Panic Attacks

Question:

What kinds of treatments have been effective for your panic attacks? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Vishal, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: January 26

Honestly I believe in the principle of 'prevention is better than cure.' So, I prefer doing the following pro-actively to avoid panic attacks: Concentrating on breath as soon as I get onto bed to sleep (an easy way to avoid thinking about the day and getting into sleep mode). Removing social media apps from my mobile phone (If this is not feasible, then at least try to turn off the notifications from such apps including email notifications). Listening to my favorite songs after morning workout. Reading religious books after dinner. Seeking professional help. Interacting with my best friend at least once or twice a day.

Comment from: Leslie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 27

I have had panic disorder for 16 years. I have found that I cause my panic attacks by the way I am thinking (negatively). It took a long time to come to this conclusion. I was prescribed Xanax initially, along with therapy. The therapy has been the most helpful (talking, journaling, etc.). When I feel overwhelmed, the anti-anxiety meds help. I watch what I think and what I say. I have taken words like "worst," "horrible," etc., out of my vocabulary so that I can talk myself down. For example, "This may not feel very good, but it will go away." My panic attacks now last a few seconds at most. I grew up in an abusive home and discovered that the little girl in me needs to be loved and accepted. I try to make time for me every day: taking a bath, journaling, walking, working out, etc. These things help immensely with my self-esteem. I am still working on my agoraphobia now. I keep pushing the edge because I want to be totally free. The last thing I have to conquer is flying and driving alone. It's hard, but it feels so liberating when I succeed!

Comment from: Cheryl, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 25

I have General Anxiety Disorder with Panic Attacks. I have always been an anxious person, even as a child. My panic attacks started about 20 years ago and like others it was very debilitating. To me they are the worst feeling that you could ever imagine having. After my sister died in 2003 I started going to therapy to deal with the loss of my sister and discovered that it was very helpful also with my anxiety. I was against medication because I thought it was a sign of weakness and couldn't understand why I couldn't stop the panic attacks myself. I was so miserable that I decided to try Lexapro. I knew several people that were taking it for various reasons with little to no side effects. It has been a Godsend for me! I wish I would have started it a long time ago. Within 2 days of taking it I felt so much better. I have accepted and realized that I will probably have to be on something the rest of my life. So if you are experiencing panic attacks please don't give up! There is help out there for you! Every type of treatment is trial and error and what works for one may not work for another. I'm no longer embarrassed about my condition. I talk to others about my experiences so that maybe I can help someone else.

Comment from: Nick, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: August 06

I suffer from panic disorder four years ago. At first, I didn't know what it was and thought I was dying but the doctors told me I had nothing physical and they sent me to visit a psychiatrist. I could not go to work because I had agoraphobia and my father had to take me to the psychologist. I started treatment, psychologist and medications (clonazepam and escitalopram), and started to improve. After two years I got bored of therapy because we couldn't find explanation for my attacks so I leave it, but I could not stop taking clonazepam. Everyday I take a small dose to reduce symptoms of anxiety, dizziness, unsteadiness, muscle tension, breathing short, etc. I think I got addicted to it, even though I started taking 1 mg per day and now took only 0,125 per day and no antidepressant. I had no problems of child abuse or anything like that, but I have family history of mental illness since my father has OCD and is medicated since birth. Today, what bothers me most is the anxiety, fatigue, lack of desire to do things the dizziness and instability. Therapy helps me but I feel anger that is so expensive. Hopefully someday they will find a cure or at least find out what the cause is. A greeting to all and good luck with your treatments. Don't give up.

Comment from: DealingWithThePanic, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: August 05

I started having panic attacks about 9 years ago. It took me about 2-3 years to figure out that they were cause by drinking coffee. I was 32 at that time. After not drinking coffee for a few years, I started drinking it again and was fine for about 6-8 months. Then I started having them again. I stopped drinking coffee and rarely drink anything with caffeine. However, in the past few months, I have been under a tremendous amount of stress over personal things (relationships, lack of work, bills, bad work conditions, etc) and the panic attacks came back. After reading information like here and following the advice given, it has really helped me to deal with them and they are less in power. I don't want to take Xanax or any other pills for this as its expensive and I could become addictive so dealing with Panic Attacks naturally is preferred. I'm very grateful for this article as it has really helped me to know more about it as well as not feeling like I'm the only one out there or that I'm losing my damn mind.

