Panic Attacks - HELP!

I am a registered member but wish to sign in with an alias to protect my identity

Anyway here is the story. What I really want is advice or a person to give me direction or a contact for some professional :frowning:

It all began a two of years ago. One day I was talking and bitching about something. My temper rose up and suddenly I got this feeling of being dizzy and that I could not breath. I was at home at the time but was returning back to Taiwan three weeks later, so I never took the time to check it out at home as I thought it was nothing

Back in Taiwan three months later, I was in the night market full of people, people pushing here there and into me. I hate this, I got so angry inside again that I felt like I was going to explode or pass out or go crazy or something… this really intense feeling came over me… hard to describe but like confusion accompanied with short breath and a racing heart

I am by nature a highly strung person and sort of said to myself “it was just the situation maybe with the noise and lights and people and me being a country boy. I must have got a little panicky”. I was in the night market before and this feeling never happened… so on I went after convincing my self it was nothing

Three months later on the plane to LA, I was sitting in a window seat. To be honest I loved flying and the feeling of taking off… I had always pictured it as Star Trek and when they go to warp drive. When the plane was hurtling down the runway, I felt scared…not scared of the speed… It just felt like my body froze up and just fear… and every bump when taking off … I struggled to get my br
After a while I calmed down, read a book and got distracted by the food and the book.

However anytime after that that I fly I get the same feeling. I do not now like flying. I look at the odds for crashing or dying and they are tiny. There is more chance of being killed being on the back of a scooter

Even now when sometimes talking to people… I get panicky… I get all defensive… fold my arms… constantly change my seating position… and sound jittering when I speak… and a panicky person knows it tends to snowball…
I do not think about it alot of the time… but sometimes I when I do it pisses me off… I was also a strong I would even say loud mouthed person… but I lost the nerve in certain situations as sometimes I are not assertive … I just appear angry… and tend to not be able to get the thoughts together correctly to be coherent

This does not help either in my current job working for an OEM company… speaking Chinese to people in the office is ok… but when I need to meet with foreign customers and give presentations etc… I some times think… I am going to freak out else bumble over something… but this never happened to a point whereby the presentation or meeting got screwed up

I have not had a holiday… as in sit on the beach and relax for about 4 years… I had weekends alright but then I was back the next Monday… our company has got some big contracts in Europe so I am always going and busy… only think is though that I have on occasions manipulated pans to have meetings with customers in Taiwan rather than in Germany or Italy so I would not have to fly there.

My girlfriend is not Taiwanese so there is no language barrier…however I am a very personal and reserved… so sometimes it is difficult to talk to her about this… in addition I do not want her to worry too much

Anyway enough of the examples… but you get the idea… so my question is am I going crazy… is my career over… can I get some help :cry:

No vacations in four years? Take one.

Do you exercise? Or have hobbies? I’ve known people who get very wrapped in their jobs and then suddenly realize that it has become their whole life. They’ve forgotten about sports or reading or doing things that work is supposed to fund, not eliminate. Maybe they’ve put on 20 pounds because instead of exercising, they taught extra classes – whatever it is, they have work take over everything, and they suddenly realize it’s taking a terrible toll.

I’ve also run into quite a number of people who have been in Taiwan for over five years and start to panic about being unable to get a job if they go back home. When they came to Taiwan, they thought they had a million options, but after five or ten years, they start to panic that if they do go home, they will be too old to get a career started, or they won’t make enough money.

Anyway, I’m not a doctor, and I don’t even play one on TV, but I’ve talked to lots of people in Taiwan who’ve found themselves freaking out or panicking and the above are two of the main reasons.

The Community Services Center has counselling services. Not sure if they are good, but maybe someone else on could let us know. They also have a series of articles here:

Take a vacation. I need one too. I haven’t been off the island in over 2 1/2 years. It is hard to take a vacation when you have young children, but I intend to do it sometime soon.

Sleep is also great. I have a cold at the moment and took the night off from teaching to stay home and sleep because I had no voice left. I felt great. It was deep, quality, sleep. I think that this is very important.

Exercise, yup, get plenty of it. I should take my own advice too. When I do exercise I feel great.

Post on forumosa frequently, it works too. I was about ready to leave Taiwan when I discovered forumosa and I am still here today partly due to some of the stuff that I found on here.

Keep going,


P.s, I really do know how you feel, especially about that feeling that you said you have whrn you get angry. I had a argument with someone in a government department here, I took a break and went to Sogo for lunch and discovered that my hands were trembling. My b/p must have been sky high.

