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Is there anyone else that just doesn't understand panic/anxiety attacks, etc?

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Is there anyone else that just doesn't understand panic/anxiety attacks, etc?

Old 06-29-2018, 11:19 PM
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Default Is there anyone else that just doesn't understand panic/anxiety attacks, etc?

First off I am not saying anything negative about these kind of attacks that I know people suffer from. I know they can be totally debilitating to the person experiencing it.

Growing up my dad was admitted probably 5-7 times to the psychiatric ward at a local hospital for having nervous breakdowns. It was weird because we were not allowed to go up and visit him and I remember my mom telling me that the entire floor is locked down and it's very hard to get in for visits. She would refer to it as "your father is on the 4th floor." Kids under 18 we're not allowed on the floor and only immediate family was allowed.

I never talked to my dad about it so I don't know if it was depression and fear of suicide or exactly what was wrong with him. Both of my parents were raging alcoholics so perhaps alcohol had something to do with it...?

I could never understand what a nervous breakdown was, in fact I still don't understand what it is. It's the same way with people that suffer panic/anxiety attacks, I just don't understand what it must feel like. Everyone will have short periods of panic when threatened and you fear for your life but when the threat has passed the panic feeling goes away. For me I have never been totally freaked out about anything, scared sure, nervous sure, but the feeling goes away whenever/whatever that happened went away.

I am probably not explaining myself very clearly but that's likely because I just don't understand how or why someone would go into that state of mind and stay there becoming totally debilitated. I have the same confusion about suicide, I can't imagine anything that could happen to me that suicide that I would think about suicide unless it was because of pain and/or a horrible medical condition that I knew I could never recover from. How can you let something emotional bother you so much
that death is a better option?

Please don't start throwing any personal insults at me like what usually happens. I can't be the only person that has never felt out of control panic or fear over anything.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:30 PM
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I've referred to it as "going to the other side". They have no choice. Their mind takes them to a different place mixed with reality and fantasy. The fantasy can also be many places; anywhere from pure fear to happiness. Like the cables in your driveway lost continuity, their brain connections short circuited.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:35 PM
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I'm sure there are lots of people that don't understand it, yourself included. There are also a great many people that do.What kind of validation are you looking for?

ETA: this person calling themselves "airbrush" doesn't know shit from shine-o-la.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:44 PM
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River: Challenge me with your knowledge.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by airbrush View Post
River: Challenge me with your knowledge.
Not interested.
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Old 06-30-2018, 01:45 AM
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I think there is a lot of truth in Johnny Cash saying: "Son, this world is rough and if a man's gonna make it he's gotta be tough.".

I got to go to Cub Scouts as a youngster and one of the things they talked about was nuclear war. For a boy with a lot of anxiety that wasn't a great subject.
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Old 06-30-2018, 02:15 AM
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Russ you're talking about 2 very separate things, that sometimes do coexist. I'm not gonna go down the suicide path. Might be better to edit this thread and start another specific to that so the conversation doesn't go in all sorts of directions.

Heres the thing about panic attacks. They can have a trigger, or not. Some times it is just the overload on the stress response mechanism and some times it is seemingly completely unrelated. It depends on the individual and "why" they have them.

For example someone with PTSD from war or rape or another specific situation may get them when they are presented with an environment that even subconsciously brings up the memory and invokes the fight or flight process. At that point the system gets so overwhelmed processing the situation it goes beyond "rational" ability for the person to respond. That's one example of a triggered one. You don't have to have PTSD to have triggers.

Then theres the "out of the blue" variety. What "causes" them isn't well known but basically it's a disregulation of the fight or flight mechanism.

This can be due to a physiological condition, for example if you have a tumor on your pituitary gland (which controls tons of hormones including adrenal output) it can wreak havoc with the balance in your system. The rest of your system doesn't know why it has this massive output of adrenaline, so while the brain is trying to figure out what is going on and what it needs to fight or flee, the rest of the body responds to the adrenaline. Sweating, increased heart rate, overwhelming feeling to get the hell out of the location you're in, chest pains, nausea, dizziness, distracted possibly to the point of appearing unresponsive, and so on.

Or it can be due to a "mental disorder" which I put in quotes because there is tons of evidence that mental disorders are caused by physical or chemical/hormonal differences in the brain. The stigma around these diseases are perpetuated by ignorance. But that's a different discussion. The same mechanism is involved, it's just that seemingly out of the blue with no trigger and no known physiological cause it just happens. Possibly it's due to one of the reasons I listed about differences in the brain, or possibly it's not. That isn't well understood.

What can happe in on all these cases is the brain trains itself. It basically learns what scares the crap out of itself, and becomes hypersensitive to that. This is why the fear of an attack alone can bring on more.

