I have gotten pretty good at self talk when I have a panic attack. My husband is also excellent at what I call "talking me down" when it happens. Tonight I had a pretty severe one after he was in bed that took a long time to get through. It was that feeling of being unable to breath and actually scared me quite a bit. I am wondering how others deal with those? Any tips at getting through them? I absolutely recognize my thought process at the time is irrational, it just doesn't seem to help in the moment. I am just wondering because tonights was quite scary and seemed to last a lot longer then normal for me. I would love to hear any extra tips or tricks the rest of you use to get through them. Thanks so much.
Panic attacks are rough to deal with! Couple questions, how long have you been having panic attacks, and have you seen a doctor about them? If so, did they give you a diagnosis (like panic disorder?). I think it's fabulous that you already have effective coping mechanisms in place that seem to work for you the majority of the time. It sounds like this one was just a little more severe than others and got away from you a little bit, and that happens. Those attacks leave us feeling like sh*t, sometimes for a whole day or more afterwards!
Have you ever tried therapy, like CBT? Meds? Since you already seem to have some pretty good tools in place, I would recommend trying CBT to help reinforce your coping skills and help you to learn more of them to keep in your arsenal.
Some basic tips to help deal with panic is to keep reminding yourself that what you are feeling is only emotions, they won't harm you in any way. Same thing with the scary symptoms (like the feeling of shortness of breath)...try reminding yourself, out loud if it helps, that "this feeling will pass, this is only anxiety, I am breathing just fine."
Distraction is also a good way to cut panic off in its tracks..the less we focus on the sensations, the quicker they subside. I know a lot of times this is WAY easier said than done...when I am in the midst of a bad PA, I can barely have a coherent thought, let alone "busy" myself with something. Some times, one of the best options becomes riding it out, as awful as it may be. Again, reassure yourself that this will pass, and that you have been through this before, you always return to a state of normalcy. Your body does that for you automatically, even if you feel you can't "bring yourself down".
A few facts about the biological causes of panic attacks that are pretty cool. The sympathetic nervous system is what is responsible for panic attacks...it is the fight or flight response that triggers the release of adrenaline and all kinds of chemicals preparing our bodies to fight or flee, to preserve our lives, which is a great thing in the event of real danger, but for those of us with panic attacks, the sympathetic nervous system initiates without a real danger trigger, which makes it all that more frightening. What some people don't know is that at SOME point (and what may seem like forever), the parasympathethic nervous system shuts down the F or F response automatically and brings the body and all of the systems (circulatory, neurological, etc) back to "normal"...to a state of rest. It's pretty cool actually. In a REAL danger situation, this happens when the danger is no longer a threat to one's safety. In panic attacks...the body actually recognizes that indeed there is no threat and reverses the process. Kind of like having our own checks and balances. The sympathetic nervous system tricks our brains into thinking there is some kind of danger, and the parasympathetic nervous system calls its bluff and takes over. Isn't that neat?
The only other advice I would have for you is recognition and prevention. That's basically where you recognize that a panic attack is brewing and try to stop it before it starts, or in the least, minimize the severity. If you can do that, your coping techniques will work much better. It's much harder to bring yourself down when you are in full blown panic mode, versus during the stage where the panic is brewing, This is also the best time to take a medication, if someone has a rescue med, like Xanax or Ativan Rx'd....those meds are much more effective if taken before the anxiety spirals out of control.
It truly sounds like you've had a pretty good grasp on handling this, and it is normal to have an occasional attack that is worse than what you're accustomed to. I would seriously recommend you looking into CBTm it would be invaluable to you.
Sorry you had such a bad night. Been there, done that...it stinks.
Thanks ladies. I am feeling more normal again today. Yes, I am in therapy although I do not know what CBT is? I am most definately open to it though and will bring it up with my Dr. I was diagnosed with Post Partum Depression manifesting itself in Anxiety originally, but looking back I suspect anxiety has always been with me, it just got 100 times worse after my son was born. Most of my issues revolve around his health. I have had total panic attacks over colds, convinced he couldn't breath and was dying. That sort of thing. I was on cypralix which worked extremely well for me. I have been going back and forth on whether or not to go on meds again. I am absolutely not opposed to them...it worked very very well and I really had no big side effects, its just that we are trying to conceive still and I worry about impact on a potential fetus. My Dr. reassures me that there are many meds women have taken successfully during a pregnancy, but my RE would rather I not be on anything on, so it's a bit of a catch 22.
My therapist has taught me some great "self talk" which I have used effectively, but times like last night I can't seem to get it under control even though I am fully aware my thoughts are not rational. It's weird..it's like standing back and watching a different person if that makes sense. Things have been getting rough again though, and I have suspected for awhile that I am going to have to return to meds. Again, no issue with it, just worried about achieving a pregnancy again. I so wish there was something I could take in emergencies only, but my therapist isn't wild about that idea. She says most drugs need time to build up in your system to effective.
Thanks again, I just have some decisions to make here I guess. I truly appreciate it. I just reread my journal and talk about all over the map thoughts. I was in a state last night.
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