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Andrea78 05-23-2003 01:28 PM

what I learned from a Panic Attack specialist !!!!
Hi everyone!
I am new to this board but wanted to share some things that may be helpful to someone out there!
I went to a specialist, he strictly deals with panic attacks!!! He had a lot to say and I am passing it on!!
Mine started when I was 19. It strated with for no reason I would feel nauseated when I went to movies or out to eat or passenger in a car. test after test, it was anxiety! I was home by myself and fell to the floor shaking and freaking out called 911 and the gave me a zanax said you had a onaic attack and sent me on my way! For 3 more days I had them, I was bring them on becasue I was thinkning about them! I started on Paxil, and switched from anti-depressant to anti-depressant causing weight gain. I was also given Klonopin as a safety blanket so to say. They would stop any anxiety in about 15 minutes for me! Once I had the anti-depressants in my system I went 4 years without a full blown attack. Thinking I had outgrown them I asked to be taken off. 4 months later I had a full blown 3 hour attack!!! I am now on a new anti-depressent again Lexapro, not having attacks and losing weight on these!!
1 - Panic attacks are herediatary, and not always caused by trauma, depression, or drugs. Although they can be.
2 - You CANNOT die from a panic attack!!! Although you feel like you are dying you can't !! The worst that can happen is you will pass out!
3 - Fearing having another attack can cause an attack!
4 - Also, your body changes it's cells every 7 years, meaning some people grow out of them at this change! (I found out my grandmother had them, and mother in there 20's, they grew out of them)
5 - The biggest thing that cuases panic attacks is low serotnin levels. It is like a gas gauge on your car. when you get down to empty panic can start. Anti-depressants are given to panic attack patients becasue it raises you serotnin levels!!
6 - I also was given Klonopin. This is something I take when I am in a situation where I start to bring one on myself (anticapaotry anxiety). In 15-20 minutes I am back to normal, a little tired though!
7 - Basically what happens during an attack, your brain tells your body you are "dying or fearful situation" so to speak. for no reason most of the time (gas gauge gets below empty). So you brain tells you body to react. Hence, you start feeling all those feelings.It is adrenalin! Your body is releasing adrenalin " Fight or Flight chemical" Your body is doing exactly what it is suppose to be doing. although for us, it is not when we want it or need it.
8 - everyone's symptons are a little different, but basically the same. Most of us went to the hospital the first time, and had dozens of tests done, which all came back fine! Am I right???
9 - I asked if street drugs can cause panic. I had a bad situation on extascy one night prior to my attacks where I got very sick and stopped breathing. They say this drug can cause panic attacks, although they think mine is more herediatry. But now everytime I feel nausea I start getting panicky thinking I will stop breathing if I get sick! As for marijuana I smoked from age 17 to 3 months ago(I'm 24 now). It never seemed to bother me, but after the 3 hour attack my doctor said it could cause me to get panicky and I could bring an attack on myself. So, I don't smoke anymore. He did say it is not shown that marijuana causes panic attacks. Although if it is laced, what it is laced with could cause attacks. It is not the marijuana it is how you personally react to the marijuana. If it gives you anxiety and you know it, don't do it!! For some people it helps them, it calms them. So, he said smoking it for me was not the cause. But as some poeple have there first attack driving over a bridge and they think it is the bridge and won't drive over it again. That is what happened with me when I got sick on ex. Now everytime I feel sick I'm afraid I will stop breathing! However, this drug can cause attacks in people, it eats at your brain literally, and drains your serotnin level!!!!
10 - You should try to not think about it if possible. Which we all know is hard. It is like sitting in a lion cage and saying don't think about the lion. But do something!! Get up, iron clothes, paint your toe nails, walk and count. do something, anything you can to try and think about something else. Tell yourself it is okay what your body is doing. Breath from your stomach! as silly as this sounds..I would dig my fingernail into the palm of my hand so I would start concentrating on the pain in my hand and not the fear!!
11 - If your doctor tells you to take an anti-depressant do it! This will bring your serotnin levels back up and you won't have the attacks!!!
I have tried them all and Lexapro seems to be the one that is not causing me any weight gain.
12 - remeber YOU CANNOT die from a panic attack!!!!!! As freightening as they are and you think you are you won't !! The worst that can happen is you could pass out if your not breathing well, which I have never done.
13 - Panic attacks are chemical imbalances in the brain. Which can be fixed, you need to raise the chemicals which anti-depressants do. what you need to do is find the one that works best for you. also, ask about Klonopins or Zanax as a safety blanket.

I hope this has helps someone as once I learned what actually is happening in the body when I am having one it helped me to deal with them. Plus, getting on the anti-depressants stopped them. although I tried to get off of them I had them again, which reconfirms to me how important it is to take them! Most people grow out of them with changes in the body, mostly women, since they have more changes. after having a baby your serotnin levels can get real low (post-pardium)which again runs you on empty and can cuase attacks. Don't be afraid of the anti-depresants, they will raise the serotnin levels which is what takes away the attacks!!