Somethings bothering you. Try to figure out what it is.
Are you unhappy with work?
Money problems?
Family/relationship problems?
Do you have friends here to talk to in person?
etc. etc.

Sounds like it’s time for you to take a step back and start balancing your life out. I wouldn’t suggest taking a vaction unless you want to. I personelly don’t like taking vactions because I’ve worked hard at making my home my castle (if you know what I mean).

I think pets help situations like this. There’s been studies done on the healing properties of pets (ask for links and I’ll search).

I agree with Boss Hog about posting on forumosa. I does wonders for me (I probably already would have gone crazy :wink: ).

I’d also recommend talking to a prefessional, I have in the past and it can be helpful if you go into your sessions with the right attitude (after all, each session is all about you.)

I’ll add the usual, make sure you sleep right, eat right, drink a lot of water and exercise. Maybe start practicing taiji or some kind of exercise that stresses balance (yoga, meditation, most martial arts, etc.)

Hobbies are a good idea, mabye and instrument or do calligraphy to ease your brain. There are probably also some books and internet sources (ask for links and I’ll search) you could read that would help.

You can PM me about taiji study if you’re interested.

I think that about covers it. Hope that helps.

The above advice is good. I had a friend in the states who for some reason started suffering from anxiety attacks that sound similar to your situation. He’s a very bright, competent guy, but for some reason he told me he’d suddenly and inexplicably start feeling panicy at times, sometimes in a room of people, and sometimes if he stood too close to the very large windows in his high apartment. He went to a shrink who gave him some medication, and he also worked on breathing and relaxation techniques, all of which helped him a lot. As far as I know his situation was resolved fairly (surprisingly) quickly and is all in his past now.

As for what caused it, in his case anyway I feel certain it was due to stress. When I met him he was a young guy who rented a room from me. His parents had divorced and were doing bad things to each other and he was living far away from home for the first time and starting university. I don’t know you, but I would guess you have some stressful things going on in your life.

Working on breathing and relaxation seem like the answer. For working on that I can think of nothing/no one better than Thich Nhat Hanh:

One more thing. I recently got a music machine. Rolling around all day bumpin’ Stevie Wonder classics has put an extra spring in my step.

Mr Panic Attack, the airplane situation is a panic attack. The situation in meetings etc is more generalized anxiety. Don’t worry, you’re not going crazy and you can overcome your present difficulties. These kinds of experiences are very much more common than you might think!

A person I am close to has had extensive experience of this kind of thing, several years ago. They have now very successfully overcome it. In the process they received some excellent medical advice and we read a lot of literature on the subject.

These kinds of anxiety responses happen when the body perceives danger and goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode; a primitive hormonal response where your body produces more adrenalin and the other symptoms such as raised pulse rate and breathing rate occur.

This was presumably very useful when fighting dinosaurs or running away from them; it’s much less helpful now in planes and meetings.

I suggest a multi-pronged method of overcoming this. The first thing I would do is start to practice daily with a relaxation tape/cd. There are many different ones available. It should definitely talk you through some kind of staged relaxation process rather than just being nice music or whale noises etc. There are two types that I know of that are generally recognised by the medical profession as being safe and effective.
The first is where you will consciously relax every major muscle group in your body, one by one. This can be accompanied by regular, slow, diaphragmatic (belly) breathing.
The second is a kind of very mild hypnosis where you imagine yourself in a particular situation, say walking through a forest. This will typically have a stage where you descend some steps slowly, say ten steps, counting down as you go. At the bottom you feel very relaxed and the tape will tell you that you can return to this feeling any time you want, with or without the tape. After a short while, it will then count you back up the steps and you return to the ‘real’ world.
The tape that was used to great benefit for over a year combined both these techniques. It was read by a British state doctor; nothing fancy, no new age stuff but very effective.

The point about these kinds of tapes is that you can then go through the relaxation process yourself, before or during situations in which you feel anxious. When you become more experience at the technique, it will be very effective and indeed will reduce everyday stress and anxiety as well, provided that you practice with the tape regularly; every day as a minimum, preferably at a time when you are not too tired.

Some time after you start this practice I suggest that you take a slightly deeper look at the causes of your anxiety. Someone has suggested counselling; that might well be a good idea provided that the counsellor you meet has recognised qualifications, is someone you can work OK with and is not too wacky or way out.
Perhaps you could also start to tell your girlfriend a little more about the situation.
MT mentioned medication. I am aware that this can be very effective but I would be cautious on this point. There is a tendency nowadays to prescribe pills for everything. In some cases this is really not necessary and difficulties would be better overcome by other means. It sounds to me as though you are not depressed in a clinical sense although of course you feel upset at the symptoms that are occuring to you. There are modern medicines than are effective for anxiety but I feel that they are not always the best long-term solution. At least the majority of medical opinion agrees that when medication is used, it should be accompanied by counselling or the like.

