Discussions By Condition: Mental conditions

Panic Disorder?

Posted In: Mental conditions 15 Replies
  • Posted By: Hal2000
  • October 29, 2006
  • 11:22 AM

Hello, I'm a 46 year old male cigarette smoker and live in upstate New York. About 5 months ago I had an "episode". While visiting my friends mother in the hospital I experienced a sudden rapid heartbeat, palpatations, and profuse sweating. It scared me very much and felt as if getting up from the chair and walking around would help. It did not. A nurse came into the room and saw my dillema and quickly brought a wheelchair to take me to the ER. I declined because I started to feel better within minutes. Subsequently while leaving the hospital I experienced problems with my balance, almost a vertigo type feeling.

I went to my family doctor and explained what happened at the hospital. The first word she said were, "sounds like you had a panic attack". She sent me for an EKG which was normal. Blood glucose normal. Blood pressure and heartrate normal. She then sent me off with a prescription for a bllod test and a stress test. Due to the fact that I am self employed I have no medical insurance. I did not go for the stress and blood test. I have not been to my family doctor since my intitial consultation.

I informed my mother (who is a clinical nutritionist) and she indicated that she had these same symptoms at about age 40. As it turned out she was diagnosed with Hypoglycemia. She indicated that I was probably hypoglycemic as well. I purchased a blood glucose monitor and measured myself closely (every hour)for about a month. My blood sugar is stable and holding steady at around 100-120.

I have changed my diet to a low glycemic diet. However I don't get much exercise and smoke cigarettes.

Since my first "episode" as described above I went about a month without another episode. For the past couple of months a have experienced these episodes of varying intensity multiple times daily. Sometimes abruptly woken by a racing heartbeat and palpatations (of course panic ensues because I feel like I'm having a heart attack). Other symptoms which have manifested are dizziness or a feeling like I'm going to pass out, an urge to flee, an urge to urinate, feelings of unreality, fear of imminant death, occasional ringing in my right ear, occasional sweating directly after a meal, chills, and weakening of my legs. These episodes happen at all times of the day and night and I have no warning when they will strike.

Relief is sometimes obtained by getting up and moving around and calming myself down.

Generally after these episodes I am exhausted, forgetfull, fatigued, and I get headaches and sometimes will sleep during the day.

Due to the fact that I never know when an episode will strike, I have been avoiding certain situations. Work is one of the biggest problems for me. Eating out at restaurants, and driving are some things I have been avoiding due to the fact I'm embarrassed by my symptoms in public and afraid I'll cause an accident while driving.

This problem is very real for me and making me very unstable. I'm hoping someone will identify my symptoms and guide me in the right direction for appropriate treatment.

Thank You All in advance for reading my story.

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15 Replies:

  • Your symptoms sound to me like some sort of sugar imbalance. It might be that it is a type of reactive hypoglycemia - a rapid fall in blood sugar level which naturally corrects itself after a while. It is worth checking your blood sugar level when you are shivering and shaking as well as when you are feeling normal. I have suffered almost exactly the same symptoms as yours and these were corrected by diet and moderate exercise. Don't expect it to happen overnight though. In my case, I seemed to have symptoms either soon after eating or some hours later (which to me at first appeared totally random). It sounds like you have too. The control of blood sugar levels is very complicated, with uptake by receptors being controlled by insulin and falling levels prevented by adrenalin (and others). If this balance is upset (by stress or diet for example) then you can expect some problems. Smoking doesn't help, as it stimulates adrenalin production upsetting the balance further. It is worth adding that it is sometimes possible to have quite normal blood sugar levels and still feel the symptoms of hypoglycemia (due to insulin resistance or low levels of insulin). Interestingly, the temptation to avoid certain situations is widely reported by hypoglycemics. What you are doing is exactly the same as everybody else! I should go back to your doctor with this hypothesis, since there are other potential causes of hypoglycemia also. I would not accept a diagnosis of panic attacks unless all else had been considered thoroughly. Try and get your problem sorted though, otherwise you will end up having panic attacks!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • October 29, 2006
    • 06:59 PM
    • 0
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  • Sounds nearly exactly like my panic attacks which I used to get. I used to think that I was having a heart attack because of the symptoms are so similar. I used to be worried about going out in fear of having another episode which only caused me to have more in the end. I suggest therapy, which helped me to manage the attacks. I hope this helps and you feel better.
    sbgrl925 1 Replies
    • October 30, 2006
    • 00:19 AM
    • 0
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  • I am 27 and have a panic disorder. I was diagnosed when I was 17 and I get all the same symptoms. I have had heaps of medical tests and they are all normal. So I would safetly say it is a panic disorder. Its all to do with how your brain wants to think. Its the fight & flight response. Researching up on Panic/anxiety books. I find them really good.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 3, 2006
    • 06:05 AM
    • 0
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  • Definately sounds like panic attacks and maybe generalized anxiety disorder as well. It sounds like it could be leading into agoraphobia which is exactly what happened to me. You should talk to your doctor about what you're experiencing because anxiety, even panic attacks and agoraphobia, can be treated very successfully, usually with a combination of anti anxiety medication and cognitive therapy/relaxation techniques. Hope everything works out for you. :)
    kate1982 6 Replies
    • November 4, 2006
    • 00:17 AM
    • 0
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  • I have the same thing ... panic attacks ... I haven't had an episode since my mom was dying, I got on antidepresants and anxiety meds at the same time to help calm me down and it helped so much. Now I am weening off of them, no problems now. Anxiety disorders are one of the few mental health problems that can be cured with a combination of meds and counseling.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 4, 2006
    • 05:14 AM
    • 0
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  • Hey Im from new york city and seeing what you wrote really caught my attention. I'm 22 years old and I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder when I was 18. Panic disorder has changed my life in ways that i never thought possible but about a year and a half ago i finally started working and soon after started school also and although I wasn't able to get on trains, due to the fact that I had my first panic attack in one, i still managed to get around by bus. unfortunatley just last week I had a relapse. I stopped going to school and working and i feel like my life is over. I have cried so much b/c I had so many plans for my life and i feel like now i can't do anything. basically the reason i stopped going out is because when I'm outside I have this sensation that I can't balance my body, I feel like i walk in zig zags and bump into people as if i cant control my body and i'm gonna pass out which then causes me to have a full blown panic attack. is there anyone out there who has these feelings also? I'm so scared I can't even go to the grocery store b/c as soon as i step out my building i have that feeling. it like if it were the vertigo thing that you were talking about. I also expirience this feeling like when i look ahead in a block and the block is empty i feel like i have no one to hold on to like im just going to fall flat on my face. Is there anyone out there that can help me understand this a little better? My name is Rocio
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • November 16, 2006
    • 03:58 AM