[email protected] 05-23-2003 01:46 PM

interesting fact about your cells changing every 7 years..
i just wish there was an easier way to tell if you've outgrown it than quitting and risking more panic episodes..

<: ryan

I Robertson 05-23-2003 01:53 PM

Hi - I thought what you wrote was very interesting and I actually agree with most of what you wrote - bar one point.

Panic/anxiety is not necessarily caused by low levels of seratonin, doctors agree that in SOME cases especially when combined with depressive symptoms) that a defficiency of seratonin can be a contributing factor.

So for all of you out there who do not use anti-deppresion (seratonin in-hibitors which raise the level) do not panic - you can recover any way. I am living proof of that - also it certainly did not take 7 years.

Taking medictaion acts like a sticking plaster it effectively masks the worst of the symptoms and frequently when withdrawn the old symptoms return. Also when you have taken the medictaion for a period of time your seratonin levels return to normal. They helpby raising your mood and helping shift your thoughts towards a more positive outlook. hence why it is so useful for those with depression - who then suffer anxiety symptoms.

Just because you stop taking the medication your brain seratonin levels do not suddenly stop producing it. Hence the sticking plaster affect - it masks the symptoms and makes the symptoms far more managable - agreed. But they are not the be all cure - there is no magic cure.

The points about distraction and abdominal breathing are so right!!!!! but a large component is cognitive. That is changing your thought patterns from just what you said "I am going to die" into repeatedly replacing these scary thoughts to " I can cope it is just the same old same old".

I think (for me at least) it is very necessary to have a stress counselor who can both advise on cognitive behaviour, abdominal breathing, the fight and flight response and simply be a reassuring ear to get you through it.

I personally think that medication is very over rated (although an absolute rerquirment in some cases)it is a fairly cheap option and requires no time spent by true experts explaining the symptoms and how to recover.

Good Luck to all of you.

Janik 05-23-2003 02:38 PM

[quote]Originally posted by I Robertson:
[b]... Panic/anxiety is not necessarily caused by low levels of seratonin...[/b][/quote]

I totally agree. There is no raw data to prove this theory. By raw data I mean actual serotonin concentrations in the spinal fluid of anxiety sufferers. There's absolutely NO DATA WHATSOEVER.

All there is is a correlation between the improvement of anxiety and the intake of SSRIs. It's still a weak correlation and it does not account for placebo effects.

Some people actually find that their anxiety worsens when they take SSRIs.

Jennita 05-23-2003 05:47 PM

Robertson and Janik make good points. I've heard of other theroy too...that what is considered "hereditary" is not genetic, but learned behavior....children live what they learn...this is why your chances of being an alcoholic, anxious, depressed, etc. are good if a role model, parent, or relative has been.

As far as whether drugs can CAUSE panic attacks, well, I've read alot of boards. I've learned that a huge amount of people who smoke pot, take extascy, etc. develop anxiety.....even if they go for years just fine and dandy! Then one day they just freak out with a huge panic attack. Then they quit smoking it but still have panic attacks for quit some time... because drugs that fool around with the brain cause lingering effects, that includes prescriptions, illegal, alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol is well-known for causing depressions. Many people do recover from drug use however, though it may take a long time, as long as they stay away from all psychoactive drugs...unfortuately, the system usually doesn't let them or they give up too soon.

So Andrea, although all those drugs you are taking and the theory of hereditary being to blame are very soothing, they will not solve the problem and could untimately, in time, create some new ones.

I'm sure your anxiety expert would say who's this woman, is she a doctor or expert? Well no, I'm just someone who went through something horrible needlessly at the hands of such "professionals" and "experts"...I learned from my experience the hard way and from those who suffered like me. Found them out there on the internet who I connected with when finding a very informative website on benzodiazepines; then I explored other sites on various drugs, written by researchers, doctors and Phd's and learned alot.

However, getting on the drug merry-go-round is up to you....just a friendly warning and good luck with whatever you decide.

[This message has been edited by Jennita (edited 05-23-2003).]

I Robertson 05-24-2003 03:40 PM

Hi Jen & jan - I agree with you both. Don't you think that alot of the time docs (especailly the phyciatrist strain) always opt for the drug route. Apparently that si because that is were there specialist knowledge lies and also medication as I said before is a quick option. i went down that route initially like you too. I took Seroxerat (spelt wrongly I know) and had absolutely god awful symptoms and after two days stopped. I then went back to my GP and got an occupatiopnal therapist. She was EXCELLENT and talked me through the whole anxiety thing - no it is not life threatening, no you are not scizo, going mad, going mentally insane, going to die etc. It all seems in a way really odd that i really thought any of that was possible but that is the nature of anxiety it scares the hell out of you. But eventually I learned all teh coping straetegies, empoloyed them , practised them like hell even though for the first few months I thought that they were not working. And guess what I recovered!! Which just goes to show that you can recover without meds of any discription. That is not to say that i never experience any anxiety/stress symptoms it is just that they hold NO mystery or power to them. I know they are harmless and are simply to be accepted and ignored. It means that anxiety has gone form being the absolute centre of my life and thoughts to being something that I have experineced and no longer bothers me. From all the notice board messages I have read i wish people could get the same help I did and stop suffering form this needlessly. What fo you think? how are you both?

