Patient Comments: Panic Attacks - Effective Treatments

Question:

What kinds of treatments have been effective for your panic attacks? Submit Your Comment

Comment from: Connie S., 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 31

I take Klonopin or if I start running so my heart rate increases. It takes the adrenaline back into my legs to my adrenal glands, just where it should be, and not in my chest, thus panic attack gone!

Comment from: simone, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 14

I have suffered with panic attack for years. It used to happen very often, then my doctor prescribed Zoloft for a short while and Ativan on long term. My attacks use to be severe. It happened suddenly and I am speechless and helpless during that time; I feel as if I am dying. It left my body drained. I am always scared that I'll get a heart attack and die but after speaking with an experienced relative, she helped me to see that, that will not happen. She said I have to have positive thoughts and forget about sickness and meditate. I am still on a low dose of Ativan but meditation helps me control my breathing and makes me feel better. Every time I feel funny at heart I meditate and sometimes it helps me avoid an attack.

Comment from: felladog4, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: April 01

I started with antidepressants to fight the panic disorder. A lady friend told me one day I was mush mouthed. Doctor told me I was on the top he could give me and I said wanted to see a psychiatrist. Got with a good doctor and an excellent social worker who treated me for several years. Finally worked my way through till just now and then attacks, the most recent the other day. I went straight to the shrink's office and got some good advice from the psychiatric nurse as all the doctors were off on Friday. Still a little antsy but better, may soon join a day group for further work if doctor thinks it's necessary. I'm on medication, Lexapro and Klonopin, generic of both.

Comment from: Leslie, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

I have had panic disorder for 16 years. I have found that I cause my panic attacks by the way I am thinking (negatively). It took a long time to come to this conclusion. I was prescribed Xanax initially, along with therapy. The therapy has been the most helpful (talking, journaling, etc.). When I feel overwhelmed, the anti-anxiety meds help. I watch what I think and what I say. I have taken words like "worst," "horrible," etc., out of my vocabulary so that I can talk myself down. For example, "This may not feel very good, but it will go away." My panic attacks now last a few seconds at most. I grew up in an abusive home and discovered that the little girl in me needs to be loved and accepted. I try to make time for me every day: taking a bath, journaling, walking, working out, etc. These things help immensely with my self-esteem. I am still working on my agoraphobia now. I keep pushing the edge because I want to be totally free. The last thing I have to conquer is flying and driving alone. It's hard, but it feels so liberating when I succeed!

Comment from: bw, 25-34 Male (Patient) Published: February 25

I am 31 years old and suffer from depression and anxiety. I have been unable to get help for my anxiety. I may pass clear out and someone find me on the floor. I get shortness of breath, tunnel vision and my heart races. I to feel like I am going to die. I found a psychiatrist recently who started me on Klonopin but it doesn't help. No one understands unless it happens to them. Doctor states laws have gotten so tough that they are almost unable to give Xanax which one psychologist said I needed and the doctor said, 'tell her I am the doctor.' I hope I will get some help soon.

Comment from: rainbowlove, 19-24 Female (Caregiver) Published: January 06

I am 22 year old female. I experienced my first panic attack when I was a senior in high school. I started to work out and lost weight but being at home always makes me feel pressure and stress. At times I don't know what to do. I've taken many medications but citalopram has been more effective.

Comment from: hope, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: October 24

I'm 28 and I've been dealing with depression and anxiety for the last two years. I didn't want to start taking medications but I decided to because the panic attacks were occurring more often and they were interfering with my daily life. I know the cause of my anxiety attacks; they usually have to do with stress and feeling overwhelmed. Overall the things that have helped me are exercise, meditation, yoga, therapy, and the medications, but not one by itself has been sufficient.

Comment from: Sophie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

My first panic attack was when I was 15. I passed out in a restaurant. Thereafter, I would pass out about once every five years or so. I had no idea what was wrong with me and thought perhaps I had either an undiagnosed heart condition or high blood pressure, though doctors would tell me I was physically just fine. It's been pretty bad over the years but I was able to cope until last October when my husband walked out, leaving me with a two-year-old son, two mortgage payments on the side of a very isolated mountain. I went through months of hell. I couldn't eat or sleep and the medicines (buspar and Prozac) were slow to take effect. Once they did, I was okay but until then I just wanted to cling onto the bed to keep myself from flying off the earth. I feel terrible for anyone suffering from this disorder. It is a nightmare to feel so out of control and terrified. I stay on my medication but I'm very reclusive.