Comment from: SSS, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: January 30

Please have boiled peanuts daily morning. It will work. Boiled peanuts have serotonin and have good effect on panic attacks. Please give it a try and also include, if not raw, at least boiled sprouts in your morning diet. First start off with boiled peanuts, they are excellent. I am writing this with experience.

Comment from: Rita, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 26

I have had panic disorder for four years now. At first I did not know what it was until the 'big one' came at work. I thought I was having a heart attack and my coworkers raced me to the hospital. Once they saw me there, they knew. They gave me Lexotanil and told me try to get through this without medication. They showed me how to breathe and how to stay calm. The next day the same thing happened and not only that, the thought of it made me worse. I got panic attacks everywhere. I've recently learned of a book called Panic Away. It seems to be helping.

Comment from: michael, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: January 22

I had my first panic attack in about a year ago. I take Xanax 3 times a day.

Comment from: Lorna., 35-44 Female Published: November 12

I am a 43 year old single mum. I had my first panic attack 3 days ago. I was driving when it started. I felt weird and my breathing was erratic. I got home and the symptoms got worse. I was shaking badly and finding it very hard to breathe. I did use a bag, but it got worse. It was a terrifying experience as my two children were present. A neighbour took me to the doctor. I thought I was dying. It lasted about an hour. I looked up this site to be better informed in case of future attacks.

Comment from: Mariellyn25, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 27

I've had panic disorder for eight months now. Panic attacks are the scariest thing I've ever been through. Every day is a struggle, but I've been dealing with it so far pretty much on my own. My treatment so far is Xanax, only when I need it, such as when the attack is very bad. I do not always want to depend on pills to get me by, so I only take one when I cannot stand it, or when it's at its worst. I find also that the more I know and learn, the more I'm starting to except that I'm not dying, my heart is fine, etc. So find out as much as you can about panic disorder. The more you deal with your disorder, the less likely you are to call 911 over and over. I also find lying down and breathing deeply and slowly helps a great deal. Buy or get some books on hypnosis, they helped me. It calms you and that always helps. As silly as this sounds, if you are lying down and feel one coming on say, "Come and get me," or "I'm fine," and get up and do something, the dishes, or call a friend. This can sometimes help. Lying around all the time is not a good idea. I have a hard time driving and going somewhere public, such as stores and restaurants. But I make myself (when I'm feeling decent) drive a short distance every day or go to the store. The more you stay in and lie around feeling sorry for yourself, the more you'll have attacks and feel sorry for yourself. Fight them, and make due. So, relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, Xanax, shoulders to lean on and friends to talk to, physical activities, and acceptance are my treatments, for now at least. Give them a try.

Comment from: Alan, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: September 28

I have suffered anxiety and frequent panic attacks for years steadily getting more severe and frequent. Two years ago I was prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac) 20 mg. I just take one every day and I haven't had a panic attack since seriously.

Comment from: chmbrs, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: April 30

I suffered extreme attacks and researched what I could do when suffering an attack that affected my breathing rapidly out of control. The greatest achievement came from finding that singing was rhythmic and helped control the intake and exhale in a way that would slowly get me thru the attacks better than any medication possible could. So now what do I sing? Try jingle bells and you will find yourself having to breath just to get the next verse out!

Published: March 08

My son has suffered with a drug addiction for years and now finally walked on his own to a drug rehab program. After the worst is over, they had him leave. He does go to meetings but now he is going through panic attacks, and can't leave his home.

Comment from: Irina, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: February 13

Around the time when my mom got diagnosed with the colon cancer I started experiencing a lot of anxiety. I couldn't understand it at all in the beginning. I felt tightness in my neck and the back of my head, sweaty hands and feet, feeling like not being in the world but somewhere else. The doctor has prescribed Xanax and anti-depressants. I refused to go on antidepressants and instead started working out a lot and doing yoga five times a week. The symptoms had gone slowly away. Unfortunately, recently I had a full blown panic attack out of the blue. I felt dizzy, trouble breathing, disoriented, numbness in my hands and feet, urgency to urinate and those awful body shakes that started in my legs and have traveled all the way to my face. The worst of it all I felt very scared and like I couldn't control my body. My heart goes out to all the people who have had experienced these kind of symptoms. What helps me during my panic attack is taking my Xanax immediately, take deep breaths, concentrating only on breathing in and out, trying to block every other thought from my head and maintaining a healthy diet and exercise.

