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Belle29

Anxious Paralysis

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I remember that I tend to freeze up when going into an anxiety attack and have had muscles constrict in my legs. All I can say is that this must be anxiety at it's highest. It reminds me of the fight or flight response is some ways. It must be part of the autonomic response in the body and my guess is that ours is messed up. Instead of getting the feeling to move, we get the feeling to 'take cover'. I know my response for things is usually what it's supposed to be, like if a car comes to close I'm going to jump out of the way. With anxiety, getting into a still position is more of a defensive move. I think you need to get up and walk it off, and this has been effective for me, unless I was driving. I know the position of hugging yourself seems more comforting, but it's not like you are being threatened by an outside force. It's more connected to the thought that you are under attack. I also know that starting deep breathing exercises when feeling the anxiety coming on has been very helpful.

You also need to become aware of the thoughts that preceed the attack. Anxiety is a product of our thoughts. It's based in fear and is usually something illogical. Training yourself to think in more realistic ways is difficult when you are anxiety-ridden, but it's something to think about. Anxiety can make one feel like they are loosing control over things in their life and vice versa. I know I was under lots of pressure from work and family when mine started, plus I had some medical things going on that I ignored. The combination was ghastly. I finally had to get everything treated and start to regain control over my finances to get some peace of mind. It's an uphill battle, but worth taking control over.

Jackie

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((((((((Belle)))))))))))

I'm really sorry you experience this Anxious Paralysis sometimes. I also suffer from bad anxiety, but with me, I kind of have the opposite problem in that I can't sit still. It's like my system gets overloaded with stress chemicals and nervous energy and I literally have to move around or it feels like I will spontaneously combust.

That's also why I tend to get panic attacks in situations where I can't move around when I'm anxious, for example, on an aeroplane or at the dentist's.

I do find that the moving around helps me a bit. Brisk walking outdoors can be helpful. Or trying to do some physical chore in the house like scrubbing the kitchen floor. Anything to use up some of that awful nervous energy....When my anxiety is that bad, any type of relaxation exercise is impossible because, as I say, I literally cannot sit still.

Moving about doesn't make the anxiety go away, but it does seem to dissipate it a bit. It also distracts me. Unfortunately I don't find Valium very helpful so I just have to try and ride out the anxiety spikes somehow.....My anti-depressant helps take the edge off my daily anxiety, but, as I say, in certain trigger situations it still skyrockets.

Sorry I can't offer anything more helpful. Just wanted to say I can really relate to his crippling anxiety you describe. I do find that movement helps so I hope that is something you might be able to try too.

Thinking of you and sending big hugs :hearts:

Love,

Joanna

Edited by Joanna

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((((((Jackie))))))) ((((((((Joanna))))))

Thanks so much to you both for your kind and thoughtful replies.

Jackie, I agree with you it has something to do with the fight or flight response, I can feel that overwhelming fear and all that adrenaline kicking in and instead of doing anything seem to respond by going into a sort of shut down mode, getting into a still and defensive position like you described. I have been working on some deep breathing exercises and when I can remember to do them they do seem to help and take the edge off. Being aware of the thoughts that precede these attacks is something new to me, very glad you talked about that. I usually have no idea what triggers this but if I put some thought into it can probably identify the triggers and thoughts etc, hopefully stop that cycle before it reaches the really bad stage.

Joanna, I can definitely relate to that sensation of feeling as if you are about spontaneously combust. I feel the same way, as if the anxiety is so bad I'm just going to burst from it. What you said about moving around is something I do try and do, lots of times if I can catch it before it gets too bad, get involved in a chore or something it will seem to help. Will keep making an effort to try that more often too.

:hearts: to you both and thanks again, much love, Belle

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Guest Evelyn

When severely depressed in 1995 I sat, staring at 4 walls. I couldn't function at all. My brain was focussed purely on the fact that I should eat: but I couldn't :-((((.

If anxiety strikes I shake: all over: enough to move the bed several inches. It can last for hours.

