At random times during the day, I have these anxiety attacks at times. It's not when there is a crisis. Then I'm fine since there's action that needs to be taken. It's the in between times. It's the anxiety about what could happen that does it. I just find myself with a loudly beating heart and cold with fear.

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I do suffer from PTSD (childhood abuse) and while it is 90% under control and you wouldn't meet me and think "wow, that lady is a real tweak fest", I am just 'managing' the anxiety that I suffer from, despite my meds.

When I am overloaded with emotional stuff, or go through some stressful things with DH (he is a walking miracle, he's lived through so many things that should have killed him) I tend to ramp up the panic attacks.

I DO have an anti anxiety med to take, and I so grateful, b/c it works every single time.

Sometimes I have to back off of things and say no to people. Caring for mother is huge anxiety trigger. I spend minimal time with her. DH's health, while currently good, is rocky. He had 2 heart attacks last summer and I am still feeling 'uneven' about those. My doc said it would take a year or more for both of us to accept the 'new norm'--meaning, we wouldn't freak out over every little mis-beat of his heart.

It's easy for docs to say 'take it easy, relax, blah blah' and really HARD to do when you are having that heart pounding attack that will NOT end.

I am trying to cut down on other's expectations--starting with my family. My kids are old enough to take over the party hosting stuff. I can put myself first. (This is harder than I thought).

And I also don't ever have the attacks when the actual trauma is happening--it comes popping out in other ways--with no seeming trigger.

If this is causing you to be miserable and fearful in your daily life, talk to your doc. A low dose of Zoloft for me keeps me from being anxious and a 'as needed' benzodiazepene. Not proud of this, but glad I can handle life.

Deep breathing and mindfulness also help. Whatever works for you. Most times we cannot handle the stressors because we live with them. Gotta learn to live around them.
Helpful Answer (16)

I think anxiety and general stress goes with the territory of caregiving.

Speaking to a good therapist. I had a great social worker that really helped me sort out feelings that I had.

Don’t let anyone make you feel inferior either, such as relatives who don’t do the caregiving or contribute in other ways. Make an excuse and hang up the phone if they call.

Some family members aren’t able to or not interested in the hands on caregiving but they could call just to offer support and they don’t. That’s a shame. I used to take those things to heart, not anymore!

My mom has anxiety. It rubs off on us. I had to learn how to let it roll off my back. We started to feed off of each other, otherwise, know what I mean? Happens with too much togetherness!

Actually do some housekeeping, eliminate any negative people who create anxiety in your life. I have had to do that with a couple of people. Ended up being liberating for me. Now they are bothering others but it not’s me anymore!

Choose to be around or speak with people who lift you up, not knock you down, commonly called, energy vampires! They will drain the life out of you and make you feel like things are much worse than they are or that they know so much more than we do. As caregivers we have enough on our plates.

Deep breathing. Soothing music or hey, loud rock music from our youth! I have such eclectic taste in music, adore jazz and blues, classic rock, soothing classical to unwind, any variety of music that is good.

Exercise! Great stress buster! I will do thirty minutes to an hour on my exercise bike. Don’t laugh but I also love chopping vegetables to make a large pot of homemade soup.

I am a coffee drinker but I find sipping hot tea very soothing. Same as a hot bath. When I get the chance I am going to schedule a massage too!

Take care, mega hugs!
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Texasgal Apr 2019
Wow great answer and I can relate to everyone of them. I too take care of my 92 year old mother. Do I get support - emotional or otherwise from my family - i.e. 2 brothers/2 SIL. NOPE - NOT EVEN! ALL they do is sit back and bash me - the nerve. It almost drove me over the edge but then I took a step back and realize I'm an awesome person, friend, co-worker (yes I work full-time still) and will not beat myself up over anything anymore. Friends and co-workers can't believe I do all that I do and still look damn good doing it. Meaning don't let yourself "go"...somedays I do but I'm glad I have a job that I get up for, get showered, dress nice and throw on some makeup. It makes one feel so much better. I make sure I schedule mani/pedis, lunch with friends and day trips when I can. No I don't get to do on a week long vacay - haven't done that in years but just a 1-2 day respite works wonders. My mom can still drive, cook and take care of her needs. But that will probably end soon. But maybe not. I try not to think too far into the future because that causes a lot of anxiety for me. I live close to a good hospital and a nursing home. If I have to get in-home care I will. But I will not give up my life totally for her. She has been relying on me for emotional support, entertainment for most of her life. And if I'm not doing for her she can get very unpleasant real fast. So everyone take care of yourself - you will be of no use to anyone if you don't take care of your health - mental and emotional.
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I went through a period of that around the time my brother was dying from cancer, I'd be doing something ordinary like watching TV or sitting in church and suddenly be overwhelmed by panic - a crushing weight on my chest, nausea, lightheaded, numb extremities - the whole package. Not fun. I mentioned it to my doctor but since it wasn't interfering with my daily life he was blasé. I learned to control it with square breathing - in to a count of 4 (or whatever number works for you), hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4, repeat. Given that your circumstances are ongoing I think you should talk to your doctor, I still suffer from residual effects almost 20 years later.
Helpful Answer (11)

Need to,

The others have given good advice.

I will add my experience since it’s a little different.

My body had been sending me signals that I was ignoring.

After the deaths of my Dad, Stepdad and Maternal Grandmother within 2 years and the management of their care I was fried. But Mom was still in her home alone with Dementia after my Stepdads death. She was refusing help.

