Panic attacks Agoraphobia associated with Fibro

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by butterfly83, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    For people who have this - what is the treatment? has anything helped you overcome this? I'm concerned about whether some of my anxiety and panic attacks fall into the category of agoraphobia. I didn't think that this was related to some of my issues, but when I read the the definition included a fear and avoidance of situations & places that have caused previous panic/anxiety.. well I do that. Between the fibro and some other medical issues, I've had some bad experiences, and there have been several things that I view as triggers for me getting sick - driving, and traveling being the main ones. I want to be able to do these things, but getting physically ill while doing them has made me fearful of trying them again. I'm just starting to get concerned about whether the fear response is making the physical symptoms so much stronger then they might be naturally. If that makes sense.

    Anyway, someone who knows more about this, or has pursued any answers or treatments, I'd appreciate some advice!
  2. erinwilburn

    erinwilburn New Member

    I am going through the same problems right now and I am worried about it being out of control. My panci is all about pain. My sensory overload dosen't happen until my pain has hit the hysterical point.

    So far I can fake my way through a family party. But then it is another month before I feel I can leave the house again for anything. For this reason I am filing for SSDI. I can drive but only short distances and never by myself.

    We have a family trip planed with some of my family ( those who do not trigger crazy in me) It is an easy going relaxed cabin fully furnished w/ hot tub an even nicer than our home but I am in tears this morning because I am already in so much pain and I still have to drive the hour there.

    this sounds so bad but I invited my family just so I could have people to cook and clean aside from keeping company and fun. I can't do any of it anymore.

    Again I too would love any info
    thanks for posting!
  3. greatgran

    greatgran Member

    You have described me but I don't have any answers. I do want so bad to be able to drive an hour or two out of town but have that fear. Not sure what I am afraid of, except will I have a "spell".

    I avoid so many places even around town , the crowds, the feeling I can't leave etc.

    I think its mostly physically that causes the mental fear. I do take xanax which helps some but still afraid to venture on my own out of town. Even with someone I had still have fear.

    The doctors I need to see are a hour away but I am afraid to go by myself so don't go.

    This darn DD has me miserable. I miss my mind the most or the ability to go,do and be happy.

    Hope you find an answer, then let me know. Oh, I have been to therapy for this but it didn't help.

    God Bless,
  4. padre

    padre New Member

    Cognative Behavior Theraphy (CBT) has been shown to be very helpful for people suffering from panic for agoraphobia. While I was trained to do this, I have also had to see a counselor for it. I have been on both sides of the desk. I urge you to ask around for a recommendation for a counselor good at CBT.

    Secondly, Xanax and Klonopin are very helpful in lowering the generalized anxiety which often leads to panic attack. There is a chance of dependence, but diabetics are dependent in insulin too. The point being that there are worse things than being dependent on a drug -- like never going out. Your primary physician can usually help you with these.

    Panic disorder is not a bad habit or a character flaw, it is an illness.

    Final question is if pain makes panic worse or if panic makes pain worse. Yes. By which I mean that in my experience, when I hurt it wears me down emotionally. And when my anxiety it high my tolerance for pain drops.

    An excellent website with information on this is

    I'd start with my primary doctor and then find a counselor. I believe you will be glad you did.
  5. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    Thanks Padre especially for your advice, and everyone else who commented so I know I'm not alone in having these issues. Padre, I have been thinking about CBT. I'm going to talk to my pain management doctor about my problems and ask what he thinks. There is a psychologist on staff at the pain management clinic I go to, who is trained in CBT, so I might be able to see her about this too. Have you been through CBT before? Is it basically learning certain techniques for overcoming the panic attacks?
  6. SusanEU

    SusanEU New Member

    I tried so many things over the years. Finally broke down and started SNRI. Had a sick few weeks getting used to it, but, after years of practically being housebound, I'm living again. I also take a small dose of lorazepam at night.

    Good Luck to you.

    sue in ontario
  7. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    Sue - Which SNRI do you take, if you don't mind me asking?
  8. k5334

    k5334 New Member

    Cognitive Behavior Therapy can help and reverse your panic attacks. I have had periods where I would have panic attacks traveling in the car bymyself or shopping at Wal-Mart. I think it would be helpful to see a counselor. Not every counselor is wonderful so if you don't have a good experience, find another. This is reversible and there is hope!
  9. padre

    padre New Member

    I'll make this personal. I get anxious over some things. Then I get anxious about being anxious -- you know it is crazy. So then I wonder if I am crazy or if I am going to die right there. Then I feel like I am dying. (Sound familiar?)

