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We all have to experience ups and downs as they are part of life. But when it comes to panic attacks our daily routine can drastically change for the worse. Many are very intense; others can be mild. Some people can have one panic attack while others can have numerous. For those who have multiple panic attacks per day, this article will inspire you, motivate you, empower you, and help you fight them. Because even the scariest panic attack stories can have a positive and happy ending!
Today, we will discuss how Chris, my husband, struggled and defeated his panic attacks. He experienced them for a period of 6 years. Almost 3 of those years he suffered multiple panic attacks every day.
Having suffered from panic attacks myself has helped me understand my husband’s fight with panic attacks. He has been a tremendous support and his help with my struggle with them. I did not know I was dealing with panic attacks until one night I woke up with intense fears. Then, I explained to him how I felt.
Based on his own experience, my husband explained to me that I was having panic attacks. I was going to the doctor’s office for many years and all my blood tests came back fine. Just like my husband, the doctor did not offer any suggestions about the possibility of an anxiety disorder. His patience, strength, love, and compassion helped me not only to control them but to defeat them. Read more about my experience with panic attacks on the About page.
Because my husband’s story is so inspiring in my treatment, he has agreed to answer some questions that will prove and help you understand they can be defeated no matter how bad you think it is.
Continuous panic attacks: Just the beginning
Chris explains how his panic attacks started until he was experiencing multiple ones a day that he had to go to the hospital.
Me: How was your life before the panic attacks?
Chris: Life was normal. Over 25 years ago, I attended college but soon I suspended my studies and take a position as a manager to save for college and living expenses.
Me: Tell us what triggered your first panic attack
Chris: Stress and anxiety from college carried over to 60-hour workweeks and tension built up. Eventually, the company laid me off due to corporate take over. After I saved some money I went back to college. In the first semester of going back, I started to feel very anxious.
I experienced shortness of breath, palpitations, chills, nausea, and tingling sensations. I went back to exercise to improve my breathing. However, my rigorous exercising led to my first full-blown panic attack. I had no idea what was happening to me and couldn’t explain it. I was hyperventilating and was using mint lozenges to help my breathing which helped temporarily.
As a result, I became more sensitive to smells (which made me hold my breath), heat, and humidity. This led to more frequent and numerous panic attacks within a single day.
Me: How did your situation escalate?
Chris: My condition deteriorated and I became dehydrated. Then, I could not eat due to the fact I was feeling nauseous. I was constantly getting panic attacks anywhere from 3 to 4 times a day. As a result, I felt very tired and drained after having each one every day.
A possible solution or another challenge?
After experiencing many panic attacks a day, Chris went to the ER thinking that he will get the help he needed. Did he? Let’s find out…
Me: So, have you always experienced multiple panic attacks per day?
Chris: No. Initially, I had one or two per day and they gradually increase for several months. I was not getting any better. Eventually, I could not take it anymore as I felt hopeless and helpless. and that’s when I decided to go to the ER.
Me: Did you tell the doctor about your symptoms?
Chris: Yes, the doctor said they will check everything.
Me: How were the results of the tests?
Chris: The doctor said everything on paper looked fine. I was a little dehydrated but there is nothing wrong. Then I was soon released.
Me: So, did the doctor offer any feedback or solutions?
Chris: Not really. He said everything is fine. That it was probably in my head.
Me: What can you say about your experience at the hospital in general?
Chris: Not good but at least I found out that there were no problems with my health.
Me: How did your daily life change at that point?
Chris: I had panic attacks everywhere I went, including college and while I was driving. I thought people were looking at me while I was having them but no one even noticed. So, I was worrying about something that was not evident and had nothing to do with reality.
Facing panic attacks and indifference
Chris tells us how he found out he was suffering panic attacks, what was his family reaction and how he had to find his own answers.
Me: During that time, did you know what was happening to you?
Chris: Absolutely, not. I did not know why I felt that way. I thought lifting weights would help me to breathe better but that was a mistake and only made the situation worse. Whenever I tried to breathe deeply I felt like I was out of breath and was hyperventilating which triggered a panic attack. Now I know lifting weights was not a good activity to engage in during a panic attack. So I was learning to eliminate anything in my life that could trigger them.