About a week before Christmas and after a heated discussion with Mom about her care or lack thereof I was driving home. I felt I couldn’t breath, my chest was tight, I felt cold but sweaty, queasy and lightheaded. I was passing the hospital. I wheeled into the chest pain center there.

I was kept overnight for observation and had a stress test the next morning. Everything checked out. I was fine but referred to my GP because of my diagnosis...STRESS.

My family physician talked to me and put me on a temporary, low dose of Lexapro. I think I took it for 6 months.

My advice would be when your body starts sending you messages that it’s on overload, listen. If you can’t get things under control yourself, see a counseler or your family physician.
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Jean1808 Apr 2019
Yep, I had a similar experience earlier this month with other complications for the VERY first time in my life and called 911. In addition to the cold shivering sweats, nausea, light-headed, and band sensation around chest, I had head to toe inflammation of my joints, stiff neck, sensation of shoulder separation, and some muscle spasm of the back. It was like a combined heart attack and rheumatoid arthritis attack.

Paramedics said I was ok but said I was tired and suggested warm bath. I'm an asthmatic and as of two years ago I do have diagnosis of heart disease. I'm 55. Never married, never had children. My mother easily triggers my startle responses and we live together.

Today I cheered myself up a bit imagining buying MYSELF a mother's day gift. I may even shop a mother's day card for ME.

I have not seen doctors yet to start checkup after what happened, but I talked to friends and we all agree it's a sign not to push myself so hard.
My brother is seriously ill in the hospital right now and I find I have to really try hard to stay out of the worse case scenario type of thinking or I'll really have a freak out.

I was prescribed ativan, the lowest dose and Effexor, lowest dose. I've been really trying to wean off of them cause they can really mess you up and you lose the ability to cope naturally which isn't good.

This whole business with my brother has raised a lot of the issues that were prevalent when my mom was in nursing care. My family just seems to scatter. No one communicates properly. It's like dealing with a bunch of children truly.

Sendme, a valuable contributor on here gave me some good advice. She said "don't go through your siblings for info. on your brother. Communicate with the hospital and doctors/nurses directly." That's what I've been doing and it works for me. They all have phones and they can do the same.

Cause dealing with sibs really raise the anxiety issues for me.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 2019
Oh boy, can the sibs create anxiety. Good luck, Gershun. Take care, hugs!
When I posted to this thread I referred to the one instance after an argument with Mom and her Dementia. I wheeled into the chest pain center because I thought I might be having a heart attack with the weird symptoms women sometimes have. When I posted a couple days ago I thought that was the only time it has happened to me.

I remembered another time. After Dad passed away a day or two after the funeral my sister and our husbands decided to clear out Dad’s apartment rather than pay for the next months rent. I had basically same symptoms. Queasy, sweaty, confused, tight chest. I hadn’t eaten in who knows when, I had been surviving on coffee mostly. Anyway, they got me out of Dads apartment. I started feeling better, then I ate and recovered completely.

It's interesting. I wonder if it was my brain or body that was overloaded or both?

My body and brain doesn’t seem to have the tolerance for stress that it once had, before caregiving. When my life gets stressful I wake up at 3:30am. It’s always 3:30am. Sometimes I can go back to sleep, sometimes I can’t.
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bambi1 Apr 2019
I always wake up at 3:00 or 3;30 am .Dont know why but i fall back to sleep right away.
Judging from your post of a few days ago you are dealing with too much. - grandma, mother, father and a geriatric dog and job responsibilities mixed in. All without support, or so it seems. Ways of dealing with the panic attacks are bandaids as the cause of the panic is still with you - extreme stress from caregiver overload.

In fact do you have any help? Are there any plans for grandma to be placed? You need to care for yourself.
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I have found Ashwagandha, to relieve my anxiety that I obtained when I started the care giving journey. It may be helpful to you. If you try be sure you get the right kind and not just any.
I think anxiety goes along with this labor of love. And I know that I stay in prayer mode most of that day and that is the only way I make it, through.
Best wishes to you, May God help you through these times.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 2019
Health food store?
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I used to get severe anxiety attacks. Ones that would send me to the emergency ward. They usually came when I would shove my emotions down during times of crisis. Then when I was sitting outside looking at a nice view or something relaxing out they'd come.

I went for cognitive training and one thing I learned that has helped me when I start to feel one coming on is focus on something if you can. Anything. Look at something totally unrelated to you and concentrate on it. Like, oh look at the cloud, the shape of it, what does it look like. I know it sounds dumb but I find it works. Plus knowing that in the past when I've had one that I didn't die and remembering that cause when you are in the midst of one that is what makes it spiral out of control. So just remind yourself that you won't die. You didn't last time.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 2019
It’s not dumb. It’s redirecting. Smart choice.
I have learned some valuable lessons in life but far too late. We are all subject to what if this or that????????? We have anxiety attacks out of fear of the unknown. Here is what I did to overcome these attacks. I took the issue at hand which was making me nervous. I then took that subject and put it into little pieces which eventually formed the whole big picture. I thought and analyzed what would I do and how would I do something IF that little piece occurred. Then I did the same with the next piece. Eventually, I had solved the "how" of the big picture IF it ever happened. It took a bit of time, but I found peace because now I knew what I would do to handle things. The attacks stopped and I found i was able to do whatever I had to do when things when wrong. I finally had peace. You are doing the right thing in DEFINING THE ISSUE as a first step. Then figure out how you would handle each aspect. You will now be prepared for whatever comes because you know you can handle it - you won't be in panic mode as you figured things out before they happened.
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Davina May 2019
That's good advice, Riley.
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