Sorry for the long delay in posts. I felt like I was writing to myself and no one was finding the site. If you are reading this and have any questions or comments please please do not hesitate to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I understand if you want to remain anonymous so just leave a comment on the site or create a random email address. This disorder can be debilitating if not managed properly and I want to help in anyway I can. Thanks guys.
Okay so by now you hopefully have a pretty good handle on riding out a panic attack. It sort of runs through the same motions each time and you just breathe through it and continue what you were doing. No big deal. But sometimes there is a new sensation that can throw you off - maybe your panic attacks are largely focused on chest pain and chest tightness but then one time you feel like your throat was closing up. And you haven't experienced that before. You get scared and suddenly you are back to fearing the panic attack, or at least fearing this new sensation to the point that it leads to a panic attack. I like to do two things in this situation.
1) I don't normally advocate looking up sensations online. I am a hypochondriac, as I am sure a lot of people with panic disorder are. Looking up medical stuff online is just a bad idea, it will make you feel worse, not better. The ONLY time I think it is okay to look up a sensation is to confirm that it is due to anxiety (and you probably should just take your own word for it, and not even look online). If you are EVER going to look something up online, type the following into google "[your sensation here], anxiety". There is also this website that lists anxiety symptoms: http://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml I sometimes find it helpful to review the list, and just remember how many crazy sensations you can feel as a result of anxiety.
2) Put some humor into it. You have trained yourself to be okay with a physical sensation. Be okay with having a headache, being dizzy or having chest pain. And now suddenly you have this sensation that your throat is tightening up and you can't breathe. Its almost like your body is *searching* for a sensation that will get your attention (at least sometimes it feels like that!). When this happens I try to have the attitude like "Well I see you've found something new to try, amygdala...you're going to try to get me to believe that I can't breathe huh? Well you are doing a pretty decent job, I mean my throat feels pretty tight. Unfortunately, I can still breathe. See? I'm breathing in....and now I'm breathing out. Good try though." Sometimes I will be working or doing something and feel a sensation and I will even smile a little and be like "oh amygdala, what are you up to now you troublemaker?"
You just have to do whatever it takes to get away from *fearing* the sensation. I know it is hard, but fear is what fuels panic so you never want to give it that fuel.