Anxiety Community
QUESTION OF THE MONTH FOR MAY/2013
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This patient support community is for discussions relating to generalized anxiety, anxiety and eating, anxiety and sleeping, mood swings, panic attacks and panic disorders.

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QUESTION OF THE MONTH FOR MAY/2013

What is the ONE thing that helps you the most during an anxiety or panic attack? Please explain why you feel this helps you.


Your responses are so important because what helps YOU could easily help someone else.
No matter what it is, no matter how silly or embarrassing you may feel it is, if it helps you, PLEASE share it with us.

Thanks so much for your input!
Your Anxiety Forum CL's
Greenlydia
cj
nursegirl
28 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_n_tn
Hmmm...lots of different things!  I will sometimes just tap my hand on something over and over, deep breathing, focusing my thoughts on something else, walking or going and sitting in the bathroom.  Sometimes I recite a prayer in my head or repeat STOP over and over in my head.  Sometimes I will sing a song in my head.  Xanax is helpful for me afterwards when I sit and obsess over the WTH just happened to me and the physical symptoms I experienced.
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Avatar_m_tn
Wow! This could become the Question of the Day!  A really good idea greenlydia. I have posted the following elsewhere but it is the answer to your question. I have practiced for years in conditioning my mind to a "relaxation response" mode and i do the technique every morning and then whenever the anxiety just gets too much. If really bad i will also walk and breath and trust that the daily "conditioning" will kick in! As you all know however---sometimes nothing i do works and i just have to abide. I will return shortly with that post.   omhome
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Avatar_m_tn
here is that post-----what i do everyday for anxiety.

   Here is a start---and you may feel the calming effects right away. The more you practice the more powerful this will become. Each day a refreshment with the inhale (like grazing--feeding on O2 and prana.) A relaxation (aahhhhh) with each exhale---keeping focus. No effort--slowly slowly. Enjoy in Joy>>>>


  >>>>     ok   so inhale-refresh. Any position(back straight) is fine just do it when you remember but every morning for sure. The feeling-state or your mental state (i call it inner weather) during refresh is like this-----when we said the word "beach" to our lab there was instant JOY---tail going whole body excited happy happy dog---or the feeling of a child night before or morning of christmas---or you before the trip to bora bora!!That feeling! Imagine it! Really. imagination is powerful. The mind can believe it. Like placebo effect.  Or conditioning.  If you like add a word or image (or both) to help. So maybe say the word refresh (or beach) as you inhale and feel sunshiney. The more you practice this (tailor it to you) the more effective and reliable it becomes. At first just pretend you feel the refreshment. What can you lose.  
      Now don't hold or force your breath---just relaxed but full inhale---primary nutrient!! Elixir.  I know it sounds weird or hokey or?  but is based on scientific principles.    Give it a try and see.   There is yet more to it than that but first  just this step..   This is what i do for the anxiety--among other techniques i also use.
      
      Let me know if you like this or have questions about it.
omhome
Reply
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973741_tn?1342346373
What was the biggest thing that helped me with my anxiety?  Medication.  That's my honest answer.  

I tried may things prior to medication but found that upon starting on antidepressants, I felt better, functioned better and life brightened up.  I also stopped taking them with doctor's approval but am very aware if anxiety returns and what I need to do.  

Peace to all.  
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I NEVER leave home without this and it's NOT my American Express Credit Card! It's my little paper bag!

Hyper-ventilation, also known as over-breathing, can cause SO many scary symptoms. When the scary symptoms begin to appear, the more I hyperventilate, which causes more scary symptoms, which causes me to hyperventilate more.......and it just keeps getting worse. It's a very nasty trick our body plays on us, but it's actually US doing it to ourselves. And we can easily stop it, and when we stop it, those scary symptoms also stop.

When we breathe, we breathe IN oxygen and breathe OUT carbon dioxide, but over-breathing causes the levels of carbon dioxide in our blood to drop and this out of whack balance is what causes many of the symptoms of hyperventilation. As I said before, panic and hyperventilation become a vicious cycle. Panic leads to rapid breathing, and breathing rapidly can make you feel panicked.

Hyperventilation can cause many of the following symptoms:


•Chest pain
•Confusion
•Dizziness
•Dry mouth
•Lightheadedness
•Muscle spasms in hands and feet
•Numbness and tingling in the arms or around the mouth
•Palpitations
•Shortness of breath
•Sleep disturbances
•Weakness
•Belching
•Bloating

The paper bag solution will resolve all these symptoms, is very easy and works rapidly to restore the oxygen/carbon dioxide levels in our blood. Since our carbon dioxide level is too low, we need to replenish it. When we first breath into a paper bag, we are inhaling the oxygen in the bag, but when we exhale, we are exhaling  carbon dioxide. So the next time we inhale, we are inhaling mostly carbon dioxide. As we continue this process, eventually, and quite rapidly, we bring the carbon dioxide in our blood back into balance. We know this is happening because the symptoms begin to disappear!

