

I think that your description “When you are so panicked and depressed from your situation that you want to just pull the skin off your body” really describes where I was when I finally decided I had to start doing something about it.

Well, I think that’s probably enough for today. You also brought up some interesting things to discuss relative to what causes panic disorder, which I’d like to respond to and discuss separately.

Take care and I hope you’ve at least had a better day today…

Dave

Judith May 4, 2010, 2:15 pm

Dave,

God bless you. You encourage me. There is so much information that was given here. I pray that you continue to love yourself and help yourself to continue to heal and grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well as financially. Take time to read your Bible and know that you are more than a conqueror in Christ. Believe that Jesus loves you so much that he died on the cross and shed his blood for you, that he took your sins, my sins and the sins of the world upon his shoulders. We are forgiven and he knows what we need before we ask. I too can relate to these issues. thank you for giving me more clarity regarding this matter. John 3:16.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. LIFE. What a GIFT.

Judith May 4, 2010, 2:18 pm

dave

i did comment i don’t know what happened . that’s ok. can’t let it steal my joy. great story. be blessed.

Dave
Twitter:
May 4, 2010, 3:08 pm

Hi Judith,

All I can say is Thanks and Amen. :-)

Dave

Barry September 30, 2010, 2:38 pm

Dave

Hi I first suffered a panic attack 11 years ago and after about 6 or 7 years managed to get back to a normal life but in the last year or so the attacks have come back to haunt me and are getting worse. I have been on medication for a number of years and was very negative about any other method which I think was a complete mistake by myself. I’m going to give CBT a go and do the things that I need to do to help de- stress me (as you say cut the alcohol etc). I really hope it works cause I know once you get on a postive roll then step by step life can get much better. Thank you for sharing your experiences – its most encouraging. Barry

Dave
Twitter:
October 2, 2010, 1:33 pm

Hi Barry,

Glad that you found some of that info useful. Please let us know how things are going and how CBT works for you.

Take care,
Dave

Mary March 20, 2011, 11:14 pm

I too have been suffering from chronic anxiety all my life and without medication. Long story short I felt the same way as you guys have posted here. I tried everything and nothing worked untill I tried Core Belief Engineering. I am still in the healing process but I see tremendous changes in me. Hope that gives some hope and insight to all you anxiety sufferers out there. Kind regards, Mary (www.thecore.ca)

gabriel March 25, 2012, 7:14 am

I had my first panic attack 3 days ago I first felt this thing in my brain releasing something weird throughout my whole entire body then I was fearing the worst.I thought I was dying or going to die and then I went to the er and the just gave me pills and a IV they said I was dehydrated and I know that is not it but I cannot explain it and no 1 realy understands me or how I feel. Idk what to do I’m only 14 and thinking these bad thoughts . Some 1 suggest something sor me :(

Dave
Twitter:
March 25, 2012, 2:22 pm

Hi Gabriel,

I’m sorry to hear that you experienced this “event”. It’s definitely not fun; very scary indeed! If in fact you did experience a panic attack (as opposed to some other medical condition), then I think the first thing to do is actually what you have just done: reach out, know that you aren’t alone in this, and try to come to an understanding of what a panic attack really is and is not.

First things to come to terms with: you aren’t dying, this thing is not going to kill you, you aren’t having a heart attack, etc. this is so much easier to write than to do in practice (I know). Mentally/emotionally all of your instincts are telling you (screaming at you) that you are in extreme danger! But you look about and there is no danger. Your brain has triggered a fight-or-flight reaction when there actually isn’t one (physically at least). In doing that, it dumps a variety of chemicals into the body, changes your heart rate so it beats faster, blood pressure, digestive system, eye sight and other sensory systems, all done for the #1 purpose of keeping you alive from danger (ie run, think, and see as best as you can so that you can get away from this lion before it eats you :-). It’s a bit weird that the thing that is meant to keep us alive is, in the case, making us feel like we are going to die!

For me, understanding this helped me to trust that I really wasn’t going to die, but that was/is a very hard thing to do at the time that it is happening.

The second thing to do is to not ignore that this has happened and do something now. The longer it goes on and the more panic attacks you experience, the more work it takes to stop them and “undo” the effects.