Jennita 05-25-2003 12:20 PM

I think you are very lucky to have found a better way than drugs. I am doing well now...I am a bit different case, though, because my symptoms started AFTER using a prescription codiene(narcotic) based cough syrup when I had an illness that I never used before. For me, seems a life of no drinking, smoking or no drugs other than the occassional antibiotic made me very sensitive to narcotics I suppose? Well, at any rate, if only one doctor had told me narcotics withdrawals only last a few weeks tops, things would have not gotten so out of hand, but I was immediately given benzodiazepines, which are far worse than codiene, and later found out the benzo dosage was quite high initially too... but I always followed doctor's orders all my life. So naturally, I developed a fairly quick tolerance after some months, and thus began my journey into hell intil I found out from the internet, not the pricey doctors I consulted, what the problem was! So now I feel lucky to be off drugs(my decision, not my doctors) ...however, the price was high as I suffered tremendously for well over 2 years now.... I still have an irregular sleep pattern, but it is improving slowly but surely and in general I feel very calm, relaxed and healthy again. My other symptoms(such as racing heart, nervousness) have dissapeared. Before my prescription drug encounter, I never had any sleep or panic problems, and was a picture of fitness. I was pretty strong emotionally too...for example, my husband is the one who almost fainted when my daughter had surgery once...I was just grateful she was ok and I felt no nervousness, but he was turning green...

I am proof that they can cause a normal person, with no addictions or mental ailments or anxieties at all to almost go nuts( seriously, I had gotten bad) with their stupid, legal, safe drugs. I am a bit bitter, can you tell?

Yes, I believe our society is way too drug oriented because it is a quick fix and quite profitable. Intil they figure out exactely what causes and how to cure such things as psychosis, schizo, manic-depression, etc., I guess these types of drugs will have to be used in society in those cases....but I really wish they'd leave people with normal anxieties and depressions alone already and stop selling psychoactive drugs on T.V. like salad dressing. Not every negative feeling or behavior should be labeled as a mental disorder/disease.

Sometimes, people are conditioned early in life or they learn these behaviors thru examples...... these are not chemical imbalances...."children live what they learn". If you had a depressed or anxious parent, you can bet you are a good candidate for developing those problems too...."learned behaviors" is what I think I once read it as being referred to. That's why it's "hereditary", in my opinion.

But drugs themselves mess around with our brain chemicals in an unknown mechanism (as even stated on the Zoloft commercials)....that is pretty scary to me.

[This message has been edited by Jennita (edited 05-25-2003).]

Graciecat 05-26-2003 08:42 AM

I'm not going to get into this whole "learned behavior" thing.
All I know is that I have them, I take pills and they help me, that's all I'm going to say about it.
I just wanted to say that I found it so strange that you would say you had your first one while doing laundry.
I was 16 the first time I had one and I was doing laundry too.

Andrea78 05-26-2003 08:45 AM

Maybe we just deep down hate doing laundry! Ha Ha Ha!!
I was 18 !!

Graciecat 05-26-2003 08:49 AM

For about two years after that I wouldn't do my own laundry, my Mom or my Sister had to do it for me.
To this day...almost 20 years later...everytime I take clothes out of the dryer the thoughts of that first attack go through my mind.
It doesn't make me have an attack, but I always think about it.

Jennita 05-26-2003 01:58 PM

Anxiety itself is the learned behavior; I don't think actual panic attacks have to be viewed to have them. Living with anxious type people may be more the issue...but also, other life circumstances may lead to anxiety as well. Plus many other factors like nutrition, drug/alcohol use, etc...obviously, there are alot of possibilties to explain one's anxieties, but chemical imbalance is just a theory, since there is no actual medical tests out there to measure your brain levels of serotonin, dopamine, etc.

Did you know that simply eating high-quality proteins(meat and dairy) along with adequate carbs and vitamins to process them will raise your serotonin levels? Protein synthesis breaks protein down to amino acids, which in turn create various neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, to be used by the brain/body. Drugs simply manipulate presently available serotonin, but prevent normal metabolism of it, which can create some adverse effects if continued over a long period of time. I typed drugawareness in a search for an explaination too, of how SSRI's actually work. They can sometimes cause abnormal levels of serotonin....this is not good. Your doctor's site mentioned some street drugs that are bad to take because they effect serotonin, but so do the SSRI's! In fact, in the 1960's, they discovered that LSD had a positive side effect of mood elevation.....hmmm, and this is what spured the future developement of anti-depressant drugs, the drugs we know today as SSRI's, like Paxil and Prozac. That's a bit freaky and certainly can not be a healthy thing. But as long as something is legal, we don't even think to question it. Legal amphetamines are now being given to children; they are really no different than the street amphetamines, except the pusher, I mean doctor, won't let you have the level necessary for euphorias or hallucienations. So ok, no highs or bad trips with the prescriptions, but how healthy for the mind and body can these drugs really be I wonder.

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