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Conquering Panic Attacks: My Personal Journey to Overcoming and Managing Anxiety & Panic

Updated: Apr 21


Anxiety and panic. How acupuncture treats anxiety

 

My Journey with Panic Attacks


I am 48 years old now. Looking back, it all started when I was 17 years old. I had just finished high school and started studying sound engineering. A family member had passed away 6 months before; we were incredibly close, and I was in deep mourning and depression.


I was born shy and introverted, (a challenging combo!) and starting at a new college with new people was daunting.


I vividly remember the first week of sound school. As a sensitive soul, I felt like I could feel every emotion in a room at once, and somehow I felt like I was absorbing it all intensely, with no way to block the feeling of 'overwhelm'. I was in a new room, with lots of 'cool' kids that I had to suddenly navigate.


I sat at the front of the classroom. I never do this, but it was the only seat left because, of course, so many cool kids want to sit at the back, and there were no seats there.


Something happened...


I can't explain the feeling exactly, but in the middle of class, my heart started racing, I started sweating, and then became hyper-aroused. It felt like a drug overdose or a heart attack; I wasn't sure. I had only drunk coffee that morning. International roast, was it that!?

The feeling seemed to go on forever, probably 30 minutes in total, but I never want to feel that again.

After the class, I went to the pharmacy. I still didn't feel right, and I just wanted to talk to someone. Ask what happened. Some explanation. The pharmacist looked at me slightly suspiciously and confused. "I don't know what you're talking about, so I don't know how to help you," he said, "but if you need a seat to rest, sit here."


I really felt alone. I felt ashamed and scared. I didn't know where to look for answers. One issue I had was finding information. This was 1994, and the internet had only just been connected to Australia pretty much, so Google didn't exist. You had to read books or ask people. But who to ask? What to ask?


My wish at this point was that it goes away, this feeling. Unfortunately, it didn't for years. From that day on, I had to get a train from Melbourne CBD to Mitcham, which was 17 stops, and every time the doors closed, I had a mini-attack, what I now know was a panic attack. So that's 16 panic attacks each way. Both ways, I was experiencing at least 20-30 panic attacks a day. I can't believe I lived through that now.


This went on for about 6 months, until I befriended someone in the class, who luckily lived near me, and offered to drive me. Bruce, you were a lifesaver!


So then, I learned to avoid trains, planes, traffic jams, trams, lifts, crowded rooms, even my favorite thing - going to gigs and live music. It really dictated my life. All my travel dreams were stopped (living on a big isolated island like Australia, there's only one way off, by plane, minimum 6 hours locked in flying a tube). I looked for jobs that required no lift access, train/plane travel, meetings, etc. I ended up incredibly tired from all the panic attacks; it seemed to drain all my life-force, leaving me very isolated and depressed.


After a few years of avoidance, a new relationship, and some supplements, I felt better overall, but I was still very restricted with my life. No travel, no crowded rooms.


Next step, I started studying Chinese medicine. I had seen an acupuncturist for various things, and it all seemed to help me overall so much, I decided to study it. But, that meant big lectures, sometimes a packed lecture theater with 400 people. And yes, the panic attacks started again. But it wasn't until I started studying a psychology unit that they explained 'Panic Disorder'. It's me! I thought. That is exactly what I have. Finally, a label.


So then I saw the school psychologist, who did Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), with some exposure therapy, and that really helped a lot. My mind had become so 'catastrophic' that I was constantly setting things up. But, I wouldn't say I was totally cured.


At that point, I was better. Still depleted and nervous, but the panic attacks had reduced significantly.



What I did


I feel it's fair to briefly talk about everything that I tried before I talk about what specifically worked for me.

This is my journey, but I find these things also work for many of my clients.


My journey included: meditation, herbal supplements (western and eastern), yoga, hypnosis, western medication (PNR Xanax), essential oils, Kinesiology, Chiropractic, NLP, Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, massage, crystal healing, shamanic healing, Reiki, Psychology (parts therapy, CBT, gestalt, exposure therapy, EMDR), Neuro Emotional Technique (NET) and probably some others that I have forgotten. Over Aus $10,000 worth of therapy over 20 years.


What I did that worked for me


  1. Psychology: I think talking it out, reframing your mind and getting some tools is essential to start. Often anxiety sufferers have other mental health challenges such as depression, and the less clutter in your mind the better.

  2. Meditation: In line with psychology, training your mind to be strong is essential. When your mind wanders down the old path of worry, this will be the homework that pays off.