Me: Did you get any support from family or friends?
Chris: Unfortunately, no, I did not as they had no clue as to what I was experiencing. One of my siblings told me “just stop it” as if there was an “on/off” switch. I guess their reaction was out of ignorance and lack of compassion.
Me: How did their indifference affect your panic attacks?
Chris: I felt I was in this alone and no one really cared. I was on my own and had to find my own solutions.
Me: Since you were by yourself on this, what was your next step?
Chris: Seeing that I took some psychology courses, I started to research my symptoms. I came up with the conclusion that I had a generalized anxiety disorder. However, I was on the right track but I was not completely correct.
Me: So, how did you know that you had panic attacks?
Chris; I consulted with a psychiatrist and he told me I was experiencing panic attacks.
Prescription or addiction?
After the psychiatrist diagnosed him with panic attacks, Chris started to use Xanax. Did it help or complicated his situation?
Me: Did he medicate you?
Chris: Yes, the doctor prescribed Xanax to help relieve the symptoms.
Me: Did it help your panic attacks?
Chris: Yes, temporarily.
Me: What do you mean temporarily?
Chris: It worked for a few hours and then I felt the symptoms coming back again. The medication was getting less effective. Then I needed a higher dosage to get the same effect. After a month, the dosage was not strong enough. I went back to the psychiatrist and he increased the dosage.
Me: Did the dosage increase helped?
Chris: Yes but after another month it was not effective anymore. So, I went back and got another dosage increase. After 3 full months of treatments, I decided to switch my psychiatrist.
Confronting a sad reality that led to finding an effective solution
The medication was not working as Chris expected and switched his physiatrist. Did it help? Why his medication was not working?
Me: During the first three years, how this situation affected your life?
Chris: I was constantly anticipating the next panic attack and although the medicine made me feel better temporarily I felt it was not getting to the root of the problem. I was not getting any psychological help.
Me: What did you do?
Chris: After about three years of the treatment, I decided to research the medication and found out that it was a habit-forming drug. I decided to switch psychiatrists and was told that I was addicted to the Xanax. I was given an alternative that was not habit-forming.
Me: Did your new psychiatrist help you?
Chris: Yes, somewhat.
Me: Why somewhat?
Because I had to be weaned off the Xanax as she incrementally decreased the dosage. This helped a little but, again, I did not get much psychological help.
Me: Did you consider going to a psychologist instead?
Chris: Not at all. I did not get the help I really needed.
And finally, there is light at the end of the tunnel
When Chris thought there was no remedy for the panic attacks he found, not only a way to control them, but a cure.
Me: Was there a plan C?
Chris: Yes. After more than 2 years dealing with the two psychiatrists and 3 years of taking medications that were not getting to the root of the problem, I was tired of it and decided to do more research at the library and online.
Me: What did you find that you could not get in the doctor’s office?
Chris: I found breathing exercises. Also, I heard about Lucinda Bassett, a self-help author, and motivational speaker.
Me: How did they help you cope with your panic attacks?
Chris: Breathing exercises helped me reduce panic attacks. During my breathing exercises, whenever I exhaled I felt like I was breathing out my panic attacks. Also, I purchased Lucinda Bassett’s “Attacking Anxiety and Depression” program which helped me with changing the way I thought which includes anticipating panic attacks, the idea of reducing stress levels, negative thoughts, and confronting them which also helped me set new goals to reduce the medication.
You may like to know:
Attacking Anxiety & Depression Program is a drug-free, self-help guide to curing anxiety, depression and stress developed by Lucinda Williams which Includes 15 lessons. I also used it in 2013. It has changed my life because it helped me understand panic attacks and how to control them, even if you experience multiple panic attacks in one day. Check this leading self-guided program on Amazon.
From waves of panic attacks to a recovery journey that inspires and motivates
Chris’ persistence, faith, and optimistic attitude helped him change his lifestyle that would soon get rid of his panic attacks.