As for the question “why is this happening to me?”, there are many different reasons, many of which are discussed in this site. There are also many good books on this subject. Of course, talking to a medical professional (in this case, a psychiatrist ) would be something you should do if you have an ability to do that.

There are also other questions I would have for you which I wouldn’t want to discuss publically on this blog. If you wish to discuss in private, you can contact Mike (the owner of this site) and he will give you my email address.

Take care,
Dave

Deidra March 25, 2012, 10:49 pm

Oh, how I can relate to this story! I have been suffering for 32 years with GAD and PD. Sometimes, I can go for a period of months with no problem, but then it rears its very ugly head from out of the blue :( Today, was one of those days.

I am unable to tolerate ANY of the SSRI’s, or older tricyclics, and rely solely on Xanax during the day and Klonepin at night. Klonepin does next to nothing, and I really render it useless. However, since I’ve been on it for so many years, I am reluctant to just cease taking it.

My attack today lasted about 2 1/2 hours. I am about a 6 on the 10 scale at the moment, and hoping that I can get myself under control. I really despise the 2-3 day attacks.

Happy to have found your site! Have spent the last several hours perusing, and not that it’s “nice” to know that others are/have suffering like myself, sometimes it is just reassuring.

Thanks, and God bless all of the sufferers/suffering.

gabriel March 26, 2012, 2:38 pm

Thank you dave I realy couldn’t explain how I was feeling to my parents and they realy do not understand either but now I no that others understand this panic attack.

Leonor March 27, 2012, 7:19 pm

I suffer from GAD since i was only 22, i slept 5 hours a week when i first noticed it, until I got prescribed mizartapine. I’m 27 now and it has been horrible. In and out ER’s and you just feel the nurse gets mad at you because you’re taking time from real patients in trouble, lost relationships, lost jobs, etc. In my small island, people dont even know what GAD is in the ER.Truth is you have to be a true lover of life and a really really a strong person to help yourself get through this. I don’t know if you really can get a complete cure for this, but you can definitely SELF CONTROL it. I was prescribed mizartapine, and it helped me after a couple of months of taking it. I use to be the funnest person around my friends, sky diving, swimming into shark infested waters, bungee umping, and now I’m even afraid to get in an airplane. The first thing is to not lose hope and FACE YOUR FEARS…If you’re afraid of airplane, get in an airplane, you’d think you”re dying but when you notice you didn’t your fears will become smaller everytime. AVOID ALCOHOL in everyway. My fight right now is suspending mizartapine which has been driving me nuts, literally nuts, so bad that i think i have to go back to the pills so i can make it without going crazy…but HEY! if you have to live your life taking those pills to be normal, then so be it, whatever helps you… some take diabetes pill, you take anxiety pills, so what? but trust me POSITIVE THINKING is the first thing you gotta do “I’ll be ok, I’ll get through this…some have it worse than you and have made it” I also got a Mitral Valve Prolapse so my heart feels my anxiety a LOT. From huge taquicardias to hours of extrasystoles, and its not vene in my imagination cause the octors notice it…but always always a positive thought. AND STICK YOU YOURSELF, I decided to stick to myself cause nobody would understand except yourself and the people that do, you get tired of bothering them. I always hoped to find someone that has had it longer that can help me cope with it a little more and that’s why i wrote, and of course to help other who have just discovered it. And keep posting more inspiring stories.

Leonor March 27, 2012, 7:22 pm

sorry for my bad orthography, Im not very good with english.

Rose June 12, 2012, 10:30 pm

Thanks for sharing your story Dave, and for all of you who continue to post and remind us that we are not alone. Im a 31 yo female, married, mom of 2 girls. I’ve been suffering from panic attacks since Sept of last year, when my father passed away, so consistently for 8 months now. Although my first was when my second daughter was born, two and a half years ago, then I thought was a hormonal thing or more like post partum depression.
When my father died, so unexpectedly, I just lost it, and started having panic attacks almost daily, and after a short amount of time i had an attack everyday, and was living in fear every second of my life. After a while I decided to visit a psyhiatrist and started medication a few months ago, Lexapro. I was so afraid of taking it, kept thinking the medication would cause me a heart attack or something, but I was so desperate I decided to continue to take it and it has helped me out tremendously. But Im not completely off rhe woods, and im begining ro believe this will never go away. So listening to this success stories encourage me. Gives me hope. I too will try CBT, I need to do everything I can to conquer this, for myself amd for my family.

