I'm new to these boards & fairly new to panic attatcks.
Welcome to the board. I'm sorry to hear you are having such a difficult time right now. Panic attacks are so scary! First off all, please know that you are not alone in this. You will find many an empathetic ear on the board.
To answer your first question, the effects of stress are cumulative. It's not uncommon for people under a great deal of stress for a prolonged period of time to have progressively worse symptoms. It's also possible to be coping with the stress pretty well and then to have something trigger your anxiety and panic. Kind of like the straw that breaks the camel's back.
It is possible to learn how to cope with the anxiety and to minimize its affects on your life. Have you considered going to therapy? I ask because there therapies out there that can help you to manage the anxiety and teach you how to talk yourself down from panic. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the type most often used for anxiety sufferers. It teaches you tools to help you cope with anxiety and panic, while helping you to identify your triggers and how to deal with them.
Research shows that a combination of both medication and therapy are the most effective tools for treating anxiety. Part of what happens is that by the time you get to a point where you're having regular panic attacks, your body is already out of whack. That's something else that cumulative stress is known to do. It affects your hormone levels as well as the chemical levels in your brain. Medication can often help restore those levels, while the therapy teaches you to manage your symptoms.
For some people it is possible to manage your anxiety without the aide of medication. Some people also teach themselves the cognitive behavioral techniques used to cope with anxiety with the help of books, such as The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, by Dr. Edmund Bourne. Whichever avenue you choose, just remember that there is no shame in seeking help from a professional source. Many, many people struggle with anxiety and panic daily, and there are professionals our there who specialize in treating it.
Whatever you decide to do, please know that we are here for you, and we care how you're doing. Feel free to post any time about anything you want to talk about. The group as a whole represents all kinds of experience with anxiety and its treatments.
In the mean time, be sure to take care of yourself. A balanced diet and adequate sleep are so important when we're experiencing bad anxiety. It's such a physical illness, that it takes a toll on our bodies. Replenish yourself with good food and rest whenever you can. Also, exercise is a great help. It burns of excess adrenaline that is the cause of the physical symptoms of panic and anxiety, plus it helps us to reduce the effects of stress on our bodies. You don't have to get extreme with it. Even gently walking or yoga can be a great help.
Take care of yourself and please let us know how you're doing.
Just wondering how you're doing this week. Have the panic attacks settled down? Take care and keep in touch.