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Thread: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Hey gang,

    For the first time in well over a year I anxiety spiraled and just completely lost it. It was slowly building up over the course of the week but tonight I just went full on panic attack. :(

    All week I have been feeling like I need a deep breath now and then and it often feels like it's not completely going down. Even sometimes when I yawn. Like it's getting caught somewhere in my throat or upper chest. Early in the week my brain was wandering to simple respiratory infections (and I googled...oops). So Thursday I called the doctor office on my break to schedule an appt for Friday. Well upon hearing "feels like my breath isn't going all the way in" I was transferred immediately to the phone nurse who asked a whole bunch of Q's to determine if I should go to ER.

    I was calm then and told her no it's all good just give me a regular appt. But later that day it seemed to trigger in my brain that maybe this was a life threatening heart problem. To fight it I tried to do an exposure by going out and walking a mile then jogging another half. The walking was fine but jogging wore me out immediately. I'm not in shape though. It was a struggle but i felt calm after.

    At the doc I didn't address any heart concerns and he listened to my lungs and had me do a breathing power test and said I was all fine and that maybe allergies and postnasal drip was just making breathing a bit more difficult. Then this evening the fear started growing again so I tried to do the walk/jog again, and during it, it felt a bit easier than the first time although I swore I felt a tinge of pain in my chest (now from a calmer state I am sure that is from my lings/ribs being irritated from all the air gulping I've been doing this week). But a few minutes into cooling down at home, I felt like it was hard to breathe properly and it just exploded to full blown panic mode. Upon walking to get more water I swore I felt light-headed or that I might pass out or have an imminent heart attack.

    After 15 minutes of not really calming down I texted my new girlfriend and embarrassingly admitted how I was feeling (she never saw this side of me yet) as I was so frightened I didn't care how I would look to her. At that point I figured I was either going to her for help or the ER. I then drove to her place and she helped me calm down most of the way.

    I'm no longer panicked but the anxiety is certainly still going strong as the air hunger is still how it typically has been all week. It's like I can't dodge the feeling. Any advice on what to do moving forward? I'll try to get in front of my therapist this weekend. One of my typical tools of deep breathing practice doesn't work because that's the symptom. Exposure by exercise made me worse. My thought diary didn't work in the moment either. I tried reasoning that my heart has been proven healthy by tests a couple years ago, couldn't crack the catastrophic thoughts. I'm struggling to find a tool to fight off this anxiety and/or panic. I'm going to look for that link here to that panic cartoon series, that helped me once years ago.

    Any thoughts?

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    322

    Re: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Honestly I don’t have any advice but I can sympathize. I went through the same a few years ago and I also felt like I couldn’t get a deep breath. It was really uncomfortable and scary. But it did go away.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
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    554

    Re: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Thanks Katniss.

    Today I am trying to employ "no need to worry about what the symptoms could be from". Went for a walk with my gf to the store and a cafe and felt mostly ok. Fortunately my therapist is able to squeeze me in tomorrow as well to talk about it.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  4. #4
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    Re: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Hi

    This is just a courtesy reply to let you know that your post was moved from its original place to a sub-forum that is more relevant to your issue.

    This is nothing personal - it just enables us to keep posts about the same problems in the relevant forums so other members with any experience with the issues can find them more easily.

    Please also read this post:

    http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=213239
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  5. #5
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    Re: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Sorry tp hear you are struggling, jray. I think the first thing to remember here is this is one week. We have so many transient symptoms and many just don't stick therefore this may start to disappear.

    This might even be a muscular tension issue. Have you tried some relaxation exercises? Maybe something like PMR? Are you experiencing this more when waking or when posture may be affected? If so you may be tense or compressing your diaphragm through poor posture.

    You mention your breathing practice doesn't work. Is this because it heightens your focus on this or that it makes you feel more worn out so unable to breathe? I'm wondering whether shifting to a slightly different breathing exercise might help? Sometimes it can be hard to maintain a count but it can be effective to normalise breathing in & out at the same pace even if you can't make the full prescribed number of seconds. I know I would find it hard to do that and it would just make me feel more tightness but that may also have been my asthma.