    CBT works to get in tune with the feelings and break the cycle. So far I have not died once from anxiety. I may be crazy, but so are lots of happy people. The worst thing that can happen if I go out in a group and feel anxious is that I could make a fool of myself. I can also do that at home, alone, without having any fun.

    This is how CBT works. It gives you perpective. It may also help to rev a sense of humor.

    It works.
  10. padre

    padre New Member

    One more thing. Pain is not so much the trigger. I think the "fog" is what triggers the anxiety and ultimately the panic attack. I also get dizzy fairly easy and that too can lead to anxiety.
    [This Message was Edited on 07/11/2008]
  11. willruthie1965

    willruthie1965 New Member

    I started getting afraid to answer door.I got afraid of being disturbed while sleeping.I definetly think that one of fibro's symptoms is increase in panic attack ,anxiety,fear and even ocd.

    I think when in a flare, there is so much more emotional symtoms.I already have anxiety but when I was healthy it was better controlled.SInce the fibro it is so much more out of control,and a big part of this illness. Ruthie
  12. willruthie1965

    willruthie1965 New Member

    Padre I just read what you wrote and that descibes how I feel.I got the fog and along with the fog is increase in head spinning,palpatations and nervous feelings.The usally I will go into a pain flare.Ruthie
  13. PVLady

    PVLady New Member

    I definitely went through a period you could call agoraphobia. When I was very sick I had a very low tolerance for any stress. I was hurting all the time and just trying to survive one day to the next.

    I also had panic attacks or anxiety many times. What really helped me with the anxiety was Restoril. I took it for sleep and the great side effect was the next day, I did not have the high anxiety.

    At one point I saw a therapist but I don't know if that helped or not. I was so anxious I usually paced in her office and wanted the door kept open. She must have thought I was really nuts.

    For me alot of the anxiety was geniune worry. I had a mother in a nursing home, a brother out of work, a business to run, a sick husband, on and on.

    A year ago I ran across EFT - (emotional freedom techniques). I am not kidding, it really did help. There is a free 79 page manual on the web. I printed it out and kept it in a notebook with me each day to study.

    It is a combination of accupressure and affirmations but it is all very specific and easy.

    Once when I had a panic attack I went to the ER thinking I was having a heart attack. They put me through all the tests and I was ok.

    Try to be around people who really love you and stay away from those who upset you.

    I wish there were some easy answers....

  14. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    First of all, you're making perfect sense. Our brains aren't dumb. They resist the very thought of going through anything they've experienced as unpleasant. In fact, that's the way they're made. It used to keep folks from trying to make friends with wild lions and bears - and it taught them that putting body parts in the cooking fire hurts! You're brain is resisting doing anything that made it uncomfortable (in this case, panicky) before.

    I can only tell you what helped me with this situation but I know others that it's helped too.

    First of all, panic attacks are moments of extreme anxiety - no more, no less. Anyone whose had one would say they're horrid and they are but they won't kill us and they do go away.

    If you're very sure intellectually that what you're going to do is relatively safe (like driving to the store or going out to eat), do it. DO IT. Tell your brain that, as its friend, you appreciate the warning [anxiety] but that you happen to know better in this case. Then DO IT.

    Don't begin with a trip to Europe; start with things that are simple and quick, like going to get a newspaper or picking up something from a small store. Go, do, and return.

    Every time you do this successfully, you are retraining your brain in these areas. While you're out, if you feel a sense of anxiety coming on, breathe deeply and tell yourself "I CAN Do This." And you can, you know. You're no less able to drive than you were before you got sick. You just might experience some discomfort now which is what you're brain is dutifully trying to avoid. Keep your mind in the moment. Control your thoughts. Don't let them wander into OMG territory. You're the boss of you.

    (Of course, if someone hasn't driven in a very long time, they might want to practice in a school parking lot for awhile or take a refresher course. Use your good sense about it.)

    Do what you fear to do, starting small, and in time the fear will go away. I know this for sure from my own experience with no exceptions. I also know that the longer you wait, the harder it is.

    I know you can.

    [This Message was Edited on 07/12/2008]
  15. SusanEU

    SusanEU New Member

    I know it's not for everyone, but I have had great success with effexor. Take 75 mgs, been on it for over 2 years.

    Sue in Ontario
  16. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    .... I wish people would read my post.

  17. Pansygirl

    Pansygirl New Member

    Marta ~ I read your post and it makes a lot of sense ~ in fact I worked through a panic attack yesterday at the mall.

