How many people get panic attacks?

I do not have parkinsons, however I help a friend out who has(84) . She told me that from time to time she anticipates that she is about to stiffen up/freeze, which then brings on a full blown panic attact. I went with her to her doctors and suggested to him that Citalopram might help.He was reluctent to prescribe them because she was not showing obvious signs of depression. She has not had a panic attack scince.

6 Replies

  • Lucky lady to have a friend to go to the doctors with her. My very best friend died 6 weeks ago of cancer . Missing you so much Jean.

  • Hello,

    I been having bad panic attacks! My main panic attacks happen is when I am in the car,when my partner is driving , I really have been driving her nuts,, !! I have been on lorazepam but it makes sleepy and I still have panic attacks. I will have to ask my DR about changing med's .thanx for sharing !

  • I do. We are not sure which came first the panic attacks or the Parkinson's. However, at the time I was in depression (still am). Some caregivers have mixed my panic attacks with COPD, but I clearly know the difference. Also, sometimes I freeze because of the panic attack, others I panic afterwards. Sometimes I know I am going to have one because I've already had one in that situation; other times they come all of sudden with no warning. Thank you for the information about the other medicine. I'm going to check on that!

  • Panic attacks are linked into the fight or flight mechanism that is common to all animals (or at least mammals). It is the major survival mechanism. It is controlled by a part of the nervous system called the "Sympathetic Nervous System" and gets triggered by any seemingly dangerous or in some way threatening circumstance.

    That threat may be real or imagined - it doesn't matter which. When fight or flight is triggered the sympathetic nervous system prepares the body by diverting blood supply to the the cardiovascular system and the skeletal muscles from the digestive system. This movement is felt in the sensation of wobbliness in the stomach Also eye pupils widen to let more light in plus lots of other things.

    Now, with a panic attack, it can seemingly come from nowhere but probably what has happened is that your background level of stress is raised more than you realise and it only takes one more moment of low level stress to tip you over into a panic attack. That "last straw" of extra stress could for example come from a slightly unnerving incident while driving or a sudden loud noiise or some such thing.

    Normally the extra energy from a real threat is dissipated by running away from the wild animal or fighting it. But how do you calm yourself down once in this behaviour pattern has been invoked. Well another part of the nervous system known as the "parasympathetic nervous system" controls the changes in the body to calm everything to a normal state.

    This parasympathetic nervous system may be invoked by suitable breathing patterns / exercises.

    For example there is what is called 7/11 breathing. This means you should breath in for a count of 7 and then out for a count of 11. Or there is 3 / 5 breathing or my favourite which is 4,4,6 which means you should breath in for a count of 4 then hold that breath for a count of 4 and last breath out for a count of 6. The main point is that the out-breath must be longer than the in breath. This is the thing that invokes the calming parasympathetic nervous system.

    So if you feel a panic attack begining then immediately start your preferred breathing pattern and repeat slowly until you feel yourself relaxing.

  • Good advice....You have described the 2 branches of the autonomic nervous system. Sympathetic arousal will eventually kill us without parasympathetic recovery. Breathing is the key to opening up channels of parasympathetic control.

  • I have had them most of my life . I am not the one with Parkinsons . my husband is .

    I realised when my husband was breathing Hyperventing what the trouble was and have been getting him to do that same breathing pattern . I

    If you can get use to sing it you will find it most helpful

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