Anxiety Support
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Does this sound like a panic attack?

Sorry to post again. I have had anxiety (GAD) and PTSD for 5 years, I have had many an anxiety attack that I describe as anxiety racing where I can't sit still and my brain feels on high alert and feel my stomach churning, feeling sick etc... For me that is my norm if anxiety is super high which thankfully wasn't very often.

Then 2 months ago whilst watching a tv show I saw blood on the screen and I suddenly had a panic attack out of the blue, well I think it was a panic attack. I had a hot rush to my face, vision felt black and I was shaking. My brain immediately feared I had that blood phobia that causes people to faint. Ever since I am terrified to see blood, terrified of seeing it on tv, or if people even talk about it. I can have a horrible attack like I had watching Emmerdale.

It got much better and i put it down to high anxiety. Then 2 weeks ago I had a horrible spike in my anxiety and ever since the fear of seeing blood incase I fainted became worse. Today is an example. I was brushing my teeth, saw some blood when I spat as I had brushed too hard and made my gum all sore. My brain then thought 'Oh no, blood, what if I have a funny turn and faint'. I then realised I was upstairs with no phone, what if I pass out and can't get help as i am home alone. I sat on the stop step and felt a hot rush to my face, face was on fire, I was shaking and I felt my vision going all black. By the time I got down to the living room I was shaking badly and my heart rate was well over 120. SO I thought 'Ok, this is the opposite of what a person with true blood phobia experiences as their blood pressure drops (I took mine at this point and it was high) they also don't feel hot and pulse will drop as they faint'. It didn't stop the attack and I just sat there trembling, fast heart, hot flushes to face and head and feeling all woozy in head and vision feeling a little dark at times so I was panicking I would faint.

Awful. I had got so much better with this issue but then out of the blue it triggers again. It's knocked my confidence. I rang hubby in tears afterwards and he said 'they are panic attacks because you fear you must have that blood phobia and you fear that only because you fear fainting'. He says they sound like classic panic attacks but when I googled panic it says tingling hands or feet, breathing difficulties, chest pain, feeling you are having a heart attack etc.... I get none of that. Mine are as I have described.

Can anyone relate to panic attacks feeling like this? My hubby and friends say yup classic panic as I fear fainting so have latched onto blood being an issue because of the attack I had watching the tv 2 months ago, out of the blue. I am not one for panic attacks so this is all new to me and I feel very lost and not sure what to call this or how to deal with it.

Also my friends Dad died yesterday, he fell down the stairs, so that could possibly have made my panic attack worse as I was half way down the stairs when it worsened.

Any advice or reassurance appreciated.

B x

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This really does sound like an panic attack especially since you said you now have a phobia of blood. And every one’s bodies creates different feeling when your having a panic attack and there are many people when having panic attack who do not have those classic symptoms every time they get one. I’ve had panic attacks where I thought I would pass out.i also get tingling from anxiety but I don’t usually get it during panic attacks. There are many different symptoms you can have when you get one, not just the immediate symptoms they bring up. I’ve also had vision problems and feeling hot

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Thank you,

I am praying it's not a true blood phobia because that causes people to faint which is my main fear. So when the panic symptoms hit and I feel my vision going black I panic I will faint. It's so hard.

Thank you for replying.

Ju x

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I know...I’ve been afraid I will faint to but I never have yet :)

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I'm so sorry I didn't make it more clear, it was my close fiends father that passed yesterday.

Thank you x

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I'm sorry for your friend...give her my condolences, I know how much it hurts. x

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Thank you x

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LilLibby, may I suggest there is too much introspection going on here, too much concern about the symptoms of your anxiety disorder. The power of anxiety is limited, it can frighten us half to death, give us fake symptoms of illnesses, but it can't kill us or damage our bodies or send us crazy. It truly is just a fraud and we fall for it's tricks every time.

So just step back from stressing about all these bad feelings and instead of fighting them just accept them instead. Surrender to them, refuse to fight, just accept them calmly for the time being without adding second fear to first fear.

You see, over sensitive nerves thrive on fear and that's what you have been feeding them on. If you accept the bad feelings instead of fighting them you stop feeding them with fear and eventually they de-sensitise and return to normal. Then you will no longer experience panic attacks and fear of fainting and you will regain your quiet mind.

Nobody can fear and accept something at the same time so just let the anxiety come, let it wash over and past you, accept the discomfort with fortitude not fear and not straight away but eventually your nervous system will heal.

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Jeff, thank you for your lovely reply.

I don't usually have panic attacks so I'm afraid I've developed a blood phobia with how this hits every time I see it or even think it. I'm afraid it's the true blood phobia that causes people to faint so it's become very scary for me. I don't know how to reassure myself it's not and it's all panic attacks. Never having panic it's very worrying. I've had general anxiety years since I was attacked by my brother but very rare a panic attack. Now since watching thst scene on the tv 2 months ago I've been having panic seeing blood, thinking about it, dreading seeing it etc..

