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Our stories are similar. I had my first anxiety attack about seven years ago when my father died. We had taken a vacation together for the first time in many years, he died of a massive heart attack the first morning we were there. That night I rushed myself to the ER absolutely certain that I was dying.

During the next year, I went to the hospital a dozen more times. Driving to work one morning I thought that I was going insane. I couldn't think, I couldn't breathe. I didn't think that I would ever be "normal" again.

I was put on Prosac, and after two weeks, I was suicidal. They switched medications on me a dozen times. Some made me almost comotose - they finally landed me on Effexor & Xanax. I took them for a year, and the panic/anxiety were managable. However, the sexual side effects were more than I could deal with. I went off of the Effexor, and things got better. Pretty soon, I was only using a small amount of Xanax, and then none at all.

Today, after seven years, I still have the occasional anxiety attack, but I understand what's going on, and don't let my thoughts spiral out of control. I try and acknowledge what ever is happening for what it is, and then move on. It takes practice, a lot of practice, but it keeps getting easier.

Deep breathing exercises helped me greatly. There were many nights, where I would spend hours laying in bed focused on nothing but my breathing. It really helped to take as deep of a breath as I could, hold it for a moment, and then let it out very slowly. It slowed my racing heart, calmed my mind, and eased the sharp pains that seemed to be the imputus for the full blown panic.

There was no one "magic bullet" for me. I think it was a combination of the medication, deep breathing, and communicating with others that suffered with the same things - both online and in person.

When everything seems to overwhelm you at one time, try to focus on something that is good. Something pure & simple - you don't want to try and focus on anything too complex in the middle of an anxiety attack. Then start breathing on purpose. After you come down a little, try and leave a message here - or a board like this. Or call someone.

Wishing you peace.

Rob.





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