Comment from: tvetitoe, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 31

I used to have panic attacks when I was in my 20's. Tunnels and bridges were unknown to me. The stress of trying to get home on time and the rude and unexpected driving habits of the big city drivers started it. It went away after a time, but now I'm 51 and they are back and worse than ever. It's not just when I drive anymore. I have to close my eyes all the time when my husband drives. I see a curve in the road, and think he's going too fast, and my heart goes cold. I'm afraid to drive anywhere in traffic and the simple thought of it makes it hard to breath and my hands go numb.

Comment from: (Patient) Published: July 14

I take Ativan for panic attacks. It works quickly for me.

Comment from: always me, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 08

I have struggled with panic attacks for 17 years. The first couple were bad but I started on Effexor and learned how to control my breathing and way of thought. I still have to take Ativan when I can't control my thoughts, but am getting better everyday. I take time just for myself and look in the mirror and tell myself today is a good day and you can and will go out into the world today and have a wonderful time and just remember to breathe.

Comment from: somePanic, 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: October 04

My Panic Attacks started at age 18. I was driving to class and, when over a slight hill, the left side of my body went numb, vision went dark, and felt like I wasn't breathing. Now, my throat and face will almost always go numb, my hands tremble, and my pulse accelerates. The sensation, for me, has always been a huge amount of adrenaline when I do not want nor need it. After seeing several doctors and given a clean bill of health, I was prescribed Ativan to get over the initial symptoms. When the symptoms persisted, medication increased. Soon, I was on Zyprexa, Klonopin, Ativan, and Adderal. I no longer had symptoms with benzodiazepines; however, the amount I needed to combat the panic was substantial enough that I couldn't focus. My limited success comes from living by a relatively strict schedule, avoiding alcohol, and controlling my breathing. Hyperventilating always caused the worst symptoms for me. For someone else, I would recommend avoiding benzodiazepines and attempt to focus during panic attack. The trick to navigating it is to not develop phobias where they didn't exist before.

Comment from: LindaNZ, 65-74 (Patient) Published: August 04

I suffered panic disorder with daily panic attacks for over 20 years. I thought I had heart disease and took many heart meds with very negative results. My doctor tried Prozac and it proved very effective and gave me my life back. There have been no side effects that I am aware of other than a very healthy appetite. I am so very thankful for Prozac. Before taking Prozac, I reached a stage where I could not function at all. Agoraphobia kept me from driving and I dreaded any situation where I was in public. I now take a generic form of Prozac with the same good results.

Comment from: Elizabeth, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: February 22

I have panic disorder and I have been in long-term therapy. I also take medicines for my case. Support of a loved one is necessary and help from a psychiatrist is also necessary. Support groups also help. I had to adopt the attitude that I will not accept this, and now I am now able to lead a normal life.

Comment from: brit1988, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: February 18

I have had panic attacks for the past 4 years. About a year ago they stopped and they came back about a month ago. I almost lost my job because of them. I hate having panic attacks and I get so mad at myself for letting them happen but I can't control them. My son is 3 and he watches me have them and I'm scared that he will grow up and have them. I'm supposed to be seeing a therapist in about a week so I really hope that it helps me.

Comment from: 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: January 15

I suffered from panic attacks for more than five years but I have not had one now for more than three years. Why they came and why they left are a mystery. I did go through cognitive behavioral therapy to learn to interrupt the cycle and that did help me manage the attacks. If you have them, have hope. They can go away completely like they did for me.

Comment from: 35-44 Male (Caregiver) Published: January 05

My partner gets panic attacks, and when I get close enough to him I apply pressure to the centre of the nape of his neck (near the base of his skull). I don't know if it's a nerve or just his own sensitive spot, but it helps him a little as he tries to get his breathing under control.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: January 04

I started having panic attacks about 30 years ago in my 20's. I believe they are from the child abuse and domestic violence I experienced. I have had long periods of time (years) without any panic attacks. When I have a major life experience happen in my life, the panic attacks return. The treatments that have helped me are years and years of talk therapy, journaling, medication when necessary, learning ways to make my body relax, and calming down.