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Comment from: lindaann1960, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

I am a 48-year-old female. I remember my first panic attack at age 14 when my 15-month-old brother died. I was in school at the time. I never wanted to go back. My mom gave me a tiny bit of her Valium, and I kept it in my back pocket, just in case. My mom really didn't know what was going on with me, even though she suffered from the same thing. I guess I didn't explain it well. I started having them again at age 25. I didn't want to leave the house. I had to have a couple of beers to get the courage. My family doctor finally sent me to a psychiatrist. He diagnosed me with depression and panic disorder. He tried several anxiety medications (Xanax made me spacey) and several antidepressants. Finally, I found clonazepam and imipramine. The two doses together have helped me tremendously. I still get depressed, but it's not as bad as it was. I still get sudden feelings of panic, but I take a clonazepam, and that helps. It is hereditary in my family with my grandmother, mom and brothers. I hope this helps. Plus, I have read many books about panic. People just don't understand it until it happens to them.

Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I am 38 year old RN student and I developed a panic disorder when my mom, then sister died at age 25. The world feels unsafe and I terrorize myself with "what if's" that never happen. I too have panic attacks that come on suddenly with no correlation to what's going on in my life at the time. The first symptom I get is light-headedness, then I get very hot, racing heart, tingling finger and toes, shortness of breath. I then have a dire need to escape so as not to embarrass myself in public. I have even passed out for about 2 minutes at a nightclub before. That was embarrassing. They thought I was drunk, but I had just gotten there and had only had 1 bottle of water! What calms me down is a cool shower with the lights off and a couple candles. The extra oxygen from the water seems to help a lot. When that doesn't work, I take Klonopin 1mg tablets. They work great. I also take Zoloft daily and Ambien as needed. I go to therapy every two weeks too. So far, so good.

Comment from: keeling, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I love that I just found this site. You are all going through the same exact thing as I am and I thought I was so alone. I have had depression now for 20 years. It hit me after my first child and I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward at methodist hospital in Indianapolis for 4 months I have seen my son once. I did ok then had my daughter 2 years later and did ok and then my son 4 years later and the past 5 years have been panic/anxiety, but the last 2 years have been a living hell since November. I have now had 9 count them 9 EKGS I am so embarrassed, broke, ashamed, I've lost my husband and my kids want nothing to do with me right now. I am seeking therapy and have for over 7yrs. and I have switched doctors during this time also. I can't keep a job I am on medication Zoloft and Xanax and nothing seems to be working, I am a good person and have so much to offer and I have a heart of gold, but no one wants to hear the OMG I'm dying. It was bad my family doctor sent me to a cardiologist and he did an EKG laughed and said call me in 50 years when you need a heart doctor no wait I'll be dead call one of my associates. I had a sleep study the other night so I am waiting to hear from it, I don't drink or smoke, I am very over weight, but have lost 34 pounds since July 9th so I'm working on that. I feel as if there is no end to my misery.

Comment from: Dave, 65-74 Male Published: October 09

I am a 68-year-old man. I began having panic attacks about 15 years ago. At first, they occurred only one night every couple of months. At that time, I had problems getting a diagnosis. The attacks have become more common but usually not as strong. They now vary from about twice a month to several times a week. Intensity varies from just icy-cold hands to pounding and rapid pulse, chest pains, and finally violent tremors of my arms and chest muscles. I have taken several medications with little improvement until I tried Xanax or the generic equivalent. I can take half a 25 mg tablet and get relief in 15 to 30 minutes. The attacks can come with no apparent cause or be triggered by even mildly stressful situations.