I am just feeling lost and I think if I could believe this wasn't a true blood phobia that causes people to faint then I'd definitely relax and be better able to start accepting it as panic. Any tips on how I can do this?

Thank you

Lib

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LilLibby, I still think that maybe you are going about this all wrong. You are concentrating on the symptoms of anxiety rather than the anxiety itself. You see, whether it's panic attack or blood phobia is not the issue. If you were reassured that you don't have blood phobia your anxiety would merely express itself in another way. Although you would have overcome the symptom, the cause ie anxiety would still be there.

But I can reassure you regarding the blood phobia very simply. Have you ever fainted because of seeing blood? No, of course you haven't. Therefore you emphatically don't have blood phobia. If you did have it yo would have fainted when you saw blood whilst cleaning your teeth. But you didn't did you.

I know from experience that this simple logical explanation will not cure you of your blood phobia. You may know it's true in your heart of hearts but anxiety continues to whisper in your ear that it's blood phobia and that is the voice you will listen to in your anxious condition.

But let's just say that you did manage to cure yourself of both blood phobia and panic attacks. Because you would still be suffering from anxiety (i.e. your nervous system long ago became over-sensitised by too much worry, stress, over-work or disappointment) the anxiety would simply express itself in other ways. This might be a fear of spiders, feeling you have a lump in your throat, bad palpitations, chest pain - the number of symptoms in the Anxiety Book of Tricks is endless.

So you see why I say the symptoms are not the issue, it's the anxiety, the fact that your nerves are sensitised that is the real problem. So what to do?

The problem is that every time you feel a panic attack or aversion to blood you react with fear and the fear hormones you produce are what keep your nervous system sensitised. Fear is what fuels jangled nerves. So you never recover. But just imagine if you could ACCEPT the symptoms calmly and without fear. In that case you would stop fuelling your sensitive nerves with fear and in time your nervous system would completely recover.

The key to your recovery is to develop the ability to ACCEPT what ever symptoms your nervous system dreams up without fear. So how do you do that? I hear you ask. My reply is already overlong so I will give you the short version. There is a book that explains how Acceptance can free people from nervous suffering that has helped hundreds of thousands of people to recover. It was written by Doctor Claire Weekes and is titled 'Self help with your nerves', it's available from Amazon for a few pounds or dollars. This book is life changing. I suggest that if you only read one more book in your life then this is that book.

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Hi Jeff

Thank you again for replying. So reassuring.

I know I'm focusing on the blood aspect but I'm afraid you can develop a blood phobia that causes people to faint at any age. Also because of how this all began 2 months ago, wtsching a tv show and a scene of blood came on tv and I had those panic symptoms and rush of faintness to my head, I'm afraid that must have been the start of a blood phobia. Ever since that day I can't even look at blood because I have one of those funny turns. I almost instantly feel a rush to my head, feel faint, vision goes out of focus or black at the sides, feel I will drop at any second, shaking, fast heart... So I'm afraid it must be a phobia and as I fesr fainting I am scared this is going to ruin my life. Every day right now I feel low and get anxious incase I see blood on tv or in real life, sometimes now my brain even puts images in my head of the last time I cut myself and I can feel a horrible physical reaction but it's intense and worse on seeing it. So it's left me afraid it has to be some kind of phobia.

My husband says it's all my because I fear fainting but I've never experienced attacks like this before and it is only on seeing blood so I'm all worried ans lost. No idea what to do to overcome it or believe I won't faint. I hate how strong a reaction I get seeing it and if they are panic attacks I have then I don't understand why, because I never have them. I've had general anxiety for years and anxiety attacks, but never anything this intense.

Dr Claire Weekes is amazing. I've read her books and re read Self Help for your Nerves recently. I just can't seem to apply it to this as it's just on seeing blood and as soon as those strong head symptoms hit I can't control it. Like yesterday I had a funny head rush, then on trying to get downstairs I felt vision going dark, heart banging, shaking and I felt so hot in my face. I felt I'd pass out. Terrifying.

I always feel like I will pass out but so far I dont. I feel so awful during those funny turns that I then become more worried that this is true blood phobia and I can't understand why. I sat sobbing to hubby last night becauae I feel ridiculous having this issue. It started after that tv show but it only hit if I saw blood so I limited it ans other than ladies time of the month it went out of my head but then since 2 weeks ago having a lot of stress to deal with 1 week (5 year date of when I was attacked, kids all poorly, lots of workmen in house doing jobs, delivery guy gave me a tough time I couldn't come to sign for a parcel infront of my kids as I felt too unwell that day, hubby's auntie died, my sister got married and I don't have any contact with my family since brother attacked me...) that's when this blood thing became more of an issue. I started having those attacks just thinking of it or if someone just said the word. It's since become an even bigger thing and the attacks I get now are fat worse than 2 months ago.

