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I think I've just developed a panic disorder.

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Old 06-10-2010, 08:50 AM   #1
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I think I've just developed a panic disorder.

All day Tuesday, I had a slightly elevated heart rate. It was difficult to notice when I was doing things around the house, but if I ever tried to just sit or lie down to relax, my heart wouldn't let me.

At about 5:00 AM on Wednesday morning, I had a sudden increase in symptoms. It's almost difficult to write about now, but the scariest moment for me was when my breathing seemed to escalate to "just-ran-a-marathon" levels. I was utterly convinced I was having a heart attack. It was dreadful. I just staggered around the house repeating "no no no" at the thought of having one at the young age of 22.

I didn't feel well enough to drive so I had my mom take me to an E.R. The ride there was terrifying. I was barely in control of myself. The closer we got to the E.R., the worse my symptoms got. Towards the end, my extremities felt numb and I was convinced I was on my way off this planet.

I felt better in the hospital, as long as there was a doctor or nurse with me. When they left my room, I felt a little nervous. They did a procedure on me to check if I had a pulmonary embolism, and that involved me sitting in a tube-like x-ray machine while breathing in and out through a tube, with a clamp on my nose. That did not help at all, lol. I nearly had an attack there on the table, but somehow I made it.

After about 12 hours of waiting and having tests done, everything came back negative. I was discharged, and within moments of leaving the front doors of the hospital, I felt more panic. I felt panic all day yesterday, and spent 4 hours awake last night, dealing with more panic.

I wasn't diagnosed with panic attacks - instead I was discharged with "unexplained chest pain" or something like that, though everything I've read about panic attacks describes my symptoms perfectly.

I can more or less deal with them during the day - I take deep, measured breaths and remind myself I'm okay. At night they're more difficult, mostly because I want to sleep but can't. It feels like I'm not breathing enough to satisfy my heart, and I occasionally feel these waves of cold that make my hands and feet numb for a bit. Usually after a wave of this cold, my chest hurts for a moment. It makes it very hard to sleep.

I feel a little relief to know that this is just anxiety, though at points it's hard to believe I can't undergo actual physical harm from it. It feels so harmful, like my body is being destroyed from within.

I hear that I may be coping with this for weeks, if not months, which tires me out just thinking about it.

I apologize for the long post but I needed to get my story off my chest. I will probably be here for a while, so hello.

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Old 06-10-2010, 10:59 AM   #2
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Re: I think I've just developed a panic disorder.

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about your recent problems.

although your symptoms are synonymous with panic/anxiety disorder, nobody on the boards here can diagnose you with it, and you need to be seen by your family Doctor and discuss the issue.

I have been dealing with Panic disorder since I was 16 and I'm now 32.
It can seem like the most terrifying experience in the world, as it sounds like you're now familiar with. The issue, however, is not that there's anything wrong with you, not with your body, or your mind. It's simply your thinking. Unfortunately for people who suffer with panic attacks, anxiety leads to symptoms and negative thoughts, which lead to intense fear, which leads to more profound symptoms because of the "Fight or flight response", the release of adrenaline. The more negative thoughts you have, the longer the adrenaline will continue to be released and the longer you will experience the symptoms, to a danger that only exists in your thoughts.

I'm not sure what triggered your initial attack, perhaps you were dealing with some perpetual, unresolved anxiety, that kept building upon itself. Your body started to release adrenaline, your heart rate went up, your breathing increased, and that made you not only anxious, but fearful, which caused even more adrenaline, a faster heart rate, faster breathing, etc. It's a self induced issue, based on thinking negative and fearful thoughts.

Fortunately, you cannot die from a panic attack. It may seem like you can at times, you may even want to at times, but it's not a danger to you, in and of itself. The worst part for new people experiencing panic disorder, is that they're often in a constant state of fear about when the next attack will come, and therefore they're bringing on the attacks and it's a terrible cycle to be in.

Don't worry about your heart rate or your breathing. They're not functions you need to control, your body controls them automatically, via the autonomic nervous system. When you feel the fear and anxiety, talk to yourself, ask yourself what you're so nervous about. Explain to yourself that the feelings you're experiencing are a natural response, to dangers that don't exist, but because of the negative thinking and fearful thoughts, your body has perceived a danger. Your body follows what your mind communicates to it. Ever watch a really scary or suspenseful movie? Even though you knew it wasn't real, did you still experience fear or anxiety because of the information your mind was processing? Well, it's much the same kind of thing with panic attacks.

The best thing for you to do now, is to see your Doctor, discuss the issues you're having and if he thinks you're having panic attacks, he will prescribe some meds. You don't have to be on them forever, but they can help a lot if you need them. The most important thing, is for you to change your thinking habits and learn how to negate the fear and anxiety thoughts, with positive, reasonable and logical thoughts. You don;t have to be a victim of your own thoughts, you have the ability to change your thoughts and therefore change the way you feel.

If you have any questions, I'll be more than happy to answer them, I'm sure others will as well.

Take care.

Old 06-10-2010, 03:15 PM   #3
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Re: I think I've just developed a panic disorder.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. Your advice is much appreciated!

Old 06-10-2010, 06:36 PM   #4
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Re: I think I've just developed a panic disorder.

I'm feeling a little anxious about going to sleep tonight. This is only my second night since my first panic attack, but last night was horrible. I spent over two hours lying in bed.

I'd start to drift off, then after what feels like only seconds, I awake with a jolt - like I just heard a sudden noise. Then I usually have two or three minutes where my hands and feet feel really cold, and my heart is beating rapidly. After I've calmed enough, I begin to fall asleep, and then right when it happens I awake suddenly once again.

I felt a very strong urge to sit up in bed a few times, and I ended up doing so maybe three times. I also had to turn off a fan in my room because it was making noise and it wasn't helping my cold chills. I still felt cold after the fan was off, even though my face was sweating. Also, when I got up to move to the fan, my chest felt very uncomfortable - like the front part of my chest and stomach weighed like 300 pounds and was going to fall off from my body.

I think this happened to me about 30 times last night before I fell asleep. After I finally managed to fall asleep, I slept like a baby from around 2 AM to 10:00 AM. I also managed to take an hour-long nap this afternoon, and had no trouble falling asleep.

I'm not sure what to do when I keep getting those jolts. Do I weather them out and just try to fall asleep until I succeed? Do I get up and watch some TV or something to keep myself busy?

Old 07-08-2010, 01:26 PM   #5
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Re: I think I've just developed a panic disorder.

I had similar symptoms to yours off and on for years. I was hooked up to a holter monitor for my heart - some other kind of monitor and nothing came back as heart problems.

I'd wake up like sometimes gasping for air in a complete panic - feeling like I was going to scream. My heart rate would go up to over 200 bpm - my feet would go numb and cold and travel up to my head. For awhile I was fainting. This only would happen at night and I'd feel fine during the day. It finally stopped and will return only occasionally now.

After a dozen docs and a trip to a sleep clinic. I finally went to a neurologist who told my I had hyperventilation syndrome. Apparently when I would go to sleep I would hyperventilate which would in turn change my body chemistry and give me these symtoms.

Once I knew this and the out of the dead sleep jolt would happen I would know that I was going to be alright and would tell myself this while my heart rate was climbing and I could control it by telling myself it was alright and to relax.

It's scary and typically due to unresolved anxiety that hits you when your sleeping. During the day you're burying and coping (stuffing ) feelings. These feelings may not be at the surface until you close your eyes at night to sleep then they roar into your body.

I hope things are going better for you.

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