It takes a little practice to get this down smoothly. When we are in the middle of a panic attack, we just don't have our wits about us enough to start hunting through all the kitchen cupboards and drawers to find a small paper bag, then try to figure out how to hold it tightly enough over both our mouth and nose, to figure out HOW you should breath, (how often, how deep, for how long, etc) You must also learn/experience the noise it will make, which can be a bit nerve wracking if you're not expecting it. You must also know if you have claustrophobic tendencies, it's also good to know that it gets hot in there and that when you feel yourself back in balance and remove the bag, breathing "pure" oxygen again feels a bit weird and it's cold compared to the stuff in the bag. All these are reasons why I suggest you practice this a few times BEFORE you need it.

I absolutely swear by this procedure, which was taught to me by a naturopathic doctor, because it works. Virtually all of us hyperventilate during an anxiety/panic attack and the same exact  physiologic imbalances happen, it works 99.9% of the time for everybody.

A school lunch bag WILL work, but something smaller is better only because it's more manageable. (I've used grocery bags, and while it DID work, it takes a LOT of time to fill that puppy up with carbon dioxide!)
The bags I carry with me are about 1/2 the size of a lunch bag. In a pinch you can also use newspaper or an article of clothing. You may have to double or triple the thickness to keep the carbon dioxide contained.  

As soon as you begin to feel the symptoms of an attack, grab your bag and hold it firmly over your mouth and nose. Breath "normally," which, because of the panic attack, is going to be quite rapid AT FIRST. Don't let this scare you, let it be PROOF that it IS your rapid breathing doing this to you. As you breath in and out, the bag is going to inflate and deflate with each breath and it's going to make noise! Just keep breathing! If you normally have a little talk with yourself or sing a song or say a prayer or visualize some peaceful place, now is the time to do that as well. The time will vary before you begin to feel your symptoms begin to abate, but for ME, I can feel myself "coming down" in about a minute or less. Within about a dozen breaths, I can actually see (and hear) that the bag is inflating and deflating slower and my heart rate is slowing down right along with it. As I keep breathing, the other symptoms begin to vanish and this will probably sound corny, but I begin to get a sense of well-being. When I feel the worst is over, I remove the bag and continue to practice 4 square breathing so that I don't RE-hyperventilate myself. 4 square breathing is simply to inhale to a count of 4, hold for a 4 count, exhale to a 4 count, hold for 4 counts and repeat. This also helps replenish nice fresh oxygen into your system.

If, after breathing into the bag for 2 minutes, you are not feeling better, remove the bag. Wait a few minutes and if you're still having symptoms, try again. This could simply mean your levels were way too far out of balance.

This method will not magically stop a panic attack in its tracks, but it WILL calm you down enough so you can use your other coping skills until the attack is, indeed, over.

I don't know how the rest of you feel after a major attack, but I usually feel very shaky, unsettled, agitated, nervous and jumpy. I take a Xanax and a hot cup of tea and lay down, usually I turn on the TV to provide distraction. If you don't use meds, then do whatever helps you after an attack.......maybe that's yoga, or walking or a hot bath or calling a friend, whatever helps you decompress, do it.
I bet if you try this, you too will "never leave home without it!"
I don't even care that my friends call me an "old bag!"  LOL
WHATEVER WORKS!
Greenlydia          











  
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370181_tn?1408130715
Did I happen to mention that my friends also call me a "wind bag?"
ROFL
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Avatar_m_tn
don't feel bad greenlydia my mom was called  "the bag lady" but she too had one always with her and if not it was a panic to get one----an old-timey doc in 1950's texas had told her about it! The family teased her endlessly about it---all in good fun of course.
om
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;)
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Avatar_m_tn
hello greenlydia----just let me add to the four square breathing technique that in case people have trouble with a four count you can reduce until you are comfortable---try three or even two count (one thousand one---one thousand two etc.) ------or i use Om one Om two etc. (use your word or mantra while counting)........some may experiment with a five count!
  And practice  beforehand of whatever technique as you mention is important to success. Interesting that the breath is involved as at least a part of so many relaxation and meditation techniques. Evert time you can remember come back to a gentle focus on that breath---slow and easy does it!

omhome
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Avatar_m_tn
For me, it really comes down to me accepting that the anxiety is not going to hurt to me.  Sure, it really *****, but I know a panic attack is just that...a panic attack. We all have gone through these multiple times, and we come out on the other end of them intact.

