I suddenly started having panic attacks several years back. I thought I was having a heart attack the first time… and pretty much every time after, even though I knew what it really was.
Fastforward several years. I have not had a panic attack for a couple of years now, and I have identified the following contributing causes to my panic attacks:
- High-excitement video games
- Bad nutrition
- Over-exerting myself physically
- Repetitive negative thoughts
Let’s look at each in turn.
High-excitement video games: Back then, I spent several hours each day playing high-action games like League of Legends, and other then-popular competitive games. I didn’t realize until much later that these games were making me jittery and raising my anxiety far beyond when the game was over. Over the years, I’ve also identified a few other activities that make me feel bad in a similar way as these games: movies and TV shows that have too much action, drama, or horror, and some virtual games (regardless of their apparent stress level), that are so immersive that my mind starts to feel disjoint from my own body.
Bad nutrition: I wasn’t eating regularly back then either. I would neglect to fix food until I was over-hungry, and the types of food I ate were not exactly healthy. I was already pretty thin, so this probably did bad things to my metabolism and body in general.
Over-exerting myself physically: I had just moved to a new town and was trying new sports and activities to integrate with the locals. I played tennis and rode bicycles a lot, often to the point of exhaustion.
Repetitive negative thoughts: I had already been grappling with bouts of depression, which is a form of repetitive negative thoughts, but I started to also have uncontrollable repetitive thoughts about physical health concerns. My attention would get so focused on something like my heart beat that I would start to worry about heart palpitations and monitor myself for them obsessively. I couldn’t stop thinking about these things despite my best efforts.
Coming up with solutions to the first three was easy: stop playing those games, spend more time and energy fixing good meals, don’t exert myself so much. The last one, however, posed more of a challenge. My father suggested I take different supplements through time, and I have found that Saffron, Lithium Orotate , and Tryptophan are all helpful. That’s not to say that just taking these supplements stopped my repetitive thoughts; I still grappled with distracting myself in different ways and averting my thoughts whenever I realized I was thinking about anything that could trigger a panic attack.
Some tricks I learned for breaking negative thought cycles include:
- Listening to relaxing music (nothing with a strong beat or loud solos. Think easy-listening and smooth jazz).
- Switching my attention to one or more highly-distracting thoughts that I’ve discovered. Once thinking about these things, it’s hard to stop thinking about them!
- Manually controlling my eyelid blinking.
- Thinking about how my tongue doesn’t really fit comfortably in my mouth.
- Manually controlling my breathing.
- Tai-Chi or walking around outside for a bit.
If you are having panic attacks, I hope something from my experiences might help you!