Talk Therapy May Help Anxiety Panic Disorders

January 20th, 2008

“In the new study of 49 people with panic disorder, more than 70% of those in the talk therapy group showed significantly less anxiety and other panic symptoms as measured by a standard scale assessing panic symptoms. By contrast, just 39% of those participants who received applied relaxation training showed an improvement in their symptoms.”

“The psychodynamic psychotherapy regimen used in the study was so successful that the American Psychiatric Association is in the process of changing its guidelines to reflect the new findings, according to researcher Barbara Milrod, MD. Milrod is an associate attending physician at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and an associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.”

Read more details about talk therapy here

Paxil and Panic Attacks

December 31st, 2007

It was estimated that every year the amount of people who suffer from panic attacks is increasing. Panic attacks are the very first symptoms of a panic disorder. There are many approaches to a panic disorder. But one thing is clear a panic disorder is a very serious physical problem accompanied by panic attacks (a sudden increase of fear that comes without any obvious reasons). During panic attacks a sufferer feels very tense and scared and may have the following symptoms: intensive heartbeat, hurried pulse, giddiness, sickness, sweatiness and at last fear that almost paralyses all the organs. All these symptoms may appear all of a sudden and take a sufferer aback.

Paxil (or paroxetine hydrochloride) is usually prescribed to cure panic disorders, depression, anxiety disorder and others. Thorough research of Paxil proved the effectiveness of this drug in the process of panic attack treatment. Paxil turned out to be very efficient, first of all because it returns the sufferer the lost chemical balance in the brain. In other words, Paxil helps to increase the amount of serotonin which is deadly needed for the cell-to-cell message transmission. While taking Paxil you should be constantly examined be your physician as some side effects might happen, such as allergic reactions, mood change, anxiety, insomnia, aggressiveness, loss of appetite, yawning and others. Moreover before taking Paxil it is necessary to consult specialists provided that a patient might have liver or kidney disease, epilepsy or bipolar disorder. In such a case it would be not safe even dangerous to use Paxil. While being in the course of Paxil treatment you mustn’t drink alcohol, you mustn’t combine Paxil with other medicines (aspirin, dislofenac, piroxicam etc.) Such combinations may lead to stomach bleeding. So you see that you really need to consult your doctor regularly. As for schedule Paxil is taken once a day usually in the morning, either in tablets or liquid form. It is forbidden to take a double dose even if you missed one.

Fear of choking to death

December 30th, 2007

I’ve been suffering from this for more than 3 years. At some point this phobia significantly affected quality of my life and my ability to enjoy it. But I know it is possible to get out of it.
My way of dealing with it:
– Since you’re afraid of this you need to make sure that nothing bad is going to happen during the meal. So chew food thoroughly (good enough not to worry about it getting in the wrong place). Even if you fear solid foods you can eat them – just chew them good.
– Do not breath through the mouth much when eating. I have no idea where I got this habit – but it looks to be tightly connected to choking phobia. Breathing through nose actually makes it safer and reduces possibility to choke.
– Read as much as possible about it. Make sure that you can read about choking without fear.
– Read “Freedom From Fear” book by Dr. Howard Liebgold. He has a very good  paragraph about choking where he tells that unless you’re totally drunk and swallowed piece of meat 2×2 inches it is almost practically impossible to choke to death. Reading this paragraph over and over again makes me significantly more relaxed. I recommend getting this book – it helps.

Good luck dealing with it! It is curable.

Correct breathing technique

October 1st, 2007

I just wanted to emphasize importance of 2-4 seconds pause in breathing technique I described in previous post. It works so much better than standard deep breathing technique. I think the key is that by waiting 2-4 seconds you slow your breathing and thus avoid hyperventilation. I just noticed that once you start having panic attack breathing rate automatically increases. And since you’re not doing any exercises to compensate it – you’ll get lightheaded, dizzy, etc. By doing deep relaxing breathing you will stop panic attack before it even starts.

I know – it is easier to write than to practice. During lots of my previous panic attacks I didn’t even think about deep breathing even though I knew about it. All it takes is practice and time. So if you forget about it – just write it down in some easy to notice place.

Great switching techniques to overcome panic attacks

September 30th, 2007

So you’re having a panic attack. First important thing is to become aware that it is a panic attack – pretty minor thing which doesn’t mean much and won’t hurt you. Like one great author said it won’t hurt you more than a bag with marshmallows dropped on your fit :).

So you know it is a panic attack. What should you do.