Comment from: Sherri, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: September 11

I had my first panic attack when I was pregnant with my second child. I was 29 years old. I did not have them for several years after that. They occur frequently now and I am 44. Mine are only at night and wake me up from my sleep. I have noticed they occur a week to two weeks before my menstrual cycle and occur several nights a week. I dread them! I have tried medications, but they don't seem to help. The best thing I do is get up and go to the bathroom. My OBGYN told me to bear down as if I am pooping. When you do this, it relaxes the muscles in your body. It sounds weird but it does help. I also try self-talk and try to breathe deeply. I read that it is rare to have them at night, and I am not sure why it happens only at night. However, I am grateful it doesn't happen in public. I really have not found a doctor who can help me or who even understands the symptoms. I get chills and shake as if I am going through hypothermia. I panic and think I am going to die, and then start thinking it would be easier to die.

Comment from: Mariellyn25, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 13

I've had panic disorder for eight months now. Panic attacks are the scariest thing I've ever been through. Every day is a struggle, but I've been dealing with it so far pretty much on my own. My treatment so far is Xanax, only when I need it, such as when the attack is very bad. I do not always want to depend on pills to get me by, so I only take one when I cannot stand it, or when it's at its worst. I find also that the more I know and learn, the more I'm starting to except that I'm not dying, my heart is fine, etc. So find out as much as you can about panic disorder. The more you deal with your disorder, the less likely you are to call 911 over and over. I also find lying down and breathing deeply and slowly helps a great deal. Buy or get some books on hypnosis, they helped me. It calms you and that always helps. As silly as this sounds, if you are lying down and feel one coming on say, "Come and get me," or "I'm fine," and get up and do something, the dishes, or call a friend. This can sometimes help. Lying around all the time is not a good idea. I have a hard time driving and going somewhere public, such as stores and restaurants. But I make myself (when I'm feeling decent) drive a short distance every day or go to the store. The more you stay in and lie around feeling sorry for yourself, the more you'll have attacks and feel sorry for yourself. Fight them, and make due. So, relaxation, meditation, hypnosis, Xanax, shoulders to lean on and friends to talk to, physical activities, and acceptance are my treatments, for now at least. Give them a try.

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Published: June 24

I have tried quite a few meds that didn't work, SSRIs, tricyclics, etc., I also tried cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnosis—those didn't work either. The only thing that works about 60% of the time is Xanax. I've had paradoxical reactions to all other meds. For me, it's a cyclical condition that comes and goes with no correlation to what is going on in my life. I have a family history on both sides of my parents with this.

Published: June 18

My first panic attack came when I was 20 years old and in college. I went to the infirmary in the middle of the night, convinced that I was having a heart attack. I am now 54 years old and have been taking Lexapro for three years. I also keep Ativan with me at all times, although I haven't taken it in two years. Just knowing that I have it helps me stay calm. Fortunately, I have a wonderful doctor who doesn't give me a hard time about prescribing medication. My worst times are when I am away from home, on vacation or traveling for professional reasons. The most effective I thing I do that is not medication-related is having something other than my panic to focus my mind on. I always take along a set of crossword puzzles when I travel, or I do some paperwork that requires organization and structure to complete. People will tell you that you shouldn't panic because you know that you won't die, that what is happening is familiar, that you can calm down with deep breathing or walking around. These are usually people who are well-meaning but who have never had a panic attack and don't know that rational thought is often impossible in the midst of one. So I have learned to keep something with me as a distraction. So far, this has worked, but I still wouldn't want to go off my meds.

Comment from: cherokee, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 20

I have depression and panic attacks. I have been on medications for a very long time. I've been on almost every anxiety medication. I'm on ativan now, 2mg.

Comment from: Shari, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: July 26

I first had panic attacks at age 21. Over the next 10 years, I had at multiple bouts of panic disorder, lasting about 6-8 months each. If I wasn't having a panic attack, I was anticipating the next one, 24 hours per day. I tried a psychiatrist, a family doctor, and finally, a new doctor referred me to a licensed clinical social worker who had experienced it herself. She worked with me, using the CHAANGE program. It it cognitive/behavioral therapy. While working the program, I did take anti-depressants, and occasionally, a fraction of a Xanax tablet. For me, the most important aspect was learning that a panic attack was just an adrenaline rush, brought on by being constantly tense. I learned to relax my body, tightening my muscles, then relaxing them until I had worked every one of them. I also learned to use visualization to relax and to let go of my panicky thoughts. After several months, I was able to ditch the anti=depressants. I have not had a panic attack in 18 years.

