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Hello fellow Agoraphobiacs and Panickers!

M

Myrmidon

New member
Joined
Mar 12, 2019
Messages
4
Location
England
Hi,

I came across this forum while searching through the web for information on PDA (Panic disorder and Agoraphobia). I've been suffering from PDA for almost five years now and quite frankly it's starting to annoy me. It all began after suffering a series of panic attacks within the space of about ten days. I've suffer with panic attacks since my early teenage years but when I experienced a number within a short space of time my brain decided that everything outside of my comfort zone was danger. My life spiralled out of control pretty quickly and within two weeks after suffering the panic attacks I found myself too scared to leave my house. I suffered a great deal of anticipation anxiety and experienced panic whenever I had to face anything. It even got so bad that I wouldn't answer the telephone to friends because I feared having a panic attack while on the phone.

I wasn't completely housebound however, as I was able to walk around the block which my house is on. It takes a few minutes at most, but I now realise that this was a lifeline back to my old life. For the first two years of having PDA I was a bit of a wreck. I was even so naive as to think that it would gradually wear off after a certain amount of time, like my brain would forget about the anxiety and I would return to normal ... but I guess everyone who suffers PDA wishes they would wake up one day free of anxiety. Anyway, I've come bearing hope. I still suffer with PDA enough that it is disrupting my life, I can't work and experience anticipation anxiety and panic from time to time, but I have made immense progress over the last couple of years. Let me sum it up: IT IS POSSIBLE TO OVERCOME YOUR ANXIETY!

For those who may have recently developed PDA, let me tell you this: look after your health! When I first developed PDA I was unaware of the challenges ahead of me. Within the first year I realised that I had a tooth that I was supposed to have removed a couple of years prior but bottled it. This tooth came back to haunt me in a big way. For years I have a toothache on and off, and not only that but I also had to watch what I ate and drank. Toothaches can make you depressed and depression is the last thing one needs when dealing with anxiety. Anxiety can get you down for sure, especially when you start to kick yourself for fleeing from a situation you realised on hindsight you should have stayed in and confronted your anxiety. Trust me, that's happened a bunch of times in my experience, but it doesn't mean you're a failure. Just try again. Anyway, back to the tooth. What do you do if you have a toothache but you can't leave your house? You're in a bit of a pickle, right? This is why you need to look after your house if you have PDA. Same principle applies to the doctors. On New Years Eve of 2017 I decided to get drunk (which I advise you don't do because alcohol is counterproduction for anxiety), and the next day I felt horrific. I didn't flush my system out properly by drinking a lot of water and taking vitamins and ended up with a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) a few days later. I was forced to go to the doctors to get antibiotics. The good thing is that it was progress. I felt good in myself after going because I felt like I had achieved something and having a normal life again was possible. Ah! Good old endorphins.

The first thing that really made an impact towards overcoming PDA was educating myself on what exactly anxiety and panic was and how it manifests on a neurological level. When you understand PDA you quickly realise that it's a trick in your mind. You're basically getting scared for no reason. If there is genuinely something to fear or be concerned about then it's perfectly normal for your brain to identify the danger and activate your defence system. However, 90% of the time it's a fear of having a panic attack that is causing your anxiety. The vicious loophole. We fear having a panic attack, therefore any slight abnormal sensation triggers a panic attack, then that reinforces the idea that we can't do anything without suffering panic attacks. When you look at things that way then you realise that it's all within your control to change.

There are two therapies that are key for overcoming:
Exposure Therapy: This helps you expose yourself to the world in small steps. It is the single most affective therapy for overcoming PDA in my opinion. The part that sucks about beating PDA is that you have to face your fears. Only then will you realise that there is nothing to fear, and your amygdala (the part of your brain that releases adrenaline and cortisol) will gradually recondition itself.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: One of the major mistakes I made was not using CBT alongside Exposure Therapy. I made significant progress last year and was able to see the doctor a few times, get a number of fillings done at the dentist, have my tooth removed surgically (which I'm still surprised I got through!), and went places with friends I hadn't been to in years. However, not matter how much I did there was always the thought at the back of my mind: What if I have a panic attack right now? This is where CBT comes into play. You use CBT to change the way you think, especially on a subconscious level. You constantly challenge thoughts and reinforce the realities of the situation using the structured cognitive therapy. You see, when you break the negative thought process then you're able to rationalise the minor sensations that are associated with triggering panic attacks. The vicious loophole is now broken.

Last but not least, I would recommend re-evaluating your lifestyle. Caffeine and alcohol are no good for anxiety. People turn to alcohol because it's a strong anti-anxiety drug, but like taking anti-depressants it only masks the problem, it doesn't fix the problem at the root. Not to mention that alcohol is a natural depressant. I would strongly recommend not taking anti-depressants for anxiety, too. A lot of research, especially recently, has shown that they don't help much at all, and the side effects usually outweigh the benefits. I would recommend exercising daily. Aerobic exercise is the best because it gets your heart beating which burns off adrenaline and cortisol and reduces the bodies supply. Being fit also helps you to deal with anxiety symptoms a lot better. Feeling hot and flushed, hyperventilation, rapid heart beat, and feeling a bit dizzy and faint are all symptoms you feel from a good workout and just so happen to be a lot of the trigger sensations that cause panic. This means that you will get used to experiencing those symptoms daily and they will become less scary. And finally, don't procrastinate or spend your time playing online computer games or binge-watching stuff on Netflix. To overcome PDA you need to be determined and motivated. You have to confront your fears everyday for at least two hours, and multiple times a day if possible. Think of all the time you have to make yourself a better person. Learn a language or a skill, so when you finally overcome your anxiety you will be even more valuable.