First of all say “nothing bad is going to happen. noone was ever hurt by it”.

Then switch. Easy switching techniques:

Deep breathing. Inhale. Count until 4. Exhale slowly and through pursed lips. Do it slowly until there is no air left in your lungs. When exhale try to feel a relaxation wave coming on to the part of body which has a panic attack symptoms (I usually have a stomach or throat symptoms so I try to relax them). Usually just this can get rid of panic attack 80% of the time if you do it correct. What sucks is that it is hard to do this during the meeting – especially when you have to speak…

Pinch yourself. Yeah – pinching is not only good for checking whether you’re sleeping or not. It can actually wake you up from your panic attack. During panic attack you’re so concentrated on your imagined catastrophe – you have to switch from it. And good pinch will switch you. Usually one pinch won’t work but 10-20 do a pretty good job for me in severe cases.

If you’re at home put your legs in warm water. Helps a lot to relax in 90% of cases. No idea why but it works. Note that probably you have to use it as a last resort since you don’t want to get used to it. You have to make sure that you can get over your panic in ANY place in the world.

I hope these methods will help not only me.

Another anxious day

August 27th, 2007

“No panic” yesterday got compensated by panic today. It wasn’t that bad at all but wasn’t nice too. Most of the day was fine except of the evening when I had an attack right after the dinner. I felt that it was coming through the day since I was a little depressed all day. We went to Uwajimaya in the afternoon and on the way back I felt some breathing panic symptoms but was able to control them at the beginning. They slowly dissipated after that. During the dinner I also mostly controlled them but after the dinner I lost tracktion and had to spend couple hours or so trying to calm it down. Playing a little guitar did help since it required me to switch and start thinking about frets and strings instead of my throat, stomach and breathing. Playing guitar is my new way of dealing with panic attacks. So couple more years of panic attacks and I will become a professional guitar player 🙂

No panic attack day!

August 26th, 2007

Today was a very nice day because I didn’t have any panic attacks. I ate normally, met with friends tonight and had a glass of a very nice Belgian Ale Kwak I got from the Whole Foods. They have a very nice section of Belgian ales and I’m big fan of it. From about 40-50 different ales they have there I just tried 5 so far. So it is a long way to go ahead!

I have a minor panic right now but who cares since it is already after 12am and it is the next day.

And who cares that it was raining in Seattle today!

Shortness of breath symptom

August 26th, 2007

I hate this symptom the most… It makes me so frustrated. It is so hard to convince myself that there is nothing wrong with me and nothing is there in my throat and my lungs are fine.

And what sucks the most if that it gets worse when I sit at the computer making it harder to blog….

I just need to relax… relax :). How easy to say – how hard to do 🙁

Switching off panic attacks

August 26th, 2007

During my recent conversation with psychoterapist we spoke about preventing or at least reducing panic attacks by switching to something else. The difference between someone with panic attacks and someone without is not in amount of stress that they receive or their reaction to that stress. It is how they perceive symptoms of this stress. A person without a tendency to panic attacks will experience the symptoms and forget about them in several minutes while a person with panic attack will start thinking that something is seriously wrong.

Thinking about symptoms and concentrating on them usually makes you more sensible and any change in symptoms will make you scared. Changes in symptoms will cause you to worry more and you will concentrate on them even more causing them to worsen. And worsening of the symptoms will make you more worried and etc., etc., etc. You know this loop for sure :).

The only effective way I found to break it (which not always works but at least sometimes it does) is to switch your attention to something else. And you should switch to something complex enough to take all your attention. For example driving is not an option since it just takes part of your attention. Reading a book is a good choice in my case since I cannot think about anything else while I’m reading.

It is interesting that writing a blog is not enough to switch my attention completely. I overdid on beer and smoothie today and my stomach doesn’t feel that good. Now I have this feeling that something is coming up to my throat. And when I’m writing it actually becomes worse. I’m starting to feel shortness of breath symptom too. So I have to switch to something else from time to time (read other blogs).

I know that it is just a milk and nothing wrong with my throat but even though I know this it won’t go away unless I switch my attention from it and be able to relax…

Will keep practicing…

Reducing morning anxiety symptoms

August 22nd, 2007

I found a nice way to get rid of all the morning headache, tiredness and anxiety symptoms which I usually have when spending too much time at the computer before going to sleep. Half an hour of good book before sleep switches off all stupid symptoms and makes me relax. Some time it may take longer but in general it works… Anyway, will go practice it right now since it is 1am already…