Anxiety i.e Panic Attacks out of nowhere

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Zen Butler, Feb 11, 2003.

  1. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    I have suffered from occassional panic attacks throughout adult life. It has been almost a year since my last one. A client came in for a quote yesterday. During our meeting, the sweaty palms, sweating, dry mouth, tightness in chest all started.
    I know it's not my heart. I have 3 emergency room false alarms to prove that. I perform live often with zero difficulty. Just out of the blue sheer panic!

    I'm off to the doctor in a few hours.

    Has anyone else here suffered from these?
     
  2. Paul_Medenwaldt

    Paul_Medenwaldt Supporting Actor

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    I've had 2 panic attacks in my life and both were for the same reason.

    I was driving through Milwaukee on Hwy 94 and there is a part of the highway that is elevated extremely high above the ground. I saw this coming up and for some reason i began to get nervous. Then as i started crossing over the elevated part, my heart began to pound, my palms started sweating. I increased my speed to try and hurry to get over it, but for some reason it seemed like I was slowing down, even though i was doing 75. As I finally passed that part of the highway, i thought to myself, what the hell was that? I also had the attack going back through Milwaukee a few days later. God bless the Hwy 894 bypass!!!

    I don't mind heights too much, i can handle rollercoasters, going up tall buildings, but for some reason that bothered the hell of me.

    Paul
     
  3. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Hope everything's OK Zen. Let us know what the Doc says. Linda went through a bout of PA's several months ago. Mainly due to driving and being in large crowded places. She picked up a book on Anxiety and leaned what caused them and how to deal with them. She is doing great now.


    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     
  4. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    Zen, a close person in my life has been dealing with panic attacks for years. She would have them every couple of weeks. For her, the solution was professional counseling.

    The most difficult thing for panic/anxiety sufferers to understand is "There is nothing wrong with me." You said "I know it's not my heart", but deep down inside you really believe it is your heart - or some other mysterious problem with your body that for whatever reason the doctors can't figure out. Am I right?

    Here's the problem: You're going to the doctor for this. The doctor will find nothing wrong with you. You won't be convinced, and next time you have a panic attack you will "know" that your doctor was wrong, there is something he missed, or perhaps you just have some new problem that nobody else has and that's why they can't find anything wrong with you. What you have to realize is your doctor is trained to fix physical problems so that's what he is going to be looking for. Panic/anxiety is a mental problem, and is not something that a medical doctor can cure.

    There are plenty of options available to you, however. Start with some books. Learn about panic/anxiety disorder. If all else fails, try talking to a counselor. Once you realize that there really is nothing wrong with your body, you can learn to control or eliminate these little episodes.

    Hope this helps...
     
  5. KyleS

    KyleS Screenwriter

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    Zen I would recommend talking to your doctor about possible other avenues of help with your panic attacks though at only 1 per year you may not need them (Pills, Psychiatric, etc).

    My Mother-in-Law has panic attacks all the time and it drives my nuts sometimes because I don't have them making it near impossible for me to understand them. She sometimes gets them when flying but for non-apparent reasons. Recently she took a trip to Thailand from Chile and they flew all the way from Santiago Chile to Miami, Miami to SanFrancisco, SanFran to Tokyo Japan. Then when they were in Tokyo she almost couldn't get on the plane from Tokyo to Thailand... Go figure. For her they come and go when flying, driving, & boating especially in Inclement weather. As far as I can tell its all Psychological for her and usually she can take a pill that her doctor prescribes and most of the symptoms seem to go away.

    I feel for you and hope that you can solve the attacks just make sure that you never let them get to the point that they control your life/actions.

    KyleS
     
  6. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    Zen,

    I suffered from dehabilitating panic attacks for literally years. I went through many EKGs and ER scares and anti-anxiety drugs and group counseling before I began the slow ascent into 'normalcy.'

    Ryan Wright, well stated. [​IMG] You are absolutely right about how one deals with it. I'm glad to hear the person in your life has found ways to approach the problem.

