How I Overcame My Anxiety and Frequent Panic Attacks

Updated on March 25, 2019
Minnetonka Twin profile image

Linda earned her master's degree in counseling & psychological services. She writes about mental health issues & many other genre's.

Anxiety can seem to come out of nowhere.
Anxiety can seem to come out of nowhere. | Source

I have struggled with this affliction throughout my life. If I can help just one person out there struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, then I'd know that sharing my personal story is well worth it.

What Is a Panic Attack?

The DSM-IV describes it as "a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, which comes on suddenly and peaks within ten minutes or so."

The American Psychological Association says symptoms of panic disorder can last anywhere from 15 seconds to 30 minutes. "They can form a cyclical series of episodes that last for extended periods. Often, those afflicted will experience significant anticipatory anxiety and limited symptom attacks between situations where attacks have previously occurred."

Common Anxiety Symptoms

  • intense fear or apprehension
  • fear of dying
  • feeling like you're "going crazy" or feeling out of control
  • shortness of breath, choking feeling, or smothering sensation
  • confusion
  • trembling
  • muscle pain or tension
  • hot flashes/cold flashes
  • chest pain or heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • dizziness or feeling light-headed
  • derealization (out of body experience)
  • burning sensation/numbing sensation
  • nausea
  • hyperventilation
  • hypervigilance (being overly aware of environmental or bodily sensations)
  • strong urge to escape or flee

My Experience With Anxiety

Even as a Child, I Was Always Anxious

One of my earlier recollections of anxiety was when I was about nine years old. I was laying in bed when the feeling came over me. I wanted to flee and get as far away from my body as possible. I wasn't sure why I had this feeling of dread and fear when I was just relaxing in the comfort of my own bedroom.

Another instance occurred when I was about 10 years old. I was laying on the living room couch watching TV, when without warning, I felt like I was going to die. I walked into the kitchen where my father was standing. I was sobbing and telling him about the weird symptoms I was experiencing. He wanted so much to help his little girl, but had no idea what was going on with me or what to do.

Things Got Worse in My Adolescence and Young Adulthood

This continued into college. Many times, my boyfriend would have to talk me down. He was patient and loving and learned that I regularly had these bouts of anxiety. He and my sister became very important to me when I was having a bad panic attack.

My worst run-ins with anxiety and panic attacks by far were when I was about 28 years old. At this stage, I was suffering from full-blown panic attacks. I remember working at a group home for adults with special needs when the panic attacks were at their worst. There I was, twenty-something and responsible for 8-10 adults—all the while feeling like I was falling apart.

One of my scariest incidents was when I was driving the company van with all ten residents. As the feelings of panic suddenly came over me, I thought, "Oh man, here we go again." I felt like I was suffocating, dying, going crazy. I considered pulling the van over, but I was on an interstate, where there was no place to do so. The fact that there was no way to pull to the side made me panic even more. Luckily, I managed to get everyone home safely, but I will never forget the feeling I had that day. I felt like I had run a marathon; my legs were sore and shaky following that panic attack.

For Those of You With Anxiety, There Is Hope

Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to anxiety and panic attacks. I have come a long way since the days of constant bouts of anxiety. Below, I've listed several tips that have helped me reduce my anxiety. You can still live a good life in spite of panic and anxiety.

Have you ever suffered from extreme anxiety or a panic attack?

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My Suggestions to Reduce Anxiety