In particular you should beware of the class of medicines called benzodiazapenes (I think!), commonly called Valium. Such medicines’ names often end in -am such as diazepam or lorazepam.
If used regularly they can very easily lead to dependence (addiction) and can cause problems worse than the original ones!

Best wishes for the quick relief of these temporary difficulties. Feel free to private message me about anything.
By the way I think I have a copy of a relaxation tape I can send you if you like.

to the above posters, thanks for your words of advice, compassion and best wishes. :slight_smile:

I must say that after hearing this there is some hope and I feel like at least I can challenge these fears or at least face them
One question though, is this a quite common problem ? panic attacks etc, and how does someone who did not experience them before suddely start getting them. I know not an easy question to answer

Yes, it is quite common. I believe almost everyone runs into to something like this at one point or another (with various degrees of problems).

I had something similar happen in my past. Lots of reading about it made me feel better. In my opinion there aren’t a lot of people you can go to with problems like this, because they probably have some kind of problem too. Just start sorting things out one step at a time. Be very conscious of your health (sleeping and eating patterns).

I never experienced them before and then suddenly got them. For me it was related to trying to start a business, working a bunch, thinking too much, not getting enough sleep, not eating right, girl things, etc.

It’s all about balance. Take joesax’s advice and get some tapes, do yoga, practice taji or something like that. Even running, swimming or some other form of working out will be good for you.

You can PM me anything about anything if it will help your situation.

You could have OCD or something similar.
For a screening:

I used to get really bad anxiety attacks back when I was in uni. My doctor put me on a medication called “klonopin” (in the valium family) for a while for a short period of time, and it did wonders. Go see a doctor and see if he’ll give you something like that for the SHORT-TERM … but you need to be careful because it can be addictive (Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac was addicted to Klonopin for years) … but it does work well. If it’s just a recent and short-term problem and not something deeper, this could help.

Another suggestion is to go to a Zen meditation class. Since you seem to be able to speak Chinese, you can go to any number of Zen centers around town … and I believe there are English classes on Sundays at Nong Chan Monastery in Peitou (Sheng-yen’s organization). Good luck!!!

In the first place go to a doctor and get a very thorough physical to rule out allergies, heart problems, hormone problems, high blood pressure, etc. If this checks out then do go to a counsellor or psychiatrist.

Someone recommended the Community Services Centre. Call. Their people are all professionals (meaning they have the right papers). You do need help with this. It’s been going on for too long to fix it with right thinking, books, music and all the other voodoo methods suggested above. Always remember that even if these things could work they will take you a long time. Why spend 2 years to fix what a professional can in a few weeks or months?

If you want to spend time examing your life do it later when your mind has been cleared and your body freed.

My guess is a hormonal (physical problem), not a mental one. The symptoms you describe sound kind of like an adrenaline-rush overdose. I’d be interested to hear what your experiences are in a danger-only situation like a biggie earthquake or near-accident, where there’s no anger involved. It could simply be that your glands dump too much adrenaline into your blood stream when you’re emotional.

Should that be the case, I’m not sure what the cure is but I’d bet my bottom dollar that doing adrenaline-inducing things everyday (driving in Taiwan traffic, playing shoot-em-up videogames or even gambling) might help. Being a slave to your desk or a couch potato at home probably doesn’t help.


thanks Monkey :slight_smile:

In situations like earthquakes I do feel anxious (the heart starts thumping) but not panicky about it, unless its a big one like the earthquake on Easter Sunday 2002. This scared me. On airplanes its at take off. Once I am up there I am ok… and if there is turbulence once I do not see the turbulence as getting worse, I am ok

I never really had an accident although I drive my bike pretty quickly (well there was one where I TBoned someone on a scooter when they shot out straight in front of me, I was ok apart from a nasty tear on my arm). I had a couple of near misses alright but these did not throw me that much. Usually it involved giving the other driver the “UP Yours”

However when ever I am in my friends’ cars and they are driving, I do get a little anxious. One of them dodges and weaves in though traffic and waits for the last minute to stop, and as a driver I do not trust her to be good, she’s had a few lucky escapes and what saved here had nothing to do with her driving abilities. The other usually can be seen drinking a coke while on the mobile and driving.

well I am not an expert or anything… but maybe instead of seeking answers on this forum… since all most posters can do is give their opinion from the information you are providing… and even though well intentioned none of us are experts… do as was said above… get it checked out by a professional

As you know, the forum can give you support - and that is therapeutic in and of itself - but please don’t substitute our laymen’s advice for true professional assistance. At the very least, a licensed (and experienced) therapist (psychologist or psychiatrist) can provide you a safe, disinterested third party with whom to bounce things off.