Comment from: Tim1972, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: May 15

I have suffered from panic attacks and anxiety for the past several years. My symptoms include difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat. I refuse to go the medication approach, and instead took the herbal, natural road. To cut to the chase, I have been using an herbal product called Relax-V and it works well for me. The tablet dissolves under the tongue and I start to feel a difference in just a few minutes. If you are into natural remedies, then you should try this one.

Comment from: jams 08, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 15

Looking back, I guess I had my first panic attack around 18. My grandparents took me to the hospital, and I was told I just hyperventilated. Now at 36, I suffer full-blown panic attacks. It got really bad last year while going through some marital problems. I get them now when I feel stressed, like at work or for no reason at all. I also get them sometimes in crowds. I feel like I'm suffocating. My heart beats hard, I get hot flashes, my hands shake and sometimes go numb, and I start to cry. It most often happens in public too. I started carrying around 5 mg of Xanax. It helps take the edge off, and then I can usually calm down. Breathing exercises never helped me. It always made me panic more. Sometimes I wonder how I will be able to continue working because I often think I am absolutely going crazy and should be in the hospital. Thank goodness for Xanax.

Comment from: 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

I had panic attacks from the time I was 12 years old. At the age of 40, I discovered a thyroid tumor in my neck. I had the tumor removed and have never had another panic attack since. This makes me so happy because my attacks were extremely uncomfortable and fearsome. They kept me from living my life the way I wanted to. I resisted taking any drug therapies, even at a young age.

Comment from: Krystal, 13-18 Female (Patient) Published: September 25

I'm 17 and I have regular panic attacks almost everyday. It's gotten to the point were I'm almost scared to even go to sleep at night because I fear that I will die in my sleep. When I had my first attack I was 14 and it was horrific for me. I was home alone, parents were at work, and it was so sudden, I got the chills, palpitations, tingling hands, and light headedness. I thought I was having a heart attack which made me panic more. I had this overwhelming thought that I was going to die right there at any minute. Now one of my friends has died from cardiac arrest and I was told that it what's causing my most recent panic attacks, thinking about my friend dying at 16. I knew she had heart problems but it still hit me hard. Now I fear everyday that my heart will stop at anytime and I'll die. This just sets me up for an attack later on. I cut caffeine out of my diet completely and it helped a lot, but now it doesn't seem to matter, I get them constantly again.

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Comment from: 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 25

I first realized I suffered from panic disorder when I was a freshman in high school. I felt out of control, like I was going crazy, or that I was going to die. I saw multiple doctors and they all told me the same thing: "You're perfectly healthy." I finally saw my school counselor whose husband suffers from panic disorder as well. She gave me a book to read and being able to put a name to my condition helped me right away. I had been doing fine until I was 25 and planning my wedding. My panic attacks started again and I'm now taking Zoloft 25mg. The Zoloft has helped tremendously and I even forget to take it sometimes. After not having a panic attack for two years, (I guess I was overdue), my husband went away for a week on a business trip and I had a panic attack again. I upped my dose to 50mg and am feeling fine. I'll probably go back down to 25mg after he comes back. What helps me deal, is knowing about the condition. Learn as much as you can about panic disorder and understand that there are others out there. You are not alone.

Comment from: foxgurrrlie21, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: September 25

I am 24 years old and I'm a single mom to 2 special needs children. I have very high anxiety but it's been most recent that I've been having panic attacks. They are so scary for me. They come without warning and it feels like I'm going to die, as soon as i start having one, I go lay down put my feet up and breathe in through my nose and exhale through my mouth. My 7 year old son is so scared that I'm going to die, I tell him no it's just a reminder mommy is doing too much. He doesn't understand though. I used to have them far and few between every couple of months, but most recently I have them maybe 3-4 times a week. Sometimes I have more then one in the same day. All I can say is that its super scary.