  • Get back in your body: Take your shoes off when having feelings of panic or anxiety and rub them into the ground.
  • Self-care: Make time to take care of yourself. Get a massage, meditate, get enough sleep, eat nutritional foods, take vitamins or supplements, take a warm bath, exercise, or just go for a nice walk—anything that's just for you and no one else.
  • Avoid alcohol: You may think that alcohol can dull the senses or lift your mood, but it can actually exacerbate the anxiety.
  • Get counseling: Talk to a therapist or counselor who specializes in anxiety or panic disorder. It may include medication, talk therapy, bio-feedback, or another method. You can work together to find the best treatment for you.
  • See your doctor: Talk to your primary doctor to discuss your symptoms. They may want to rule out any physical problems first. (Make sure to keep them in the loop if you are seeing a therapist or counselor.)
  • Find loving support: Get support from friends and family you trust. Just talking about your anxiety can often alleviate the scary feelings that accompany it.
  • Learn more about anxiety: Read about your condition or others' stories of anxiety. You will realize how common it is in our society. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
  • Refocus your attention: Try not to give too much power to the anxiety. I know what you're thinking: "Easier said than done!" But take it from someone who has learned from experience: I just don't give anxiety the power like I used to in the earlier days. Try to focus your attention on something that gets your mind... off your mind. Do things that you love or have a passion for. I love to garden, walk, read, write, watch movies, and listen to music, to name a few things.
  • Love yourself: You are not bad or damaged because you suffer from panic attacks. We are not crazy!

You Can Definitely Do It

Panic attacks can decrease in power as you develop more skills to cope with them. I have gone through several months of remission many times in my life—and whenever it does come back for a visit, I am armed with the the anxiety-reducing strategies listed above.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Linda Rogers

    Comments

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    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Spirit Whisperer. Your series on hubpages about hypno-psychotherapy has definitely pushed me to want to write about my past to get rid of the emotional attachments with the pain. I am also very open to hypnosis at this point in my life thanks to you :-)

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      7 years ago from Isle of Man

      Perhaps now you might consider a course in Hypno-Psychotherapy as a way to finally resolve this issue! A great hub and thank you for providing this very valuable information in such an accessible and easily understandable way.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      I know swb64. Let's be frank that all of us struggles with some degree of mental health issue and it is not something to be ashamed of. If I can help one person out there feeling hopeless, then this hub was worth sharing my struggle with anxiety. Thanks for coming by:)

    • swb64 profile image

      swb64 

      8 years ago from Addingham, UK.

      I hope mental health does start to get more accepted, for some reason its the condition that most folks are ashamed to mention that they think they might have a problem - with 'it.'

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Therapy can be very helpful and I hope you get through this. Anxiety stinks big time. I can understand how studying for a GED could put you into stress mode. I Hope reading my story and knowing your not alone in this, helps.

    • profile image

      amandabanana91 

      8 years ago

      thank u so much for the advice i just starting having panic\anxiety attacks in november which sent me to the hospital then they sent me a 1000 dollar bill which i think is crazy i think part because i have been studying for the G.E.D. and some of it stresses me out as of right now i dont have insurance so i cant go and see a therapist but i will try some of these techniques im hoping soon i get my help back so i can go and talk to a therapist because i think it will do me some good also including some of the stuff i went through as a kid as a kid such as people teasing me and making fun of me but thanks again i hope it helps

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Yup! But it is so weird! I thought I was just sort of blind sided by the snow - not realizing so much had accumulated over night. Then my car was sliding everywhere! Ha! Yes I should have called 911:-) lol

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Hey Darski-It's amazing how scary a panic attack is. It is hard for those not afflicted to understand it and hopefully this hub can shed some light on it. Many blessings my friend:)

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      How scary that must've been for you RealHousewife. Glad you made it home. I have had panic attacks while stuck in traffic on a really snowy day. Even thinking about it makes me anxious. I thought, why call 911 as they'll get stuck in this traffic jam too. I just grinned and beared it.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Thank you this wonderful hub, I also have panic disorder, and once I had my first panic attack I understand how scary it can be and have lots of concern for others. You hub is hopeful and uplefting. I rate up up love & peace darski

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      8 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Wow! This totally reminds me - a few years ago I was working night shifts. My shift ended at 7am - I got out of the parking garage to find it had snowed over night. A Lot! I had to drive home about a 30 minute drive down the highway which wasn't cleared yet. There were cars off the road - I actually had to talk myself into making it the rest of the way home. Even my knees were shaking! I was imagining calling my husband and trying to explain he would need to pick me up. I made it slowly - tried to slow my breathing hoping it would slow my parasympathetic nervous system down. Terrifying. Thank you for sharing this! Bravo for having the courage to do so!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi catgypsy. I think talking about disorders like this, take away a lot of the stigma and can help others. Thanks a lot for coming by:)