I hope all of your are doing better.

Best regards

Dave
Twitter:
June 12, 2012, 11:10 pm

Hi Rose,

I’m sorry to hear about your panic attacks as well as losing your father, but I am also glad to see that you are seeking help. I was 27 when I had my first panic attack, just before our first child was born.

As a general statement (which I have made before on this and other threads), I believe that PA can be addressed. I have not had a PA for many years now. Some people would and have stated that “well you never really had real panic attacks”. Sorry – this is not the case; I had them and they were pretty extreme.

Take care of this now before it invades more and more of your life. Stop it now and take back the space where it currently lives and has planted trigger points. Doing nothing is not a good option.

Take care and love on those little ones! :-)

Dave

Lindsay June 3, 2013, 10:33 am

Hello Dave,
I have hope after reading your story. Six years ago my husband suffered from anxiety and panic attacks brought on by trouble in our marriage and the economic downturn. Then the only way he was able to overcome and anxiety and panic was to eat right, and work out constantly. He could not sleep, hated clocks, mirrors etc. The only relief came from working himself out so much his body would just drop. After about three months of therapy and small doses of Xanax he was able to resume normal life again. He would always refer back to that time as “my worst nightmare”. We thought that was all behind us. On March 22nd we were on vacation and a panic attack hit him out of nowhere. He did not even recognize it at the time. He thought he was having heart problems (racing, pounding) we returned from vacation to the heart problem now being a “stomach problems” two months later and after loosing 30 lbs, CT scans, endosocopy, MRI, PET scans, multiple blood panels, x-rays he has been diagnosed with an anxiety and panic disorder. Healthy as a horse otherwise even though now he is now underweight. He knows from the previous experience SSRI medications make his anxiety worse, however; his physicians insist on putting him on them because he is showing signs of depression. He still wakes at least twice an evening with panic attacks. And everyday is still an absolute battle. He is still working and is on very small doses of Xanax to taken the edge off the panic. Prior to March 22nd my husband was a carefree, loving, organized happy go lucky person. He is very active and healthy. Does not drink or smoke. Loves life, would jog several miles a day as relaxation loves swimming, basketball, football. We have three children and two teenage sons. This has been especially hard this time around because he feels like his sons are looking at him as being weak. His life has completely flipped. This morning before my husband left for work he asked me to find some type of information that will give him hope. He has been reading several books recommended by his doctors on anxiety and panic but these books are very clinical not hopeful. I hope he can read your blog this evening and find some renewed hope that this does not have to be forever. Thank you for your positive thoughts and time. It is so easy to find negative, scary information on the net but when you find something positive it renews hope because you know these people actually care enough to go back and spend their time to help others after they have woken up from their own nightmare. Thank you.

Nina February 22, 2013, 1:32 am

I am so relieved that i found this site . Your story was very inspirational . the past two- three weeks ive been dealing with severe panic attacks . I ended up in the hospital because i was very confused at what was going on with me . i have tried medication . but i must say , it made it worse for me . a week after my nearly first attack (ive had them before but not so bad) thats when i started on medication . i stopped taking it the next day because youre right , it makes you feel like you drank too much coffee . and it increased my symptoms . ive waken up in the middle of the night having unknown panic attacks . ive been seconds away fron calling ambulances . ive isolated myself from the world . ive recently been trying to research and find ways to stop this from happening to me . ive found my own ways that help me to deal with panic attacks but they make me fear leaving my house because i am scared to experience a panic attack in public . tomorrow i have a therapy session and i have been very scared to go . i was planning on calling her tomorrow and canceling or seeing if i could do therapy over the phone …. i know it sounds ridiculous . but after reading this it gives me hope again to better my life and be normal again . after i read this i am going to step out of my comfort zobe and attend tgerapy tomorrow . email me – [email protected]

