Recommendation for people suffering panic attacks...
I will try and keep this short and to the point. I started getting panic attacks when I was 16 (I'm 26 now). The first one was because I was worried about doing a gymnastics performance in front of my P.E. class which I hadn't prepared for at all. All the other attacks since then were not so much due to a certain situation, more a result of worrying about having a panic attack! Like a viscous circle - worry about having a panic attack.... Have a panic attack! I suffered for years and was told that medications were addictive, bad for health and changed your personality etc. and that the only way to get over it was counselling. I had cognitive behavioral therapy... IT DID NOT WORK FOR ME!!! In the end I ended up quitting everything that made me anxious and avoiding certain social situations. I felt like I'd let myself, my family, and my friends down and I was in a very bad place for many years. I came on forums like this, I read peoples similar sad stories, and let me tell you.... That is not a healthy thing to do!
So here is a story with a happy ending (well, almost, I'm getting there!). I always thought if I found something that helped me I would try and pass it on to as many people as possible as I had very little help and understanding when I was suffering. So what helped me..... Please bear in mind this is for people suffering from panic attacks or anxiety in certain situations and not general day to day anxiety..... So I was talking to a girl one day about my anxiety and she told me about her friend who used Beta Blockers for exams... Then I came home and I read a message someone had sent me on another forum (not health related) also regarding my anxiety and he also mentioned Beta Blockers. So I decided to do a bit of research.
It turns out they are not an anxiety medication, actually they are a heart medication, and to summarize the whole wikipedia page on Beta Blockers down to one sentence - They basically block the flow of adrenalin. Turns out adrenalin is responsible for all those horrible feelings during panic attacks/anxiety - shaking, sweating, feeling dizzy, rapid heartbeat, and the worst most debilitating one for me - nausea!!!!
Now in an ideal world, we'd have some counselling and be fine, but like in my case, it doesn't work for everyone. Sometimes we need a bit of a helping hand. Beta Blockers appealed to me because its not something you take all the time which may make you addicted and affect your personality, you just take one as and when you need it. So I went to the doctor (this was very difficult as due to my previous experiences it became one of the situations that caused me anxiety!) and I asked about the Beta Blockers. We talked about my anxiety being caused by occasional situations and not general anxiety, and we agreed that they might help me. So he prescribed me some Propranolol 40mg tablets to try, and guess what.... THEY WORKED!!!!
First of all let me say that as they are not intended for anxiety, they will not stop your anxiety. In other words, you will still have negative thoughts and worry about the situation. But that was never really the problem for me... What they will do, is stop all those unpleasant (to put it mildly!) and debilitating feelings. And with those out of the way, in return you will not feel as anxious.
I'm still fairly new with these, and so I'm just starting to rebuilt my life. I am hoping that the more situations I put myself in (with the help of the Beta Blockers) the more I will get used to them and one day hopefully I will be able to do it without them.
Last week, I was down in Devon, England on holiday and my brother been bought a flying lesson for his birthday from his girlfriend. I was able to go up in the plane with him and the instructor and I felt fine. In fact, it was absolutely amazing. I could not even have contemplated doing that without the Beta Blocker, but now I've done it, and it all went ok, I think I could do it without it!
Anyway, sorry this post turned out to be a bit longer than expected but I just wanted to offer my advice and I hope it will help someone. So if you think you have similar kind of anxiety and counselling hasn't worked for you, see your doctor and give Beta Blockers a try... What have you got to lose?
Also, another quick word of advice. When your friends invite you to go out and do something, try and say yes as much as you can even if you feel a bit uncomfortable. If you keep saying no no no due to anxiety, like I did, eventually your friends will stop asking you to do stuff and will leave you out. It doesn't mean they don't like you, and it's completely understandable really, but you'll end up feeling very lonely and rebuilding friendships is very hard.
Lastly, if you are reading this then I sincerely wish you the best of luck...