Mental health fears caused by panic attacks.

Posted , 4 users are following.

Hello everyone. I've been dealing with panic disorder for a bit now and I've managed to almost get through it except there's one thing that's been stopping me from doing so. I hope this post isn't too long.

Basically I've always had anxiety for as long as I remember and always been a bit of a hypochondriac. Around 2 months ago I had a bad panic attack with horrible physical symptoms (shortness of breath, numbness in body, shaking, etc.). This led to me having a fear of having another panic attack, which in turn resulted in constant anxiety and even more panic attacks. Throughout this time I went through bouts of depression and physical/mental exhaustion. Eventually I learned breathing techniques that stopped the physical symptoms I would get when I had a panic attack, which helped immensely. The problem was that although the attacks weren't as severe, I would still get this shot of adrenaline throughout my body and intense fear which made me feel like I was losing control or going crazy. So I decided to search up these "feelings of going crazy" which wasn't the best idea..

This is where my main problem lies. I started reading symptoms of mental illnesses like psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder along with people's first person experience with these diseases which just fueled my anxieties. If anything the only reason I was having panic attacks at this point was because I was reading so much about all these things. It also didn't help that I was going through some bad derealization.

Fast forward to now and I'm doing a bit better but I just can't shake this constant worry of going crazy or having a sudden psychotic break. I know people say if you think you're going crazy you probably aren't but I did read stories where some people were aware of what was happening to them but I'm also afraid of going crazy and not noticing. I don't have any psychotic symptoms but I have been feeling "off" ever since I started reading about all this.

The only reassurance I have is that I don't have a family history of mental illnesses and I figured that since this has been the most stressful time in my life and I've been managing it alright with no psychotic symptoms that I'll probably be fine but I just can't help but worry.

I know this probably all sounds stupid and I apologize for the long post but I was just wondering if anybody else has had similar worries and if they have any techniques on how they handled them.

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9 Replies

  • Posted

    i, myself suffer from bipolar disease. it is not quite the kiss of death...... but it's pretty bad!!!!

    i have a good friend who has panic disorder. It is really not related at all, it is a different problem. My friend would have these terrible attacks which would leave him just debilitated for an hour. His wife would have to stop everything she was doing to help him breathe through it, or go to the ER.   He finally went for diagnosis and his doctor put him on a mild antidepressant that is a first line treatment for panic attatcks. It also has some anti-depressant qualities that have helped him. it helps with basic anxiousness and the build up of a full blown attack. i think there are about 3 SSRI's that help tremendously with this. You can also get an emergency supply of a benzo that you ONLY take for a panic attatch. In my experience, they can be managed with the proper treatment. i would go to a P doc rather than a GP if you can. They will be much more inclined to get you the right medicine. Low dose Paxil and low dose prozac are two of the drugs used to do this.   good luck to you. calm down. Panic attatcks are merely that. they do not mean that you suffer from mental illness. You can get some help with this, and stay off Dr. Google!!!!

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  • Posted

    Yes, in my experience (personal & friends), this is a normal trajectory for anxiety sufferers. You start somewhere with panic and then grow from there. Most people will fear heart attacks, strokes, MS, ALS, different kinds of cancer, and then ultimately they'll fear madness, losing control of faculties, etc. But please understand that you won't go crazy. I promise. The fear will always be there, someplace, but the less you think about it the deeper that fear will live. And once you've reached the point where you only think about it now and then...or maybe once a day, in passing....then you'll be able to cope with it. So aim for that place. You'll get there, it just takes time. But please believe me - you're not going crazy. And you never will. 

    Much love. Be well smile 

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  • Posted

    Thank you for the replies.

    For medication I did see a doctor and was prescribed .25 mg of alprazolam though it didn't do much for me so I was upped to .5 which was a bit better. I take it daily and it helps but I try not to be too dependent on it.

    Ultimately I do think I should try to calm down and not worry too much about it, and hopefully it gets better daily. And definitely stop reading about it online, but just posting about it and having some encouraging replies has given me some relief.

    Again I greatly appreciate the help smile !