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 

      8 years ago from the South

      A wonderful Hub! I'm so glad to see this disorder finally being talked about by it's sufferers. It really helps to know you're not alone and that it is nothing to be ashamed of.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi J.B.-I will always struggle with anxiety but it is much more under control now. I also don't give it the power I use to. Thanks so much for reading my article. I hope you never know what one feels like as they are horrendous. Hope your having a great weekend:)

    • Mrs. J. B. profile image

      Mrs. J. B. 

      8 years ago from Southern California

      This was so well written. Very informative too. I hope your panic attacks have decreased.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      8 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Laurie-I am so glad whenever a hub can give someone a little trinket of education. Panic attacks are so terrifying. I get them less and less all the time. The less power I give them and the more tools I have, the less they afflict me. I also walk a lot which helps the chemicals stay more in balance. God Bless and here's to Peace and Calm in our lives:)

    • LaurieDawn profile image

      LaurieDawn 

      8 years ago

      Greetings Minnetonka Twin,

      Thank you for sharing your experiences, and your hub is awesome. I have suffered from panic for years, and I like the tip about taking your shoes off and just rubbing with your feet! I can imagine myself doing that in the ground, feeling the rich earth beneath my toes. Or carpet, and rubbing away those panics!

      Blessings to you and yours!

      Laurie

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Hello stars and thank you for your comforting words. I know some of the anxiety is due to not having mom and dad around anymore. It can be hard at times but yes, my parents are always in my heart. God Bless you friend.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      2besure-I am so glad yours ended too. Mine are no longer consistent. I can usually figure out what brought them on and I am better knowing how to deal with it. Thank you for sharing your story as it will help others on hubpages to know there is hope.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Dear Jane-It amazes me how many of us suffer with this. You are so not alone in this. I was real close to being agoraphobic as I was consistently in the panic mode. Just this past winter I was driving home from work and got stuck in traffic because of a snow storm. I looked ahead of me as I was at a stop and saw a line of cars in front of me that were not moving. The sun started setting and I totally freaked and couldn't breath. I almost called 911 but realized if I was stuck in traffic it might be tough for an ambulence too. Needless to say, I always made sure to leave for work and go home from work before rush hour. If it snowed, my boss knew I would not go in to the office. Fortunately, I got laid off from this job but a couple weeks later his online business got busy and now I can do the work from home. What a blessing it is. My thoughts are with you and I will pray that the anxiety will one day disappear. God Bless.

    • stars439 profile image

      stars439 

      9 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Allways remember that your mom is in your heart with you always. Glad that you can deal with anxiety and panic attacks much better. God Bless You Dear Heart.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I started having panic attacks after my Mom died. I am so glad they stopped.

    • Jane@CM profile image

      Jane@CM 

      9 years ago

      I have found a kindred spirit with you. I've suffered from anxiety since I was young. My panic attacks became full blown about 4 years ago - always when I was driving or in a big box store. Eventually they led to agoraphobia. I sought help at Abbott in the day treatment program several years ago. Now that I have moved from the comfort of my familiar surroundings, again, I can't find my self able to drive more than a few blocks, which doesn't even get me to the grocery store. So many people suffer with this. Finding a therapist that understands this condition is hard - some want to categorize me into OCD! Thanks for this great article!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Hi Amanda-I totally forgot about hynotherapy. I was also trained in this. I should have mentioned that in the hub. Thanks for the reminder, I so appreciate it and that you took time to read and comment.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      K9-I am so sorry as I thought I wrote you back. Anyhoo, I want to thank you for reading this article and I hope it can help someone out there that struggles. I felt so much better once I read about it and knew others struggled too. Peace