That being said, several folks have offered good advice here. A comprehensive physical would be a wise thing to do in order to rule out any physcial reasons for your symptoms. If it turns out that the cause of your troubles is more emotional/psychological as in generalized anxiety and panic attacks, then benzodiazepines are DEFINITELY APPROPRIATE. It is true that they have the potential to be habit forming. But, under the guidance of a medical professional they can be prescribed and used safely. I personally have used this class of drugs, and suffered no ill effects, but rather experienced extreme relief from certain symptoms. Of course, symptomatic treatment is not a long term solution (assuming again that your problem is anxiety/panic attack).

In the long term, understanding what triggers your symptoms, and how you cope or fail to cope with those triggers are important to understand as well as how to cope effectively. A therapist or counselor can be very helpful here - in helping you to gain insight. It may be as simple as stress reduction as many folks have suggested, and there are myriad ways/techniques availlable for stress reduction - the tapes, exercise, a vacation, and so on.

Please seek out some professional advice, and best wishes to you.


Something else that has not been mentioned is that you could do well to get your blood sugar checked. Diabetics tend to be a bit nuts when thier sugars aren’t level. I am like Jeckyl and Hyde. I am the sweetest thing on earth until my sugar unlevels. And then I am panicy, hostile, unreasonable. if you have mild diabetes that is not being controlled, it would explain all of those symptoms.

Also remember that nerves can alter your blood sugar, so that would explain the flight and stuff.

You had a snadwhich and forgot about it…

Really does sound like you should get your sugar checked. My personality completely changed almost overnight when I developed diabetes. I went from super calm and level headed to pretty much psycho. When I learned to control my sugar, I returned to normal. (well, almost normal…)

The only thing I can say is HEALTH is crucial. One year ago, my husband and I took both a personal leave of 1 year for studying Chinese and travelling around the world. The only problem is he got injured, but we don’t know how and he got a piriformis syndrome that hurts him day and night 24h. Sometimes, it’s so painful that he can barely sleep. This lasts for 1 year almost and he is still not cured… so can you imagine having one year off + money to do world trip and not able to fully enjoy it because of HEALTH?

So the only advise I can give is:

  1. Get a complete health check up + blood analysis, pressure and everything
  2. Try to lower your speed at work and put less pressure to yourself (my husband was working like hell before his leave and he got this strange syndrome 2 months after… and a lot of doctors said it was partially due to the hard pressure at work and suddenly no pressure at all => the nervous breakdown).
  3. I would not advise any medication, because you get addicted to it, even short term
  4. Did you try any acupuncture to get more relaxed? This worked well, for a lot of friends of mine and I have an address that I can recommend because we’ve been there and actually I am planning to go there tonight because I am not sleeping well recently. The doctor (Dr Zhao - everyday from 6pm to 10 pm) speaks a little English, but since you speaks Chinese, there is no communication issue. His clinic is Ming Sheng Est Road Section 5 at number 48
  5. Music is also good. It does not work for me, but for my husband yes.
  6. You really have to talk to your girlfriend. You need to share this with someone you care and only together you can overcome this issue. I don’t think it’s good to hide your problem because you will be alone facing a-your issue and b-her reaction… so talk and I am sure you will feel more at ease after, because for example, she won’t think strange that you suddenly do not like to fly, that you are stressed about meeting foreigners…

I think you have been given very good advice, particularly about getting help and seeing if there might be an underlying physical reason.

I suffered from panic attacks in the past at the start of examinations. It was weird because it was only for science, math, and engineering exams, but I was fine for other tests. Anyway, over three years of just dealing with it before I got help. And when I did get counseling it was because I was worried about the problem spreading to other areas- speeches, interviews, etc. In the end it did not become generalized but I found out that this is a real possibility- left unchecked panic attacks can spread to areas of your life unrelated to the original cause of the affliction.

Do a little Internet research of cognitive behavioral therapy, and I would try to stay away from drugs since this can be beat without them (and more permanently in my opinion).

PM me if you need somebody to talk to. You can keep things anonymous with a fake email address. Or, of course, I would happy to meet you- it might be good for you to meet someone that’s alot more screwed up than yourself (me).