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I first started having panic attacks when I was 24. They were mild to begin with but then got increasingly worse over the next two or three years. It got to the point where I was really afraid for a number of reasons, fear of having a heart attack or dying, fear or losing control, going insane etc, all the things that most people worry about.

I managed to control my panic attacks after that period by getting angry with them and not being scared. 'Bring it on' I would say and eventually they disappeared.

More recently, I have had some pretty devastating panic attacks lasting up to three hours and being excruciatingly painful. The first resulted in an ambulance being called and they did nothing other than to tell me to calm down :hearts: . A call to my old psychotherapist was more helpful.

I learned that there are very effective methods of dealing with panic, a useful CBT method is to repeat words in your mind to avoid you hyperventilating. I always used 'row row, row your boat'. Another aid is to breath into a brown paper bag; this avoids expelling too much co2, it is the lack of co2 that causes many of the nauseating symptoms. Moreover, I have learned not to fear them because they cannot hurt you.

The last time I had a panic attack, I managed to control my breathing completely and just 'rode it out'. However and much more importantly, I could see a very childish battle taking place in my mind's eye between a fortress and a dragon. I had notice this same scenario during previous attacks but not given it too much thought.

This time however, I realised the subtlety of the subconscious. It is extremely likely that my panic attacks originated during childhood trauma. It is therefore also perfectly logical that I could defeat them using a childish method.

In this case, I defended the fortress, killed the dragon and 'closed' the area of defence that was exposed.

Astoundingly enough, I have not had another panic attack since - they have simply stopped completely.

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Weathered,

Wow. That is great to hear!!! So instead of getting afraid and letting it consume you, you stand up for yourself and say no, sorry Im not listening. I think that is a good idea and thanks for sharing that with us!!!

Gentle Sun

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I have done something similar, usually when I'm feeling anxious and have to calm myself down in order to sleep. I don't get panic attacks in the usual sense, but I imagine it would work for that too! What I do is visualize my anxiety in the form of a dark mass, and a woman (okay, it's Joan of Arc) in armor, fighting it off with a sword. I'm not religious, so my choice of Joan of Arc doesn't have anything to do with that, but it's more that I felt protected and someone was fighting on my behalf. Anyway, it's helpful in getting me to become less anxious and sleep for a bit.

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Thats great! It never even occured to me before to use visualisations to help. I was told to focus on breathing and i guess, the reality of the situation, but i think doing this would help distract me and combat it at the same time, plus i am more of a visual person... I'll definitely give this a try - it sounds like a really useful technique. Thanks very much for posting this.

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Thanks for sharing Weathered. Can relate to your story! I also use that childish ways to cope. Plus it's really great you can say "bring it on". Your own insight has obviously been the driving force in your recovery.

I also recommend "box breathing" techinique. You breath in hold for three seconds, then breath out, hold again for three seconds, repeat. It makes matters worse to start with, cause you think you're gonna suffocate, but it really really does work. Also exhale longer than you inhale. Again you think you're gonna suffocate, but you won't! Deep breaths actually make us more anxious. Exhaling more than you inhale opens the airways and calms you down.

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Thank you. This is very encouraging. Ive taken a step to fight back as well. Ive been to the ER numerous times, for giving into fear but now, Im convinced that my body is in tiptop shape. I keep telling myself 'mind over matter', and I will not lose to this 'imaginary' illness.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you so much for sharing this and it is definitely something I will consider trying..that is if I can remember to have this sort of attitude toward each panic attack. Again, thank you! This is very useful to me as I suffer from panic attacks at least once a day..

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