    My panic attacks were very particular in that they mimicked heart attack symptoms, and I mean, every single one. Intense chest pain, tingling in the left arm, blurry vision, shortness of breath. I used to have 2 or 3 a week, for no reason, but mostly when driving. In fact, my first panic attack happened in the middle of traffic (the absolute worst place for one). These went on for over 3 years.

    Every time I went to the ER, they were obviously confounded by my symptoms. They sticker me up with EKG pads, hook me up to the machine, pump me with Oxygen, sometimes even give me barbituates to calm me down. I developed an addiction to valium and codeine for a while, because it was the only way for me to not feel panicked. The doctors kept telling me it was 'costragongitis' or some inflammation of the tissue around the ribcage pressing against the heart, gave me some grocery-strength Motrin and sent me on my way.

    The biggest problem with panic attacks is how pronounced the physical symptoms are, and how difficult it is for the mind to comprehend that such symptoms are a direct result of a psychosematic downward spiral.

    In panic attack counseling circles, it's called the 'endless feedback loop.' I have lots of documentation somewhere, and I would be more than happy to find it and share it here if you want. I dealt with this for so long, and learned so much, that it seems a waste not to share my experiences.

    And I haven't had any bad or pronounced attacks for a very long time, and I have not needed medication either. So there is definitely hope. Sometimes just knowing there is hope is all you need.

    Joseph
     
  7. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  8. Aurel Savin

    Aurel Savin Supporting Actor

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    Having had panic attacks in the past (I was getting mine in the subway) and also knowing other people who had them, I noticed some things.

    They usually occur in situations when you feel out of control. Something that you cannot control.

    In the case of the meeting with your client, Zen, is it possible that you did not feel in charge of the meeting?

    This is why most of them occur in places like, congested traffic, being confined in an airplane, being in situations where someone else is in charge of your actions.

    Bottom line is, like Ryan said you have to realize it is not a heart atttack and you are not going to die [​IMG]
     
  9. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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  10. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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  11. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    Zen,

    I've had a few panic attacks in my life and they are pretty much as you describe.

    I'm a pretty anxious person at the best of times, but fortunately it usually doesn't get too bad.

    I've been told my many physicians that the best treatment for chronic anxiety is regular excercise. I have an acquantaince who suffers from it and he swears excercise helps alot.

    (I'm really too lazy to try it myself. :b )
     
  12. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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  13. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    Zen,

    Here's the awful truth about panic attacks: after you've had several, you start worrying about having another, and this becomes the overwhelming (and most irrational) fear. In other words, you begin to feel anxious about getting anxious. Talk about a vicious cycle.

    Zen, it's good that you are taking steps to rein it in at this "early" stage. I would recommend psychological counseling - not years of analysis as if you were in a Woody Allen movie, but some meetings with a psychologist who specializes in panic attacks. You will be given coping strategies and exercises by which you will overcome this problem.

    Best of luck to you!

    Keep us posted,

    Jon
     
  14. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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  15. Leo Hinze

    Leo Hinze Stunt Coordinator

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    I used to have mild to whatever-is-worse-than-mild-but-not-severe panic attacks. I will also say that the common thing about the attacks is some sort of feeling of not being in control. Whether it is a situation at work where you may face consequences but you feel powerless to do anything to change the situation, or a social setting where you may be expected to act/behave a certain way. For me, the more I got them, the more I feared them, and the worse they got.

    Luckily, I was able to pretty much eliminate the attacks by changing my life circumstances - I got a different job, and I eliminated a lot of stress from my life.

    A relative of mine had what he described as an almost ever-present, very mild panic attack. He sought professional help, and was put on some amazing drugs that helped practically eliminate his symptoms.

    Now if I could only eliminate my allergy to coconut, the symptoms of which seem to mimic those of the panic attacks...

    Good luck to you, Zen.
     
  16. Shana

    Shana Stunt Coordinator

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    Xanax - granted my anxiety attacks are very short lived (even though it feels like forever at the time) and not very frequent but I do pop one in just to lessen it and it does work, or if I am feeling anxious about something I take one so that it doesn't lead to an attack. There is nothing wrong with pharmaceuticals correctly used.