It's exhausting me. I'm sorry for going on, I hope I explain my concerns clearly. Your replies have been a huge comfort and I thank you for taking the time to reply to me. You speak sense and having had cbt before and used claire Weekes work I know it works, I just can't seem to accept this or believe it's not a true blood phobia with how badly I seem to react seeing it.

Thank you

L

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LilLibby, if anxiety becomes overwhelming then the right thing to do is to speak to your doctor as soon as pos and for a limited time go onto an anti-anxiety medication which will give you a holiday from these bad feelings and allow you to carry out your family responsibilities. There is no shame in that, I know many people think meds will cause them to become addicted, become a zombie and have horrible side effects but I say that's nonsense: there's no question of addiction so long as you taper off the meds when the time comes to cone off them and sude effects are greatly exaggerated, this is why I say Anxiety about anti-anxiety meds is itself just another symptom of anxiety. Maybe you have tried meds but if one doesn't work for you there are several other choices.

As far as a permanent cure is concerned, I think it highly possible that being attacked has caused your nervous system to become over sensitised with anxiety disorder being the result. Once again I suggest that trying to cure the symptom is no good it is the cause i.e. sensitised nerves that should be addressed. I note you have read Claire Weekes' book and found it difficult to apply her acceptance technique to your blood phobia (or more correctly your phobia about blood phobia if you can see the difference).

Well, Libby, you and the rest of us too, applying the acceptance method takes lots and lots of practice and lots and lots of 'letting time pass' and certainly isn't easy. But yes, it does apply to your nervous illness, there are no exceptions, and it can and will bring you relief and cure. So I suggest that you re-engage with that book even though you've read it a couple of times before, many of us here have read it half a dozen times. And you start practicing acceptance of your phobia, don't fight it, surrender to it, and just endure the discomfort for the moment without turning first fear into second fear that keeps the sensitisation alive.

You must practice and be persistant: to begin with you may only manage to achieve a 'glimpse' of the acceptance feeling for just a few seconds or minutes but you can build on that. This is the path to recovery, Libby, the only one that works. When the bad feelings come imagine every muscle in your bidy relaxing and going limp, first your limbs, then your chest, then your back, and even imagine there is a large myscle in your brain and imagine that going limp too. Then just hold that feeling until the attack lessens.

You are a rock on the shore, the waves come rushing in, they buffet you and then rush past you. But despite all the crashing and turmoil the rock endures and survives. You are that rock and you have the strength and fortitude to make Acceptance work for you, believe me.

All things are going to be well, Libby, all manner of things will be well.

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Thank you Jeff for your repl.

I am actually on anti-anxiety / antidepressant medication. I have been on 50mg of Mirtazapine for four years almost. I recently started to withdraw as I wanted to try to come off medication and it has been during this slow withdrawal that my anxiety and panic attacks have become more of an issue again. I had anxiety but it was a lot lower level until I withdrew down to 12 milligram and that's when the blood phobia and panic attacks began. I have spoken to my GP and we have agreed that I should slowly increase the medication again so I am increasing by small amounts every two weeks hoping that this will calm my current irrational thoughts and anxiety. I thought with drawing slowly I wouldn't have any major issues but it seems the drop from 12.5 mg to 12mg caused this heightened anxiety and irrational thinking.

Hopefully this will get easier and I agree it likely is a phobia of having a blood phobia and I will try to take on board your advice regarding the blood phobia and tackling the anxiety. I will also reread Claire weeks as her work really has helped in the past with my general anxiety and agoraphobia. I agree that the PTSD has caused me to have constant general anxiety and that tightens during stress which I have been under recently plus withdrawing slowly from my medication. I need to realise that if I need medication full time than that is ok, I didn't think Mirtazapine was helping me that much anymore other than helping me eat and sleep and due to the weight gain I wanted to withdraw. Now I realise that it probably was helping more than I realise because I was extremely anxious before taking mirtazapine so actually it maybe was suppressing a lot of anxiety and quite possibly that's why I'm feeling so terrible recently, having irrational fears and phobias and panic attacks that I am not used to. Even though it's a small drop in my medication I have heard it's a very hard drug to win form so it is likely that it has caused some issues.

Thank you for your kind replies and taking the time to try and help me it means a lot to me.

Lib

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Yes I think that's the right thing to do, we've all tried to withdraw from meds when the time isn't right and have regretted it. Go back to the usual dosage which keeps most though maybe not all of the symptoms at bay and use the period of relief to re-acquaint yourself with Claire Weekes Acceptance method as you will still have some symptoms you can practice on. I wish you well.

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