I'm new - Panic Disorder out of the blue

Well I don't know if its really out of the blue, but over the past several months I have been the only one caring for my elderly mom who had some serious health issues, and at the exact same time I got engaged and started planning my wedding. Then laid off from my job. So all of this stress has given me more and more anxiety, and now, panic attacks.

Another thing to add is that I saw my mom completely faint/black out TWICE. Once because she hadn't eaten and was in the waiting room about to have surgery. They said she had "vasal vagal" and fainted from "fear." The second time we were out to eat and she hadn't eaten all day, and then ate the WHOLE plate of food in 5 min. So I guess that messed with her blood sugar, she got dizzy/nauseous/ very nervous and fainted. So if its possible for her to essentially make herself faint twice now, because she was so nervous, couldn't that happen to me? I can faint if I panic enough! I dont know. This is my biggest fear, I think.

I'm not on any medication because I hope that I will be able to beat this panic without meds, since it came on its own, maybe it will go on its own? I just got a book called "Panic Attacks Workbook" by David Carbonell, Ph.D so I hope this will help me. It utilizes CBT and exposure practice to beat the panic attack trick.

Over the last few months I have missed parties, weddings, concerts, dinners out, you name it, because I am so terrified of having another panic attack. Its now gotten so bad that I can't drive anywhere, and I am scared to be home alone....this all sounds crazy. Before I was laid off I had to work from home for 5 months since I kept having panic attacks in the car. Maybe working from home and not being in the "real world" socializing with colleagues attributed to my anxiety building? I hope I don't have agoraphobia now, but I am scared to leave the house! I haven't been to a grocery store in months! I was laid off from my job (which might have been a blessing in disguise) but now I can't imagine getting another job, let alone a job interview. But this panic has robbed me of my independence, and of my life! I want my life back.

Can anyone shed some light or offer any advice? Every time I think of my wedding I panic. I can't drive 1 block down the street, how can I sit in a church for 30 minutes with all eyes on me, and then in a reception for 4-5 hours? I haven't been to a restaurant in months because I feel trapped. Ready to cancel the wedding and elope. Then the fear wins, I know that. But I am afraid of having a nervous breakdown in the anticipation of the wedding (which is supposed to be this fall) if I don't cancel. Or having a panic attack/fainting at the church or reception. I have all the invitations in my room but the thought of dropping them in the mail makes me panic.

My fiance does ALL the food shopping. I can't go out with him to do fun stuff. I do NOTHING but sit in the house. I literally used to have a 100% normal life. A job. Hobbies. Drove everywhere myself. Vacations! I can't believe this happened to me. If anyone can help with ANY advice I would appreciate it so so much. Thank you.

Going to a therapist next week. I hope that with this book and her therapy I can be back to my normal self soon. Please help if you can.

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  • Check things out medically also. I had Afib, irregular and rabid heartbeat and that can come from stress and masks itself as a panic attack. I asked my Cardiologist and he agreed.

  • Thank you for your response! I did go to my medical doctor and had cardiology tests. Its 100% panic/anxiety and not medically related.

  • I suffer from generalized anxiety too and found distraction (being busy) and sometimes take Ativan helps deal with it. I just came thru a hellish year of health problems after a lifetime, 60 years - without ever being medically compromised and a competitive athlete. I am over it now, but it has left my psyche broken and a little brittle that I have to battle often with the "What if's"... Anxiety is like paying interest on a loan not yet taken - if that makes sense. Good luck.

  • Hi I think taking meds could certainly help you in the short term. Why are you so against them? If you want to go the self help route then look online at mindfullness, meditation, yoga etc.

  • Hello,

    I am so sorry to hear of your recent struggles with anxiety. I suffer from anxiety myself and am a social work student. I've found that when my anxiety is really high from doing something uncomfortable, that self care really helps before and afterwards. This is sometimes yoga/meditation, or painting. If you can find anything that is particularly special to you and helps you feel at peace, I would suggest trying it to help with those moments of panic towards going outside or interacting with others. I would also suggest finding a facility or family friend who will do respite care for you so you have some time to take a break from being a caretaker, this can really be draining on your body and mind.

  • I sometimes tell the panic attack bring it on. I will survive you. I think about the worst attack I have had and remember that I made it through. I also think what will be will be. I can't change what will happen by worrying about it. I still struggle daily but when I really want to get something done that is my mindset. I have read that panic disorder is one of the easiest to cure so good for you going to a therapist. I haven't done that yet because even making that phone call is terrifying for me. Good luck!

  • Enirma has some very worthwhile thoughts about panic. Once you tell the panic to bring it on and really believe it the panic will eventually go away. And you CAN do this because you know that a panic attack does not kill you. This attitude worked for me though it took quite a while. Hang in there, you are not alone.

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