    • 0
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  • Hey Rocio,I can relate to what you're going through. I have very similar symptoms with the dizziness and feelings similar to that. Agoraphobia is very disabling, I lost my job because of it. Anyways, just know that you aren't alone. :)
    kate1982 6 Replies
    • November 19, 2006
    • 09:29 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I am having similar symptoms and very confused about what is going on. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed as hypoglycemic. I was told to eat more complex carbs, etc. and was sent on my way. Being 21, I didn't think too much about it however was a little more aware. About 10 months after being diagnosed hypoglycemic, in August, I had a horrible reaction. I had been drinking coffee, smoking cigs, etc. and broke out into a full panic attack. It was the worst thing that has ever happened to me. Ever since then I feel very different. I used to be carefree, not worrying about anything and now I am very weary of going places, drinking coffee, smoking cigs, etc. as I'm afraid that I may have another panic attack. However, I still do go a lot of places, I am 22 and in college so I have quite a bit going on! But I'm not very comfortable in these places and sometimes begin to feel dizzy or feel as though I need to leave, etc. Usually if I eat something I feel better, but sometimes this happens like one or two hours after I'm eating and when in public places it usually happens all the time. I have basically quit smoking, which is probably a good thing, but not because I wanted to. I also try to eat all the time because I'm afraid that I may get low blood sugar which would lead me to a panic attack. I'm not even hungry most of the times I eat. I do however try to eat very healthy meals and snacks although sometimes I may cheat! I'm just really confused on if this is symptoms from hypoglycemia or if I may have some anxiety disorder such as panic disorder. I just want to feel normal again!! Anyone have any suggestions?
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 8, 2006
    • 08:00 PM
    • 0
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  • Smoking can cause problems because it stimulates adrenalin which interferes with sugar uptake. What you are describing (i.e. feeling bad a couple of hours after eating) sounds like reactive hypoglycemia. If you stimulate adrenalin further by worrying about having a panic attack, then you are probably going to have a one! Hypoglycemics nearly always associate past incidences with certain types of places, so it is likely you are causing a lot of the problems yourself (the most important thing is that you realise it). You need to get a dietician to advise you on the best way of tackling it (something more than just telling you to eat more complex carbs - which is right incidentally). I don't understand who you think you are cheating when you stray from your healthy diet. It is certainly not your doctor! You could do worse than get a blood glucose meter to try and find out what is going on. You would be unwise to suggest to your doctor that you thought you had an anxiety disorder unless you were pretty sure that was the case.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 8, 2006
    • 08:36 PM
    • 0
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  • Hal, mental and emotional symptoms define Anxiety Disorder more than the physical ones, so don't let the physical ones distract you. My father has Anxiety Disorder with panic attacks. If you have a "fear of fear itself" that is a really good sign you have it. Fear of fear of fear of fear... ad infinitum is an infinite regress. The mind does not like those, thus the mental disorder.
    Non Servium 85 Replies
    • December 9, 2006
    • 10:44 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I had the same reaction after I was given a prescription antibiotic that I was allergic to. However, this was 4 months ago and I've had these symptoms intermittently since then, with the worst being a few hours ago. I went coyote hunting down a long logging road which leads to a field. I sat there for about two hours and since I didn't see anything I decided to leave before it got dark Withing 100 yards I felt as if something was wrong inside-I got scared, dizzy, my legs felt weak, I was confused, I had to actually think to make myself walk. I felt as if I were going to die, and at one point I didn't know where I was and thought I was in another state I used to hunt in when I was younger. Previous to this trip I had three cups of coffee. It is very scary.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • December 11, 2006
    • 01:35 AM
    • 0