    • Amanda Severn profile image

      Amanda Severn 

      9 years ago from UK

      Hi Minnetonka Twin, I trained as a hypnotherapist, and panic attacks was one of the areas covered on the course. Hypnosis can certainly help anxiety sufferers, as can CBT, but I really like your feet on the ground idea.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      squidmom-I have learned that people that have never had a panic attack just don't get the terror of it and I am glad they do not know. It has been real helpful for me to talk about it with people as it lessens the fear a little knowing I am not alone. Regarding driving and panic. I had a job a couple years ago where I would get caught in traffic when it snowed and I would lose it. I couldn't breath and felt like I would surely die. I thought about calling 911 with my cell phone but realized if I was stuck in traffic it probably wouldn't be smart to get a cop car to try to get me. What finally helped was looking to the side of the highway where there was grass and buildings instead of looking forward and seeing cars lined up in front of me for miles as dusk was beginning to appear. I now work from home and no longer have to worry about being caught in traffic. I have no problem driving under normal circumstances unless I get stuck at a light too long or bad traffic. My thoughts are with you as a fellow member of the panic club.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Faybe Bay-I absolutely LOVE the Q and A. What a great way to help the mind that is being irrational and bringing it back to reasoning. I so relate to going to the hospital during a panic attack. I think I have made 3 trips to ER thinking I was having a heart attack. I thank God for the last trip because that's when I found out I had a tumor on my lung. I now tell people that there is a positive about my panic disorder as it saved my life. Who would have thunk it?

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      9 years ago from Northern, California

      What a gift this hub is. Sufferers of this nature need all of the advice and pointers available! I love this hub!

      K9

    • Squidmom profile image

      Squidmom 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Loved the hub, and very helpful. I used to get these when I did substitute teaching and also when I drive. For safety reasons I no longer drive, it's a hard experience to describe to others. Especaily when it comes to my driving induced panic attacks. I often hear, "well I used to get a little nervous when I started driving too, you just have to keep trying." But it's not a little nervousness that I feel- it's a full fleged terror that makes me stop being able to think, my hands get sweaty my heart starts pumping, I can't even remember which foot is left and which is right much less traffic regulations. This should be talked about more. I definitely feel a little less alone now, especailly after reading the comment that Grannyshouse left about their daughter also suffering from these while driving.Thanks again!

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Hi Minnetonka Twin! I know a bit about these attacks! One of my best ways to talk someone down is with Q&A. "What's the worst that can happen?" is the first question. Many say they will die (including me) so the next question is have you ever died from a panic attack before? (Obvious no) and then "Has anyone you know ever died from panic?" silly questions but they ground us in reality. I suffer from them and actually went to the hospital on one occasion thinking I was having a heart attack.

      I like the idea of the bare feet rubbing on the floor. I'd never heard that technique, but I know that positive self talk, logic and reasoning usually bring me around.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      lifegate-I am so glad you have never known what it is like to have a panic attack. I really liked how you said it would help you understand others with it. I know when I was having them, some family and friends didn't get it and probably thought I was nuts.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      9 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      MT, Thanks for a very informative hub. I've never experienced a panic attack, but this helps me to understand those that do.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      subuteoz-I so agree with you that just knowing you are not crazy and not alone in this disorder can really help us heal and get better. I have learned that the better I take care of myself emotionally and physically, the less anxious I am. God Bless all of us that deal with panic attacks and anxiety. There is HOPE!Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my article.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Grannyshouse-I am so glad this can help your daughter. I am doing so well now as I have learned more skills to deal with them. Let your daughter know that mine were so bad I almost became agoraphobic(scared to leave the house) because of the fear of the panic. I am now able to say that I am doing great. Like your daughter, I too had them while driving. I had them in every situation you can think of. My prayers are with your daughter and there is hope that they will lose their power. God Bless!

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      cbris52-Thanks for the nice compliment. I like to use some of my struggles to help others. It feels so good to write a hub and knowing it can help someone.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Hubpages writer-Thanks so much for commenting on my story. You are so right that part of it is about loving ourselves fully.

