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Avatar universal

Advice sought!

Why is it that sometimes all the self help books on dealing with the intense physical symptoms that long-term acute anxiety disorder brings fail to reassure me that I have been here before and I'm not going to die? Has anyone else out there got any helpful advice on how I should be dealing with this?
15 Responses
Avatar universal
At best I can tell you that nobody has ever died from a panic attack. It won't happen to you or anybody else. The body just goes into a defensive mode once the mind senses danger. Danger that isn't really there. But to us it is real. Bit like a cat when it sees a dog and all its fur stands up and it goes up on all four paws. The body is ready for a fight. Hence you may feel certain symptoms. Sweats, Chills, sick at times. It can vary from person to person. As the blood rushes to the parts of the body the brains tells it that it is needed most. Your hands might feel cold. As the blood may run from them to elsewhere in your body. All just for protection. All brough on by panic. And our own minds telling the body that we are in danger. I am sure that should have been in some of the books? Fight or flight. Most times we flee. Hence we feel as we do. But you can link everything together. Your mood is one of feeling down maybe, your thought maybe ' oh, not this again ', your reaction may be to begin to pace the house, thus that in turn brings on your symptoms. So the whole idea is to try and change the thought or the reaction. That would have a knock on effect on the others areas. But for this to happen we don't flee. We stay and fight. Let the feelings hit. See that they can pass just as they came on. Hard at first. But with some practice it does get a lot easier. No idea if this is the sort of help you are looking for. But even keep a journal of the mood, thought, reaction and symptoms and you will find a pattern over the course of a week or two and see where you have to try and make changes to make things right again.
370181 tn?1595629445
MrGreen has given you excellent insights, advice and coping techniques and I can't add much to what he's told you.
I back him up, very strongly, regarding your fear that your anxiety is going to kill you. NOBODY has died from anxiety or panic. I know, only too well, that it sure as hell feels like were going to, but I've had panic attacks for 40+ years and I'm still here!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with self-help books. I personally think they are excellent tools to help us cope. But if they aren't doing enough, then it may be time to look into some therapy.
1118884 tn?1338592850
Mr G is a hard act to follow.  But here is my take on your question.  Hope it helps.

First: throw out the self-help books. Not saying that you won't find reassurance in one, but I never have, and I am a veteran of the agoraphobia wars.  About 30 yrs of various treatments.  I am a retired librarian and love literature; have many books scattered about my apartment: The Art of Happiness is the only non fiction I'm scanning now.

Second: Best ideas I've gotten for how to face anxiety/panic attacks come from bios or well written fiction.  An example: First rule of the universe: don't panic!.  A well known phrase from science fiction novel.  The other source of help has come from others who live with same disorder.  

Third: The self help books I've seen oversimplify: reading the upbeat words may discourage you further: the mind gets stuck on whatever you've read, and unpleasant  emotions follow.  Taking a short walk is preferable: the slightest exercise will help with panic: the fight/flight urges.

I keep a journal: no one looking at the current one would guess that all the scribble is important...LOL.   Generally, I toss mine after awhile, but definitely feel lost without a tablet: I buy the cheap, fat, college-lined ones @ Walgreens.

Glad you posted your concerns.  Keep talking to us.  Hope our experiences will help.
370181 tn?1595629445
As a sister literary buff..........(I own over 2000 books) my house is a bit more than "scattered" with them! I wonder if there is a term for those of us who hoard books? Perhaps you and I could start a new forum........anyway, I just have to disagree slightly with you about throwing out his self-help books simply because you found no help in them. I DO agree that the vast majority of them are full of "let's all just be happy crap," but there ARE some very intelligently written ones out there.
I have an extremely old, yellowed and dog-eared self-help book that was issued back in the early 80's by Dr. Mark Gold. Reading it now borders on the humorous considering how far we have come in our knowledge of anxiety/panic/depression/OCD/agoraphobia et al., as well as the pharmacological and psychological treatments that have come out of that knowledge. But that book, at one time, was the only thing that convinced me I wasn't going insane and it was the first time I learned that there were breathing techniques I could do that would help me. (And they did) That book is like an old and trusted friend.
If somebody can find, as you said, "reassurance in one," then it was well worth the read.
Don't want to get into a squabble, we all have our opinions, and I agree with many of yours................I just don't think all self-help books deserve the Fahrenheit 451 treatment.

So many books...........so little time!  
Avatar universal
Hi all!

