Do people stop breathing during panic attacks? I'm trying to figure out if I had one.
No. It's the opposite. They hyperventilate. (Breathing too much.)
06/13 10:51:03 five sounds: you!!!
06/13 10:51:08 shortnsweet: no you!!
06/13 10:51:12 shortnsweet: go do your things and my things too!
06/13 10:51:23 five sounds: oh hell naw
06/13 10:51:55 shortnsweet: !!!!
06/13 10:51:57 shortnsweet: (cries)
06/13 10:52:19 RiftsWRX: You two are like furbies stuck in a shoe box
Something I learned recently that explained my experience well was that panic attacks usually take place after the source of stress has passed. The body is concerned about survival during stress so it's after that big stressor is resolved that it feels safe to "hyperventilate, quicken heart rate and make you feel like you're about to have a heart attack". Nice, physiology, just perfect. Like the stress wasn't enough on it's own, bring on the PTS panic attack too!
I find exercise, a balanced and regular diet, less salt and more water all help (the latter with better regulation of blood pressure, yet another related condition). I definitely use the breathing (breathe in through your nose as slowly as possible and out through your mouth for twice as many counts as breathing in) and other mental exercises (thinking of colors associated with certain emotions) for distracting or tricking my brain to shift focus.
Haven't had one in SO long because of regular exercise and generally better levels of health that I had forgotten about them. With moving soon, I had one yesterday morning (I've always had them in the morning when I wake up) and remembered how unpleasant it was. I just let it pass and felt better.
Hap - eating right for control of blood sugar is different from eating well for a general diet. With hypoglycemia, smaller meals at regular intervals are better, protein and complex carbs (whole grains, potatoes, vegetables, beans) that break down into sugar slowly are best. Smaller quantities of sugar from natural sources. Sugar not from natural sources could take away from a pretty decent meal you have because it leads to a sugar spike and then the following low is quite like what you described...Coffee exacerbates hypoglycemia as it interferes with the body's absorption of sugar. Eat a piece of fruit when that feeling starts and have a better meal with complex carbs soon.
I'd recommend getting a sugar test and also getting your blood pressure checked.
Here's some info I came across in my psychology class that seems quite promising:
In Panic Disorder the person experiences brief but excruciatingly intense bouts of anxiety. In the midst of the attack people experience a raft of symptoms like heart palpitations, tingling, shortness of breath, dizziness and a feeling of unreality. People typically feel like they are going crazy or having a heart attack. Although the feelings of panic reach a peak within 10 minutes the experience is so intense that people constantly worry about having another attack and often alter their behavior (become agoraphobic) as a result.
In the 1960s it was discovered that antidepressant medications that targeted norepinephrine were helpful in treating panic disorder. Current research indicates that 40% of patients are either fully or markedly improved by such medications with another 40% showing at least some improvement.
Cognitive theorists note that panic prone people seem to be overly sensitive to bodily sensations. When they begin to notice increased arousal they quickly misinterpret the sensations and assume the worst. Cognitive therapists treat panic disorder by educating people about the nature of panic attacks and then using biological challenge tests to create symptoms of arousal and then help the person to correctly interpret these bodily sensations. Cognitive therapy has been shown to be at least as successful as medication in the treatment of panic disorder. In a recent study, 85% of patients were free of panic for two years, or more, compared with only 13% of the control group.
I've had anxiety problems as far back as I can remember, but only during the past few years have I had full-on attacks. Up until about maybe 4 years ago, I never really felt any emotion at all, and what few emotions I felt were very low in degree. I don't know what started it, but somewhere around that point I started being able to actually feel things (I have no idea why, nothing in my life changed at all.), and it just progressed more and more. Now that I look back on the past few years, it really seems like my anxiety problems were getting worse right along with it. Even though I'm a very stable person who can stay mentally calm in tense situations...my body reacts as if I'm not. It's really frustrating.
