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Avatar universal

Panic Attacks

Dr. Gould, I'm 22 years old and I'm a physician assistant student.  I have a history with panic attacks since I was 16 and still experience them from time to time, but they are completely situational, and I usually prophylax with xanax as needed. Over the years I have seen some MSW's for therapy but they don't ever seem to help resolve the problem.

My main problem is that the more I learn about medicine, the more I become afraid that any symptom I have may be something of a severe disease.  For instance, a heart palpitation - I may go into an abnormal rhythm  - or a headache - what if its bacterial meningitis?   I understand that these things are incredibly rare but I am all to hypervigilant and understand this.  But how do I move on?   This feeds into my anxiety when I am sick, or whenever I am alone.  I am afraid to drive anywhere alone that is not close to home or to live anywhere alone, especially if I am sick.  Driving is particularly difficult because I can feel the anxiety coming on in the form of sensations in my chest and perceived changes in difficulty of breathing.  I have thought about why, and it ultimately comes down to the thought that if something was to happen to me - if I was to go unconscious (or basically lose control of the situation - yes I know typical) no one would be there to help me.  I believe that if I can resolve this problem my anxiety and panic attacks will go away.  Just point me in the right direction.
2 Responses
242532 tn?1269553979
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
You are dealing with a fundamental life issue..the issue of absolute safety( an illusion) vs. realistic safety.  You have some all or none thinking going on...if not absolutely safety, then not safe at all...a good cognitive therapist should be able to help you with this..or if you can find a copy of my book Transformations..in the library, it is all about what you need to know.
Avatar universal
SO! everything you said, ita4me ,i can relate to down to a t!! The  heart palpatations, the headach all of it! Every headache, every pain, is a blood clot or a seizer or a stroke. And my biggest fear is that one I'll be alone when no one can call for help if i need it, or that it will happen in my sleep. I will wake up in the middle of the night terrified if  I relax into sleep my heart will stop and no one will know until morning when its too late. Along with these fears is the additional worry, that one of these times i really WILL be sick and it will be written off as panic by myself or others until its too late. I not only worry about the physical things, but during these times when i have repeated attacks Im so scared I will just loose my grip on sanity. I want so much to be a normal 18 year old without these worries but it seems impossible. Im scared I will always need these medicines. How can i live without this? How can I go back to normalicy. i was not always scared. this... condition came on suddenly my sophmore year of highschool and never left. I refuse to live my life this way, but can find no answers as to how to stop it. If only it was as easy as to just tell myself its nothing.
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