Nina February 22, 2013, 1:41 am

And I also like to add that I am very ashamed still sad I just type of girl AOL and party to have a good time and then you still working American home I would help others and it help on my friend see the problems . I was a cheerleader for years I was the cheerleading coach I was very outgoing . I felt like I am fired for the way to help themselves things . I use to go to party for school and I would be able to talk to everybody and kind of like the center of attention and now I can’t leave the house without fearing to have a panic attack in public . thank you for writing your stories on here because I never seen that I would never change my mind to go to therapy get help tomorrow . thank you now I know I’m not alone in this . I will recover 1 day and I’ll be sure to help everybody else that is dealing with the same thing I am in a lot of other people are . that’s a promise !

Nina February 22, 2013, 1:47 am

By the way sorry my writing is all messed up because I am on a touch phone and it messes up my words !!! lol but just to clarify i used to be a very outgoing peaceful helping person that was down to do anything and everything . now i am stuck in a smalll two bedroom apartment with my mon and not daring to leave the house . ive been trying to conquer my fear and it feels like it helps and then i wake up the next day and feel like i am starting all over again . like i said befire though. I will recover from this and i do have hope . after i recover i maje a promise to help everyone else in need if help with surviving oanic attacks . and i am only 18 years old !

James March 25, 2013, 12:50 am

This is my story
Hello everybody my name is James I am 28 and I have had panic attacks infrequently over 6 years. Last year I finished school and got a Job in a new field, it was a bad experience so I quit. After quitting my Job I did not know what to do with my life anymore, that is when my Panic attacks became Panic disorder, My safe zone away from home went from 50+ miles to 3 miles very fast. That is when I started doing CBT myself from a book and had worked back up to feeling pretty good about going 5 miles. If I had continued with this treatment I know I could be farther now. But subsequent Panic attacks have me down to about 1 mile range on a good day. I am 100% sure that the depression that came on really limits the effectiveness of CBT. Now I will share with you my advice about dealing with PDA, for me a two pronged approach is key. The first is just getting out there and facing the anxiety, I know this is easier said than done, start with small steps. The second tip is to find whatever makes you feel good and do it because your mood/attitude really makes a difference. I thank everybody that contributed and wish everybody good health & happiness. -James

Misty May 31, 2013, 6:45 pm

Thank you so much for this story. I have been to the doctor countless times. He has told me he thinks I have anxiety yet I have somehow convinced myself I have a heart problem. I went to the cardiologist and have just returned my king of hearts monitor. I also have an echo-cardiogram next week. I am hoping this can bring me a sliver of peace because honestly I am constantly thinking I am on the verge of dying. I also am going to see a therapist this coming Monday. I am so relieved to know that someone with severe panic has found help. It gives me hope that I can bounce back from this. I’m tired of being scared all the time. I’m sure my husband is getting tired of it to. I need to get my life back. Thank you Dave!

Rose June 1, 2013, 7:49 am

Hi, Misty:
I also suffer from anxiety/panic attacks, for over a year now. I’ve gotten help and have somewhat improved. Getting better each day. My father died suddenly of a heart attack and that’s when my attacks started. His loss was just too much to bear. I just want to let you know that you are not alone, and your anxiety days will soon be over.
My worries are always the same: I have heart problems and will die. I’ve had numerous exams done on me and nothing is wrong, but I still believe they’re missing something. You see, Anxiety is a smart lady, she makes us believe we are sick, when we’re not.
But things will get better. Just be sure to get all the help you need. Don’t be afraid to ask your husband for support, Im sure he’s not tired, probably just frustrated cause he wants you to be ok and doesn’t know how to make this go away.
I hope you feel better soon, I’m sure you will.

PS- Please forgive my poor grammar, Im from Dominican Republic and English is my second language. :)

Dave
Twitter:
May 31, 2013, 8:15 pm

Hi Misty,

Glad I could share this with you! You aren’t alone. As you can see by the discussions on this site, there are many around you which deal with anxiety and panic attacks at every level; it’s the “silent” problem.

Yes, keep pursuing any potential cardio issues as you need to be sure that there are really no other issues going on.

