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Atlanta, Georgia, United States
I am overcoming schizophrenia, and I believe others can too. Here is how I am managing my condition...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Overcoming Panic Attacks and Anxiety

About 5 percent of the population will experience a panic attack in their lifetime. While 1 out of 75 people worldwide will experience a panic attack at one time in their lives. I am about to share some information with you that I learned from Dr. Angela Neal-Barnett's book Soothe Your Nerves.

A panic attack includes four or more of the following symptoms:

  1. Increased heart rate, heart pounding

  2. Sweating

  3. Trembling or shaking

  4. Chills or hot flashes

  5. Chest pain

  6. Shortness of breath or smothering

  7. Feeling dizzy or light-headed

  8. Upset stomach or nausea or abdominal distress

  9. Feeling of losing control or going crazy

  10. Fear of dying

  11. Numbing or tingling sensations

  12. Feeling that this isn't really happening to you or that you are watching it happen

To treat a panic attack at home follow the tips below:

  • Relax your shoulders
  • Progressively tense and relax all large muscle groups such as your legs
  • Slow down your breathing
  • Tell yourself that you are not "going crazy"

There are six classifications of anxiety medications. They are: (1) Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), (2) Benzodiazepines, (3) Tricylic Antidepressants (TCAs), (4) Beta-blockers, (5) Azapirones, (6) Monoamine Oxidasw Iinhibitors (MAO Inhibitors).

Dr. Neal-Barrnett says that Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are the newest class of drugs that treat anxiety. They reduce anxiety by up to 75-85 percent. They should also be taken 3-6 weeks before an attack. SSRIs increases the amount of serotonin. Some common side effects for these drugs include: headaches, dizziness, weakness, sleep disturbances, tremors, dry mouth, decreased sex drive, and weight gain. SSRI medications include the following:


  • Fluvoxaminie (Luvox)

  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)

  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

  • Paroxetine (Paxil)

  • Citalopram (Celexa)

Benzodiazepines sedatives and are highly addictive. They effective treat anxiety immediately by up to 70-75 percent. They are:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax)

  • Cloonazepam (Klonopin)

  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Beta-blockers usually used to treat hypertension, howeveer they also help reduce social anxiety. Some Beta-blockers include:

  • Atenolol (Tenormin)

  • Propranolo (Inderal)

Azaspirones includes only one medication, Buspar. It is for generalized anxiety symptoms. Some side effects include: drowsiness, excitement, headaches, tremors,sweating, nervousness, and light-headedness. In some incidences Buspar has caused strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure.

  • Buspirone (Buspar)

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) are prescribed when none of the above drugs seem effective. However, the drawback is that patients cannot eat or drink some foods and beverages that contain the ingredient tyramine. MAO Inhibitors include two drugs:

  • Phenelzine (Nardil)

  • Tranylcypromine sulfate (Parnate)

In my experience with anxiety and panic attacks I had social phobia, and I would stray away from social settings and people. Whenever I experienced an attack I got sweaty palms, shortness of breath, hot and cold flashes, and a rapid heart rate. To this day I still do not know what triggered my panic attacks, however it may have been a horrific car accident that I was involved in. To treat my anxiety and panic attacks I was prescribed Ativan, which worked immediately to calm my nerves.

Have you ever experienced anxiety or a panic attack? If so, how did you cope with the symptoms?

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4 comments:

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RHurst said...

Thanks for the post! It was really informational! I'm glad I know the symptoms of a panic attack, now I'll know I am having a panic attack or not. I try and stay relaxed when I get too stressed from work. My relaxation cd certainly helps.