You are already on a cruise of multiple syndromes where few family members can identity your state of mind and what's causing it. Add to that the consistent withdraw mode during family affairs, and you're already labeled as a bit off and untouchable.
So to totally immerse in the anxiety/panic disorder ordeal may become a bit too intense to share with loved ones, too. Some of us prefer to keep that to ourselves and deal with it internally as much as possible so we don't look way-out-there.
But, why does this happen? Speculation in scientific studies discusses it is possible due to the chronic pain we suffer. It kind of sets our systems out of wack and makes us more vulnerable to sensory stimulation.
But, I didn't have this heightened anxiety during my first couple of years first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia when pain was more intense. I can tell you I remember my first incident like it was yesterday when panic disorder first surfaced. I had been on a family trip and we decided to check out Ruby Falls. We are avid nature lovers when we are away so this type of excursion was not out of the ordinary.
Cave tours was always part of the vacation venue. We've always tried to fit them in when the area allowed. To get to this cave, you had to take an elevator. Twenty six stories down. I've done this before, "I got this," I thought. It didn't seem to out of the ordinary.
We immediately got into line and perused all the local art on display as we moved along. Things were going along pretty smoothly until we were about two minutes to entry. Then a jolt of energy pierced my brain and began stimulating obscure thoughts. "How far down is this elevator?" "Why don't you have more information on this?" "How long are you going to be down there?" "You really haven't taken anytime to overview this before departure." "What are you doing?"
I pushed them aside.
The closer I came the more exclamatory the thoughts became. They were no longer a whisper, but an all out howl demanding for more intercession before proceeding.
I have never experienced this before. What was happening?
Still standing tall, I walked into the elevator. "This is crazy," I thought. "I am an adventurer, this too shall pass."
I looked at my son. He looked at me taking mental notes something is really off.
Then it started. My heart began to race. Well, not actually race, rattle would be a better term as it bounced within my chest walls. My throat began to close. I could not breathe. Oh, this was real and not passing.
"I have to leave," I told my son and darted off. They proceeded without me, and I spent two hours sniffling on the side barrier wondering what has become of my life until they returned.
People with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) often experience anxiety symptoms and panic attacks.
Panic disorder can be debilitating and have a major impact on your life. It can make you afraid of every-day situations like going to work; strain your relationships; and cause you to avoid things that might trigger symptoms. When you add this to FMS and ME/CFS, which are debilitating on their own, the problems can compound each other.
Sometimes, symptoms are mild and don't require treatment -- you just learn to deal with them. I call this avoidance therapy - which has constricted my life a bit. Other times, though, when more severe, they may be an overlapping condition such as panic disorder. If that's the case you with, you'll need proper diagnosis and treatment in order to stop being held captive by anxiety.
Even if your panic and anxiety symptoms doesn't meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis, certain treatments and coping strategies may be beneficial to you. Therefore, it is important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor and make some lifestyle changes.
Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Panic Attacks
According to the DSM-5, a panic attack is characterized by four or more of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feeling of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
- Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Fear of dying
- Numbness or tingling sensations
- Chills or hot flushes
The presence of fewer than four of the above symptoms may be considered a limited-symptom panic attack. In order for a diagnosis of panic disorder to be made, recurring, spontaneous panic attacks must be present.
Treating Panic Disorder
Most of the treatments for panic disorder are also utilized in FMS and ME/CFS, so they may do double duty for you. When deciding on treatments, be sure your doctor is aware of all your diagnoses so he/she can choose the best options for you.
You can do a lot on your own to manage the symptoms of panic disorder. The information and strategies below can guide you toward healthy ways to prevent panic attacks and how to get through them when they strike.
Panic Disorder and the People in Your Life
Coping with any illness is difficult, and it can be worse when it's mental illness. These articles on relationships and helping other people understand your condition may help you and the people in your life come to terms with your disorder.
Above all, talk to you physician and ensure this doesn't get out of control. Make sure your symptoms are documented. Most of all remember you are not alone.