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What do you do to get yourself to calm down when having an anxiety attack?

(25 Posts)
BaronessTipsy Mon 25-Mar-13 07:59:57

I've been having anxiety/ panic attacks lately. It worsens when I'm on a crowded train (I commute to work) and I find myself almost in the verge of tears. I try to overcome it by listening to music but sometimes the panic just refuses to go away. I find myself getting off the train at random stations to catch my breath and find it even harder to get back on the next one. I've never had this kind of an issue before and even now struggling to work out what triggered this on.. Any help / advice would be greatly appreciated.

BaronessTipsy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:00:29

I would like to control this without the aid of medication if possible...

Waferthinmint Mon 25-Mar-13 08:04:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sunshinewithshowers Mon 25-Mar-13 08:11:15

Rescue remedy liquid drops or pastilles.

deep breaths & tell yourself, this WILL pass in a few more seconds.

A book/magazine to look at? Anything to distract at the time.

Really feel for you, ring g.p as soon as you can for an appointment x

Dolallytats Mon 25-Mar-13 08:17:15

Deep breathing definitely helps. Tell yourself that it is just anxiety and it can not actually hurt you.

Another one who recommends you get an appt with your GP and try and get referred for CBT.

TheMagicToyshop Mon 25-Mar-13 08:19:13

Breath in slowly to a count of three then pause and breathe out to a count of four (meant to stop you hyperventilating and give you something to focus on). In the long term try to get a CBT referral as these things can become ingrained, good luck.

FreelanceMama Mon 25-Mar-13 08:23:25

Agree about the breathing - I breathe in thinking the number one and breathe out thinking the number two, if i need to calm my head. And also try a body scan - focus your thoughts on your toes and how they are feeling, and work your way up your body.

MajorDivvy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:25:20

Deep breathing, rescue remedy, positive thinking (eg. This situation won't hurt me, it will be over soon), 'rewards' for having done something that made me anxious (eg. If I manage my commute for a week without getting off the train early I'll buy that new top,), chocolate!

BaronessTipsy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:33:17

Thanks all for your help and advice. I'm currently standing in the platform of a random station not able to get into the train. Have let go of 4 trains already and horribly late for work. Bug on the positive side I've booked an appointment with my GP for Wednesday and am taking deep breaths and telling myself that I can get onto the next one..

Noren Mon 25-Mar-13 08:40:12

Distraction. Trains are hard for that. But I think if you do get off at a station, allow yourself to recover before you think of trying to get on another train. Go and find a cafe, have a cup of tea and read.

Are you OK on crowded trains if you have a seat? Some train companies let you reserve seats even for short journeys. I find it helps if I have a seat because I feel enclosed and safe.

Partly what fuels the panic attack is the fear of having a panic attack, rather than the situation itself. I find it helpful to say to myself, yes, this is a panic attack, it's OK as it will pass and I can get off the train if I choose to but for now I'm going to distract myself with this book/music/whatever. I have a good friend who will talk to me on the phone if I have a panic attack. He's great because he doesn't panic himself and he knows if I am having a panic attack to talk to me about something else, not the panic attack, but about what he's doing and he's interesting to talk to, so I get distracted.

While it feels like you can't breathe, you are breathing and you aren't coming to any harm. Some people finding breathing into a paper bag reassuring as you can see that you are breathing.

BaronessTipsy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:53:18

Thanks Noren. I started to get myself into a slow train now for weeks to ensure that I have a seat to help with the panic. What I find is that when more and more people get in I start to panic thinking that I cannot breath. On a good day I can talk myself into being calm and complete the journey with the aid if a book or music. But on a bad day like this I find myself getting off the train. I moved to the UK 8 years back and it's sad to say/admit that I do not have any close friends whose support I can sort..

BaronessTipsy Mon 25-Mar-13 08:54:08

sorry it should have read "support I can count on"...

London29 Tue 26-Mar-13 19:19:10

Hi baroness

Ok first of all I can TOTALLY understand how you feel. I have had an ongoing battle with panic attacks on trains. I actually posted about it on here a while ago.

I've done the same and got off at a random station a few times, and then felt even more trapped because I knew I HAD to get back on the next train.

It's quite a common fear and I am sure there are other people on your train who feel the same way. I know that doesn't help though when you feel total panic and just want to escape.

I still struggle with it but I find reading or music helps. And to be honest recently I've been so determined NOT to have a panic attack, I've kind of had a little word with myself! I will not let panic take over my life.

I've hot CBT booked for a more permanent solution to this but at the moment I take each train journey as it comes and try and tell myself get what's the worst that can happen?

