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was it a panic attack?

25 replies

fionagib · 01/10/2004 19:29

A horrible thing happened today - I was driving with dd to nearest city(1 hour drive) and on motorway I started to feel panicky and sweaty and shaky - hands, body, even my head - was totally terrified, everything felt surreal like I might not be able to control the car. Was even worse when the m'way lanes changed (ie traffic joining from left) so I ended up in the middle, with traffic on both sides, felt so scared and trapped, was nearly in tears - got off as soon as I could, pulled into a layby, calmed down, managed the city streets okay...

It happened a bit on way home as well, had to talk myself through the shakes & sweats. What the hell was it? A panic attack? A side effect of the nicotinelle patch I had on? I ripped it off in car & started to feel better. But still couldn't overtake or drive faster than 45 mph, on motorway.

Did faint at a party 3 days ago but I put that down to being knackered, and the heat, and standing up for ages. This kind of thing isn't like me at all.

Anyone experienced similar? I feel freaked that I put dd (age 4) in danger like this.

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expatkat · 01/10/2004 19:39

IMO, yes (panic attack) and yes (the patch was probably a strongly contributing factor). Lots of sympathy.

unicorn · 01/10/2004 19:44

poor you, must have been a nightmare.. sounds like some sort of bad reaction.

My pal had a panic attack- he though it was a heart attack though.

He collapsed had to be taken to hospital put on an ecg where they discovered his heart was ok... it was down to anxiety/stress.

Are you very wound up at the moment? Is it because of stopping smoking- or is there more?

unicorn · 01/10/2004 19:45

could you be pregnant?

fionagib · 01/10/2004 19:45

have you ever had a patch affect you like that expat? Where we live - small town miles from cities - I drive quite a lot, often with kids - the way I feel today I can't imagine taking them on the motorway. It was the motorway that did it - lanes of heavy traffic. Wanted to pull off at services half way home but was scared I wouldn't be able to join m'way again. Hands were wringing wet, had to keep wiping them on my clothes.

God I sound completely mad. This car thing has never happened before.

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expatkat · 01/10/2004 19:52

No, I haven't, fionagib, but it makes so much sense. Nicotine is a stimulant, and it seems to me that perhaps this patch is feeding you more nicotine than your body was used to? Some people get panic attacks from consuming just a little bit too much (for them) caffeine, others as a side effect from ADs like Prozac which also have a revving-up quality. Also there's something inherently stressful about driving on the motorway, so I can easily see that the motorway plus the patch might well bring on a panic attack.

There were a few years in my mid/late 20s when I experienced panic attacks quite regularly, so I do know something about them, and yours sound classic.

fionagib · 01/10/2004 19:52

Life does feel v busy unicorn with 3 full on kids, full on work etc, like lots of people have to contend with, nothing new there - always feel stressed to a certain degree, though I do manage to put a calm face on it most of the time, and do enjoy kids, work etc...

Think it may be more physical - have a certain vagueness at the mo, get mildly dizzy quite a lot esp when I stand up. I do get knackered too with never ending housework etc but who doesn't?

What's really upset me about today is being on the verge of losing control, consciousness, whatever, the absolute fear of a car crash, losing dd, then even smaller things - panicking cos I'd passed a junction, & should have come off, panicking cos of bad rain starting - normally I can drive long distances with kids with no probs apart from the usual back seat bickering.

Why would a nicotine patch make this happen?

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unicorn · 01/10/2004 19:54

no idea re the nicotine patch - but get thee to a doctor woman!!!
may be anaemic?

fionagib · 01/10/2004 19:55

posts crossed there expat, yes, what you say makes sense re stimulants. Think I should switch to lower dose patch or try lozenges. I'd been in such a rush too this a.m. that I'd only had one teaspoon of boiled egg.

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fionagib · 01/10/2004 19:59

did a preg test day after faint at a party unicorn, was neg thank god! yeah think will see doc - have an appt. in about 10 days time anyway.