    I have a fear of getting another ding or running into something with my van. I have numerous areas on the right side of my van . :)

    Anyway yesterday at the mall the parking lot was very crowded and I waited for one parking space for several minutes and then when I tried to park I got very scared that I was going to hit the other daughter tried to tell me I was okay but my fear was there.
    So I drove around for a few minutes till I found what seemed like a better spot and was able to park my van.

    I have had panic attacks over other things to but yesterday was fresh in my mind and I wanted to share.

    very gentle hugs, Susan
  18. butterfly83

    butterfly83 New Member

    Thanks again to Marta and everyone for your replies and input. Just a little update - I talked to my regular pain management doctor about my concerns of anxiety, panic attacks & agoraphobia and he's given me a referral to another doctor in the practice, who specializes in working with CBT in patients with chronic pain. So I've gotten the ball rolling in that area, and I'm hoping she'll be able to help me come up with some ways to learn to work through this.

    AND I've gone ahead and committed myself to going to a family members wedding out of state next month - which will include flying and being out of my comfort zone, so it'll be a good challenge for me to learn to work through. My doctors are going to help me with an anxiety med during travel, but I'm hoping that this will be a positive reinforcement kind of thing. So I AM taking your advice Marta. :) My mom also has agreed to help me practice driving short distances and trying to get comfortable with it again, and switch off those panic signals.

  19. homesheba

    homesheba New Member

    i am so glad you posted this!!
    i thought i was actually having a nervous breakdown...
    mine hits me at night in bed of all places.
    and my adrenaline will suddenly hit the roof till i want to litterally scream in fear!!!
    but i hold it in and try and get dh to hold me
    but he doesnt understand and i think he really thinks
    i am crazy so that makes me cry
    and so i just ask God to help me
    and it fianlly abaits..
    i could cry now just thinking about it all....
  20. kellygirl

    kellygirl Member

    Mine came from an abusive childhood. I was forced to do things, or I would've became housebound.

    My husband forced me to learn to drive in my 20's which triggered the IBS, which I ddidn't know what that was at the time. I lost more weight learning how to drive. But, I did it and enjoy it today. Though, that wasn't always the case.

    Then, when I had my children in kindergarten, I was forced to walk down the street to pick them up at school, nobody there to do it for me. The sidewalk would be swaying under my feet.

    I had such a fear of driving on the highway, but to get to a support group, I had to do it. I said to the counselor, "all I want is courage"....he said, "what do you think got you here?"....I will never forget it.

    I was led to the Adult Children of Alcoholics, which was a blessing. I also had one-on-one. They treated me for PTSD.

    Everyone, all my life, expected me to be able to function as a "normal" person, but as Aerosmith says, "how can you fly with broken wings"? They had gone into AA recovery in our area and I believe that is the song that came out of their recovery.

    My first big group was a room-ful of people. I was wondering why this one seat was not taken, so I sat down. The meeting got started and the host of the meeting sitting next to me handed me the book to do a reading!!!!! As an ACOA, I didn't know I had the right to say no!!! I read in front of people, though I was shaking! I felt proud.

    At one Al-anon meeting, I was anxious and I looked across the table and there was a man shaking, yet writing on a tablet like he didn't care what people thought. So, at the meeting I spoke and let everyone know I was nervous, and because I voiced the fear, it disappeared!

    Later, after diagnosis with CFS and FMS, I formed the CFS/FMS Support Group in our area, since I could not work at the time. I spoke in front of the group and coordinated the meetings with speakers.

    It has been such a journey that I feel blessed even with the CFS/FMS/MPS.

    I cannot believe how strong I have become. I took my power back. I also had to deal with the issues of sexual abuse. As I traveled on the path of recovery, the issues I had to deal with appeared to me when it was time.

    Nobody will ever take my pwower from me. Even in my job, I set my boundaries. When someone does cross them, I know when I become angry. I wasn't allowed anger growing up and had to learn what it felt like and to use it constructively.

    I would rage at my young children not knowing it was the rage exploding from my childhood. I didn't know what anger was or what anxiety even meant, though I was filled to capacity with both.

    I eventually went back to school at night to earn that degree I never had. I interned at a VA hospital. A vet came in and was shaking and could not function. I thought, OMG, that was me!!!

    I had to learn the triggers that would set off the anxiety, which one of them is a scared child's face, which I discovered one day.

    Yes, I believe it is connected with the Fibromyalgia, the nervous system. My 3 sisters also have FMS and they avoid crowds, cannot handle situations well, they tend to hibernate. They let us all know what they can do and what they can't do.

    I am sorry for such a long post, but I just had to share.

    You are not alone with is not stronger than you are. Just take your time, be gentle to yourself.

    God bless.