reply to post by Erich94
thanks very much for sharing your experiences with panic attacks on the forum. I have been suffering from them for about as long as you. Fortunately,
I have them nearly completely under control without medication.
As the information available about this disorder is sometimes confused and diluted with crank/quack material, I'd like to post what I have found out,
in case it can help you. To my knowledge, all of the following are main stream medical facts and not my own opinions. However, it is important to
understand that whilst I am an academic, **I have no medical training and am only offering this advice as a fellow sufferer, not as a qualified
* Panic attacks are NOT recognised as a *mental* condition. They are a disorder affecting the *nervous system*.
* Sufferers describe them as being the worst thing a human being can experience, aside from torture. (As a sufferer, I can add my full approbation to
that!) They can often shock the body so badly that they take weeks to recover from!!
* Panic attacks are caused by "long term, relentless anxiety caused by an external stressor". Every single word there counts! If this is not you,
then I urge you to seek medical advice. There are a very small number of exceedingly rare diseases which can cause panic attacks (as far as I know,
treatable diseases, so no cause for panic).
* Panic attacks last from a couple of minutes to 15 minutes each, but can trigger rolling follow-on attacks, sometimes for hours or even days. This
can be a highly emotional experience, and can eventually lead to depression.
* Panic attacks are not usually triggered by something that was just said to you or that you were just thinking about. They often happen completely
randomly and unexpectedly, though some environments can increase their occurrence.
* The most important technique in dealing with panic attacks *when they happen* is to recognise immediately that it is **only** a panic attack and
that it is just telling you that you need to enhance your calm. It will pass if you enhance your calm. Don't allow yourself to get emotional or to
"explore where the panic is taking you". To the extent possible, take your mind off the panic and focus on something else of interest. This requires
much practice, but it is the most effective thing you can do. Calm, calm, calm.
* Do NOT hyperventilate. Breathe extremely calmly whilst thinking about something else. Take a breath of five seconds in, hold it for two seconds,
five seconds out. Repeat once or twice, but no more, then try to get on with your life. It takes practice, but that is all you need to do!
* The most important thing in dealing with panic attacks *when they are not happening* is to deal swiftly and decisively with the cause of the long
term stress and anxiety. The most common reason for the nervous system becoming fraught is rehearsal of hypothetical future situations. "Why, if this
[insert possible future event or conversation] happens then I'll do this, and this, and say that". This is the unhealthy mental habit that leads to
anxiety disorder. You must make a conscious effort to practice shutting down such rehearsals of "what-if" scenarios as soon as they happen. They are
learned behaviour and an unhealthy mental practice.
* You may need to be abrupt with people. Don't be excessively polite. Be bold and say what needs to be said, come what may. Recent research shows
that this kind of anxiety is often the result of sufferers focusing too much on the future and not on the here and now! Be more ruthless with your
future and make changes now, without regard to consequences! Planning for the future is fine, so long as it is productive, not unproductive, unhealthy
thought. Being rude is not required, just *assertive*. Think entrepreneur/business minded, not rude!
* Exercise will relieve stress. However certain kinds of extremes can actually increase it. This includes power-lifting for example. To avoid
unhealthy elevation of cortisol, it is essential to deload every four weeks if pushing your body to physical extremes. But regular exercise is
essential to reducing stress. At least three half hour sessions a week.
* Walking in nature dramatically reduces stress, as does listening to quiet classical music, spending time with friends and family, etc.
* Blueberries and dark chocolate are excellent at reducing stress. Beware of just about every gimmick product (e.g. Acai berries are actually a pretty
middle-of-the-road antioxidant). These facts are backed by real medical research!
* You must cease *all* intake of stimulants, especially caffeine (coffee, coke, diet coke, energy drinks) and pre-workout formulas and drugs such as
If you would like to contact me by PM, please feel free. I studied physics at uni. I'd love to discuss with you further. Hope this helps.