By: Dr Alex Robber
Recognizing, Treating, and Living with Panic Disorder
Panic attacks and fibromyalgia
Nobody told me my panic attacks and my fibromyalgia would stop my body from functioning. I hadn’t been advised that one pain would interfere with another and, obviously, my brain would be short-circuited. Until this happened, I hadn’t known that anyone could be in that much pain.
To me, fibromyalgia also involves panic attacks and anxiety. I don’t talk a lot about them, because I don’t want my loved ones to worry. I feel hot when they start, and my chest feels clenched. From there it escalates into a full-on nightmare of head-spinning, heart-pounding, chest-squashing. I sweat, hyperventilate, shake and weep uncontrollably at times.
I’m saying all this time, “I can’t breathe,” which is strange because I’m breathing more and faster than usual obviously. It’s scary and it brings a huge black cloud of anxiety that’s just sitting in my belly for reasons I don’t know about.
Do you ever feel a sudden, intense rush of fear? Have you ever felt a sudden trembling in your palms, numbness radiating through your arms, and a feeling about to happen like something bad? If so, you could have had a panic attack. Essentially, panic attacks are what the name suggests.
These are intense episodes of panic which suddenly unfold and lead to uncontrollable anxiety. They can cause physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, heart rate racing, and lightheadedness. Most people every now and then suffer from one, but if you experience them regularly, then the odds are good that you have a panic disorder, which triggers chronic and severe panic attacks.
Flight or fight response
We don’t know what causes panic disorder, but there are a few things like smoking, drug use, and chronic stress that certainly seem to make matters worse. And some researchers have indicated that our “flight or fight reaction” could be the cause. Essentially, when you’re in danger, your body pumps out adrenaline and prepares to fight or run. But when you’re having a panic attack, your body is causing this reaction for no real reason and you’re battling the results.
Impact of panic disorder on your life
Panic disorder will weaken you and have a huge impact on your life. It can make you frightened of everyday situations such as going to work; strain your relationships; and cause you to ignore symptoms that may trigger you. If you add this to FMS and ME / CFS, which fail on their own, the problems can exacerbate one another.
Symptoms are mild at times and don’t require treatment that you just learn to deal with. At occasions, however, may be a similar condition such as panic disorder, if more extreme. If that’s the case for you, you’ll need proper diagnosis and treatment to avoid being anxiously held captive.
Worst things about panic attacks
One of the worst things about panic attacks is that the symptoms themselves produce a lot of anxiety. A panic attack is an incredibly scary experience. And the physical symptoms can be like a heart attack or other condition that threatens life.
So, during an assault you might even feel like you are about to die. So, the way these attacks form a kind of feedback loop is simple to see. You’ve had an attack because you’re nervous, then you’re afraid you’ll have another attack, which raises your fear and makes you more likely to have another. And it can be even worse when you have fibromyalgia, a condition which naturally leads to anxiety and stress.
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
The main panic disorder signs are quite different from those of FMS and ME / CFS, so the disorders are typically easy to tell apart. Panic disorder, along with psychological ones, can cause multiple physiological symptoms. Nonetheless, the conditions do have some similar symptoms like gastrointestinal issues.
Additionally, some doctors say that many of their FMS and ME / CFS patients show signs of cognitive distortion and irrational beliefs. Talking about these signs will help you cope with a number of conditions.
Connections between panic disorder and Fibromyalgia
One of the feelings that you need to try to fight when you are nervous is the assumption that your physical symptoms are not anxiety at all and are the product of some underlying condition of health. This way of thinking will trigger more fear which makes recovery even harder and can cause more physical symptoms. Take my fear test to find out more about your anxiety.
Fibromyalgia is one of several conditions that affect such thought. People feel discomfort, and they are persuaded that they are not nervous, but can suffer from multiple sclerosis or some other illness that triggers their physical symptoms, explaining their fear. The truth is that anxiety can be triggering even fibromyalgia.
Indeed, fibromyalgia is seen as a symptom of some anxiety disorders, as well as other psychiatric disorders such as depression.
Managing the Condition
There are several antidepressant drugs that doctors use to treat panic disorder. Both medications work by helping to regulate serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is an essential regulator of our moods.
You’re more likely to experience depression and anxiety when your serotonin levels are low. Physicians can also prescribe anything called beta-blockers. Such medications stop adrenaline from hitting the brain’s receptors and are good for rapidly stopping a panic attack if you feel like you’ve got one going on.
But medication is really only half of the treatment for panic disorder. It’s important to combine it with visits to a therapist. A good therapist can help you find ways to cope with your anxiety and work through the issues in your life that are stressing you out.