Comment from: lindsey0131, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: September 11

Only psychotherapy and Xanax have helped with my panic attacks. I have been on nearly all SSRIs and TCAs over the past eight years to no avail.

Published: August 29

I suffered my first panic attack after my sister died. After talking to friends and family about what was happening, they said they thought I was having panic attacks. I then read books and got a lot of information about the condition. Once I had this information, I felt empowered to fight it. I eventually learned to take control of the panic attack and not let it take control of me. I would try to breathe it out. I would focus on something other than the attack. Although this sounds easy, it was very difficult, but I was determined not to live my life this way. I have never had medication for it. After 10 years, I am finding that my attacks are under control, but if I am in a situation where I am not in control, like going on a plane, I am scared that I will have a panic attack. So I have been to a doctor who has given me Ativan to take when I am in this situation of feeling out of control. So I have yet to try it out, and I hope it works, or that I may not even need it, because I will not let this rule my life.

Comment from: Softie, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 29

I have suffered from panic attacks since I was 6. I am 35 now. I do not take any medications for them as I have tried so many, and well, they just make me worse. I am writing a book on how to deal with them without medications. I could not talk to people and everything scared me. Now, I work full-time as an accounts payable clerk. I have traveled all over Australia and have a son. Panic attacks have ruined relationships, and I get into bouts of depression. However, through my own self monitoring, I can deal with them. I live a fairly normal life and do not let my panic attacks get in the way of what I want to do. Don't let them control you, you can control them.

Comment from: katieson, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: August 21

This is my second time around with panic attacks, and I am so angry that it's reared its ugly head again. This time, I refused to allow it to cripple me, so I am on Effexor. I've been on it for six weeks now and it's going OK. I was literally terrified of taking medication, but I can't go back to the old, crippled version of me. Now, I take the pills religiously. It's hard to accept that I have little control over this. I will manage it this time, I did before, and I am taking solace in the fact that it went away before. I did try some cognitive behavioral therapy 12 years ago, but the counselor was useless and had no understanding of the disorder. I hope the one I am planning to use this time is more experienced.

Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: August 06

I have that Ativan works well for my panic attacks. I was diagnosed with panic disorder, anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and bipolar 1 disorder. I know what it is like to experience these frightening feelings, and my heart goes out to those that also experience that.

Published: July 15

I am 45 years old and began having panic attacks two years ago after the unexpected death of friend from a major heart attack. In the beginning, I took Ativan/Lorazepam. I also started a strict diet and exercise program. I completely cut out all caffeine. I also stopped drinking sodas and switched my diet to one that was rich in fish, chicken, vegetables and whole grains. Over a one-year period, I lost 35 pounds and did not need to take my medication at all. Last year, I fell off the bandwagon and began consuming red meats, fried foods, etc. I also slacked off on the exercise and gained 15 pounds. Now the anxiety has started again. I've just begun my new/old routine again and hope it works the second time around and pray for the discipline to stick with it.

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Published: June 26

I had the attacks at night. I would awake and be short of breath and just sure I was going to die right there. My doc diagnosed me with sleep apnea. I wear a c-pap machine now and have no more attacks. I also had hallucinations about spiders in the bed. I would wake up and sleep on the sofa because Ii believed there were spiders all in my bed and hanging webs above me. I can laugh about that now, but at the time it was extremely frightening. Life is so much better now.

Published: June 17

I take Effexor XR 75mg daily and Ativan as needed, although Ativan takes about 20 minutes to start working which can seem like an eternity. I try to focus on breathing and relaxing during an attack. It's sometimes easier said than done, but does help if you stay focused.

