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Can't Identify Anxiety Attack "Triggers"


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I guess I'm not the new guy here anymore but I'm still having problems understanding things.  Ok, saw my TDoc who said that I need to identify the triggers that cause my Panic Attacks.   I have been keeping a journal and I've looked at some of the really bad attacks and there is nothing.  I get "triggered" by a series of things (Infidelity for example) but they don't line up with the real anxiety attacks. 

 

So - is this some form of Anxiety I don't understand?   Is my Tdoc right and I'm just not seeing the triggers?  

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When I was having regular panic attacks, they weren't necessarily triggered by anything. Sometimes they were triggered by being in a situation where I'd had one before, or just by thinking about them but mostly they were just out of the blue.

Edited by mcjimjam
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The anxiety attacks I have usually just "happen."  There is a trigger of some sort, but it could really be anything because I get stressed out so much.  Some of the triggers though that I am aware of are being large places alone, being around people where I have to engage in conversation, sometimes leaving my apartment.  Also sometimes impatience will set me off.

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I see where your tdoc is going with identifying your triggers, but, as other posters have said, sometimes anxiety attacks just happen without a trigger.  When I am filled with anxiety, it doesn't take anything to trigger a full blown anxiety and/or panic attack.  Having said that, I still think its helpful to try to identify potential triggers so you can avoid them or talk your way through them.

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I'm relieved that this is not some unknown anxiety problem.   I think what I'm confused by is the direct kind of trigger versus one where you "think something will happen."   My bad one have been that I have the anxiety attack before anything happens.  Then the event happens.   And I don't have an anxiety attack for the actual event.   I guess there must be some relief in having the event happen and you can do something about it???   But why before?  Am I seeing subtle signs?   Reading the future?  Having a guardian angel tell me to spaz out now because during the actual event it will be worse?  Boy this sounds pretty crazy...

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I get them pretty much randomly too. But if I really think about it I have a few triggers. Like forgetting my afternoon dose of med. Or being stressed out in any little way or fashion. And like Melissa said, being around a lot of people in a large space. Or just having to leave the apartment too.

I hope you are able to get your anxiety under control soon.

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I also have panic attacks and anxiety flare ups for no apparent specific reason.  Granted I have never kept a journal to track all of this but honestly nothing stands out.  Fortunately full on panic attacks are not very common but my anxiety randomly, but frequently, creeps in.   One thing I know for sure is if I am overwhelmed I can bet on some type of anxiety issue but the reasons for feeling overwhelmed are so varied it is hard to pin point triggers.  :surprised:

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I think some people use the term panic attack too loosely.  Panic attacks are usually caused by triggers. I get them too. But more often what I get is anxiety attacks ranging from mild to severe, but even at severe it is not a panic attack yet. When I get a panic attack, I can't breath, I feel dizzy, my heart is pounding and skipping beats I feel like I'm having a heart attack! Some anxiety attacks have triggers, some do not. It's that simple. If you can identify them your ahead of the game. For example: one trigger might be some thing some one says or does, or finances or arguments, there certainly many possible triggers. can identify some of mine, but many just happen for no reason. In my case I think my other conditions contribute to the anxiety too. And what really gets me mad is even identify your triggers does not always help lol. 

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I think some people use the term panic attack too loosely.  Panic attacks are usually caused by triggers. I get them too. But more often what I get is anxiety attacks ranging from mild to severe, but even at severe it is not a panic attack yet.

 

The panic attacks I have are caused by something, I just don't know what it is at the time; they just "happen," like I was saying before.  Any anxiety for me is a panic attack, regardless if it is "mild" or "severe" ... they are all panic attacks.

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Thanks for the feednack.  The TDoc I saw seemed to imply that anxiety attacks were all directly caused.   The problem is bthat many of them have happened when something really high on my potential trigger list happened but I had the attack before I knew about it.   Maybe I'm picking up hints and trying to put it together is the anxiety?   I dunno.  The other thing thats bothered me a lot is that up until a year (or two) I wasn't having anything like this.  I wasn't on meds for Anxiety it just wasn't on my radar so I've been going with the idea that this is totally temporary and I'll be done with it soon.  If I'm getting this right I may well be dealing with this for keeps?   ie taking Buspar 3 times a day and valium when thats not enough, finding and avoiding triggers and still having Anxiety attacks once in a while?   I guess I'm trying to formulate some kind of plan.   Thanks again for the feedback.   It helps in some way to know this isn't just me.

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I think some people use the term panic attack too loosely.  Panic attacks are usually caused by triggers. I get them too. But more often what I get is anxiety attacks ranging from mild to severe, but even at severe it is not a panic attack yet.