    Who knows how the subconscious works.

    Good luck.
     
  17. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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    Man, this thread has been interesting. I have a buddy who gets panic attacks all the time. At first I thought he was full of it, but then one time he had me take him to the hospital. Thats when I knew this was a serious problem for him.
    I've been around him when he had some panic attacks that actually freaked me out, it was very much like he was having a bad trip. He's now on medication that seems to help. I've learned that this is a serious problem.
    I can always tell when a panic attack is coming on for him because he starts feeling his neck for his pulse. For him, like some of the others in this thread,its a fear of his heart.
    I hope for the best for you guys. Zen, take heart from the fact that some of the people in this thread have done so well! I'm going to point my friend to this thread too.

    -Marshall
     
  18. Shana

    Shana Stunt Coordinator

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    I think PAs result mainly from overwhelming feelings of insecurity, purely psychological but devestating nonetheless.
     
  19. Andrew W

    Andrew W Supporting Actor

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    Well, at least you don't have a large "waste management" business to look after, the fear of federal indictments or getting whacked, and a witch of a mother to deal with.

    Hey, your real name's not Soprano is it?

    Seriously, I sympathize and hope you get things worked out.
     
  20. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Ryan Wright and Jeff Ulmer especially have a handle on this.

    I'm 53 and had my first panic attack at 22, started having them more and more frequently until I was in a constant state of anxiety punctuated by spells of outright terror. My eating habits were poor and I was a very heavy drinker.

    After a few weeks I went to a doctor who diagnosed my as hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) stating that my anxiety and panic was due to drops in my blood sugar level (I'm not and never was diabetic). He put me on a high-protein, no sugar, no alcohol, very low carb diet and prescribed Triavil, a combination muscle relaxer and Elavil.

    After a few weeks I felt better and on a follow-up visit made the near fatal mistake of asking him what was worse for me, a candy bar or an occasional beer. He said Candy bar.

    This put me on an 8 year roller coaster of dual addiction to the triavil and alcohol. I'd dring until the anxiety and panic attacks started, then stop and take the drugs until I levelled off, but was never drug or alcohol free.

    In 1980 the booze and pills stopped working. Panic attacks got so bad I went to the emergency room and haunted doctors trying to find the elusive and exclusive physical disease I was sure was the cause of my problems. I was having panic attacks in public and as a result became agoraphobic, dreading leaving home for any thing but work.
    The hangovers never went away, so I knew I had to at least quit drinking but the drugs didn't work any more so I went to a local alcoholism counselor to find what vitamins I could take to help me over the withdrawals.

    He gave me a list of vitamins and suggested I start going to these strange meetings on a regular basis. I took the vitamins, continued the Triavil, and got halfway sane again. Then my "guru" in the meetings said I had to quit taking the Triavil and do some dozen steps and that would finally releive my state of anxiety. I thought he was crazy, as I never took more than the prescribed amount of Triavil.

    To get revenge I decided I'd quit taking the drug, go crazy, and call this clown whenever I did get crazy.

    I kept going to those strange meetings and found out I was not unique in my symptoms.

    Long story short, within a couple or so years I was totally anxiety attack free, and have been ever since. I also have saved gobs of money on booze and expensive prescription drugs.

    I am not inferring by this that anyone else here who's fighting anxiety and Panic attacks is an alcoholic or drug addict like me, just sharing my own story.

    I frankly don't know whether I had anxiety and panic because of booze or if I drank so much because I could not feel comfortable in my own skin, and it doesn't really matter.

    What does matter is that with a great deal of help from others and a belief that a power existed that could releive my suffering I was able to achieve a level of comfort that allows me to live life without that constant state of anxiety or those out of the blue feelings of abject terror.

    Again, there are many more causes of anxiety disorders than Alcoholism, but I've known very few Alcoholics that did not suffer from them to some degree.
     

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