One of my fellow bloggers has been struggling with panic attacks. She doesn't want to take meds for them. I applaud her for that decision. Unless they are totally debilitating, I don't think they're necessary.
A number of years ago, I started to get them. I remember the first one. I was sitting on the GO train coming home from work. All of a sudden I started to feel short of breath, I started having mild chest pain, my arms started to ache and I started to feel nauseous. It really freeked me out. I wasn't travelling with anyone so I didn't know what to do. I just sat there and breathed deeply. I didn't think anything of it until I saw my chiropractor (also a good friend at the time) the next day. He told me to go see my doctor ... it sounded like a heart problems. THAT freeked me out. So I went. He listened to my heart, sent me for an EKG. It was a panic attack. He gave me a script for Atavan which I never filled.
They started happening from time to time. One day I was alone at home and it got so bad, I was about 5 minutes away from calling the ambulance. But I didn't. And it subsided. Now I can tell when one is going to happen. I just breath deeply and slowly and talk myself into staying calm. It works.
About 4 years ago, we were working on the renovations, the house in an upheaval, and there was a rapid knock on the front door. Our next door neighbour, who I think was 14 or 15 at the time, was in the middle of a panic attack. I've never seen one, only experienced one. He thought he was having a heart attack. I managed to talk him down, to get him calm. I told him I had been through it and I survived. I don't think he ever forgot it 'cause he's really great with me.
Apparently horrormones and diet have a lot to do with it. Anyone going through life stages is susceptible to them. Puberty, menopause. Since I started exercising and eating healthier (he has too), I rarely get them. Sometimes I get heart palpitations, but that's usually from too much caffeine.
So to anyone who experiences panic attacks, I understand what you're going through. It is possible to overcome them without medication. Exercise, healthy diet, lots of water and relaxation techniques all help. And if you need someone to talk to, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I don't have all the answers but I can certainly lend some support.
Wishing all good mental health ... and panic-free days.