Me: Which breathing exercise technique did you use if any?
I just inhaled deeply until I felt my stomach rise. I held it for 3 seconds and then slowly exhaled. Then I repeated it as many times as I needed. Eventually, my breathing became more deep and natural. You won’t even realize that you are doing it.
Me: How was the road to recovery during the last three years?
Chris: Little by little I was making more positive adjustments in my life which helped me stay focused, confident, and looking forward to a complete recovery. Praying to God brought me peace, inspiration, strength, and calm into my life. As a result of that, it has helped reduce my anxiety and panic attacks.
Me: Were you still taking your medication during that period?
Chris: Yes. I was but I was decreasing the dosage over time.
Me: Did you stop taking them?
Chris: After almost 3 years of being on these medications, I was able to reduce the dosage as I started to feel better and make changes in my life. The panic attacks became less frequent. As I continued to improve, I stopped taking them completely within a period of 6 six years as the addiction was very difficult to overcome.
Me: How did life change after that?
Chris: Things returned to normal. I was happier and became more positive.
Me: Did the panic attacks decrease?
Chris: Yes. They stopped.
Me: How long has it been since you stopped the medication?
Chris: It has been 18 years ever since.
Me: How long ago you suffered a full-blown panic attack?
Chris: More than 18 years ago and still going strong.
Chris’ tips and inspiring advice
Learn how these life-changing techniques can help you defeat panic attacks.
Me: Oh, wow! That’s a great achievement! Are you using any technique to prevent them? If so, please share it with those who are suffering from panic attacks.
Chris: I make sure I breathe the way I mentioned earlier. Inhale until your belly rises and hold it for 3 seconds. Then, slowly exhale and you can feel the anxiety or panic attacks going out. Also, shifting my thoughts to positive ones. If you feel the symptoms escalating distract yourself.
You can go for a walk, watch a comedy or listen to soft relaxing music (e.g Sally Harmon or soft jazz). I love to enjoy nature just sitting by a body of water or enjoy road trips in the countryside. I also pray to God for strength.
Another tip I can share is to keep humidity low and temperatures cool. As you do these things you will feel more confident and you will be able to conquer your panic attacks. Keep your stress levels down and avoid drama. Live a simple lifestyle and connect with nature. Face your panic attack fears and do not anticipate them.
When you are feeling a panic attack coming on just ride it out and you will see that it is not bad as you think. The more you try to avoid it the less control you will have. Tell yourself that you are in control, not the panic attack.
Controlling your breathing is an important part of defeating them. Eating healthy and avoiding food that will make you anxious. Low impact or moderate exercise also helps your breathing.
A wise piece of advice one should always remember!
Chris words inspire, not only panic attack sufferers but their families as well.
The ability to achieve all that I just mentioned is a complete change in lifestyle. It takes time, effort, and commitment to fight panic attacks. If I can do it so can you!
Me: What would tell people who have relatives or friends with panic attacks?
Listen to them, empathize, and educate yourself about panic attacks. Accommodate them and support them. A good dose of compassion goes a long way. Cheers!
Fighting panic attacks is not a one-person task. It requires, not only the sufferer’s commitment and persistence but also the support of family and friends.
Out of ignorance and perhaps lack of compassion, uninformed people don’t realize how panic attacks affect an individual’s lifestyle and wellbeing.
We wonder how many people may be hiding their own panic attacks in an attempt to avoid stigmas and judgment. It is time to take action and help anyone who struggles from this horrible challenge.
Chris’s inspiring story has a great ending and we hope yours can be the same. We hope that the post “Defeating multiple panic attacks in one day: A success story” can motivate you to continue confronting your panic attacks.
Discover more about them and how you can help others, please read our article “How to help someone having a panic attack.”
B.L.A. is a web developer/designer and writer who enjoys country life in western Pennsylvania, USA along with her husband C.C.A, who is also a contributor, co-author, and editor.
Check out their other blog SmartAroundyourWrist.com.