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I've been poking my nose into some posts around here and have come across something that I myself have occasionally experienced, but never realised what they were - panic attacks!

I am out of this stressful situation now (not yet fully healed though) but up until about half a year ago I regularly had these episodes that were just like what is described as panic attacks - it is usually like a jolt to the brain at first (like a *snap* when you wake up abruptly), and then I suddenly become conscious of feeling very unreal, having to consciously do every breath because it feel like I would suffocate if I didn't concentrate hard enough, everything feels unreal and distant (like my head is stuffed with cotton wool), I can't concentrate on talking (and my voice sounds distant when I do, kind of echoey) and it feels like I'm going to die, my heart starts racing, there's a ringing in my ears (both of them), it feels like my distress is visible to everyone and I feel watched - so I usually just try to keep quiet and not attract any attention to me.

Also, I can't feel my body (well I can but I have to remind myself that I'm still attached to it) and I keep having to go to the toilet because I feel like I don't have control over my bladder, I'm cold and I often get numb arms/hands/feet.

I had these episodes quite often for a while, mayne once a week to once a month, with no specific trigger to them - that's why I ended up worrying about all sorts of physical causes, brain tumour, heart problems and so on.

They often happened at night/in the evening, when doing nothing more than maybe sitting and watching TV, and sometimes I'd even wake up like this maybe half an hour after having gone to bed - so quite obviously I never even dreamt it could be anything like a panic attack, since I'd always imagiend you'd get panic attacks in specific situations, in public and so on. The last time I had it was at work though, during the time I was leaving my husband (= stressful situation).

Thankfully I haven't had any full-blown daytime/evening episodes since moving out but I'm curious now:

- Are panic attacks generally linked to a particular event/situation or is it normal fo rthem to occur in a mostly familiar environment when you're actually quite relaxed or even asleep? I know the brain deals with a lot of problems during the night when you're asleep so I can see how this kind of shutdown could happen then.

- Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening again? After the episode at work (thankfully I work mostly on my own!) I haven't had a daytime/evening attack for nearly 3 months now (just a few waking up at night), but with the divorce coming up I'm sure there's more stress lined up on the horizon! Since leaving my husband I have started taking Rescue remedy drops, it's probably what prevented me from having a nervious breakdown in the first few weeks! :eek:

I am glad I found out about this though, as panicking and thinking I was dying sure didn't help during an episode!!!

[This message has been edited by Sundance_Dawn (edited 07-14-2003).]

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