Yoga can be useful, as can tai'chi. Relaxation therapy helps sometimes. Begin by breathing in through the nose and hold the breath for the count of 5 before releasing as slowly as possible: repeat 3 times and rest. Starting with the toes, stretch them hard but not hard enough to induce cramp; relax: work upwards through the muscle groups ...... tense, relax until you get to your lips when you blow kisses ;-). This group of exercises is partly to help take the brain off what is causing the anxiety so that the sufferer is concentrating on the different muscle groups.

Ask yourself: "what is the worst thing that *can* happen?"

Exercise is known for releasing endorphins: combined with the chance that the sufferer might meet and exchange views with others can cause an adrenaline burst of the 'correct' type which sort of kicks the brain into feeling relaxed again. Anxiety is often caused because we interpret the fight/flight response incorrectly ......... I *know* that but when I'm in panic mode the physical overcomes the logical <rolls eyes>

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Hi Evelyn,

Thanks for your reply. You know, yoga is something I'm just starting to get into, have always wanted to learn more about it and am hoping it will be good for the body as well as the anxiety and will be something I can make a habit of practicing in the near future. I really enjoy exercise too, find it to be a great tension relief for myself personally, but like you say....when we're in the panic mode the physical sometimes overcomes the logical. So sorry to hear you suffer with this too but am very thankful for your response and suggestions, best wishes to you, Belle

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That doesn't sound like fun. I usually get the opposite.. I feel like I need to move, need to get help, but then realise there's nowhere to go...and no help to be found =/ (I only ever really get panic attacks at night time)

I find moving around and talking to someone or even just doing something distracting can calm me down... distractions.. I'm not sure if that's helpful, if you can't move easily, but I find that staying still just allows the negative, frightened thoughts to take over.. as I'm sure you've experienced. *hug* Sorry I can't be more helpful :(

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Hi Pitterpatter,

I love your username by the way! All of these responses are helpful to me, so thank you very much for taking the time to reply. I know what you mean about staying still....how it just allows the negative and frightening thoughts to keep spiraling and snowballing. Next time this happens to me I'm def. going to make it a point to force myself to get up and move around....find some sort of distraction, tell myself even if I can only move around a minute or two that is better than sitting there and might help break the cycle. Welcome here to df by the way, wishing you all the best, take care, Belle

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Hi there,

I've suffered from anxiety for many yrs and often it will get very bad, snowball to the point where all I can do is just sit there, with my mind and thoughts racing, with my arms wrapped around my knees in the floor unable to actually Do anything, so tense and on edge that I can't seem to move. It's not a true paralysis, I could move but if I do it just makes things worse, I feel so scattered and frazzled by the anxiety when it is at that point that I can't focus or concentrate at all in order to do anything.

I was talking to one of my friends who also experiences this from time to time and his therapist terms it Anxious Paralysis. Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this? If so have you found anything that helps make it better or anything that can break the cycle before the anxiety gets to that point? Right now I'm on celexa and klonipin, when this happens I will take a klonipin but would like to try some other ways of helping this besides relying on the med every time, I doubt my dr is going to leave me on klonipin much longer anyway. I've been listening to alot of audio relaxation which sometimes helps but other than that haven't found much that is very beneficial. This is very disabling and uncomfortable when it happens, would love to hear anyone's suggestions/advice on how to help with it. Thanks so much, best wishes, Belle

Hey Alabama Bella how are you tonight, fine I hope, I'm doing OK. This happens to me from time to time, but it happens quite often in my dreams, but this are dreams that seem very real. My doc tells me that this is the way my brain deals with my anxieties, that if things didn't work this way for me I could actually have an anersym. Usually I end up falling off my bed when dreaming like this and I often talk so loud I wake up my wife and sometimes even my kids. I too take meds for this, but I try to stay away from them, only time I take it is when I just can't sleep, than I have not choice. Have a pleasant night Belle, talk to you next time. Frank

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Hi Frank, glad to hear you're doing ok and thanks for replying to my post. I've never had this while sleeping, but do have recurring nightmares. Maybe tho, whether it happens during sleep or not, it's like your dr says, the brain's way of trying to deal with anxiety. I just can't stand it tho, am ready to start trying some of these new ways to deal with it and hopefully the occurrences will decrease or better yet go away altogether! Take care, Belle

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... all I can do is just sit there, with my mind and thoughts racing, with my arms wrapped around my knees in the floor unable to actually Do anything, so tense and on edge that I can't seem to move. ... I can't focus or concentrate at all in order to do anything.