    • subbuteoz profile image

      subbuteoz 

      9 years ago from NSW, Australia

      Excellent hub - thanks for the info. I think the realisation that its a recognised problem and not you going crazy is an important first step in getting to grips with although I dont think we can ever rid ourselves of it just leatn how best to deal with it.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      9 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Great hub and good advice. Will rate up. My daughter suffers from them. She had to quit college because she would get them while driving.I am going to rate and put on facebook so many can see this hub.

    • cbris52 profile image

      cbris52 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for the info... I'm sure many have benefited from this Hub... I know I have!

    • profile image

      hubpageswriter 

      9 years ago

      This is such a good hub. To love oneself is the most important first and foremost. Without it, one cannot truly be happy. Hub up.:)

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      Thanks HT-Unfortunately, you and I are pro's at the do's and dont's of anxiety but we keep on truckin. Life is great!

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 

      9 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Twinhead,

      I know you will help many with this helful hub. I have suffered from anxiety in my life and will use some tips here. I do like to take off my shoes when anxiety hits and rub into the carpet.

      Thanks.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      CheekyGirl-Thanks for commenting on my hub. Sounds like you know how to combat stress well. I hope you NEVER know what it is like to have a full-blown panic attack. Have a beautiful day.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      H.C.Porter-You can never be too long-winded for me. This is the right place to write freely. I am sorry you have had to experience these nasty panic attacks but it sounds like you did what you needed to and are doing better. I have always wished that the part of my brain that remembers these p.attacks could be somehow wiped away, because anticipatory anxiety is just as crippling as the panic attacks. thx for coming by and commenting. I hope this article and all who comment can help someone out there not knowing what is happening to them.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      kaltopsyd-I am very glad you have never experienced this but I had never heard of nocturnal panic. Sounds awfully scary! Hope you have remedied this. Thanks for taking time to stop in and comment.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      ladyjane1-I am glad to hear your doing better too. I wish p.a. on noone and wish I never had one in the first place. Have a nice, calm/peaceful day.

    • Minnetonka Twin profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Rogers 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      brightforyou-Thanks for your comment. Hope it can help anyone suffering.

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      9 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      I don't think I have ever experienced something as big or as deep as this. I find if I am ever in a stressful situation, to slow down my breathing and take big deep breaths, as they seem to have a huge affect on me. I also try to avoid people or situations that give me more stress than usual. Some people take on other people's problems for them, as some people close to us tend to unload on others who seem supportive at times or people who are good listeners. I also have categories of stress, good, medium and bad stress. I try to see myself being in the stress and remove myself from being the centre of it, if you get moi drift! Anyway, great hub!

    • H.C Porter profile image

      Holly 

      9 years ago from Lone Star State

      This is an excellent description of the feelings associated with a panic attack. The first time I had one was when I was about 12years old- the trigger was an actual death in the family which made me think about not being able to avoid the fact that I will one day die. It started off with being somewhat uncomfortable and I began to fidget-then came the dizziness and nausea followed with the sensation of being smothered. After that-Panic Attacks occurred quite frequently and just as you said, I felt as though I was crazy and a freak. I eventually was taken for therapy and shortly after given medication which I took while I sorted out my triggers for the attacks. I appreciate the way you explained panic attacks as not being a 'Crazy Persons' issue-and love the tips especially the rubbing of your feet to help you regain control....Thanks for the share....Sorry for the long winded response :)

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 

      9 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      I've never experienced "regular" panic attacks but I am familiar with nocturnal panic. Struggling to wake up because I feel like I'm suffocating is not a good feeling, so I understand. Thank you for sharing your experience with us in this informative Hub.

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Oh I am so familiar with that Im going to die feeling, its horrible but now under control. I try not to give the anxiety too much power as you stated in your hub. Great info by the way. Cheers.

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen Lewis 

      9 years ago from Florida

      Very helpful hub written from experience.

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