I believe acceptance and recognition of what it really is, is what gets me through it. By accepting it, while it is not a pleasant experience I have come to really not fear it.  I tend to just tell myself that it is here and that it will be over soon...like it had previously. I don't want to oversimplify it, but this is what has helped me through the years.  
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370181_tn?1408130715
Accepting them and learning they aren't going to kill you, while that sounds fairly easy, I know only too well, cj, that that "acceptance" can take YEARS. But it is one of the many things I tell myself during an attack, while I'm waiting for my "bag trick" to work, that I WILL be OK soon.

For those who are new to anxiety/panic attacks, I wish it was easier to convince them that while they ARE scary as hell, they won't hurt you.

Thanks for sharing that!  
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While there are those who would disagree with us, I am 100% behind you on the medication approach. I don't think I would have made it without the help of meds and I'm still on them!
I stand by my philosophy that "whatever works and whatever it takes......."
ANYTHING is better than a panic attack.

Thanks for sharing!
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370181_tn?1408130715
Your list of "counter-terrorism" tactics made me laugh, ONLY because I often did the same kinds of things as you! I too would often head to the bathroom..........not because I had any "business" to do, but the room was small........there wasn't as much external stimulation to get my brain crazy, I would, and still do, find running cold water over my wrists really helps. I have no idea why, but I've done that for years.
I also kept a small book in there which described a panic attack and it calmed me down (a little) to read, sometimes over and over, that what I was feeling was very normal for a panic attack and it wasn't going to hurt me. It was so reassuring.
I also saw a psychologist once during my years of therapy who taught me what he called "STOP THOUGHT!"  It was pretty simple but it really worked! When your thoughts would just NOT stop scaring the daylights out of me, I would literally scream "STOP!" in my head and damn if they didn't. Sometimes I had to yell "STOP" a few hundred times, but I eventually just had to say it quietly and only a few times. Practice, as they say, makes perfect!
Walking for me was also a big help.....getting some of that really negative energy out was good. There were nights I walked around my house 200 times like a crazed meter reader, but whatever works!

Thanks for sharing your strategies. I hope they help others who haven't amassed a bag of tricks yet!  
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Maybe the four square breathing WOULD be a bit too much initially. Getting our breathing under control I believe is such a HUGE part of dealing with anxiety and panic attacks, but it can be very difficult. I think you were right to advise "newbies" to start off with maybe a 3 count or even 2............just to learn to focus on breathing.

When my panic attacks first began, I was given all sorts of advice on how to help deal with them, but when they are new to you, when your panic has complete control of your mind, your ability to think and reason in even the most basic logical way is also completely gone. It takes experience and understanding to let that logical part be heard.

I appreciate your advise that it may be better to not start at the more difficult level.  
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Avatar_m_tn
First, I try to pray and ask for the strength to get through the episode.

I then take deep cleansing breaths.  This reminds me there is nothing wrong with my heart.  A massage therapist/reiki master told me to welcome the anxious feelings (no matter how frightening).  I try really hard to let the feelings flow over me.  Easier said than done, right?

Then I will find a quiet place (if possible) and stretch.  I will lay on the floor and go into child's pose, cat and cow, and corpse and just breath.  

If I'm on the road, unable to find a quiet place, or extra panicky I will call family, friends anyone who will listen, and engage in conversation that diverts my attention from what my mind is putting my body through.  

Don't get it twisted....I use 25 mg of setraline (zoloft), but I'm on the lowest dose without cutting the pill in half.  That is my next step.  

My last tip is relaxing music.  I will go on YouTube and find three hours worth of relaxing music (without words), and play it.  It helps keep me calm.  

Hope I've helped.  I am brand new to the forum and hope I can lean on the support this community provides.

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What helps me the most during a panic attack is controlled breathing.  Basically I'm hyperventilating and I need to get my breathing under control.  Once I do that, the panic attack stops.  

If you asked for a 2nd it would be self-coaching.  For instance, if I panic in the car then I breath...but if I start to think I'm going to have a panic attack, I self-coach "You drive all the time without a problem." or even "bring it on" and it goes away.

Hope this helps somebody.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I am not surprised that these things you have discovered to do help so much. I wish i could convince more people to practice exactly  what you are doing. Both----and they go well together---are yogic techniques that have been practiced for centuries---well eons---or ages--or something. A long time!
Just the wording and the language and the way each person discovers it works for them are different. Breath training---pranayama. And mind training----mantra. Works just as well to chant (repeat over to yourself) "bring it on" as it does om nama shivaya! Result is pretty much the same.
     So not surprised but  happy you have made that important-to-your-life discovery.

omhome
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Thanks for sharing your comments with us. They're helpful for our community members.   Everyone is welcome to continue answering this thread, as well as look for new questions each month!

Best,

Cheryl
MedHelp
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Avatar_f_tn
Here's mine list
* Drawing
*ignoring the basic issues
*go out for a long walk
*Take a deep breath
*Stand up
*Watch TV with parents
*Talk to parents about it
anything else above that I can't seem to get control of it thou?
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