There are medications for anxiety - a host of them from benzodiazepams (e.g. Valium) to certain anti-depressants to beta-blockers. It is a worldwide problem and suffered by BILLIONS.
There are also cognitive behavioural therapy (GBT) techniques, which many doctors prefer. It is a form of 'talking' treatment - changing how the mind thinks.
PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIEND: Panic attacks are VERY common (he/she is NOT alone) and are a 'learning' condition - they do NOT alter the brain physically. Just as the body learns to panic, it can learn NOT to panic. It is part of a natural human process in the 'fight or flight' mechanism (very useful when human predators were a big threat) and involves the body making a hormone called adrenaline. It is the adrenaline in his/her body which makes him/her feel those symptoms (sweating, breathing issues, dizziness) and the body gradually destroys the adrenaline. The condition is NOT a 'craziness'.
Having experienced this myself, the best advice I can give is:
1. See a doctor. Most of the medications are prescription only and it would be dangerous to buy them illicitly and self medicate.
2. Try to ACCEPT how you feel at the time, because every single panic attack always ends. ACCEPTANCE is the key.
3. Try to stay where you are when having a panic attack. If you leave the place (e.g. a store) then your brain will start to associate the place with the panic (will start to think 'I panicked because I was in the store but felt better when I left') and make the person become more and more reluctant to go to the store again (this can end up with the person not wanting to go into any store or any place and end up with agoraphobia and just staying at home).
From my own experience, I found reading about the subject of great use plus using medication - BUT, I used it only when necessary. I am not keen on the idea of waking up in the morning and starting to take medication 'just in case'. If the person can hold on for a short period when experiencing a panic attack then the need for the medication often disappears. If it becomes too unpleasant for the person (and every individual has their own level of toleration for panic and everything else in life) then the person can take the medication (in recommended dosage) and help 'break' the cycle (worrying about the panic can create more panic and the medication can stop that escalation).
I could do more to help if I was there but am not in Negros currently. If your friend wants to read about the subject, may I suggest you are there to help read the material as initially it can seem over-whelming and should be read in small stages. But if you don't understand the condition it is possible you can say the wrong things (like using words and phrases such as 'crazy', 'pull yourself together', 'it's only in your mind') so concentrate on helping your friend understand it is COMMON but CONTROLLABLE. It is not always the case that it is entirely removeable as it is part of our defence mechanism to protect us from danger (so why would we eliminate that???) but can be controlled. I know personally that some of the most upsetting aspects of the condition can be extinguished in time.
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Last edited: Jan 27, 2021
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Breathing techniques are of very great use as in panics we should be trying to get the abdomen to move (abdominal breathing) and not the chest.
(Quotes): According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, "12.7 percent of American adults [have] used deep-breathing exercises... for health purposes," which it describes as follows, "Deep breathing involves slow and deep inhalation through the nose, usually to a count of 10, followed by slow and complete exhalation for a similar count. The process may be repeated 5 to 10 times, several times a day."
According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center, "Diaphragmatic breathing allows one to take normal breaths while maximizing the amount of oxygen that goes into the bloodstream. It is a way of interrupting the 'Fight or Flight' response and triggering the body's normal relaxation response."
In fact, I read once a psychiatrist say that give him 5 minutes with a person and the best thing he could do in that time as a life-aid would be to teach proper breathing. And I have used this technique myself.
Your daughter's method of distraction is a good one also but some people are so totally overwhelmed by panic that they find it difficult, at the time, to do anything, - it becomes paralysing.
I also trained myself to 'anchor' - this means when I did a meditation and abdominal breathing together and was totally relaxed, I pressed my thumb and forefinger together. Eventually my brain associated thumb/forefinger pressure with being relaxed. So, in any situation where I felt a little anxiety, I just pressed the thumb/forefinger and it made me relaxed. But, again, I would not say this is something a person feeling overwhelming panic could do. To explain: I wrote down on cards all the major points and techniques I had learned - so that when panicking I could read them and help myself get out of the panic state. But what I found was that when I was in a severe panic state I simply could not take the cards out, let alone read them! Even my wife reading them was too much for me, at the time (the moment of overwhelming panic). After the panic subsided I could then read them. They were a great help as they distilled everything I needed to do into a short form and I read them often when in a non-panic state, but panic can be so overwhelming that we cannot do much at the time (trying to stay where we are until the panic naturally subsides is the very thing - if possible).
I could write quite a large book on the subject, and I am no expert, so you can imagine how many techniques there are available, including tapping, plus rapid eye movement techniques, neuro-linguistic programming and many of the other techniques mentioned above. There is also the matter of how to deal with failure as failure will come at times. My concern is that the OP reading this thread (has he yet?) might get overwhelmed - and when we get overwhelmed (a form of mental paralysis) we usually do NOTHING.
Then you make an essential point, which I alluded to in my first response to this thread - the use of medication to break the cycle. I am a great believer in that - so much so that I ignored the advice of a professional to stop carrying any medication and to let my brain learn how to cope - his method involved exposing myself to difficult situations and 'flooding' myself with panic (an actual technique) until it naturally subsided. I considered that too risky (in all forms of medicine, take advice, evaluate it, but decide what you feel is best for you as an individual). Also, you said "when none of the other methods helped" and that is exactly the short-term use of medication to break the cycle of escalation which I referred to previously, when all the techniques a sufferer has learned seem to be failing (only because the panic is so intense).