Comment from: Cowgirlup, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: December 29

I had my first panic attack about 2 1/2 years ago. I was at my office working late and I felt like I was having a stroke. I could not breathe; I was very shaky and had numbness in my arm and face. I was so frightened I drove myself to the nearest hospital and then called my husband. My blood pressure was higher than normal so they ran a lot of tests and drew blood, but everything came back normal. This particular attack lasted a couple of hours with a roller coaster of severe to not-so-severe episodes. I continued to have attacks, primarily at work and took anti-anxiety medications for these. Last July I had another very severe attack and did not think I would make it home. My husband talked me through the drive home and when I arrived I tried to relax, but nothing worked, including the anti-anxiety meds. My family took me to the hospital and everything tested fine. Since July the attacks are more frequent; probably two to three a week. Many come while I am driving at night. However, some come when I am relaxed and watching a "feel good" movie. They just hit me. Last night my husband just sat with me until a got quiet again. I worry about becoming addicted to anti-anxiety drugs, but I can't seem to do it on my own. If I am at our farm with my horses, I can go to the barn and spend time with them and that helps, but that is not my daily reality. I have a stressful job and possibly just allow things to build. To me they are very frightening and I think each day I may die from one. I just want some sort of release from the fear and to get control of my life again. I am a positive person and am never sick. I have no idea why this is happening.

Comment from: Gillowens1, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

I have suffered panic attacks since 1986 and have never been able to find the cause of them. I checked with all family members and not one member has ever suffered from them. My attacks began late at night whilst in bed reading. I suddenly felt I could not breathe. This episode was followed by a pins and needles sensation all over my body and including my face, and I also felt numbness to the tongue. This caused me to fear for my life and I did not know what to do. My husband tried to calm me down, which took almost thirty minutes. After almost 2 years of different treatment I was both physically and mentally exhausted to the point I would have welcomed death as I felt I could not go on like this, then one night while visiting my sister I suffered a real bad attack and she sent for a doctor. This was a turning point and after attending therapy for almost 2 years and on long term medication, my attacks where brought under control.

Comment from: ashmatz, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: May 24

I just started having panic attacks a little over a year ago and I am still adjusting to them. The mere thought of going into work will set them off so I HAVE to take Xanax every morning before I even leave my house so I don't have one on the way to work. If I don't take my Xanax every day I become very emotionally depressed and feel like my heart is racing. I'm afraid I am getting addicted to it but I can't go off of it without getting panic attacks.

Comment from: thatvoodoothatido, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: May 13

Three years ago I began suffering from panic attacks with no known cause. I was treated with every medication known to modern medicine with no relief. Anyway, I finally spoke with my PCP about it, as opposed to my therapist, and she ran my labs. All was well with the exception of my Vitamin D level. It was a 2. A long story short, within one day, I was cured! 150,000 units of Vitamin D weekly and I'm cured!

Comment from: j, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: March 26

I started having panic attacks about 4 years ago. I took up yoga and practiced the 7/11 breathing technique, and saw a steady decrease in both the attacks and general anxiety. Although I still have periods of increased anxiety, the yoga and breathing mean that I can return to [relative!]calmness.

Comment from: guest, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 07

Panic attacks are very frightening. One thing I noted is that cool air helps during an attack. No idea why but it just does. Also when I was a kid I had a lot of stress and I struggled with sleep which I think is another side effect from panic attacks so I'd often sleep with a fan which once again calmed my nerves.

Patient Comments & Reviews

Medically reviewed by Ashraf Ali, MD; American Board of Psychiatry & Neurology

REFERENCES:

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Treatment Revision. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

American Psychiatric Association. Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patients with Panic Disorder. 2nd ed. Arlington: American Psychiatric Association, 2009.

David, J.E., S.H. Yale, and H.J. Vidaillet. "Hyperventilation-Induced Syncope: No Need to Panic." Clinical Medicine and Research 1.2 (2003): 137-139.

Deshmukh, V., B. Toelle, T. Usherwood, B. O'Grady, and C. Jenkins. "Anxiety, Panic and Adult Asthma: A Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective." Respiratory Medicine 101.2 (2009): 194-202.

Kessler, R.C., W. Tat-Chiu, R. Jin, A. Meron-Ruscio, et al. "The Epidemiology of Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication." Archives of General Psychiatry 63 (2006): 415-424.

Madaan, V. "Assessment of Panic Disorder Across the Life Span." Focus 6 Fall 2008: 438-444.

Sarisoy, G., O. Boke, A.C. Arik, and A.R. Sahin. "Panic Disorder With Nocturnal Panic Attacks: Symptoms and Comorbidities." European Psychiatry 23.3 Apr. 2008 April: 195-200.

Stores, G. "Clinical Diagnosis and Misdiagnosis of Sleep Disorders." Journal of Neurological Neurosurgical Psychiatry 78 (2007): 1293-1297.

Watters, K., G. Rait, I. Peterson, et al. "Panic Disorder and the Risk of New Onset Coronary Heart Disease, Acute Myocardial Infarction and Cardiac Mortality: Cohort Study Using the General Practice Research Database." European Heart Journal 29.24 (2010): 2981-2988.

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