THANKS for your comments but how do I get out of my particular mindset at this point that is causing this prolonged intense period of acute anxiety? All the deep breathing exercises in the world aint helping and no amount of acceptance seems to be working?
Avatar universal
Your mindset seems to be what is in these books. So feck what you read in the books. Pretend you never read any of that at all and start all over again. You have to find a way that suits you best. Be it some form of distraction to take you mind off of thinking inwardly. Get yourself an MP3 player or something. Blast some music out. Find a hobby. Your mind won't be on how you are breathing. That will just happen. As it happening now you are focused on how you breath and probably your pulse and your heart beat. You have read things to do to get these under control. But in doing so you have become trapped. Because none of it works. We all have to find our own ways of dealing with our own situations. Things that fit the bill with us. There must be at least one thing you like doing? Writing? Drawing? Anything at all. Just to get your focus off of yourself. Right now you are only thinking of you and the bad things about you. The bad things going on in your life. That is what you have to distract yourself from doing. Find a method. Anything at all. Writers create their own methods. You can do the exact same thing. Once it works for you.
1118884 tn?1338592850
Thanks for responding to our comments.  Think we need to know more about your current dilemma to give you helpful support.

For instance: are you taking a medication or have you seen a psychiatrist or therapist for help?  I felt you might have begun reading what we are calling 'self help' books as an adjunct to face-to-face assistance with your extreme anxiety.

Greenlydia is right about books: my sweeping denouncement of self help books was a bit over the top.  I ,too ,have gotten great help with various issues, not only how to cope with anxiety, from a book.  We two are bibliophiles: believe that is correct term for people  who love books.  Believe my concern for your happiness is colored by your first statement that
books were not helping.  Think there is a time when they can.  The example given by Greenlydia struck me.  So, don't give up on books.  There is an author out there who will speak to you.  

But back to your current situation: tell us more.  What action are you taking since books don't seem to help?  You are posting here.  Think that is great.  What else are you doing?

Let us know.
480448 tn?1426948538
I agree with the posters above.  MrGreen is right in that the best way to "cope" with anxiety, and especially panic is DISTRACTION.  The more you focus on certain symptoms, the worse that symptom will get. Perfect example is breathing. Now, I'm sure that for some, breathing exercises have helped people...but I have found that for the majority of people, they only make the perceived breathing issues worse. That's b/c we are extra focused on it, instead of just trying NOT to focus on it.  Breathing is an involuntary bodily function...our bodies do not NEED our help to make it work right (of course, with the exceptions of real medical problems,like asthma, COPD, etc).

As for the literature out there...there are VERY good books.....however, you have to approach the reading a little differently.  I find the "informative" books rather than the "instructional" type books the most helpful. Mostly b/c it educates us in what we are dealing with, and like lydia stated, it gives us a lot of reassurance that we are NOT insane, NOT dying, and that MANY others suffer from the same problems...which makes you feel very good to read.

Two books that helped me tremendously were "The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook", and "Helping Your Loved One Overcome Agoraphobia".  Thr first contains a lot of great info and helpful coping tools, and the second just sort of makes you feel better to read about something you can so relate to. Even if you are not dealing with Agoraphobia, there is still a lot of helpful info in the book.  Also, even though it is geared more towards the family member,I, being the sufferer, found it most helpful.  Again, any kind of book that offers helpful hints and tips...you need to simply apporach them conservatively, not putting such serious emphasis on the exercises and tips.  Some things may work for you, and some may not. Just do not get so caught up in thinking that ANY one thing is going to be the answer for you.  For many of us, it takes time, and a good bit of trial and error to find the right treatment method that will work. And, personally, if you are looking for ways to address anxiety and panic, there is simply no substitution for good ole'  fashioned therapy.  Have you tried that yet?  CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is one form of therapy that has been especially helpful for those with anxiety and panic issues.

Let us know how you're doing!  Take care!
Avatar universal

Thanks for all your encouragement and messages of support! I do really appreciate it!!

I've post a reply elsewhere in relation to where I am right now with all this (it's still in the anxiety forum). As for medication I'm on beta blockers - not that they seem to be working anymore!

Does anyone know of any effectual herbal medicine or do they all interfere with prescribed medication?

Lastly, I can't grade you guys as  'cos ALL your comments are equally good
as one another's!

