Started when I was in the fifth grade - a new reader's story

by Lori
(South Carolina)

I remember having to give an oral book report when I was eleven. I took my place at the front of the room and then immediately felt that "out of body" experience. Thirty years later, I realized that was my first panic attack.

Ten years or so ago, I was told that panic attacks were a sign of depression. I found that I could control them more easily by paying attention to my quality of life.

Over the past year, I have discovered that noises (like the noise in a mall or restaurant) can set off a panic attack. I have no idea why!

It's frustrating and I can see that it could change the way a person interacts or spends his or her time.

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Oct 25, 2015
Hi Lori,
by: Jude @ anxietyunravelled

You bring up some interesting points.

Why are noises a trigger?

It's really helpful to understand that when your nervous system is sensitised because of an anxiety disorder, all stimulation can tend to become exaggerated.

So noises can seem louder, lights brighter, thriller movies become uncomfortably intense. The ears are particularly affected. As well as being more sensitive to noise in general, you may find you startle more easily at sudden noises too.

Ayurvedic medicine (the ancient healing wisdom from India) has understood this for thousands of years. It recommends placing a few drops of oil in the ears every day (especially cold pressed sesame oil that has been slightly warmed).

You will become less sensitive to noise as you begin to recover. For now, in addition to the oil, you may like to use earplugs in those situations, to block out some of the noise - or find quieter places to shop and eat!

As for public speaking - some studies suggest people fear this more than death! So the symptoms of anxiety or fear, such as the 'out of body' sensations you mention, are very common in that kind of situation.

Many people though, can experience those symptoms without actually having a panic attack. So they would still be able to give the talk. Although it would probably be a horrible experience, they'd get through it.

What creates the panic attack is the fear of and resistance to those symptoms - which escalate the symptoms from just weird and very unpleasant sensations in the body to feelings of being out of control, extreme terror and all the physiological symptoms that go with that. There wouldn't be much likelihood of being able to give a talk in that situation, the symptoms are just too overwhelming.

The reason I make that distinction is because for people trying to deal with panic disorder it's important to learn not to react with fear to the symptoms they experience - this just sends the symptoms to a whole other level of difficulty that is a massive challenge for the nervous system and really slows down the recovery process.

Click here to check out the 'five step process' which will really help you deal with the symptoms as they arise.

Al the best,

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