Re: 28 yr old with panic disorder for 11 yrs now
I'm 39 years old and have suffered from panic attacks and anxiety for as long as I can remember. In my late teens (18 or 19), I figured out how to get the panic attacks under control just as they started. That's not to say that over the years I have been living panic attack-free, because I have always had them, but I've been able to manage them (i.e., nip them in the bud when they started to surface). Then, at the beginning of this year, a bunch of stresses hit me all at once and I suddenly realized I couldn't control my panic attacks anymore. It was then that my GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) became full-blown as well. I believe it was really one feeding into the other to mess me up. Realizing I couldn't control my panic attacks as I had been able to for so long (20 years with a few ups and downs in there) threw my anxiety disorder into a very quick tailspin.
Panic and anxiety never "go away". You will live with them all your life, but as someone who has been able to manage them, and currently can't, I can assure you that it is normal for them to resurface. Once you lose control of one panic attack, you often have to retrain yourself to deal with them again. This is especially true if you also suffer from anxiety, because, as I said, one very often feeds into the other (the catch-22 thing).
Be assured, though, that although you will always have the disorder, it doesn't have to control your life. I went for a long time when it didn't control me. Understanding that a set-back isn't permanent is also important. (I have had to tell myself...you've done it before, you can do it again...very very often just to keep my courage up and dissuade the anxiety from overtaking me during this latest set-back of mine.)