If it truly does come down to panic disorder, please address it immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it will be, and the more loss of “real living” you will have.

God Bless,
Dave

celene July 24, 2013, 9:23 pm

Hello Dave thank you for your amazing story, Im so glad to hear a story like yours, I my self have suffer from panic attacks and anxiety and find it very difficult to move on….. I have intense thoughts and feel like every story i hear from people is going to happen to me…. I am so emotionally drained any suggestions?

Dave
Twitter:
August 3, 2013, 10:30 am

Hi Celene,

Sorry for the delay in responding to you.

Yes, it is very draining and hard to deal with…

One thing to remember is that panic attacks are most likely to occur when you are in a depressed state. Seems a bit counter-intuitive since when we feel “anxious”, it seems like we are “hyped up” (and not depressed). However, it is the case and does make sense when you understand that your immune system is a primary fighter against the ravages of stress and is working overtime when you are depressed.

So a take away from knowing this is that you should do things which can bring you out of a depressed state:

– Exercise
– Eat well
– No caffeine or alcohol
– Get plenty of rest
– Stay in a “rhythm”

Take care and let us know how it is going.
Dave

rahul August 8, 2013, 2:03 am

Thanx for sharing really a helpful post. All of us need a positive thinking. So be positive and stay healthy and happy.

Samantha July 27, 2015, 12:28 am

I love reading any success stories I can find & congrats to anyone that has conquered panic attacks:) Ive had 5 1/2 years now it started with fear of being alone & now past 7 months ive not left home period! This is the hardest thing Ive ever dealt with & im currently winging off of a medicine that could cause a heart attack if done cold turkey & i have 12 pills left…i cant leave home to see a doctor so its a must & for the record i regret every medicine ive ever tried & they ranged from anti depressants, benzos & beta blockers every one had side effects that only increased my fears that led me to staying home. well a month ago i decided screw it im done waking up im ending it today because im not living im only existing & im a burden to everyone i love! so im standing in the kitchen when it dawns on me wouldnt it be just as easy to just leave home screw it if i go crazy or die i want to die anyways..right? well i chickened out i couldnt leave & i couldnt kill myself. Last night i was doing some serious thinking about small fears id already conquered like taking a bath alone or going downstairs/upstairs alone in my apt going outside even driving around my parking lot…how did i do those things that was impossible & made me act crazy!? I challenged the panic that was it i didnt care what happened to me when my husband was asleep & my son needed fed i was absolutely terrified to go downstairs so i ran down grabbing only a bag of chips to hand him as i sit there crying i thought did i really just put anxiety first & as a mother am i ok with feeding my kid chips!!! no im not!! so granted it took me 30 mins to make it to the kitchen to make my child some real food & i was clinging to walls/counters anything stable but i did it:) now im trying to find the courage to get in car with my hubby & drive till i panic it wont be easy but honestly we are living the worse by allowing our panic to suck the life out of us! and if you say screw you panic bring it on its already losing its power…its only power is our fear of fear feeding it..i dont care what you fear in the end its the panic attack you fear! so i hope to face panic soon over & over until it loses it power with me…we will all have anxiety forever but we can take away the fear of panic i believe & learn to treat ourselves kinder. so to anyone reading this..i beg you right now go have a panic attack no joke go scream bring it on who cares what anyone thinks of you what matters most is what you think of you! dont fear yourself we are all beautiful people:)

Dave
Twitter:
July 28, 2015, 12:51 pm

Hi Samantha,

Boy, haven’t commented on this article for a long time… :-)

I’m sorry to hear about your trials through your panic attacks and anxiety. It’s something we truly wouldn’t wish on anyone else.

As I was reading your comments, it took me back to some times in my hardest PA days, one time in particular when I was doing just what you said: the most I could do this one day was to literally take one step and say to myself “see you haven’t died”, another step “see you haven’t died”, …. over and over again – walking to the mailbox.