  3. Kinesiology: Not everyone might expect this, and it took me a few practitioners to find the right one, but this was one of the biggest instant shifts. It's probably not for everyone, but this actually blew my mind and made a HUGE shift. Basically kinesiology uses muscle testing to see what part of your psychology is not functioning. The lady I saw is in the Block arcade in Melbourne CBD. She combines energy clearing techniques with kinesiology. I'm not sure if I come across as skeptical, but I am, I tried so many things that don't work, that I wasn't sure but I was absolutely blown away. I felt like my brain was reset, and I had the calmest 4 days of my life following this first session. Anyway, maybe I'll post something separately about this another time because that's how big it was.

  4. Western Medication: Sometimes you're in a bad place, and you need help. For me, I have used Xanax maybe 10 times in my life. This was when I wasn't good. If used appropriately, it can be a tool to give you back confidence.

  5. Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine: This is my qualification right, so of course I'm going to mention this! I'll talk about that now in a little more detail.


Anxiety and panic. How acupuncture treats anxiety. Melbourne acupuncture clinic fitzroy

What is the function and method of Acupuncture and herbal medicine


Acupuncture

We know that acupuncture has been used for over 3,000 years, but how exactly does it treat anxiety and panic attacks? Lets explore from my clinical experience rather than just research.

Two answers from my opinion.

  1. There is the 'tuning up the body' angle. This is a big part of what I do. Don't just rush in and apply a 'protocol'. Support and nourish the body and support it in all physiological functions. Sometimes that means fixing the gut and IBS etc. to assist in absorbing all the nutrients from food. There are also specific 'anxiety' points such as GB13 (Gao Ben) which name translates as 'Root the spirit'. It does exactly that. Ground your spirit/mind/consciousness.

  2. Practical points like the PTSD protocol used by the U.S military. This absolutely blew me away when I first started trying it. I remember it was after the Kinglake fires in 2009, Victoria, killed around 173 people, that victims and family related to the fire began to come into my clinic. At first I felt like there was nothing I could do. After searching I came across this protocol helping army veterans from Afghanistan and other wars. It has been incredibly life changing for so many individuals who have experienced this simple ear acupuncture.


Anxiety and panic. How acupuncture treats anxiety. Melbourne acupuncture clinic fitzroy

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been one of the biggest turning points for me. It not only reduces the occurence and level of anxiety in the moment and overall, but it keeps building the body's ressilience to getting further panic attacks and anxiety the more you take it.


Of course not all formulas work the same, and it's impossible to do a proper controlled, double blind study with acupuncture and herbs, because each person requires an individualised treatment, as with psychology.


If I can go back 1,800 years ago where panic attacks were first recorded in our ancient herbal books in China, I will share the top 3 formulas mentioned there to treat panic. Back in those days they didn't have the term panic or anxiety, but it was labelled 'running piglet qi'. Think that's a strange name? Look at some of the causes of death in the 18th century London, we have 'Rising of the lights', 'St.Anthony's fire', and my favourite 'Planet Struck'!


Here are the 4 main formulas to treat anxiety and panic attacks that I use every week in my clinic.


This formula is great for perimenopausal women who have hot flushes and general anxiety


Gui Zhi Jia Gui Tang 桂枝加桂湯

I use this formula when the patient has a sensitive disposition and feels very vulernable to the outside world.


Ling Gui Cao Zao Tang 茯苓桂枝甘草大枣汤

This formula is used in a patient with severe daily panic attacks and a lot of pulsing and sloshing in the abdomen, with fluid retention.


Chai Hu Jia Long Gu Mu Li Tang 柴胡加龙骨牡蛎汤

I often use this formula for patients with PTSD, bipolar, ADHD and anxiety. Absolutely brilliant.


As you can see, Chinese medicine, Psychology and Western medicine all have something to offer. It's really knowing what to do at what time with experience.


After suffereing so long myself in the past from anxiety and panic attacks, I am very passionate about helping others achieve peace and normality in life, to enjoy more choices and freedom.


If you have any questions or wanted to know if i can help you, please feel free to contact me and we can put a team and a plan together for you to get started.


Anxiety and panic. How acupuncture treats anxiety. Dr Chris Eddy Fitzroy North

Chris


Dr Chris Eddy (Dr Chinese medicine) 329 St Georges Rd Fitzroy North, (T,W,Th) (03) 9043 6568

Or 120 Main St Romsey Monday and Friday

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