Published: June 17

I am a 35 year old woman that finally unlocked the mystery to my pain and sorrow. I denied for 15 years that something was wrong with me. I always wanted to be alone in a dark place. I even had my windows tented so people would not see my fear. People were never to approach and I rather like small condensed areas as a comfort zone. I first experienced a panic attack on a plan in 1997 on the way to Boston causing a slight in air disturbance. I lived leaved behind dark glasses, blinds and tent for the better portion of my life. After the attack in 1997 about 5 years ago I began to have trouble driving. I was confident of driving a stretch of road but then lost control. Signs have been present for more then a decade. Afraid to go into crowed places like a supermarket or drive because of this immense terror that would come over my as if I was loosing control like my body wasn't there. The feeling of crashing or loss of control was stronger then anything I had felt. First it was every few years then every few months but then there came a day my AGORAPHOBIA never went away. I was always embarrassed or ashamed. For me to walk into a store a routine and plan were very well thought out for a quick escape root but I had no idea who or what I was running from. There were no signals coming from my brain to direct me to turn when crossing a bridge. I have always had deep depression, and anxiety. I was foiling myself thinking they would go away. Then my heart started racing as I tried to drive around a steep bend tat I had driven for years and verbally direct myself to turn the steering wheel until one day I let go of the wheel nearly killing myself as I plummeted towards the concrete wall until all of a sudden I slammed on breaks. I would say to myself what us wrong you have driven these roads for 6 years nothing has changed but now I avoid the road. The attacks would come and go and then one day I couldn't live with it anymore. I started avoiding the areas where the attacks happened. I started taking roads and avoiding crows retreating to my home only venturing out in the near by community. I stayed away from friend's family lost jobs and relationships before of my phobia and fears were dealt with. It was the unrealistic things I was afraid of like dying was one. I started taking medication recently and plan to attend psycho therapy. I am more then ashamed then anything to find out I had a disorder triggered by stress unrelated to the situation I am in at the time I have the attacks. I still feel medication is not for me because you can become addicted but I knew if I didn't accept the truth I could kill myself or someone else. It seems like you have to learn all over again how to drive and balance yourself after you have already been down this road. It's not the easiest thing but with prayer and medical intervention maybe I can begin to heal my mind.

Published: June 03

I am 28 years old and have been experiencing panic attacks for the last 11 years. During this time I have undergone years of therapy as well as numerous attempts at several medications; sometimes 3 or 4 medications at the same time. One of the most effective things that I can do to calm a panic attack is to focus on keeping my breathing slow and even. I tend to escape to a dark secluded space where I can lay down and focus on relaxing every muscle in my body. Every time I exhale I attempt to release the tension in my head, then my neck, then my chest and then my arms, etc. It's important for me to be as patient as possible. Sometimes I have to return to my neck and my chest over and over until I finally feel myself start to relax. There are the occasions when I can not calm down enough for this exercise to be effective. In times like that I desperately need to take Xanax. Xanax, as well as Valium, are the only medications I have found that will get rid of the racing thoughts and feeling that I or someone I love is going to die. It's a shame that so many people abuse these drugs because it just makes it that much more difficult for me to get a prescription for them. Sometimes not having them when I am in dire need is like life and death for me.

Published: May 29

For my panic attacks I started taking a B complex vitamin with folic acid and vitamin c and a lot of exercise.

Comment from: Dawn, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I try to go with what I am feeling at the time. Sometimes it's so bad that I know I need to lie down. Other times I feel like fighting it, and I take a friend along and do what I needed to do and FIGHT through it. It does take all you have, but once I got what I needed done I felt so much better and proud of myself. I know when I stay at home it gets worse, but if I try to get out and do even little things it helps me feel better mentally. I have tried hypnosis and it helps some. Relaxation and just yelling and getting it all out helps too.

Comment from: tago, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I started having severe panic attacks 40 years ago. They truly incapacitated me. To make a long story short I bought and read the book "Hope and Help for Your Nerves" by Claire Weeks. (You can buy it on Amazon). I have not had a panic attack in 40 years, have traveled the world in complete comfort. Recently I had a friend who was under a lot of stress and started having panic attacks. I told her about this book I read and followed years ago and it worked for her too. I wasn't sure it was still in print but it is and it really works if you follow it and give your nervous system a chance to heal itself.

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Comment from: rainnwatergoodness, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: October 07

Panic attacks can start after you see or experience violence or a death. I saw a guy get shot, and it started out with depression, then anxiety and fear that I would get shot too. I had to take my husband with me every place I went, and I was scared to be alone. This is how I feel it started. I go to see a counselor now, and I take meds, and I'm getting better.

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