 

The panic attacks I have are caused by something, I just don't know what it is at the time; they just "happen," like I was saying before.  Any anxiety for me is a panic attack, regardless if it is "mild" or "severe" ... they are all panic attacks.

That's how I feel too Melissa.

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Anticipating anything is hard for me, and usually results in anxiety.  I have a hard time living up to a commitment or something, because the anxiety will be there before it happens, and will sometimes prevent me from doing whatever it is. 

 

Even though I am not a spur-of-the-moment person, sometimes those things that come up fast and out-of-the-blue I am more inclined to do because my  body doesn't have time to be anxious.

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I suspect that identifying triggers is part of understanding what drives the anxiety so those thoughts and emotions around the panic can be identified. So one person could have anxiety attacks before a terrifying social occasion because of rumination, one person could have one during the event as it is overwhelming. I have known people have attacks after due to inability to process it.

The skills needed to deal with rumination may differ frim those of tolerating panic in a social situation, they differ from dealing with guilt and fear thoughts after an event. Hence why patterns help people focus their treatment.

Some triggers need to be avoided. Every individual has to decide what kind of life they want to live and how worth it and effective it will be to use exposure therapy on triggers. Anxiety can progress because the brain works on associations (panic attack in the park-memories of being outdoors and losing control-now cannot sit in my garden) and so by avoiding existing triggers, people look for possible future triggers and make choices to avoid them. Their world shrinks. However chronic anxiety is hard to treat and is exhausting so I think people need to choose priorities re:exposure therapy.

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I get where your Tdoc is coming from and I think it may be useful to identify situations where you're likely to have an attack, but I don't think mine have definite triggers, there are things that will increase my chance of having one (crowded places, nightclubs, loud noises) but I can experience these and NOT have an attack... I just have to be prepared in case it happens and find exits/ take someone with me that knows. But because I have kept a diary, I know that it's these situations that may cause one.

 

After an attack I can be so 'shocked' that I don't remember exactly what's gone on, so there may be minor triggers I don't even know about, like smells or sounds.

 

Sometimes I wake up having them, or just for no reason. I don't know if I drift off and think about something and it triggers it, but I don't remember. 

 

Worth a shot though, so good luck!

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TDoc is kind of uptight with where I was going in trying to ID triggers.  Its difficult to explain but the examples I could remember were connected to relationship problems.  Things I thought were going to happen.   *So is that the trigger or is it a pretrigger?  *If there is such a thing.   The TDoc and I have had a few difficult sessions.  It might be me.   I dunno.

 

I am trying to get serious about working out daily.  Or as my GDoc says - 30 minutes of sweat.   I find the elipitical boring and it was starting to collect dust.   *That mood tracker I use thats mentioned in my signature has an x for the 30 minutes of sweat and I have to go way way way back to see any at all.   I started looking at old DVDs while running around on this dumb thing.   It makes the time go faster.   I'm trying to learn better balance so I can read while doing this.   I've managed to string 4 days of sweat together so I'm hoping this helps as much as the GDoc (& TDoc) say it will. 

 

I wish this was easier (And less expensive)   And speaking of expensive - I set up my list of meds on goodrx.com and it totals the best prices (Local) if you paid cash with no insurance.   Anyway it totals at $1300.00 a month!   I'm glad I have some insurance even if it is kind of sucky.   If anyone is interested to see what prices look like in your area check it out.

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I don't know if all anxiety attacks necessarily have triggers. Social situations trigger me massively, but then sometimes I get them out of the blue when I'm just sitting home alone. So I don't know. 

 

Am inclined to agree, I had many and never knew when they came from. Most were at home. On one occasion I was going to put a book on a window sill and jolted so badly that I fell over. Just came out of nowhere, I wasn't even thinking of anything.

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I can usually figure out my trigger *after* the attack, which doesn't really help. A lot of them are associated with cars, from both a physical experience, and a psychological one.

 

So I basically pay attention to my breathing, because I use my car everyday, and can't avoid it. Deep breathing really helps me. And at least if I do have a panic attack, it isn't a total shock, and I just pull of the road for a few minutes or longer, usually about 15.

 

My first panic attack woke me from a nap. My pdoc said it was bound to happen, and that he was surprised it hadn't happened sooner. But obviously I had no idea of what the trigger was. I think I already knew what panic attacks were, because even though I had the whole heart attack symptoms routine, I knew it wasn't for real.

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Here's what I noticed recently and is kind of strange. I start with a mild to moderate level of anxiety for reasons unknown to me, and then I start worrying I may get a panic attack and usually end up with at least severe anxiety and yes some times a full blown panic attack. I have wrecked my brain trying to figure out what the heck started this snowball. A lot of times I have no answer.

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