Take care and I pray for relief and healing.
Dave

Samantha July 28, 2015, 2:23 pm

Hey Dave :) I wasnt sure id get any replies because itd been so long since last post…so im happy to hear back from you:) Ive been through some crazy trials in my life & this is definetly the hardest..i couldnt wish this on my worst enemy:/ How has your anxiety been? Also how much do you feel sleep deprivation has to do with this disorder? Thank you for taking time to respond to me :)

Dave
Twitter:
July 28, 2015, 3:05 pm

Hi Samantha,

I have been free from PA for several years now. As for “anxiety”, I experience a pretty much normal level. Every once in a while, I suddenly feel that old “anxiety”, but it is dismissed very quickly.

With regard to sleep deprivation, I believe that this would of course contribute to the level of panic attacks. As you know, there are many contributing factors spanning both your physiological and emotional makeup. I am not a doctor, so my thoughts are my opinions based on my own experiences as well as interacting with others with the same issues. I believe that:

– Panic attacks and other physiological symptoms stem from deep emotional issues (which can be exacerbated by brain chemistry)
– The body’s immune system is a primary ‘fighter’ in suppressing the physical expressions of this

Thus, anything that causes the immune system to be compromised will result in higher levels of PA. Sleep deprivation definitely impacts the immune system, and so PA would be higher.

On the emotional topic (non-chemical related drivers), I believe that everyone has an “emotional bucket” that gets filled up with various things (bad things). When that bucket gets full, it will start to overflow. The symptoms of that vary from person to person, and can be things like Panic Attacks, misdirected anger and rage, incoherent thinking, etc. In this respect, I think of a PA as the body trying to rid itself of the “poison” inside (sort of like trying to “vomit” it out). The key here to solve this in the long term is to go at the root issue(s) which are filling/have filled your “bucket”. In addition, you also need to develop ways from having it get filled back up.

But, one step at a time. It’s hard to work on the long term, when you can’t deal with the short term (i.e. the next 10 minutes).

Do you have any friends which suffer from the same things that you do? If you don’t, I would find at least one person. Just knowing that someone else knows exactly what you are going through helped me greatly.

Dave

Samantha July 28, 2015, 6:02 pm

Im so happy to hear you are free of PA :)) I hope to say the same one day:)) Did you challenge the PA? Is that what helped you get better?
I think sleep loss makes me so much worse but I have alot of trouble sleeping due to stomach pains:/
I agree with past emotional build up i certainly had alot of that to the point i had PTSD…thankfully i moved past that part finally after many years:)
I want to be better sooooo much but so far dont have the nerve to say ok bring on the panic :/

Dave
Twitter:
July 28, 2015, 6:17 pm

My Psych had me make a list of events/situations which I had experienced PAs before. Had to rank them from the least scary to the most scary. I then started with the least scary and did it repeatedly until I didn’t have a PA, then went on to the next one in the list. I also was doing bio-feedback training at the same time, so that I could control my body’s reaction better. Also started getting massages to help release the tension/anxiety in my body. Just being touched helped a lot.

I also worked in the area of “why am I afraid of dying?”. As a Christian, I know that I have a promised eternity with God, face to face; nothing can take that away, and it is something to base my hope on, rather than being afraid of. So in actuality, Christ took that fear from me.

Jelisa August 26, 2015, 4:22 pm

It makes me feel a lot better knowing that I am not facing this alone. I’ll only be 20 on the 4th and I had my first panic attack when I was 14. For the past 2 years I had these things beat, or at least I thought I did. But for the past 2 months, I have been panicing numerous times every day. I have felt my symptoms and panic getting worse and worse. I hate it. It’s like it consumes my life. I have hope of getting back to normal because I know I have conquered it before. I’ve had so many symptoms including physical pain that I’m sure if I tried to tell you every one of them, I would forget a few. I’ve had 2 EKG’s on my heart. The second one, they monitored it. They told me it wasn’t my heart causing me these problems. I’ve been tested for hypothyroid. It came back normal. I even went to have a allergy test done to make sure that I wasn’t allergic. Everything inside and outside pollen/ mold wise I’m not allergic to anything besides 1 outside mold… I wanted to know because I always smother and have pressure on my nose. I also don’t have Asthma. But I’m always thinking should I go get more tests done to make myself feel better or then again I’ll think, what if I do have something? My anxiety will go to a even higher level than what it already is. I’m kind of like a hypochondriac (sorry if misspelled) I guess you might say. I’m always scared I have something wrong with me.. But this gives me hope. Thank you.