So from this, I hope the OP understands that people here are writing about real experiences (of themselves and people they know) and that this learning-condition can be vastly improved. It is a problem of the body applying its natural process of response to the fear which has occurred at an INAPPROPRIATE TIME (which means 'when there is no actual danger').
If the OP is confused about where to start (which can be a very individual choice) and wishes to PM me (or any other member) then I am willing to give further advice (as I am sure will others). What I have written so far is probably a tenth of the ways I used to reduce this learning-condition from overwhelming to manageable.
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All interesting stuff and hope the person referred to in the opening post has chance to absorb the advice.
Strangely enough, last night I awoke about 1;30 am, flicked the TV on mainly to check the time, a young lady athlete was discussing the stress of Social Media
when dealing with abuse and racism she had encounted during her career, which although sucessful had left her with mild depression.
Bottom line, less time spent on SM gossip sites, combined with positive activities and friends can help lift depression.
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Many substances we put in our bodies can become addictive - from seemingly harmless sugar (sometimes in hidden forms) to the most addictive drugs used by addicts. That is why I never use medicines if I can avoid them - from painkillers (better to tolerate small amounts of pain) to anxiolytics (better to tolerate a small amount of anxiety). Often it is a case of 'present pain for future gain' - especially so with anxiety, where allowing the brain to recognise that anxiety can be tolerated to a certain extent is better than masking it at every opportunity and giving the brain no chance to learn.
For those who are not sure how the 'fight or flight' mechanism fits into this: When the body meets a real danger (e.g. being attacked by a dangerous animal, being trapped by a fire) it very quickly decides if to face the danger (e.g. overcome the animal) or to flee pronto. In either case, the body needs extra resources - more energy especially - and so the blood (delivery) system has to go into overdrive, to get those supplies (glucose, oxygen) to the muscles (and to remove waste products, such as lactic acid which builds up in the muscles and causes them to fatigue). This needs the heart to beat faster (so the person experiences a faster heart rate) to push the blood around the body; it diverts some blood from less essential needs (from the skin surface - so the person looks pale); it removes excess heat generated by muscle activity (so the person feels hot and sweats more); the muscles tend to tighten to avoid damage (so the person gets tightness in the throat and can feel as if choking) ... there is a very long list of symptoms experienced due to the effect of adrenaline in the 'fight or flight' mechanism and those I listed are just a few. They will vary from individual to individual (why not? we are all different) and from time to time (we may not always experience exactly the same response).
We can see that even the few results of adrenaline action within the body I listed above (fast heart rate, sweating, pallor, feelings of choking) are what almost everyone undergoing a panic attack (an adrenaline response) has felt at some time - and there is no mystery, all of them are NORMAL. So when suffering them (some can feel unpleasant) just remember: they are normal, your body is functioning 100% as it should. A person may ask why such unpleasantness has to be experienced and the answer is because without adrenaline, without 'fight and flight' many would die from the danger (e.g. be killed by the fire your body did not remove you from quickly enough). That is a good reason to ACCEPT it. Fighting back only makes the whole system go up a notch - accepting it as unpleasant but normal will eventually cause it to fade ('present pain for future gain').
Btw, we can suffer the adrenaline response without an urgent danger in front of us - this can simply be a response to stress. But we still need that system and we can learn how to use it at more appropriate times. Sometimes just knowing why something is happening is enough to help deal with it.
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So if meds and docs are out of the question, i think what's left is some form of meditation and/ or yoga. Find a quiet space, beach, park, mountain, with nobody around and just sit. Try to concentrate on a tree, cloud, wind, anything, keep teaching yourself to try to clear your mind. Every day, as long as you can, half an hour. Or WALK, get out and just walk, two hours a day or whatever, by yourself or with someone who is calming. Talking to yourself is ok <grin>... Doing this every day might help reduce and maybe eliminate the attacks, and the ideas in the post by "notmyrealname" above seem reasonable.
One employer for whom i worked centuries ago, had a class where we learned to sit, concentrate and feel the energy in the top of your head just drain down, out of ur head, out of your shoulders, out of your arms, chest, stomach, hips, legs and finally feet. When all this was drained, i actually felt very relaxed, still do it occasionally...
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Valium and anti depressants can become addictive and should only be used under medical supervision. just my thoughts on this topic.
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My wife had all the symptoms of anxiety, turns out her brain quit producing a hormone and the lack of it caused anxiety like symptoms. Go to a good neurologist and get a full battery of tests run. The family doctor completely missed it, but the neurologist found it right away.
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So I appreciate the long training and further experience you have had and how from a professional point-of-view you must have shaken your head very much when reading this thread. But I wish to make two points:
1. The OP definitely stated that his friend had no resource to the money required for professional help (but I did suggest as my first point to see a general doctor, as that is really not that expensive and is better than nothing). No one could reply to his posting with the advice to see someone he already stated he has no resources to consult. So people did their best. There was NOTHING else available to the friend of the OP. So my greatest respect for your expert opinion but also to those who tried to offer something, even if the advice was not as good as it could be if we were all trained psychiatrists.
2. The OP has NOT been back to read any of this - I just checked. It is essential if asking for advice to come back and read it. In another very recent case of a poster whose wife was suffering acute abdominal pain, he posted for advice and returned within the hour to read it. He immediately took action and the situation was resolved. I trust if the OP of this thread on 'Panic attacks' does return that he will read your expert opinion and try harder to find the necessary finances to get professional help.
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