Its also possible to train the brain to deal with it differently. I hesitate to say that because some people can't for various reasons. This is basically how desensitization therapy works. Exposure to the trigger a tiny bit at a time to help your brain learn that it's ok, and recognize that the trigger isn't something to get worked up over. Another part for some may be acceptances and recognition that it is an inappropriate response that is causing whatever is going on and that it's "just a panic attack which will pass like the last one and nothing else is wrong"

sounds simple. No problem, right? Well let's say your situation is such that tomorrow you start having massive chest pain which is radiating down your left arm. It feels like someone is stabbing you in the chest, your heart is beating hard, fast and irregular and you're disoriented and confused.

What would pretty much anyone think is happening? Heart attack! Fear kicks in and escalates to full blown panic as the brain thinks you're minutes or seconds away from dying.

So take that scenario. That happens out of the blue once, then it starts happening more and more, perhaps daily. At this point maybe you have been to the ER a few times, got a full cardiac workup and realized there is nothing wrong (if you believe it is another story) and your fast acting drugs help to reduce the intensity or duration so instead of 30 min or an hour of this, it's down to 5 or 10. Now you can accept that it's "just a panic attack" and it will pass like the other 100 have, without you dying. Except that at the back of your mind you can't stop that nagging that some day you're probably going to have a heart attack because many do, and it's going to be over. Especially because you are now ignoring those symptoms because they are "just a panic attack"

then theres the fear of having an attack like this because it is both painful and scary, especially if you're doing something like driving or perhaps alone in the yard without a phone to call for help because of course you think it's a heart attack, or just in case this time it really is. That fear of an attack alone might be enough to trigger it.

or even better yet you're in the middle of a panic attack like this, and the fear of another one triggers a subsequent one which is worse and so on. Now you have rolling ones where one essentially rolls into the next one, perhaps for an hour or more.

perhaps a bout of indigestion gets this going one day. Starts with burning and sharp pain in the chest, and boom the cycle starts. Or someone with esophageal conditions that feel like pain and spasms, and guess what it's right next to your heart, so that's where the brain goes.

There are are many ways it can manifest, and whether the brain starts it or responds because of some other issue is individual, and sometimes, for some people situational. I picked this hypothetical example because it's something that most men fear as they get older and hopefully helps you relate and start to understand it more.

Last edited by crazybeard; 06-30-2018 at 02:23 AM.
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Old 06-30-2018, 02:21 AM
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Country music= depression,, rap music= anxiety
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Old 06-30-2018, 03:24 AM
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The brain is very complex and even the finest doctors and scientists know very little about it. You may come to terms with the symptoms but may never understand what causes them.
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Old 06-30-2018, 03:29 AM
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Russ I don't think there is a cut and dry answer to your question as there are too many different types or cases of these disease's and how it affects each person differently.

As for panic/anxiety attacks, long periods (like many years) of heavy stress can cause a chemical imbalance that triggers these attacks. It was explained to me once that the body produces a chemical that makes people feel good. If the body stops producing that chemical then the anxiety attacks begin. These attacks can be mild (feels like thousands of bees buzzing inside you) to medium (where you wake several times in the middle of the night WTF! trying to catch your breath) to all out (where you feel like your having a heart attack and calling 911). I'm sure that there may be other things can cause these attacks besides stress.

I would imagine that nervous breakdowns would be caused by a similar chemical imbalance too.

As far as suicide I have a couple of people close to me that are battling with it. One has been battling thoughts and attempts for over 15 years. There again I can only assume it's mental and some sort of a chemical imbalance but either way it seems to be out of their control. Depression seems to play a big role in some people. What causes this depression? Who knows. Maybe its something that happened in their childhood, years of bullying, rape, abuse, a drug attic parent, being the fat kid or the geek. Maybe a mental disorder from birth or passed down genes. It's truly sad and I cannot imagine feeling that way or battling those thoughts everyday.

I hope this helps answer some of your questions.
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Old 06-30-2018, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by crazybeard View Post
Russ you're talking about 2 very separate things, that sometimes do coexist. I'm not gonna go down the suicide path. Might be better to edit this thread and start another specific to that so the conversation doesn't go in all sorts of directions.

Heres the thing about panic attacks. They can have a trigger, or not. Some times it is just the overload on the stress response mechanism and some times it is seemingly completely unrelated. It depends on the individual and "why" they have them.

For example someone with PTSD from war or rape or another specific situation may get them when they are presented with an environment that even subconsciously brings up the memory and invokes the fight or flight process. At that point the system gets so overwhelmed processing the situation it goes beyond "rational" ability for the person to respond. That's one example of a triggered one. You don't have to have PTSD to have triggers.

Then theres the "out of the blue" variety. What "causes" them isn't well known but basically it's a disregulation of the fight or flight mechanism.