Lynne August 6, 2017, 9:56 am

Ive been suffering from anxiety attacks for years. I was put on a medication to help..it didnt work, it seemed to trigger more attacks. So i would try different methods of walking, riding a bike. Many of my issues, are triggered by fears..Clostaphopobia being one( i cant handle being in elevators, at all), planes, heights..
But 2yrs ago, my husband had a Massive Stroke at 57yrs old.After 11 surgeries- including 6 on his brain- boneflap arwa, months of medical in hospiral rehab..my anxiety got worse. Tge constant struggle if running a house, back & forth to hospitals & rehabs daily, in NC..thats where his stroke occured. We live in NY. Lack if rest, sleep, constant arguments with my 4 adult children, telling me my responsiblities, that i need to remember my weddibg vows..all tg while, not getting any ohysical help from all 4 of them. My anxiety git worse & worse..i cried all the time. I woukd get the choking feeling in my neck, stress in my shoukders & neck, tingling feeling in my face( that drove me crazy, around my nose & mouth)..i would write nites journals, bc i spent so many hours, by myself, it was terrible..i would ask volunteers at desk, if they could ride elevators with me, bc my husband was on 16th floor..i would ride with other riders to the highest floor, they were going to, get off, and walk the stairs..i know that sounds crazy, but Ive gotten stucj in 3 elevators before..so i try to avoid them. My days git worse after his stroke April 2015. He broke his hip 2/2016, broke his Femor, 6/2016..my anxiety got worse. My kids, 3 out of area, one in area. I was constantly reminded, they have jobs, cant take time off..
The first week he had stroke, they were all there. The weeks following,my daughter yhat lived in NC, would come on wknds, if possible. But still being told, what my responsibilities as a wife were..i literally slept..after 36hrs of pacing at Duke Univ Hosp..in the waiting room, for 2weeks..before finally going to hotel. My problem, always a PLEASER, always there fir anyway who needed me. I worked as a Caregiver for 31yrs with the elderly( worked in nursing homes too, as a CNA).. I love my kids & they were there for their Dad, but emotionally, they were not for me. And it killed me, deep inside..for me, it was a constant call or text, Hows Dad? No one fave a crap about me..i waa literally running on adreline.my heart waa cracking daily, from being lonely..after 4 mths of being in NC fron Stroke.came home..only for the injuries to start happening .
Tgank the Lord, hes had amazibg tgerapy & teans if medical help & ME, to get him where he is today..but niw after 2yrs..i feel more anxious, more stressed, constantly worrying, alone way to much, bc my husband sleeps alot, if we arent out on a ride, which those rides are for my sanity.
But this week, was the worse, he had issues with his income & it totally escallated into arguments..he didnt lose his voice in his stroke..but his thinking process can be off at times..i felt overwhelmed, ftingling in my hand, foot & face, on my way driving to a famiky picnic, with my daughter & famiky drivibg ahead of us, onky to pull over, bc I was havibg a Eye Migraine. Havent had one of those in years.. Im depressed over dact, I miss my kids, i have no me time, no one can hangout with him.his britger promises 2 visits a week ..we are lucky, if obce, bc he has RA..my husband is 1 of 10, all in area..but still, no help. I was told awhile back he can be left alone for a couple hours, uf I needed to go to store..guikt trio gets triggered from my husband or my kids, texting me, He may fall..its a no win situation here..and these last few days. Make me feel like if I walked away, what would my kids have to for their father?
Ive tried Support Groups, it only makes you realize, everyone is in same boat, anxiety gets worse. I tried counseling, i keft feeling worse tgen i came, bc I was spending $50. To use tissues to blow my nose & wipe my tears..
So as many have different reasons for their anxiety, mine started out small, years back, but has turned into Panic. bc I have a controlling family, that loves to tell me my faults, instead of the goid Ive done 24-7 for their Dad & husband..
Bc tgen they dont have to feel the guilt if not helping out, as long as Momma, is here..and my tingling gets worse..

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