    How about some visualisation exercises? In these you will likely normalise your breathing anyway but having your mind focussed on something else whilst that rhythm takes place might help keep you distracted from the symptom?
    __________________
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    For free Mindfulness resources, please see this thread I have created to compile many sources together http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=168689

  6. #6
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    Apr 2018
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    Re: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Quote Originally Posted by MyNameIsTerry View Post
    Sorry tp hear you are struggling, jray. I think the first thing to remember here is this is one week. We have so many transient symptoms and many just don't stick therefore this may start to disappear.

    This might even be a muscular tension issue. Have you tried some relaxation exercises? Maybe something like PMR? Are you experiencing this more when waking or when posture may be affected? If so you may be tense or compressing your diaphragm through poor posture.

    You mention your breathing practice doesn't work. Is this because it heightens your focus on this or that it makes you feel more worn out so unable to breathe? I'm wondering whether shifting to a slightly different breathing exercise might help? Sometimes it can be hard to maintain a count but it can be effective to normalise breathing in & out at the same pace even if you can't make the full prescribed number of seconds. I know I would find it hard to do that and it would just make me feel more tightness but that may also have been my asthma.

    How about some visualisation exercises? In these you will likely normalise your breathing anyway but having your mind focussed on something else whilst that rhythm takes place might help keep you distracted from the symptom?
    Thanks Terry. Yes, well the anxiety has been about a week but the "partial breath" sensation has gone on for 2-3 weeks already. I hadn't worried about it a bit before last week. I seem to experience it more when out and about, less so at rest. I am much calmer now, not completely, but maybe a 3/10 compared to Friday night's 10/10. I still have been playing detective with my symptoms from time to time so my goal is to nip that tomorrow.

    The breathing exercise backfired because it would cause me to focus more on the sensation as I would feel it more. As did, spectacularly, physical exercise as an exposure tool. PMR is a great suggestion, I hadn't thought of that. It would shift my focus to other body parts. I'm not too familiar with visualisation in this sense (I know of it in the sporting world).

    My therapist appt helped. She advised me to leave the panic attack in the past, not fear if it could happen again (just like the CBT4Panic teaches), and to focus my energies on re-establishing good self-care patterns. And that at least I tried using correct techniques even though they didn't work in this moment. My new gf has been very supportive as well, it was nice to be able to lean on her although I won't be making that a habit.

    Sent from my Moto G (5) Plus using Tapatalk

  7. #7
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    Re: Panic attack over heart/air hunger

    Whilst I agree (a happy relationship of positive stuff is great for keeping anxiety in the background and obviously we have to be fair to our partners) I guess it's down to your GF on that too because you could also argue you invited her into something highly personal and she may have felt that showed a level of trust that deepens the relationship? We men are more likely to become distant leaving our partners wondering what they have done wrong. So, maybe don't let your anxiety kick you over that.

    I suggested visualisation because you do have an element of getting yourself breathing normally but then you put your effort into listening to the voice guide you as you create images in your mind that you continue to make more clear/colour in. Doing this you find yourself less interested in your breathing and are more focussed on something which takes over and distracts you.

    You could do similar with other focussing techniques like when we focus on a spot on the wall or an object and try to really focus on it.

    Such techniques are just distracting us from our feelings and tendency to push them on into more panic/anxiety. Just like the techniques where we fill our conscious mind with garbage so it has no time for anxiety which some use for panic.

    There is also grounding which is doing much the same as the above and PMR in the sense you are diverted your senses to something else.

    2-3 weeks might sound like a lot but you know how we have so many symptoms come & go over the years. Some stick for long periods and others drift through. This may still be one of those. But I think your therapist is right hear in that it makes more sense to work on overall recovery because you might just see this dissipate anyway. If it becomes a big issue, then they will address it more directly. Until then you can potentially prevent it becoming a fear whilst it is still in the building stage if that makes sense?

    Glad you are feeling better. Being able to feel better and look back with a more objective head on you shoulders does show you aren't down the rabbit hole. Triggers are often like traumatic events and the body needs some time to calm down.
    __________________
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    For free Mindfulness resources, please see this thread I have created to compile many sources together http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/showthread.php?t=168689

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