Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Panic Attacks, Anxiety and Depression

A number of years ago, I was sitting on the GO train on my home from work but I was later than normal so I wasn't with anyone I knew. All of a sudden I started to sweat, my bowels felt loose, I had trouble breathing and my right arm felt a little numb. I sat there thinking I was having a heart attack. And yet somehow I knew I wasn't. But it freeked me out. And it scared me. I felt very alone even though I was with a trainload of people. But then I just dismissed it like I often do.

The next day I saw my chiro who was also a friend. He was concerned and wanted me to go to my family doctor and get checked out. So I did. He diagnosed me as having had a panic attack and immediately suggested Atavan. I took the script but never filled it. I hate how doctors just automatically prescribe drugs for this. Its not always necessary. Sometimes it is but at least give me some options. And yes, he sent me for an EKG just to be sure. My heart was fine.

So life carried on as usual and then it happened again. And again and again. It freeked me out whenever it happened but I learned to control them and even how to shut them down. I still find it unsettling when it happens.  The symptoms weren't always the same.  One day in October of 2005, I came very close to calling the ambulance.  I was home alone, an attack started, it escalated and very nearly got completely out of hand.  Thankfully I was able to get control fo the situtation and avoid an unnecessary trip to the hospital.

Then there was the anxiety that often accompanies panic attacks. I would be so anxious, so scared that things would happen even there was no logical reason for it. Then there were odd physical things ... All part of getting older but at the time I thought for sure something bad was going to happen to me. And I was terrified of something happening to Barry and being left alone. I don't think I ever told him any of this. I often didn't tell him when a panic attack hit either. Silly, I know, but I'm the one who takes care of everyone else, not the one being taken care of.

And then there's the mild (usually seasonal thankfully) depression that hits. It's not the deep, clinical depression that messes people up completely. I am very grateful for that.

But here's the thing. With all of the above issues, since I started working out regularly, eating healthy foods in proper portions, dropping the bodyfat, all those things are gone. There's a physiological reason for that involving our friend, the endorphin. I'm not a health care professional so I cannot say what the reason is, whether its physical, emotional or what. I only know what has worked for me.

I know there are many people who are seriously depressed and this is caused by a chemical imbalance in the body. I am only suggesting that perhaps, instead of going immediately to the drugs that can have serious side effects (antidepressants that make you suicidal????) Among other things, why not try alternative medicine, proper nutrition, exercise. And stick with it for a bit. But make sure you talk to your doctor; be it medical or paramedical.

And please don't think for a moment that I would ever make light of the very real issue of depression.  Most of my family has, to some extent, suffered from depression at one time or another.  I know it can be debilitating.  But perhaps, if we seek treatment in the early stages of any mental health issue, we can avoid drastic measures.

And yes, here is the disclaimer again .. I'm not a health care professional ... I'm just sharing what works for me, my personal experiences only. Please, please, please make sure you talk to a health care professional.

Here's to good health, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. May we all live long, happy, healthy lives.


  1. I thought you were going to end the post with "live long and prosper" it's the Star Trek geek in me ;)

  2. How awful! I'm sorry you've had such struggles. Ri suffers from panic attacks as well, so I know how frightening they can be, just by witnessing them.

    I also think it is wise to look into non-drug options first. I'm paranoid about putting too many drugs into my body. Especially since anti-depressants can be so addictive. Rian was on them for five years and felt like he couldn't function without them. When he finally got off of them a couple years ago, he was a MONSTER. For a couple weeks, it was so dreadful...

    Great post! xo

  3. Great advice honey, it scares me how many people turn to drugs as a default, when it's only a band-aid "cure".