Panic Attacks and Nursing school-LONG

  1. Hi All! Earlier this year I was diagnosed w/ panic disorder and I am on Paxil to suppress them. Does anyone else suffer from these? To give u some background, I only used to experience these when smoking pot but after many years of using so needless to say I quit several years ago when I 'matured' and because of the panic I experienced. I used to be a 'pothead' in my early college years and loved to smoke but later I experienced paranoia but of the worst kind - feeling of doom/death, sweating, heart palpatations, diarrhea, vomiting, shivering, teeth clench, etc. I can feel this sense of absolute doom start at the top of my head and work its way down. It got so bad this year that I was basically incapacitated, unable to get out of bed and care for my 2 kids. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, it is that bad of a feeling. The point of this thread is I am afraid this will keep me from success in school. I am trying my best to avoid having them but ruminating about the potential of having one continues several times a day and that is an actual symptom of panic disorder. Only like 2 million people are affected by this and 90% overcome them. I can see me at clinicals afraid of the unknown, overwhelmed by the expectations and just the thought is almost enough to have one. I am aware that this is psychological in nature (I am a worrier) and I have sought counseling for it and using the techniques given to 'train' myself to stop. I have met others who have this and that gives me hope. I just know by reading all the threads on this site about how stressful the program is and I am afraid. I REALLY want to succeed. Let's face it, I am 33, don't have alot of options and have a family but more than anything I want to be a nurse as a personal goal for me. So if there is anyone out there who has this or just wants to comment please feel free. Thanks!
  2. Visit amybethf profile page

    About amybethf

    Joined: Dec '05; Posts: 385; Likes: 102
    ICCU-Cardiac; from MI , US
    Specialty: ICCU - cardiac

    10 Comments

  3. by   romie
    There are several excellent resources out there for people with panic and anxiety disorders. Some good books:

    The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne
    Beyond Anxiety & Phobia by Edmund Bourne

    The second book focuses alot on non-prescription pharmaceutical options. Some people have alot of success with Paxil and other SSRI's. Be warned that while Paxil is one of the most powerful SSRI's to treat panic, it can have some difficult side effects for some people, which you should discuss with your healthcare provider. Bourne's second book talks alot about supplements including fish oil, vitamin B, SAme. He also details alternative therapies, uses visualizaitons and other techniques to change your inner script. It sounds like you are already familiar with these techniques. I'm not reccommending any of these treatments, I am just telling you what is available in his books.

    While in school, let a few close friends know you have panic attacks, explain what they feel like and what to expect. When you are experiencing a panic attack, sometimes telling someone you are close to that you are having one helps tremendously. It shouldn't be something that you have to hide or be ashamed of as those feelings of shame will only aggravate your condition. It is great that you have met others with it.

    Because some people have panic attacks in social settings, sitting near an exit or in the back the room during class can take some of the pressure off.

    General lifestyle stress can worsen the condition, so try to eliminate some of the stress out of your life. Simplify simplify. Some people have very stressful lives and never experience anxiety, other people with zero obligations or stress can suffer chronic panic attacks. Avoid caffine and alcohol, get enough sleep every day, exercise, do artsy things to enrich your soul. Establish a daily routine and stick to it-- study at the same time, schedule time for your personal care, time for house cleaning, ect.

    Remember that millions of people have successfully treated their panic and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
  4. by   Pixiesmom
    I have been diagnosed with panic disorder and I agree with the poster above me, awesome info Romie. I'm still working on my pre-req's but I did confide in one of my friends and she was there when I needed her. :spin:
  5. by   allthingsbright
    Check your private messages! -
  6. by   australianrn
    HI my heart really went out for you reading your post.

    I am a hardworking RN and I too have a panic disorder. I got through college and through all my clinicals. Some things were harder than others.

    One thing I ALWAYS did prior to my clinicals was to go to the facility, have a look around, introduce myself. This made the anxiety a little easier to deal with before hand. I worked out how to get there, where I would park etc prior. Might seem like something small and a waste of time but for me it meant that I was a little less anxious before hand.

    Another thing I ALWAYS did was to be prepared for every clinical. I would read up and study as much as possible before hand. For example if I was going to Coronary Care I would read up on the common heart medications, study rythem strips, ekg etc. This also helped me as I felt more prepared. In some ways I made everything so much more work but it worked for me.

    Since I registered I have had a couple of jobs, my present job I have been at for 4 years. I am not planning on changing jobs as this is a huge stressor for me. Over the last 4 years I have become proficient at my job, but at times I still have flashes of panic. Sometimes I need to hide in the bathroom or linen room to calm myself down. Everyone at work knows Im a stressy person but they are used to it !

    Good luck to you - hold your head up and be strong, even if you feel you are drowning at times, its all worth it in the end x
  7. by   summers hope
    Hi Amybeth,I had panic disorder,went thru therapy and learned to control them and took xanax as needed after a car wreck 12 yrs ago. It took me a year or two to stop having them and while I was going thru them It felt like a neverending nightmare, and I feel the same, I would never wish it on anyone!! Even though I no longer have panic attacks, I still have insomnia, cronic worries and have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety because I just can't seem to shut off the worry cycles,so I am still on xanax and effexor xr (which helps me sleep,so I don't take it till bedtime). I too am starting LPN school, tomorrow!!! I am scared too, but I know we both will get thru it. Just try to take things a minute at a time and try not to think too far ahead, that helps me. Also, do your breathing when needed and another thing that might help is to think to yourself (I'm doing this to help others who need me). When I think this it gives me a calm feeling because I'm taking the focus off myself. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I know you will do fine!! When I enrolled and got exepted into school, I went straight to my Dr. and asked him about being a nurse with my anxiety and being on my meds and he said of course you can be a nurse with anxiety disorder, that's what your meds are for!! He wished me luck and that mad me feel a lot better too!! So goodluck to you,too!!
  8. by   Dratz
    Panic attacks are horrible. I have suffered from them for 23 years. It takes GUTS to live with this disorder...trust me.

