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Q. I have been suffering with panic attacks for over 2 years. I have been to 2 different cardiologists and was told that it had nothing to do with my heart, however my symptoms are so close to heart disease or angina it scares me very much. I get heart palpitations, missed heart beats, chest pain, pain in my left arm, jaw pain, my teeth ache, all of the symptoms associated with heart disease or angina etc... Can the doctors I have seen be wrong? Are these symptoms normal for anxiety or panic attacks? The doctors have me on medication but it doesn't seem to help much. I have read all of your web site as well as many others and yet to have found someone with these same weird symptoms. I would appreciate it if you could write me back and put my mind at ease a little bit.
A. These are the normal panic attack/anxiety symptoms. Did you read about these on our symptom page on our website? The major fear of panic disorder...and again this is on our website is the fear of dying, of having a heart attack.
Everyone goes through the stage of worrying that the doctor has made a mistake, that the test results have been mixed up etc. This is what panic disorder is. Being frightened of the panic attack..and in the first stage not believing their doctor!!! When people don't believe their doctors we always suggest they seek a second opinion (some people will seek 10 different opinions). Until you can believe the diagnosis and accept that this is what a panic attack feels like, it will keep on keeping on.
The way you are thinking only feeds the anxiety which feeds the attack. You will only recover once you accept it, believe it and learn to work on your thinking which is creating it all.
Recovery is going to mean you will ultimately need to ease your own mind. Mindfulness or Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be the most effective therapy in the long term. This therapy can help you come to accept and learn to work with your thoughts that are creating your symptoms.
Q. I am confused about what is supposed to happen during meditation. Could you let me know what I should expect at each stage of meditation. I have heard/read people see colors. Where does this "sensation" occur during meditation.
I have tried meditating or at least sitting quietly for a few minutes. Doing that helps a lot in relaxing. I need relaxation from the tension I have in my neck and shoulders. I think a lot of my anxiety actually comes from being so tense. The more uncomfortable they are, the more I tend to tighten them to get rid of them. It is a strange way of getting rid of it. My shoulders stay hunched. My husband will say, "Lower your shoulders."I realise I am walking around with them up around my ears.
A. The colons happens as people move through the theta state of consciousness. Everyone moves through the theta state as they go to sleep at night or when they are meditating, but only 25% of people of people see colours. The other 75% don't, so there is no need to worry if you don't see them. Some people who dissociate can also see the colons as they go to sleep at night.
That said, you do need to spend more than a few minutes meditating. We recommend people meditate for 20 minutes at least once a day, preferably twice a day. Your tension is coming from the way you are thinking. The way you think creates the tension and anxiety and the more you worry about how tense you are the more anxious you become.
Besides meditating, are you working on your thinking with the Mindfulness technique? This is the way to permanent recovery.
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