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  • I am a 16 Year old girl from the UK. I have also.. yesterday in fact.. been diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety Problems, these started when i fell ill 2 months ago and didnt move out of my room for 9 weeks, i spent christmas day in bed hence feeling poorly, my frist panic attack happend in the house, i started to sweat and got pains in my chest, belly and left arm, i thought i was having a heart attack.. which then worsened the panic, i felt like my heart was beating hard in my throat and i went nausious. After the first attck they happened more often and came alot stronger, i feel afraid to use the phone because i had a large panic attack whilst i was on the phone to my Boyfriend, i felt the need i had to hang up otherwise the attack wont subside, as soon as i did the panic went.. I finally got up the courage to go out and see if it would help, not far away from home i had a massive attack and i thought i was going to die, with that i went straight home to my room.. again the panic went. The doctor has put it down to slight agrophobia and has offered me relaxation tecniques, i have to go and see my GP again in 2 weeks time, to see if i need to be referred to a specialist.. if anyone could tell me how they overcome panic attacks, and how long it took them i would be really grateful, i want to get back to being my old self again as soon as possible..
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 7, 2008
    • 06:03 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hey Im from new york city and seeing what you wrote really caught my attention. I'm 22 years old and I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder when I was 18. Panic disorder has changed my life in ways that i never thought possible but about a year and a half ago i finally started working and soon after started school also and although I wasn't able to get on trains, due to the fact that I had my first panic attack in one, i still managed to get around by bus. unfortunatley just last week I had a relapse. I stopped going to school and working and i feel like my life is over. I have cried so much b/c I had so many plans for my life and i feel like now i can't do anything. basically the reason i stopped going out is because when I'm outside I have this sensation that I can't balance my body, I feel like i walk in zig zags and bump into people as if i cant control my body and i'm gonna pass out which then causes me to have a full blown panic attack. is there anyone out there who has these feelings also? I'm so scared I can't even go to the grocery store b/c as soon as i step out my building i have that feeling. it like if it were the vertigo thing that you were talking about. I also expirience this feeling like when i look ahead in a block and the block is empty i feel like i have no one to hold on to like im just going to fall flat on my face. Is there anyone out there that can help me understand this a little better? My name is RocioYES. Thats exactly how I feel bro. Been feeling actually. ****s with the schwag, feel like you look like a public weirdo...I hate it. But if you get your mind right, the rest is natural...its hard to get over your anxieties, but it isnt hard to live life right. Just dont hope too much for/bank on things you feel are ACTUALLY outta your control (and you have to reach a place where you are confident in yourself and capabilities) . Dont be a pessimistic **m either, you find out what you cant do by experience, dont ever assume against yourself, dont ever put yourself at a disadvantage to handle ****. And part of all that is not caring for what loss comes when you do your best...its something you cant control, so you are better-adgusted not to bank-on and thus worry about it. Broaden your likes to include many easy/comfortable to acheive things so you are confident in what else you have. Plus, loss is what teaches you, so you see teh silver lining. Believe me man, the positive side to life is natural, just see the world for what it is, know what you want, and figure out by more experiment then sittin around thinkin what is going to fit into your happy scheme. What you want,same with everyone, is happiness. You know what will make you happy, and what wont (for whatever reason...its chance of failure is too high, consequences of failure are too high, its too inconvenient, it messes with other plans). Just know that happy feeling, and know what puts you there. That right there is experiment/experience, dont reason too ******n it. Go do.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I Have The Same Problem To And I Also Have A Solution You See Panic Attacks And Hypoglecimia Have ALmost The Same Symtpons But You See With Panic Attacks Sometimes They Get So Bad They Lead You To Believe You Have Something You Dont So MY Friend I WOuld Say You Have A Panic Disorder Because When You Have A Panic Your Mind Tricks And Starts Scanning For Other Problems In Your Body To Try ANd Figure Out Whats Wrong Dont Steer The Wrong Way And Think That MEdication Can Help You YOur WHole Life My Advice To You Is This I Have Found THis Book And It Is Very Helpfull And I Mean Real Helpfull It Is An E-Book Which You Can Order Online It Is CAlled Panic Away You SHould Really Look Into It It Helped Me Along With 26,000 More Other People So IT Obviusly Benefits So Try This And GoodLuck Remember Were All In This Together.