Avatar universal
Trust me when I say that none of us are looking to be graded. We are just in it to help others out. Graded sounds like we are back in school again. Getting gold stars. That is not our aim ever. Helping the person is our first and foremost concern. There is another forum here on MedHelp that deals with alternative options to medication. Have a look over there. You may find a herbal answer.
Avatar universal

I have been undergoing Person Centred Counselling over the last month via e.mail by someone whose two years into a three year course. It has helped me to explore my strong emotions on certain personal matters and look at things in a different way. I think where I am now is a emotional response to that! As for medication I'm on beta blockers (1 160mg tab a day) and I have just been given the ok by my doctor to try a course of St John's wort. I was advised by the person whose giving me the couselling to expect an upsurge of feelings but I didn't expect them to increase my anxiety levels so intensely!

Having said that though I have noticed a reduction in these level thank goodness - except for feelings of giddiness, weakness of legs as though they will not carry me and feelings of lightheadedness and a feeling I'm going to fall. Don't get me wrong, I try to counter by pointing out to myself that I have never fallen ... but its a particularly hard one at the moment to convince myself THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN! (this has to do with a physical handicap I experienced in my childhood when it took me three and half year to walk).

You would think I should know better as I have an online mental health support group and have loads of self help material and web links, but as I have pointed out to them at times - well, for me anyway, this doesn't seem to be enough sometimes,.

Thanks for continuing concerns and any additional insight will be appreciated!  
Avatar universal
Just to comment on the balance thing and the feeling like you are going to fall over. If you read 100 posts here on the forum from people asking about anxiety you will see that same symptom. It is one of the most common symptoms. I remember when I used to be outdoors and anxiety was kicking in, I used to have to hold onto walls and the likes as I moved along. The exact same thing. It is not uncommon. It is one of those things that just seems to vanish over time. No miracle cure or the likes for it. Just another odd symptom. Trust me there are many odd symptoms. If we listed them all we could build and entire web site based on them. Different people feel different ways. In turn this brings about different symptoms. They may have something they fear the most. This will be their main symptom. The biggest symptom for them. It can change too. You might find something else more worrying as time moves along. It pushes the old big one out and takes its place. It's amazing what anxiety can do.

The auld emotional treatment. It is one of the main forms of theraphy. To try and touch on your inner most emotions. Nothing like a good crying session as times. It helps. Big time. And if anybody says anything different they are lying. We have all done it at some stage in our condition. I find it great. Better than keeping things inside that maybe hurting you. Or even harming you on another level.

Keep up the good work. You are doing great posting here. Give yourself credit for that too. Bit like theraphy in itself.
Avatar universal

Thanks for the reassurance re the balancing thing. Yeah and you're so right about the focusing thing on the next big thing and the amazing tricks that anxiety plays with your mind and body!! I have had this condition now since 1994 (it was brought on by excessive work pressures that unfortunately led to three breakdowns and my dismissal!) Since then I have been on incapacity benefit and have struggled  to see how I still fit into the greater scheme of things so to speak!  Thanks too for you continuing encouragement!!
Avatar universal
Hi guys!

Unfortunately, dispute my best efforts I'm still struggling to cope! Given my last conversation with Mr Green on how anxiety seems to able to play tricks on our minds, any tips on defocusing would be appreciated!! Thanks!!


Avatar universal
Sorry to hear things are not going that well for you. By now you know how the whole anxiety works. I think for most people it is all about finding that one thing that works for them. By way of distraction. I use a few hobbies to fill up my time. The less time we have to think the better when we are at our worse. A therapist once made me write out an hourly chart of everything I done. I thought ' great ', she wants to see what I do. How wrong I was. She wanted to see what I didn't do. She pointed out many hours on that chart were I was just sitting around. Her thing was that I needed to fill those hours up. The chart was all about how I wasted my time doing nothing at all. It opened my eyes. I never saw those hours as wasted hours before. The fact was I was doing nothing during those hours. So she made me change that. She wanted to see over a period of weeks if there could be any changes me. Oh I began to do the garden a lot more. Walk a dog. I love wood burning. So I took that up again. Hadn't done it in years. But that is one area of your life that you could maybe look at. Is there anything you are not doing? Not what you are doing. Are you giving yourself too much free time. Fill the mind up a bit more. Build your day around what you can do. I know from experience there will be things you can't do. Hence i always say the condition shapes us. My hobbies are things I can do by myself. That is just one idea for you. Something to think about. I know it isn't easy at all. But at times we need to push ourselves that little bit harder. As bad as things may be. Just hope things can pick up for you.
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370181 tn?1595629445
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