    After 23 years I finally went for help and asked for and got Xanax which I plan to use PRN during second year nursing school. Not sure why I took so long to seek help for it. I have yet to try it and am not sure it will work but I had to do something.

    I always know why I am having panic attacks right out of the blue when I sit down and think about how much stress I am having at a particular time in my life. When things are cool, I have no attacks, but when things heat up...Wham!!.

    Panic attacks for me are nature's way of telling me to SLOW down...take a deep breath and stop the messages in my head that I play over and over again.

    Anxiety disorder is for me.......talking in my head. I am learning (finally) to stop the negative self talk. I found that taking Lucinda Basset's Anxiety program has helped somewhat, but lately I have wandered away from my studies on that and am studying my nursing instead. I need a balance somewhere on that I think lol.

    What helps me with anxiety is making sure I get enough sleep, am prepared for "everything" and that means studying my arse off beforehand, (prep work for me = less anxiety...the more prepared I am, the less panicked I become if that makes sense...so if that tip helps you when you enter school, I know it works for me.
    Also, what else works for me when I experience a panic attack driving alone to ......hmm say the clinical site...when my heart is racing and I am worried about clinical...is this......in my car, if I feel one coming on, I immediately self talk myself out of it...Hard to explain but if that means rolling down my window and singing at the top of my lungs so be it...also I will say to myself what is the worst thing that will happen and take deep breaths while trying to still concentrate on my driving. It takes practice but I can usually get through them. Then I chastise myself for getting so scared of nothing..probably not good to get mad at myself but that is what I do.

    Talking about it helps too. Finding others who have the same disorder helps you to relate and find coping methods.

    Hugs to you, I most certainly know EXACTLY what you are going through. Know that you are not alone in this.

    Good luck with your studies, Be strong. :icon_hug: :icon_hug: :icon_hug:
  9. by   amybethf
    THANKS SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR HEARTFELT REPLIES! (I could have quoted all your replies in my response but that would be crazy ) It is such a relief to know that i am not alone and that i am not 'crazy!' Cuz that's how u feel inside and unless u suffer from a panic attack u can never quite articulate just how bad it is to anyone else. But from reading what u all have said, curbing the negative self-talk, techniques to calm down, just being prepared for my tests and clinicals is incredibly helpful. I know I can do this and honestly, knowing that there are others out there just like me who are making it work, I feel the hugs and empathy and it pushes me forward. Thanks again SO MUCH!
  10. by   hsfarrara
    I too suffer from anxiety attacks. I'm also 33, I have a husband and two children. I am entering my LPN program this fall. I've been taking Zoloft for a few years now. My grandmother recommended the Claire Weekes books for me, "Hope And Help For Your Nerves"; "More Help For Your Nerves", and there are a couple more books, I just can't recall the titles at the moment. She gives you ways to cope with the attacks, and to "float" through them. The books and the meds have helped me immensely. Everyone has different ways of coping with their anxiety attacks. You'll find what works and what doesn't work for you. In fact, one of the reasons I am going into nursing is because of my anxieties. Long, Long ago when I was 15 or 16, I would literally think I was suffering from some disease, tumor, etc.........I was so focused on looking up my symptoms in medical books, and the internet that I became fascinated by the body and all of its systems. I finally decided that I would benefit so much more by putting my worries to rest and getting on with an education in nursing/medicine. Good luck to you. Try to breathe deeply, and think positive thoughts!
  11. by   Asklepios
    I just signed up at this forum, and I'm a little surprised that this would be the thread I make my 1st post in.

    A couple years ago, I suffered from depression. Nothing major, and counseling along with a small dose of Zoloft daily made things a lot better. I became the person I had not been since my teens. I stopped taking Zoloft last summer, and things were good until this spring, when I had some unfortunate events in my life that got me down again. Anyway, work got very stressful in mid-June, and I experienced my first panic attack a couple days after July 4th. I was driving at the time, so I pulled over. My body started going numb and tingling, and I couldn't breathe. After 15 minutes I started feeling okay again. But that day I called my doctor and he prescribed Xanax for anxiety/panic. It seems to be working well, and he said I could take it up to 3 times per day, but could go less if I didn't feel anxious, so it's helping a lot. Usually one in the morning gets me through work, then I'm fine.

    I'm just getting into the process of applying for the nursing program at my local county college, and there's a lot to be worried about. I have pre-reqs to take, then there's the issue of whether I will have to work full time while going to school if I'm accepted. And if I am accepted, I know the work will be intense. But my way of coping is to worry about the things I can control. When things happen, I worry, but I also take action, as opposed to worrying but not doing anything. The best thing is, I'm working toward something now that I really want, and it gives me hope and a dream to pursue, which makes dealing with the crappy job I have now a little easier.

    Best of luck to you!!!!
  12. by   Princess74
    I suffer with them too. I know how you feel. It does help if you have someone you trust that knows how to help you through them.

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