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • View the techniques for control of anxiety/panic attacks, in section 8, at ezy build, below. Begin, on this first occasion, only, by holding your breath for 5, or 10 seconds: this will give you the confidence to realise that YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR BREATHING, but not pass out, or die (your autonomic nervous system resumes breathing, if you become unconscious). Understand panic attacks, and what triggers them, in your life (if it is unresolved anxiety, or stress, see sections 6, or 42, respectively). The paper bag method works for most people: try it. If you are fairly suggestible, the following are reliable: Your last alternative is psychotherapy, to address its fundamental cause: read section 1, and examine the website, and use the locators, and phone book. I used to suffer from panic attacks, until I questioned what had changed in my life, at, or just before that time, to trigger them. For some people, this is enough. These days, I have instilled the habit of, whenever a situation occurs where panic is likely, I visualise a large, "STOP!" sign, as vividly as possible, followed by repeating to myself: "stay calm" in my mind. You could try the same method. It usually takes 30 - 40 repetitions, for most people, to establish a new habit. I also suggest that you learn, then practise the controlled breathing technique, until competent, then employ it, at the very first sign of a panic attack. Practice one of the relaxation methods on pages 2, 11, 2c, or 2i, daily, and when needed. Also, give the EFT a good tryout, to see if it helps you. There is also a version for use in public places, (if you like, you can claim to have a headache, as you massage/lightly tap your temples, but you would then be restricted to subvocalising: saying it to yourself in your mind). Section 53, and pages 2, 2.q and 2.o at http://www.ezy-build.net.nz/~shaneris also refer: "Even though I sometimes suffer from panic attacks, I deeply and completely accept myself." Note: the controlled breathing only helps with the symptoms (as do medications/herbal remedies): you need to address the underlying cause, and this requires some form of therapy, and Cognitive Behavio(u)ral Therapy has proved effective. Advice from a published psychiatrist on controlled breathing. (1.) Get a clock, or watch with a second timer. (2.) Practise for 5 minutes, 4 times daily, until proficient. (3.) Take a small breath in, and hold it, for 6 seconds. (4.) Think to yourself: "RELAX", just before breathing out. (5.) Try to feel a sense of releasing tension, as you breathe out. (6.) Breathe in for 3 seconds, then out, for 3 seconds. Try to make your breathing very smooth, and light, as you breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, or nose. (7.) For the next minute, continue to breathe in, and out, every 3 seconds. (8.) Go back to step 3, at the end of the minute, and proceed through to step 7, doing this for 5 minutes. Use this at the very first sign of a panic attack starting, or any time you feel anxious, or tense. Because many people can't access/afford professional therapy, I include the EFT, and EMDR variant for them to try, free of charge. Cognitive Behavio(u)ral Therapy is generally available in most areas, but EMDR (see section 33) may well be worth trying, and is becoming more widespread. (The following is a variant of EMDR therapy, which has been used successfully for those people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, insomnia, and anxiety: it is easily learned, quick to use, yet can be very effective. It is easy to be dismissive of such a seemingly unusual technique, but give it a good tryout, for at least a few weeks, to see if it is effective in your case). Prior to using either of the methods in the above paragraph, first sit comfortably, and take a deep breath. Then, without moving your head, move your eyes from the left, to the right, and back again, taking around a second to do so (say: "a thousand and one": this takes approximately a second). Repeat this procedure (without the words, although you can count, subvocally, if you like) 20 times: "A thousand and one; a thousand and two... " and so on, to a thousand and twenty. Then close your eyes and relax. Become aware of any tension or discomfort you feel. Then open your eyes, and take another deep breath, and repeat step one, closing your eyes, and relaxing afterwards, in the same manner. Then, repeat the procedure one last time. Some people may find that this is all they need do. With experience, you may find that you can practise this in public, with your eyes closed, which greatly widens the window of opportunity for its use, and avoids attracting unwanted attention. I have found that the 2 - 3 minutes spent using the EMDR markedly reduces distractions to the relaxation process, and is repaid many times over. I also use it prior to my chosen relaxation technique, after lights out, at night. For more about Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing therapy, showing recommendations by those who have used it, including a professional psychotherapist with more than 20 years of experience in that field, see sections 33 - 34, at ezy-build. She was skeptical, at first, and I remained unconvinced, until trying it, and now I use it twice daily, including after lights out, at night. It may also help to minimise, or eliminate caffeine products from your life (coffee can be a trigger) and sugar. Xylitol, or Stevia is preferable, (health food stores) or fruit sugar (fructose, such as "Fruisana", from supermarket sugar aisles) or even a little honey. Minimise/eliminate consumption of highly processed foods, particularly grain products, such as white bread, donuts, cake, cookies/biscuits, or anything with sugar. Opt for more wholefoods, non-starchy vegetables, and fruit.
    shaneris 46 Replies Flag this Response
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