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Forums / Anxiety / Protracted Panic Attack???

Topic: Protracted Panic Attack???

4 posts, 0 answered
  1. George_K
    George_K avatar
    9 posts
    3 October 2021

    I've never had a panic attack as far as I know, certainly never been diagnosed as suffering from them, but I'm wondering if I'm currently suffering one.

    I woke about 4:45am this morning and struggled to get back to sleep due to chest pressure. After pacing round the house for a while then tossing and turning for a bit I did get a few more hours. This entire day however I've noted an uncomfortable degree of tension in both my chest - which periodically causes me to worry about a heart attack, and my head. My hands are a bit shaky, and after charging an old Fitbit, I'm thinking my heartrate is higher than normal, though not dangerously so, but that could just be general lack of fitness courtesy of CFS etc. The chest\head pressure waxes and wanes but isn't dissipating even though it's now headed for midnight. Am I likely self-diagnosing correctly?

    I live with CFS, was diagnosed with (some degree of) ADD as a kid, am a quintessential monotasker i.e. can't multitask to save my life or get a licence, and am on the mild side of the scale in the anxiety-depression-stress test. Panic attacks aren't something I'm familiar with. On the other hand I had to spend a couple of hours with family yesterday - no I don't hate my family or anything, but there was something like 3 conversations or activities going on at the same time, none of which I was really involved in or interested in, so I spent several hours dealing with\trying to ignore multiple things happening whilst attempting to read an e-book.

    Is it possible the social overload triggered a belated protracted panic attack, or am I simply grossly misreading the symptoms? Yes I've seen: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/panic-disorder but it's not as crystal clear or conclusive as I'd like. I'm hoping I can just drop off without issue tonight, and wake up feeling normal - normal for me at least, but as to whether that'll happen ...

    I already have a GP visit scheduled for just over a week away, and I'd really rather not bother the hospital staff if this is a trivial event or a one off incident, but I'm just not sure what I'm experiencing.

    Thoughts, suggestions, advice? (Especially from those who actually do know what a panic attack actually feels like)

  2. Anna1991
    blueVoices member
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    Anna1991 avatar
    9 posts
    4 October 2021 in reply to George_K

    Hi George,

    Sorry to hear how you're feeling. While I'm not sure what you experienced was a panic attack, it certainly sounds like you have been experiencing a high level of anxiety. I have had panic attacks in the past, and for me they are very frightening events - I feel like I can't breath, entirely out of control, like I'm dying, I hyperventilate and then afterwards am completely exhausted. The panic attacks are usually preceded by anxiety, which are the symptoms you are describing - often physical symptoms like chest discomfort, pacing/restlessness, racing thoughts, higher heart rate with maybe palpitations and general constant worrying about everything and anything.

    Regardless, I would recommend you see your GP - you certainly are not "bothering" the hospital staff. I work in a hospital, and our job is to help people! Your GP can be a great source of help in both assessing your symptoms and any supports that could be useful.

    Otherwise, my suggestions for what has helped me when I've been increasingly anxious or on the brink of a panic attack:

    - deep breathing

    - focusing on a sensation (bird outside the window, picture on a wall, smells outside)

    - finding a quiet area with less stimulus (i.e. less people and noise)

    - turning my phone on aeroplane mode for a few hours (as long as you can actually..)

    - exercise

    And prevention is key. I now meditate regularly, and when my levels of anxiety are rising I try to figure out what has got me feeling so anxious and see what I can do about it.

    Hope this helps!

  3. George_K
    George_K avatar
    9 posts
    4 October 2021 in reply to Anna1991

    Hi Anna

    Thanks for the response. What you describe - can't breath, out of control, feel like you're dying, is definitely not what I experienced so maybe it was some sort of extended 'anxiety attack' rather than a panic attack. Sortof kindof reassuring, maybe? Thankfully I managed to get a few hours sleep last night and the symptoms vanished, though it feels like the tension is lurking in the background so I'll need to put some effort into trying to be relaxed\distracting myself.

    Will have to discuss it with my GP when I see her - the list of things to discuss is growing longer.

    I live in an area where I can enjoy the birds and the bovines so if I can focus on that - rather than getting dragged out with jobs or family stuff, and avoid house bustle or chatter, that should help. Life has been rather busy these past few months - not something particularly compatible with CFS.

    Anyhow thanks again for the info.

  4. The Bro
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    The Bro avatar
    178 posts
    5 October 2021 in reply to George_K

    Hi George K and thanks for your post.

    Anna1991 has given you some good thoughts - I'd just like to add to that a little bit.

    I had very similar symptoms a while ago. I was preparing a major new business presentation relying on a key supplier, who called and told me he wasn't ready. Wow did my chest feel like it was exploding together with my brain. I calmed myself down, called the client and asked for more time which he fortunately gave me. 0ur proposal was successful.

    How did I calm myself? Two ways - by very rapid and explosive breathing. Slowly in through the nose and exhale forcefully through the mouth. Use the muscles around your chest to force the air out as quickly as you can, make a 'whooshing' noise in doing that if it feels better. I found that workout over a couple of minutes worked wonders.

    The second, longer term, was exercise. I now try to get my heart rate to 75% maximum for 30 mins at least three times a week, and find the endorphin release is fantastic.

    I have no idea what my symptoms or yours might be diagnosed as, but mine have never returned. Great idea to see your Doctor, he will know what to recommend or explore.

    All the very best! The Bro

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