This can be due to a physiological condition, for example if you have a tumor on your pituitary gland (which controls tons of hormones including adrenal output) it can wreak havoc with the balance in your system. The rest of your system doesn't know why it has this massive output of adrenaline, so while the brain is trying to figure out what is going on and what it needs to fight or flee, the rest of the body responds to the adrenaline. Sweating, increased heart rate, overwhelming feeling to get the hell out of the location you're in, chest pains, nausea, dizziness, distracted possibly to the point of appearing unresponsive, and so on.

Or it can be due to a "mental disorder" which I put in quotes because there is tons of evidence that mental disorders are caused by physical or chemical/hormonal differences in the brain. The stigma around these diseases are perpetuated by ignorance. But that's a different discussion. The same mechanism is involved, it's just that seemingly out of the blue with no trigger and no known physiological cause it just happens. Possibly it's due to one of the reasons I listed about differences in the brain, or possibly it's not. That isn't well understood.

What can happe in on all these cases is the brain trains itself. It basically learns what scares the crap out of itself, and becomes hypersensitive to that. This is why the fear of an attack alone can bring on more.

Its also possible to train the brain to deal with it differently. I hesitate to say that because some people can't for various reasons. This is basically how desensitization therapy works. Exposure to the trigger a tiny bit at a time to help your brain learn that it's ok, and recognize that the trigger isn't something to get worked up over. Another part for some may be acceptances and recognition that it is an inappropriate response that is causing whatever is going on and that it's "just a panic attack which will pass like the last one and nothing else is wrong"

sounds simple. No problem, right? Well let's say your situation is such that tomorrow you start having massive chest pain which is radiating down your left arm. It feels like someone is stabbing you in the chest, your heart is beating hard, fast and irregular and you're disoriented and confused.

What would pretty much anyone think is happening? Heart attack! Fear kicks in and escalates to full blown panic as the brain thinks you're minutes or seconds away from dying.

So take that scenario. That happens out of the blue once, then it starts happening more and more, perhaps daily. At this point maybe you have been to the ER a few times, got a full cardiac workup and realized there is nothing wrong (if you believe it is another story) and your fast acting drugs help to reduce the intensity or duration so instead of 30 min or an hour of this, it's down to 5 or 10. Now you can accept that it's "just a panic attack" and it will pass like the other 100 have, without you dying. Except that at the back of your mind you can't stop that nagging that some day you're probably going to have a heart attack because many do, and it's going to be over. Especially because you are now ignoring those symptoms because they are "just a panic attack"

then theres the fear of having an attack like this because it is both painful and scary, especially if you're doing something like driving or perhaps alone in the yard without a phone to call for help because of course you think it's a heart attack, or just in case this time it really is. That fear of an attack alone might be enough to trigger it.

or even better yet you're in the middle of a panic attack like this, and the fear of another one triggers a subsequent one which is worse and so on. Now you have rolling ones where one essentially rolls into the next one, perhaps for an hour or more.

perhaps a bout of indigestion gets this going one day. Starts with burning and sharp pain in the chest, and boom the cycle starts. Or someone with esophageal conditions that feel like pain and spasms, and guess what it's right next to your heart, so that's where the brain goes.

There are are many ways it can manifest, and whether the brain starts it or responds because of some other issue is individual, and sometimes, for some people situational. I picked this hypothetical example because it's something that most men fear as they get older and hopefully helps you relate and start to understand it more.
everything he said
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Old 06-30-2018, 04:33 AM
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I do not try to understand them. I just accept the fact that there are people that are plain nuts.
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Old 06-30-2018, 05:07 AM
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Originally Posted by SeaJay View Post
I do not try to understand them. I just accept the fact that there are people that are plain nuts.
Hmmm. Just curious, are you related to Red Bank Steve?
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Old 06-30-2018, 05:24 AM
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Part of it is with anxiety you are not in control, the anxiety is. I can try to explain it, but explaining it can be just as hard as understanding it without having gone through it.

Let's go with a scale 1-10 1 being when a normal person feels a little nervous and it passes to 10 being full blown panic attack.

I live my life with a daily anxiety of 2-3 that doesn't really go away. Back in the day the medical term for this was 'nerves'. Anxiety has physical and mental attributes. My physical one on a daily level feels like there is a trap inside my chest around my heart. As the anxiety increases, the trap tightens around my heart. Right now, I feel the trap, but it is loose and unsprung, but still feels like a weight there that is not part of my body. Mentally, I guess I am used to this level of anxiety so it doesn't really come into play. Exercise and not focusing on it too much are easy ways for me to manage this level. It does contribute to a wandering mind that also makes it so I need about 2 hours in bed at night before I can fall asleep.