I've been having panic attacks on and off for the past few years, where I would totally randomly get all shaky and tingly/numb, hyperventilate, heart pounding, really sweaty palms, vision darkening and almost pass out....even though I was not even freaking out about anything in my head, or thinking about anything in particular really. It could happen even when I'm just relaxing reading a book, or walking around in a store shopping. They last anywhere from about 30 minutes to an hour, with the more intense periods lasting from at least 15 minutes to about 30.
I also have been having totally random depressive episodes during this same time, where I seriously could not even think clearly, like my mind was in a fog, and I would feel weak to the point of being unable to do things I normally would have no problem with (like lifting and pushing, or walking up/down stairs; psychomotor retardation fits exactly what I've experienced), and I would talk about things (through texting) to one of my coworkers that seriously disturbed her because of how depressing and borderline suicidal it was, that I would have little to no memory of doing the following day. Apparently I've done that with a few of my online friends as well. Anyways, these episodes have happened at any and every time of day, and last at least for the rest of the day, anywhere up to maybe a week...? I'm not sure, there never really is a noticeable end. I have persisting depression symptoms, which sometimes degrade nearly into anhedonia even outside of a noticeably worse episode of depression (what I mean by that is where I basically lose control of my mind and can't do what I need to, like I am outside of my mind watching all this happen and can't do anything about it, where all I can do is just barely force myself to carry on if I'm at work cause I feel dead and have no energy/strength and I end up not getting hardly anything done, or if I'm at home I just lie on my bed doing nothing). My memory (both short and long-term) has been getting suckier too, and I have problems concentrating on and off.
One incident I remember which probably was a panic attack is when I had cut the tip of my finger pretty badly at work with a knife (which was fortunately very sharp, so it healed up nicely). I felt the cut and was like "Crap..." and just quickly took off my gloves and held it under cold water putting pressure on it, and told a supervisor about it, and I was just standing there calmly until someone could help me. Then the next thing I know, I'm on the floor looking up at several people, cause apparently I passed out, and was extremely pale. I was really confused cause I was calm about the whole thing and I'm not even afraid of seeing blood at all.
As for the more direct physiological causes, I've had all sorts of testing to see if I have hypoglycemia or diabetes (including a 72-hour monitored fast), and all of them came back negative. My TSH is also in the normal range at 0.85, and I have no heart problems.
A few months ago, out of nowhere I started having attacks pretty much every other day for about a month and a half, and then I just couldn't take it any more and went to my doctor (where I had all those tests and more done), and was put on buspirone (I haven't had any attacks since I started taking it.), and more recently a low dose of sertraline. I haven't had the full neuropsych testing done yet so I can get a formal diagnosis, that won't happen until September unfortunately, but my doctor has said that I most likely have generalized anxiety disorder and asperger syndrome, and I definitely have clinical depression (I knew I had depression before that though.).
Another thing that's odd is that when I started having those attacks and bouts of depression, I randomly started having stomach problems, heartburn and acid reflux, I'd get full way faster than I used to, and I would get retching stomach pain from eating things that shouldn't cause pain whatsoever like bananas and avocado (they aren't acidic or hard to digest or anything, so wtf), even though I used to eat them all the time, and I also used to eat fresh citrus fruit a lot too, especially pineapple, and I used to drink milk, and then suddenly if I ate/drank as much of that as I used to, I would almost throw up (I did once.), and even very little of it would give me heartburn. I've had plenty of tests to see what the heck is causing all that, including an endoscopy, and according to them nothing is wrong at all....I hate it cause it kinda gets in the way of me wanting to eat healthier. I do still eat very healthy, but I can't eat a lot of the healthy stuff I used to be able to. Oh and I also lost 20 pounds since I started having stomach problems, which doesn't make sense cause I made up for not being able to eat as much at once by eating more frequently, and my overall diet and activity level didn't change. I'm right in the middle of my bmi range though, so I guess that's ok...
I really hate the randomness of it all and the fact that no explanation has been found yet, even though I've been going to appointments and stuff on and off for almost a year now (with lots of waiting in between). Hopefully the medication I'm on is helping, but time will tell cause there have been periods where I'd go months between attacks, and I've only been on it for about 2 months so far, so I could possibly have one at any time.