... his therapist terms it Anxious Paralysis. Has anyone else ever experienced anything like this? If so have you found anything that helps make it better or anything that can break the cycle before the anxiety gets to that point?

hi Belle,

i've experienced situations like this too.

the 'fight or flight' theory i think is what explains it... (if you can do neither, there's the 3rd 'way out' which is to 'freeze', to get like paralyzed.)

there is an exercise that helps me in such a situation - or better when i'm not yet in 'complete paralysis'. no idea if this could be useful for you too.

i think it has to do with mindfulness, and being aware of the feelings.

to sit on a chair, rather straight, and focus on my body parts that rest on the chair, and my feet on the ground. gah, this sounds stupid. let me try again. i sit on that chair, and try to focus, slowly, part by part, on the different parts of me touching somewhere, something. my feet on the ground, and how stable the ground is, my back side on that chair, the upper parts of the legs, and my back against the back of the chair. and the arm rests. and what parts of my body are sustained by that chair, by the floor, ... i try to shut out everything from 'outside' for that time, sounds/noises around me, even thoughts, just concentrating on sitting there, touching the chair and the floor and feeling that. when i'm kind of 'more grounded', in the here and now, just in this moment, how i sit there, and feel the contact surfaces with the stable ground and chair. then i can open my mind again to what goes on around me, sounds, to listen to them, or my thoughts. or i start to do breathing exercises, which also help me with my anxiety. it is easier to do the breathing when sitting on a chair, instead of hugging my knees curled up on the floor. and the 'pre-exercise' of feeling my body on that chair helps me to better be able to feel the breathing in my body. but often i just do this 'chair exercise', not in preparation for breathing, but just to get me out of this curled-up ball of anxiety.

also i do allow myself to be not relaxed. i allow myself to cling to the arm rests or whatever, when anxiety is high, it is just about focusing on what do i feel concerning my body and this chair i'm sitting on, not about judging how do i sit there or trying to force myself to relax (this has not worked for me, and i think 'force' and 'relax' is just too opposite for me...)

i don't remember well where i have this exercise from, i think it might have been a book about coping with ptsd stress and symptoms (thus also anxiety and 'being like frozen').

tai chi and qi gong have been useful for me too (but not when i was in the middle of such a 'paralysis'), deep breathing / breathing exercises, and ... singing (yes) (seems that the body regulates deep breathing just by itself when singing?)

good that you're on your way to find ways what you can do to work on these anxiety reactions. benzo's can help for the moment but for the long run it's better to find other ways.

best wishes

mynah

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Hi mynah,

:hearts: Thanks for your reply. I think you, and the others who've responded are definitely on the right track with the fight or flight thing going into effect.

I read over carefully that exercise you described and will try it for sure. I have something a little similar on an audio relaxation I use, but I like what you've talked about here, sounds like it actually might be more helpful to try it this way. Thank you so much for sharing this with me.

I haven't tried tai chi and haven't ever heard of qi gong (will have to research that one!) but have been getting into yoga lately to try and help with this. I've found the deep breathing exercises to be helpful tho, it does take lots of concentration to do that when I'm so keyed up but it's worth the effort.

Singing.....that would be fun to try maybe, tho I'd have to do that when no one else is around as I have a terrible singing voice haha! Yeah, the benzo's do help but I'm really happy to hear of all the info everyone here has shared, I agree with you in the long run about finding other ways.

Thanks again and take care, Belle

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hi Belle,

i'm not sure about the spelling of qi gong i might have this wrong. i hope you'll find info.

glad you think this exercise might be useful to try :bump:

maybe you can also create your own variations of it when some parts don't suit you well, don't feel comfortable. you can even do something similar lying on the floor. i think my 'version' of the exercise isn't even exactly the original one, it said in the book to take what helps you from the exercises and leave what's not useful for you, and to try variations and find out what helps you best.

oh, and i only sing when there's no one around me and my neighbours not at home! (really wouldn't want anyone to hear me croaking.. :hearts: ;) )

take care

mynah

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