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Panic attacks

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Rusty Shackleford, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    Anyone ever get panic attacks? How do you deal? How long until they go away?

    For whatever reason, I got one last night. Felt like I was having a heart attack. Went to the ER, the whole nine. Was given a rx for some anti-anxiety medicine. Haven't had a chance to get that rx filled yet, and I'm still not feeling good today - feel like there's not enough oxygen in the air and I keep taking deep breaths.

    I think I know what may have triggered it - I had a very scary (as in, feared for my life) experience dealing with a crowd recently. Never was claustrophobic before, but that definitely freaked me out something fierce. But it was a week ago, and it's gone and I'll never have to face that again, so I have no idea why that would be triggering this.
  2. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    first of all, so sorry this has hit you but so very proud of you to share.

    secondly, i went through my 'panic/anxiety attack' stretch in '98. both my wife and even my boss encouraged me to share with my doc. my boss was very, very, VERY cool and supportive. he'd noticed an obvious change in my demeanor and finally said, 'listen we ll just want the real shockey back.'

    so, i shared with my neurologist. turns out anxiety/panic are common symptoms of m.s. and he prescribed paxil. within three weeks, the know residing in the pit of my stomach was gone. my panic on deadline -- which i'd NEVER experienced -- was gone. and i returned to being the guy who could never relate to colleagues who spoke of 'writer's block.'

    now, be forewarned than i found the right medication at the right dosage to do the trick. many people need to try several before finding their 'paxil.'

    my concern previously about such meds was that it would turn me into some sort of zombie or turn me into someone i'd never been before. but all it did was rid me of the bad that had suddenly taken over my mind and allowed me to simply return to who i had been the first 31 years of my life.

    best of luck. with the right meds, you'll be your old self in no time.
  3. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    Take it seriously, because you never know what might come of it.

    I had those same issues that began about a year ago and they continue (to a much lesser extent) to the present. I was 39 last summer and the "blues" you get when you turn 40 hit me a year early. I was worried to the point of unhealthiness about things way beyond my control. Truthfully, I had spent most of my life as a worst-case scenario type of person, but last year, it really began to affect me physically.

    The symptoms had got to the point where I went to the doctor. I was (rightly) diagnosed with anxiety issues. So I took some mild anti-anxiety medicine at my discretion, and for about a half-year, it seemed to calm things down.

    Then, 'round about February, I began to have the same physical symptoms without me putting any self-inflicted anxiety upon myself. I cover college hoops, so February is pretty much where the travel grind and stress of the job is at its worst.

    I went back to my doctor to talk about it and she sent me to a heart specialist with the idea of calming me down and putting my mind at ease that I didn't have a physical problem when I was experiencing my anxiety symptoms.

    So I went. Did the whole nine yards. Stress test, echocardiogram, etc. I thought through most of the process that it was going to be a costly waste of my time and money, and frankly, I felt a little bit ashamed that my anxiety had got to the point where I felt the need to do this.

    But at the same time, those symptoms -- chest pain, chronic light-headedness, occasional numbness in extremities, etc. -- continued and were definitely exacerbated by stress.

    Turns out I did have a problem. My stress test revealed an 85 percent chance of a heart blockage. So I went in for a heart catheterization last month.

    Fortunately, it revealed that I didn't have a blockage, but I did have a congenital heart valve problem. It's not life-threatening and its not serious so long as I monitor it, but it explained a lot of the physical issues I had been having, especially the chest pain and the light-headedness.

    I tell this story for two reasons, because obviously, everyone's own story will turn out differently.

    One, take it seriously and treat it. As illustrated, it led me down a path where I learned an important lesson about my own physical condition.

    But even if you don't, it goes to point number two -- there is no shame in having anxiety issues. I think a LOT of men aged 30 and over have these issues and they are often treated by society as a whole as something to be embarrassed about.

    Call it anxiety, mid-life crisis, whatever, at some point I think most men have this happen at some point in their lives, especially since there's no physical trigger for men to mark time in their lives. More men need to be open about it.

    Treat it and you'll be fine. Like Shockey said, if you take medication, it might take a while to find your balance. I take a very mild medication and it suits me fine. Frankly, I don't even notice it, aside from the fact it eases my symptoms.

    Hope that helps.
  4. Herbert Anchovy

    Herbert Anchovy Active Member

    I have found these issues get pronounced when you begin nearing a youngish age at which a parent or sibling had deceased.
  5. Bubbler

    Bubbler Well-Known Member

    It can. My mom died when she was 34. I didn't feel it then, but at some point, you come to a crossroads. If you have kids, you worry like hell about their future, even if you have little control over the factors that will determine their future.
  6. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    My brother-in-law had that issue. His dad died when he was 43, so when he turned 43, he went into full freak-out mode. Good things came out of it. His cholesterol was very high and now he's on medication for it.
  7. That's hitting a little too close to home for this stressed out soon-to-be 39-year-old.
  8. westcoastvol

    westcoastvol Active Member

    Bubbler nailed my sitch almost word-for-word, except I had a racing pulse, which led to a slightly-enlarged aortic valve. By taking a beta-blocker, my pulse is lowered and the valve is normal-sized. My only issue is when I work out, my target heart rate gets thrown out the window because of the beta-blockers.

    I also take anti-anxiety meds, but it's all good now.
  9. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    I've dealt with panic issues on and off since 1984. Worst mistake I made was not seeking help a lot sooner.
  10. YGBFKM

    YGBFKM Guest

    It's not as bad as it used to be, but I used to experience light-headedness all the time. And I always wonder where the arm numbness comes from. I'm 39 and about to have my first child.
  11. X-Hack

    X-Hack Well-Known Member

    I had panic attacks in late-2001 and early-2002 (racing pulse, breathlessness and lightheadedness, simultaneous chills, shakes and sweats). I'd always suffered from anxiety, but it really took off at that time (probably triggered by a combination of Sept. 11 and a crisis in my career direction). I got it under control with some therapy and hitting on the right medication.

    Fortunately in the 10 years since (I'm now 41), I've had very few panic attacks. I'm still more anxious than your average guy and in times of extreme stress a neurological condition that causes an eye-blinking compulsion and other tics gets more intense, but thank God those panic attacks subsided.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and starting this thread. It's nice not to feel like a freak.
  12. farmerjerome

    farmerjerome Active Member

    I've suffered with an extreme anxiety disorder since I was nine. I was having panic attacks on and off, then when I was 13 I missed an entire year of school because of it. Turned out the should've known right away. Both sides of the family have it bad, so I didn't stand a chance.

    Every day that goes by is another step of recovery. My thing is that I couldn't leave the house or travel. Twenty-one years later, I still have to make sure that I leave the house enough on my vacations so I don't have problems returning to work. I've found the right combinations of meds where I'm functioning -- but the problem is still there. I'd like to think I'd be a lot farther along in my writing career if it wasn't for anxiety. My family and friend are shocked that I'm holding down a full-time job.

    As for the original question, when you feel an attack coming on immedieatly get up and do something else. I work in retail, so I'll jump on a register or clear the fitting room a bit. If you're in the newsroom and it's not too close to deadline trying striking up a conversation with someone on the new side about their story for tomorrow's edition. Hell, tell the photog you have a question about their cutline or ask if they have some stuff that you can use for a feature down the road.
    If you're home go for a drive around the block, just get yourself moving. If you're in a crowd, get out of it. Or say if you're in a mall, go into a store that look mildly interesting and ask the sales associate stupid questions about a product.
    You'd be surprised at how fast these things subside once you have something else to focus your attention on.
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