I hope this brings hope to some of you and helps in any way.
 
M

Marie07

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 11, 2019
Messages
94
Location
USA
I think I have Agoraphobia From the trama I went thru at an apartment complex I was living in. I never wanted to be there. But I couldn't get everything handled to get out. Expenses, packing, truck and help. I would stay over at anyones house just not to have to be around the neighbors. My house was like a storage unit for a year and a half. I seriously went thru hell. Long story short. I'd always give my 30 day notice hoping to pull off being able to move. Sick of the drunk loud mouth always needing a ride, the upstairs lady. Or the neighbor to the left an old man with 16 Farrow flee ridden cats crapping on my porch yea. Really. Human society wouldn't even take them.
The other side of me 7 people in a two bedroom in and out all times of the day/night. The "leader" a 22 year old girl with 4 kids, her mother and a sister with whatever nightly males they had over each night. And their very large uncontrollable, agressive dog.. It was horrible.
Complaint after complaint went in one ear and out the other with management. I was terrified of flees and trash (ppl) I'm not perfect but wow i finally got shut up by an eviction notice hahaha

Ok so I'm HAPPY management wouldn't do anything but evict me. Birds of a feather flock together. I was in the wrong nest. I was scared to go home these people were loud and mean.
Yea ok so my Agoraphobia... I found a place in BFE with like NO neighbors anywhere close on a private road and the ppl down the road are locals and GREAT.
My dog has woods to roam no nasty cat flees or poop, no crack heads with their agressive dog to deal with.
I never wanna leave here. I just can't handle it. I drove 26 miles to Walmart for some supplies and I had panic attack after panic attack just being around people. I won't do that again. I have a friend who comes over to go with me..but it doesn't help I still have panic attacks.
Im not sure it's Agoraphobia isn't it more of not being able to leave your house.....?
I filed papers and ran errands for a book editor back in 2001 and she couldn't leave the house because of her Agoraphobia. I was good then...then...life took a turn.

So I am ok in my yard, or in the woods or in my house etc I just have the problem off property. And the anxiety attacks start when I even thinking about leaving.

Is that Agoraphobia? I refused to go home at the apartments because of the anxiety and panic attacks of what and who I'd have to encounter and now I won't leave my property.
Whatcha think? I know I'm diagnosed with PTSD (hasn't anything to do with the apartment complex...well maybe intensified it... but this is about Agoraphobia. Idk
 
K

kma_1609

Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2019
Messages
6
Location
UK
The problem I have is major health anxiety, mainly my heart, because I can’t stop thinking all these panic attacks are too much for my body to handle, even though rationally I know they are harmless.

But as a result, I struggle to exercise now, because as soon as I feel my heart rate increase it sets me off. And I’ve been an avid gym goer for most of my life.

I’ve quit alcohol and caffeine and whilst I had a great first few weeks of sobriety, the waves of anxiety and panic have come back and do to the really negative thoughts or visions whilst the waves of fear flood through

So I’m now considering Sertraline.

Anyone else relate to this loop of negative thinking?
 
F

Floris654321

Member
Joined
May 9, 2019
Messages
10
Location
The Netherlands
The problem I have is major health anxiety, mainly my heart, because I can’t stop thinking all these panic attacks are too much for my body to handle, even though rationally I know they are harmless.

But as a result, I struggle to exercise now, because as soon as I feel my heart rate increase it sets me off. And I’ve been an avid gym goer for most of my life.

I’ve quit alcohol and caffeine and whilst I had a great first few weeks of sobriety, the waves of anxiety and panic have come back and do to the really negative thoughts or visions whilst the waves of fear flood through

So I’m now considering Sertraline.

Anyone else relate to this loop of negative thinking?
Yes I always used to have that loop. I would get anxious suddenly and then I would ask myself what is going on? Why is this happening? Am I sick? Those questions would make me anxious even more and would increase the symptoms. What I started doing was accepting and understanding the fact that I was anxious. I would tell myself that it is annoying and not dangerous.

By understanding that I was anxious and that it is harmless and that I was anxious of becoming more anxious. I would stop fighting the fear. Instead of forcing to get rid of scary thoughts I would first accept the fact that they are there and let them be there. Then I would distract myself but I would not fight the thoughts when they came back into my mind.

I noticed that fighting only makes it worse. Also when I would be in an Airplane and when it takes off you get blown into your chair. This would make me anxious so first what I tried to do was trying to pull myself up and I would start to panic since I was not able to.

So when we were flying back I would let myself be pressed into my chair and I was way less scared. When I stopped fighting that's when I would lose my fear.
 
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