You are not alone in the way that you feel

Hope you feel a bit less anxious soon

BaronessTipsy Tue 26-Mar-13 20:00:10

Hi london29, thank you so much for being so understanding. I've started doing the "having a little chat with myself" thing and it does help at times. Just like you I do not want the anxiety/panic to take over my life..and do not wish to take medicine as well. Currently it all seems like an uphill struggled but I will get there. Adding to my already panic state is the fact that we have booked a trip to Paris via Eurostar and dreading he the thought of getting into a train which goes into a tunnel.i have posted this on z different thread snd got some lovely support and advice here in mumnet..

deeplybaffled Wed 27-Mar-13 00:02:12

i have this too, although not with trains. for me, it is work scenarios that trigger it. i know this probably sounds daft, but memory tests when i'm having a panic moment, such as trying to name capital cities or children's nursery rhymes or some equally random list thing helps me. it forces me to concentrate on something else and i find that i often end up a bit calmer after the distraction.
just a thought, but it has worked for me and stopped the obsessive thoughts on occasion.
maybe worth a try?

whethergirl Wed 27-Mar-13 00:07:33

I've done the same as Noren, that is, not allow myself to fear the actual panic attack by acknowledging it, I kind of talk down to it, like "oh here we go again, ok fine, the feels a bit bad but I can ride this out..."

A friend of mine had a few sessions of hypnotherapy and hasn't had a panic attack since.

Ahhhcrap Wed 27-Mar-13 21:31:25

Another thing that helps is, do you know a panic attack can only last a certain amount if time? I remember that when mine start and it helps me relax quicker because I know it'll end soon. The body won't stay on that high alert for long periods of time.

Also try and unpack a suitcase in reverse in your head... It helps. Plus chewing gun helps with my breathing - for some strange reason.

PolkaDotsandPumpkin Fri 29-Mar-13 23:51:24

I have had panic attacks on and off my whole life. Recently I tried a couple of strategies I read about. One was to consciously 'challenge' the panic attack to do its worst, just at the point where I felt like I might have one. Like literally saying to myself (not out loud though!) 'come on then, get it over with. Do your thing'. It seems to short-circuit the attack. Was really really happy to find that it works for me...
The other thing was to try and will one into existence. Not so sure about this one though. The idea is that you realise that your mind doesn't actually control your body, I think.

tabbycat15 Sat 30-Mar-13 13:07:21

I had panic attacks on the train. I found sucking mints or fruit sweets & having a cold bottle of water helped me. I used to listen to music & take a magazine with a crossword or word search in it helped. I used to rub in hsndcre & press in my palm for a few seconds & breath in & our slowly at the same time. This is the reflexology point for the soleus plexus area that controls your emotions. I also use to rub lavender oil in my wrists & dudes of my neck.
I read a book called Self Help For your nerves by Dr Clare Weeks. It really explains how your body reacts during a panic attack.
Is there a reason why you don't want to take medication?
Beta blockers or SSRI's are used as in times of stress you need a boost of serotonin. I found Sertraline (lustral) such a help. I suffer with depression & I am on medication long term. Sometimes you need to be on the medication to ' desensitize the nerves' which are set to have an attack as soon as you get in your uncomfortable situation. After being on them for a while the feelings will lesson & when you wean off you will be able to get through your uncomfortable situations.

tabbycat15 Sat 30-Mar-13 13:08:12

* hand cream & sides of neck

Spottyblancmange Mon 01-Apr-13 17:37:07

I only have one thing that hasn't already been covered, sometimes I find it helps most to try count to ten in a foreign language, one I'm not too familiar with. Counting in English never really worked for me, but a counsellor i had a few years back suggested trying to learn it in an unfamiliar language then doing that might take more concentration and be more of a distraction. It doesn't work all the time for me, sometimes I'm beyond, but it can be quite good at heading them off.

notasheep Mon 01-Apr-13 18:38:47

I know medication IS NOT the answer but I take 2mg Diazepam but only in emergencies,so take about one a month.Remember,always tell yourself the attack will pass and it will much quicker.
I have felt so anxious I thought I was going to die.
You have my up most sympathy

MarianaTrench Mon 01-Apr-13 21:39:37

I get this on trains too, what helps most is getting a seat. I have a specific fear of vomiting so I carry a couple of carrier bags, wet wipes and a bottle of water at all times. I have never actually vomited but I have come close to fainting. I tend to close my eyes, count my breaths and remind myself it will pass. Naming countries and capitals is good too, anything mindless. It's bloody awful though and you have my sympathies. See your GP, I've had some success with CBT but found mindfulness techniques a bit more useful.

Bunfags Wed 03-Apr-13 18:03:04

The 7/11 breathing technique really helps me out.

BaronessTipsy Thu 04-Apr-13 07:21:23

Thank you all for your tips. What teally helps is nejng anle to talk to people who understand what i'm talking about. It's difficult for me to ecplain this to manh people ad ive been a commuter now for 9 years regularly travelling on the train and tube. Infa t i have actually got stuck on a tunnel on many occassions while travelling in the tube but didnt even notice!! This dhold thjng started arpund December amd refuding to leave me..I'm trying the 7/11 breathing technique now..

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