Joined: Feb 2010, #30519
2010 TRD OR Access
2010 Access Cab Automatic 4.0L V6
Leer 100XR Shell, BedRug mat - comfy sleeping, GT Covers microfiber seat covers, BFG All Terrains 265/70r16, Dashmat, Antennax 13" shorty antenna, Weathertech liners, Ultra Gauge, Avid Light Bar, PIAA 520 ATPs, one old dog
Reducing caffeine, nicotine and energy drinks (loaded with stimulants like guarana) can help as these are stimulants that can make anxiety and panic attacks worse.
Now that you've had your first panic attack, you know what one is. That's good, because now you know that even though it feels like you're going to die, you know it doesn't have that power. Just undertanding that, especially in the moment of attack, can help tremendously.
When I had attacks, I finally started getting up, going to the family room and doing pushups or jumping jacks. Yeah, it seems counterintuitive when your heart is pounding / racing so damn hard, but remember ... it's all a head thing. Take it head on. Take back control of your body by getting up and doing a little excercise. You might be surprised how quickly it passes.
Also I have found meditation / centering / awareness exercises to be a tremendous help, especially over time. Take a few minutes each day to sit alone, in a quiet place, without distraction. It can be as simple as sitting in a chair, folding your hand in your lap, closing your eyes and breathing. Focus on the breath ... feel it entering the nostrils and then leaving. Feel it on your upper lip. Make that you point of awareness. The point is to have a simple point on which to focus. If you find you drift away from it (and you will), come back as you can.
Do NOT try to stop your thoughts, but take notice of them like clouds in the sky ... they come, build up, some thunder and rage and may cause fear. But that like clouds, they aren't solid ... they shift and change, and eventually dissipate. Pay attention to this. It really all is in the head, and in our hyper-fast, 24/7 news cycle, information coming at you from all directions, modern technology driven society, it's very very easy to forget this, and to get swept away. We really have forgotten what it means to calm down and take stock of things. But it's so important.
There are also some short term, fast acting anti-anxieties on the market, if you find you need something quick... things like Ativan (generic name Lorazapam). Talk to your doctor. But like any anti-anxiety, they can become addictive over time. So it's definitely a "use sparingly" sort of thing. But it really works.
I have sometimes combined a Lorazapam with awareness exercises .. take one and then pay attention to the effect .. notice it coming on .. notice how my thoughts begin to dissipate, and the hard edges of the mind grow softer, and things ease.
And finally,don't hesitate to talk to someone. It's weird when all of a sudden, you .. normally healthy and not plagued by anxiety .. find yourself dealing with what is almost laughable fear, because it seems to make no sense. Like in your case, all of a sudden there's this dream. But you know, over a lifetime, we all lock all sorts of shit away behind doors in the mind, and sometimes it doesn't take much to break some of those things back open. That's why you hear people saying "I never say it coming" .. because sometimes the trigger (whatever it is) just makes no sense and now there's all this anxiety and/or fear. Don't be afraid to explore this with a professional in your area.
And though you say watching disaster images doesn't affect you, it's not your rational, conscious mind that's the problem. It's the subsconscious, that comes more to the surface while you sleep. So while you can watch that stuff and feel nothing, what it's doing is adding more fuel to the fires of your deeper mind ... more imagery for your subconscious mind to pick and choose from. So stop watching them.
Feel free to PM me anytime about any of this, OP. Happy to help. Been there, done that. And peace to you.