4-6 elevated daily anxiety. Enter a situational anxiety in addition to my daily 'baseline'. This can be from many things, but usually an exterior influence. One of the triggers to my anxiety is feeling trapped. Something like jury duty, long church wedding services, fishing 50 miles offshore, any scenario where you can't easily excuse yourself for a breath of fresh air when needed, and enter a different environment for a few moments. Also a bad hangover will put me in this range. If I know I am going to be putting myself into one of these scenarios, I try to mentally prepare for it, as well as take one of the pills I have for 'as needed use'. With this, the physical symptoms get stronger. The cage tightens in my chest, and anxiety can try to take control of my logic center and thought process.

7-8 buckle in. This usually happens when I am in the 4-6 zone, but the anxiety is winning control over logic in my mind. Cue the racing non-linear thoughts (not crazy suicidal type of stuff, just illogical panic). Nausea sets in. Anxiety feeds its self. You get anxious about anxiety and the symptoms play off one another and strengthen. When I get to this point I will try to remove myself and get back to a place of comfort like home. It is rare 7-8 doesn't turn to 9-10, but I am getting better at fending off 9-10 lately. I can be in this stage and the general public still can't tell anything.

9-10 full blown panic attack. Take a second 'as needed' pill. I used to suffer from one a week. Now it is more a few times a year. This is scary. The cage in my chest is squeezing my heart and physically hurts. I am only in control of about 25% of my thought process. If I am not home in my comfort zone for this, it is scary and I am fleeing for it. I feel like I am going to puke. My vision is 'funny'. For me, if I get to this stage, it usually lasts hours, until I fall asleep in bed from exhaustion. I'll try to occupy myself with busywork, like cooking, gardening, anything that keeps me moving and my thought process linear and more in my control. In reality, I am just along for the ride until it decides to let me go, which is usually I pass out from exhaustion in the middle of the night and wake up the next day ok.

I don't know if this is helpful at all, but it is how I try to convey it to people. If you have never felt it, consider yourself blessed. I get it and still don't understand it. Mental health professionals still don't understand it and from a clinical point of view the research is in its infancy.
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Old 06-30-2018, 05:27 AM
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I have had anxiety and depression to various degrees my entire life. I never could figure it out. I htink if you have one or 2 main things bothering you you can identify them and deal with them. If you have lots of small things you have no idea what the hell is going on. Your autonomic nervous system doesn't know how to react. Some Medications help.

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Old 06-30-2018, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by river_boater View Post
I'm sure there are lots of people that don't understand it, yourself included. There are also a great many people that do.What kind of validation are you looking for?

ETA: this person calling themselves "airbrush" doesn't know shit from shine-o-la.
Not looking for validation of any kind, just trying to educate myself to better understand it.
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Old 06-30-2018, 08:51 AM
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I've been getting Anxiety attacks for a while now, dealing with my aged , stubborn and recently diagnosed dementia mom has put me on the "hot seat" more than I care to admit? I found a good hard workout seems to put them at bay at least for a while.


when I get them it feels like a hollow warm feeling that starts in my head and travels down to my chest, sometimes my heart is pounding. I've never been diagnosed but I'd put money on that being what it is. And when they go away??? I'm A-ok after that
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Old 06-30-2018, 09:09 AM
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In terms of my physical anxiety imagine sitting on a marry go-round while not being able to breathe until you puke all over. It can sometimes last for days, my longest anxiety attack lasted for 7-8 days. Non stop puking with the room spinning. It was on my birthday.

Not fun. Mine is mainly from stress. Sometimes people really bother me. The last one I had this guy I work with kept calling my phone over and over. Had to turn off my phone, then got stressed nobody could contact me. My phone is still off. Thinking about it makes my head spin.
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Old 06-30-2018, 09:31 AM
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Russ, for once i actually know where you are coming from. I think the problem is that it is impossible to understand unless you experience it. Intellectually I understand what anxiety is, but because I do not experience it, an can never know what it is like.
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Old 06-30-2018, 10:48 AM
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Understanding and explaining anxiety is difficult. It is like trying to explain love or how the universe started. You can describe how it feels, but not what it is.

As an example of how anxiety feels imagine you are home watching tv and someone calls you and tells you they have your daughter. They then facetime you a live feed showing they have her and she calls out for you. I won't go into details, but imagine they tell you they are going to do the worst things you could imagine to her. You have no way to save her. How would you feel? Adrenaline dumps into your system like it never has before. You get lightheaded your mind is racing so fast. Heart rate goes to a thousand and you feel like you are going to die and there is nothing you can do to stop it. You want to puke. You are sweating bullets. The room is spinning. You are scared. You are out of control of your own mind and body. That is anxiety and an anxiety attack and/or panic attack.
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