Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part Two

Posted by Wendy Neal Tuesday, February 9, 2010 Bookmark and Share

(Continued from Panic Attacks and Anxiety - Part One)

Around the summer/fall of 2007, I started having severe panic and anxiety attacks again on a regular basis. They were similar to episodes I had experienced previously, except I didn't feel like I was dizzy or spinning. I just felt really nauseous and like I was going to lose consciousness or faint. And it mostly happened while I was driving. I honestly thought that I might pass out while driving, which would cause me to wreck my car and die. A couple times I had to suddenly lurch over to the shoulder and park until I felt the sensation pass, then I would finish driving home. It got to the point where I was terrified to drive and this was very debilitating to me, as I had a full time job, carpooling duties, groceries and errands, etc.

There were a few days where I had to work from home because I was too scared to drive on the interstate. I am fortunate to have a job and an understanding employer where this was possible. But obviously this could not go on forever. I went to see my doctor (different doctor than before, as we had moved to a new city by this time). She is actually the one who diagnosed me with anxiety and panic attacks, and as most MDs do, she prescribed me some magic pills to mask the symptoms of my anxiety rather than trying to find the root cause and treating that.

This was my first experience with any kind of mood-altering prescription drugs, but I was desperate at the time and did not know there were any other natural options out there. She prescribed me Xanax to take for the short term (this helps to alleviate acute panic attacks while or shortly before they happen), and Lexapro, which is an antidepressant. This is a pill you take daily that somehow (even the drug manufacturers don't know exactly how it works!) increases the amount of serotonin in your brain so that you are in a positive mood. This way the anxious and negative thoughts you have in your head that can contribute to anxiety and panic attacks are replaced with mellow and happy thoughts.

The problem with antidepressants is that they may take 4-6 weeks before you experience the full effects, and in the meantime, especially in the first two weeks, there are horrible side effects including more severe anxiety and panics attacks, depression, irritability, and insomnia to name a few. More alarming to me were the long term side effects that my doctor mentioned: liver damage, sexual side effects, and dependence.

I started researching on the internet for any alternatives to dealing with anxiety and stress, and luckily I found some very good information on how to deal with these issues naturally, without the use of dangerous prescription drugs. One of the biggest things that helped me was to understand how panic attacks trick your mind into thinking you are in some eminent danger or that you are going to die. Simply becoming educated and learning how to recognize them helped quite a bit.

In Part Three of this 3-part series, I will reveal some of the natural methods that I found to help deal with my anxiety and panic attacks.

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