My panic attacks began this August, at the very end during band camp.
I'm in college, right? Typical 18-year-old (at the time) girl... went through a rough breakup like most of us do, typical smart kid who cares about her grades and stressed about them, loves band and choir, hangs out with friends, typical BUSY college kid, that can be expected, etc. etc. Kind of a spaz, stress relatively easily and moderately high-strung. I never knew I was so stressed out that I'd basically be making my body sick.
During band camp at my college we were at an indoor rehearsal and I started having difficulty breaking while playing my flute. I thought maybe I'd just been overworking my diaphragm since I play an instrument and it was band camp... the most stressful 10 days for a college marching band. Well then my body started tingling almost all over. I had to have someone help me leave the room and I missed the rest of rehearsal. Over the next couple of weeks I started having this happen again... when I was driving home from school, which was MAJORLY scary, when I was just sitting with my mom or a friend... etc. When I felt the beginnings of one at 2:30 in the morning sometimes it wold often keep me up until 5 when I'd have to get up at 6 or 7 for school (I commute) because I was so afraid that whatever this was would make me suffocate in my sleep. I had NO idea what was going on and neither did anyone else...
Well I went to my family doctor, who said in response to me thinking I overworked the diaphragm or a muscle in my ribcage that it was entirely possible. He said take an Alleve right before marching band and you should be fine. Well that day at marching band rehearsal, after I took his advice and took the Alleve, it got so bad that I had to sit out, and then as I was simply SITTING, I got so tingly that I actually went NUMB and FELL OVER. I was there on my back and I had people trying to ask what was wrong, but for two minutes I couldn't even move my tongue and lips to talk, so they had to keep telling me to slow down my breathing. I just COULDN'T though... the air wouldn't come in! I thought I was having a stroke or something.
Went to the ER and they did an EKG and took a blood and urine sample and a chest X-Ray. Nothing. Got sent to a cardiologist as a follow-up, but he found nothing. Went back to the family doctor who tested me for asthma, and while the pulminary test indicated that INDEED I wasn't breathing so well, it got WORSE with the inhalor they tried on me. Nope, not asthma. Definitely not.
He put me on Xanax for a week and said see if it helps. If it does, we know it's anxiety. Well it didn't help. I kept having more what I was calling "episodes" at the time. Went back in a week after I had another bad one driving. He told me he still thinks anxiety has a lot to do with it, it's simply more chronic than he originally thought. So he put me on Lexapro, and said keep taking the Xanax with it until the new stuff settles into your body and all that junk, and if you ever have a panic attack even with the Lexapro, take the Xanax to help. Well the Lexapro is working really well, so I indeed was having panic attacks.
It's just scary though. I knew with panic attacks you can't breathe, but I didn't know you get tingling and numbness and stuff like that. It was scary because it took about a month and a half to figure out what was truly the problem, and in the meantime I had to quit marching band for the season and I was suffering because even when I didn't have a full-blown panic attack, I was almost NEVER breathing completely normal, and I'd be hunched over the desk in class, etc. I'm so glad it's over now!!! I'll be on the Lexapro for another 4 months or so (6 months total...) and I just hope I won't need anymore pills after that. I hope my life can completely go back to normal.
What were some of your experiences with panic attacks? I'd be interested to hear your stories!