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unicorn · 01/10/2004 20:02

do another!!!

fionagib · 02/10/2004 09:40

no am def not preg unicorn, just come on - am pretty sure now it was triggered by patches, they've also caused raised lumpy bits on skin where I've worn them... yeuch

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MTS · 02/10/2004 10:42

oh dear sounds like a very distressing experience.

there is loads of useful info and self help advice on:-

fionagib · 02/10/2004 11:21

Thanks for that MTS, will have a look later when I get a kid-free mo...

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WideWebWitch · 02/10/2004 12:06

Fionagib, maybe it was a combination of panic attack and the patch? After all, if you have a cigarette (which gives you a large dose of nicotine) after you haven't smoked for a while it gives you a 'rush' like an adrenaline rush doesn't it? It's your body responding to poison of course (as Carr says) so maybe you were reacting to the patch in the same way? Plus suddenly becoming anxious enough to trigger a panic attack - it does sound like one to me. I've had them before and they're awful aren't they? Much sympathy. Remember to stop and breathe deeply if you feel it happening again - it's hard to panic if you're breathing deeply and slowly. And see what your GP says too. Well done for still not smoking.

WideWebWitch · 02/10/2004 12:08

Hadn't read expatkat's post, sorry, I said the same thing, agree with her.

prefernot · 02/10/2004 12:45

fionagib, I agree with expatkat, having also been a long-term sufferer of panic attacks. It's a kind of self-fuelling thing, i.e. the patch and no breakfast probably had your nerves on edge then the first feelings of light-headedness / sweatiness / unreality make you more panicky and it goes on. I used to get bad tingling in arms and legs too and it's really frightening and horrible. You may find for a while that being in the same situation again triggers it so if it's at all possible to avoid the motorways I would.

fionagib · 02/10/2004 17:19

thanks for that folks, yes I can't imagine going on m'way in near future - anyway our car appears to have died today!

sorry to report www that this tipped me back into smoking but just bought lozenges, so will try again once I get my head back in order...

the breath deeply - ie it's hard to panic that way - advice is really good too, that did help me get home, also by talking to myself, saying it'll be okay, stay calm... etc (luckily dd was asleep)...

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unicorn · 02/10/2004 19:11

haven't followed your giving up smoking thread Fiona, but wondered if you had tried hypnotherapy (also for anxiety)
my pal tried it for fear of flying, and she flew to Greece this summer!

prefernot · 02/10/2004 21:26

Oh I meant to tell you as well that if your breathing gets affected you can breathe in and out into a paper bag which is a wonderful cure. A GP told me that one and i've had a paper bag in my bag ever since.

marthamoo · 02/10/2004 21:31

Poor you Maybe the lozenges will be better - but I would definitely get to your GP asap: mention the fainting and the panic attack (it does sound like one - I had a few when I was a student). You may be anaemic? Don't let it be more than a minor hiccup on the road to becoming a non-smoker

marthamoo · 02/10/2004 21:32

Oh Lord - I just read "minor hiccup on the road"...bad choice of words and absolutely no pun intended

cellulitequeen · 02/10/2004 21:39

Hi fionagib, I have suffered from panic attacks for the last 10 years. Don't know what triggered yours but they are bloody scary. Within that time I have a couple of them on the motorway and felt just the same as you. Last time I had one I sang a stupid song very loudly and that helped me a great deal (sound like mad woman). I am sure it was a one off, don't dwell on it too much.

expatkat · 02/10/2004 21:44

I've done the stupid song thing too, cellulitequeen. Yes, panic attacks are absolutely awful.

enid · 02/10/2004 22:30

fiona, yes, panic attack, very distressing, I have had them and they are upsetting. but remember you DIDNT endanger your children, you pulled off into a laybay and then calmed down enough to drive them home, you handled it very well. x E

fionagib · 03/10/2004 18:52

Thanks folks, & for you kind words enid! Think am gonna have to have a 'practise' session on a motorway (quiet bit, not nr city) before venturing to city again, feel v wimpy but am still nervous about it happening again. Thank you for tips & help folks xx

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