I started seeing a counselor when I was still in high school. However, I didn't start getting panic attacks until the late '90's. They snuck up on me. At first I didn’t know what they were. I was depressed at first. The anxiety came later. By 2000, I knew I was having panic attacks. I was misdiagnosed as bipolar, back then.
Later on, I realized my symptoms more closely matched PTSD. However, the lingering anxiety persisted. Once I wasn’t depressed any longer, I became anxious. It was as if my emotional state had progressed from clinical depression to a form of PTSD. I took medications for depression. None of them worked. After two years, I completely stopped taking psychotropic medications. Once I did, about a year later, I uncovered a repressed memory.
After that, I had anxiety more than anything. Stopping medication was the right decision for me. Eventually I got better. It took me a long time to get there. Along the way, I noticed a few things that were helpful for me. Surprisingly, they worked fast. Whenever I would get angry I noticed that if I drank cold soy milk, it would calm me down. I don't get panic attacks anymore, but I used to. For the longest time, I thought they would never end. I don't know how, but about 10 years ago, I was able to prevent an anxiety attack from happening.
I was upstairs in my room. I just felt a rush of fear. (This was months after an incident of domestic violence.) I guess I felt that I would never be able to escape the cycle of abuse. I got a restraining order, so I was not worried about being attacked again, but there was something else. I had a lingering sense of impending doom. I still felt that I would be in danger. I felt that I couldn't escape this state of always being a target. So, one night, I felt the panic starting.
First it started with my thoughts. Then I felt my thoughts racing. I felt scared, and the more my thoughts raced, the worse I felt. When I switched my thinking, I was able to prevent a panic attack. I was right on the edge. I managed to pull myself out. I don't take medications for my anxiety, but I have noticed a few things nutritionally that calm me down. One of them is cold soy milk. The other is coffee. Caffeine helps me calm down. I instantly feel calmer when I drink coffee, and I even feel sleepy sometimes. That is how effective caffeine is for me, when it comes to calming me down, and keeping me stable.
For most people caffeine stimulates them. Not for me. My central nervous system is stimulated enough. I always need something to calm me down.
I haven't had a panic attack in a long time, and it's been at least 10 years since I almost had one. Focusing on my breathing also helps. I notice that when my sugar drops, I am more prone to having a panic attack. I always keep snacks in my purse, and I even have a snack ready for me, after I get out of the shower. Water always lowers my blood pressure, and as my blood pressure drops, so does my glucose. I always have to eat something right before I shower, and right after. More often than not, I feel nauseated, or weak, when I get out of the shower.
It is not a good idea to stand behind me, and talk to me, or suddenly touch my shoulder. Keep these things in mind if you know someone who lives with anxiety.