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    • Posted

      Hi Solii. I had severe GAD and escalated into psychosis, years ago. I was aware of what was happenning. I was not 'going crazy'  but I was very very sick. Psychosis can come as a result of an unmanaged (or undermanaged) anxiety under extreme circumstances. This is the worst that can happen and it really isn't as bad as most people think. It is perfectly treatable with medication and rest - in fact the psychotic symptoms in my case were caught at onset and relieved in a matter of weeks - GAD itself took longer to resolve smile  So don't let yourself exaggerate fears of this.

      You can't escalate into schizophrenia - you either have it or you don't. Bi-polar...long shot.

      Now, i do not understand the reason why you were given alprazolam for when your anxiety spikes. All you are doing is managing the symptoms. You have all the symptoms of onset GAD, of moderate intensity,  and I think a good therapy would help. Either psychotherapy or medication. Anxiety builds up over time and can escalate at times of added stress. It is treatable to the point where it is totally surmountable as opposed to just being 'managed' as you are doing now. Think about it and discuss with your doctor - preferably a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist who are equipped to help you nip it in the bud now so you never have to worry about it any more.

      Wishing you best of luck.

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    • Posted

      totally agree with Purpledoberman. please try to stay away from the xanax on any kind of daily basis. it will indeed cause signs of anxiety itself after it wears off. it is a very short acting benzo......  and has HORRIBLE withdrawals. and there is no way not to get a tolerance to it. So, you get into this horrible game of taking xanax to treat the symptoms of the xanax going out of your body.   i know people do not like to hear this. but it is horrible. google " stevie nicks Klonipan" and read her story in rolling stone about benzos and how they affected her life.   Everyone shold read it actually......

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    • Posted

      To be honest, there is a time and place for benzos. I was given xanax to manage adjustment disturbances and extreme anxiety when first starting effexor therapy. I had to take it 3 times per day for over a month and a half and then, once adjustment upheavals evened out, I was tapered off it. Coming off was relatively easy as it was done very slowly but I do remember missing it for a while. I wouldn't have made it without xanax at the time as I had escalated into psychosis, reeling from relapse after discontinuing medication abruptly to see my pregnancy through and then...2 months mostly alone with a newborn screamer with no sleep...well...xanax saved both our lives smile The important thing is that it is carefully monitored by a psychiatrist. It is a great crutch, but must never replace proper therapy. In my case it was antidepressants. For milder cases maybe some psychotherapy would cut it. But xanax alone...no way. The only time xanax or any benzo is justified on its own, I believe,  is for temporary situational stress relief to prevent burn-out and escalation into a 'disorder'.

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    • Posted

      And where I am, hospitals used to just automatically have you pop a valium if you are in ER and otherwise anxious. Recently they are less liberal thankfully and give mild ativan smile But back in the day...5-10 mg Valium was the norm. And with the trips I was making to ER regularly  hahaha well....valium was my best friend for a while!!! smile Glad I know better now and came through unaffected... 

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  • Posted

    Interesting, I'll take all this into consideration.

    I was initially given .25mg of xanax when my panic attacks were at their worst and told to take one when I would start having an attack, but I never felt its effects. When I told them that I was still having panic attacks everyday that's when they upped me to .5 and told me to take one daily. As stated I try not to be too dependent on it as some days I'll opt out of taking a pill and try dealing with the anxiety myself, but other times it gets too much and I have to take one. I still don't really feel much of its effects it just make me feel "normal" but I agree that it is short lasting and soon I'm back to having anxiety again.

    I do feel I should try some sort of therapy but I am also afraid of taking any other medication. Ironically I had to work up the courage to take the xanax because I was afraid of the effects it would have on me.

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    • Posted

      I am the kind of person afraid to take paracetamol when I get a headache. And if I have a fever I brave it unless it goes over 39C smile It took me over a year to accept taking the medication and in the first 4 years or so I stopped them out of stuubbornness twice. Then I got pregnant and stopped pretty much cold-turkey. Then the relapse. Long story - short...I learned a lot. My final lap of therapy, was pretty much the only proper therapy I had, lasted 8 years from start to absolute finish. Over the course of that final lap I have lost my distaste for medicaqtion when they are necessary and they truly are not always mandatory.

      If it helps any, if you keep escalating and nothing else works, then the kindest thing you can do for yourself is take medication. But it sounds like you can still afford to play around with some psychotherapy instead. If the only time you escalated notably was when you were ill, it may be that you are still borderline. See what the doctors say. Let us know how it goes. x

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