By Anni Dahms
Owner of the retail chain
ANNI’s VITAL SHOP.
Nurse- & Health
specialist, Biopath and Nutritional Adviser.
Personally, I take it very seriously when I hear from people suffering from panic attacks.
I still clearly remember my first, and very severe panic attack when I was only 8 years old. My dad, mom and I had just moved from our wonderful villa to a far more modest neighbourhood, and my parents were going out one evening, thinking I was old enough to stay home alone. I was, after all, such a grown-up, responsible girl now. I was put to bed and they locked the door on their way out.
It wasn’t long before I started to freak myself out, imagining all sorts of terrifying things, like grey men dropping from the ceiling.
Within no time I ran to front door, crying and screaming for help through the mail slot. All that got me was an upstairs neighbour, shouting at me to shut up. Other than that, nothing.
There was only one thought in my head: I had to get out and be around other people!
I quickly looked for, and found, the spare key, put on my green linen dress and red sneakers and sprinted out into the pouring rain.
I ran as fast as I could, through the dark, empty provincial streets, heading straight for the local cinema, where I knew the clerk selling tickets, and where I was sure people were enjoying themselves.
There I sat in a quiet corner, wet and exhausted, until the last people left and the clerk was ready to close up for the night.
With no other choice left, my clothes and shoes still drenched, I returned home. Even though I was still scared, the panic had stopped and I finally managed to get some sleep.
Thankfully this was only a one time incident.
Now, looking back, I think my extreme reaction was due to the cultural shock of leaving the wonderful home of my childhood, and replacing it for a uniform, modest housing project. A project where one apartment was exactly the same as the next one. The only way to get out of that apartment was through a dusty backyard, filled with the noisy kids from the neighbourhood while I was an only child in need of quiet time.
This horrible experience has been seared into my memory, and whenever anyone asks me to help them with their panic attacks, I take it very seriously.
The daughter of a friend of mine, a beautiful, athletic, thirty year old, sent me an email, explaining that she was experiencing panic attack and that they seemed to be getting worse. Knowing what I do about her background, I think I also know what might be triggering the panic attacks: Silla’s (fake name) beloved father died of cancer and now her mother suffering from a serious form of cancer as well, and very ill.
Added to that, Silla has recently started a new job, an important one, and it demands a lot of her professional abilities. Luckily Silla has a wonderful partner, who supports her in everything she does.
By now, Silla’s panic attacks are so severe that they disrupt her everyday life completely. She often wakes up breathing difficultly, her heart racing while she’s completely paralyzed by fear. In fact, there are times that she can barely get out of bed.
The attacks can come suddenly, when she’s walking down the street, and then she has to rush home in order to calm down again. It often happens while out for groceries, too, forcing her to abandon products and cart as she rushes away. The worst is when the attacks happen at work, where she is left with no recourse but to drop everything and rush home, too.
Her superior is aware of her situation and the panic attacks, and for the moment, thankfully, he is understanding and forgiving of her problem.
Silla is working hard to improve on her diet. She is well aware that a healthy, nourishing diet is more important now than ever, given her condition. Before all this, she didn’t think much about her dietary choices, but now she puts in tremendous efforts to always eat organic foods that stabilize her blood sugar levels. She steers clear of high sugar products, alcohol, coffee, cola, fast food and on top of this, she doesn’t eat milk based products, pasta or white flour.
For Silla, I have stressed the importance of eating a lot of vegetables each day, especially colourful vegetable that can be prepared in a variety of ways, such as raw, grilled, boiled and in smoothies, etc. Furthermore, I would like to add that it is a good idea to combine healthy fats, protein and fibre rich carbohydrates. For instance, by adding whole grain products to every meal.
Make sure to eat high quality protein from fresh fish, meat, poultry and eggs. Dairy products, admittedly, are a great source of protein, but Silla doesn’t feel that she can digest them properly, so we have left them alone.
For carbohydrates I always recommend buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, barley and oats. You can boil them, but other than that, try to leave them as unprocessed as possible.
Silla used to start her morning with a glass of fresh orange juice, but I immediately advised against this, seeing as orange juice is one of those products that quickly raises blood sugar levels, and then, just as quickly makes it drop again. This quick up and down can have a negative effect on the mental state.
In that regard it is best to avoid fruit altogether in the morning. Silla has told me that she feels best in the morning, when she starts her day with oatmeal, sprinkled with almonds and nuts. I had to smile a little when Silla told me this, because I know that oats have a calming effect on the nervous system.To my enjoyment, I have found that the body often choses the foods we need the most.
I have suggested that she try adding some buckwheat to her oatmeal to help her more.
When it comes to healthy fats, I recommend cold pressed, unrefined oils such as coconut oil, flaxseed oil and olive oil. Keep them refrigerated.
Silla is not a vegetarian, but had this been the case, I would have told her about the importance of full protein, which ensures that you get all the amino acids the body needs. For instance, combining beans with whole grain, nuts and seeds.
I also like to point out the importance of consuming a little bit of high quality salt, such as sea salt, and perhaps combining it with a good herbal salt. Silla, obviously has to be careful with salt.
In my opinion, there is a tight correlation between low blood sugar and adrenal fatigue, so all in all, Silla is now on the right track when it comes to her diet.
As I said, I believe that Silla’s problem stems from adrenal fatigue. You often develop this problem when stressful factors mount to such heights that the body and mind no longer know how to cope.
We discussed the necessity of dietary supplements and the importance of taking them on a regular basis.
Silla has never taking anything other than regular vitamin pills, and doesn’t know anything about dietary supplements.
In this case, the most important thing is that the supplement doesn’t add to her stress levels.
• First of all I recommend a good, fairly strong multivitamin/mineral tablet taken on a daily basis.
• Vitamin-C with bioflavonoids slow release, 3 grams daily. (Vitamin-C provides support to the adrenal gland, while also strengthening the immune system.)
• Vitamin-B (if it is sufficient) take 1 tablet a day. Vitamin-B is great for restoring a tired adrenal function. It is very important to get all the different kinds of vitamin-B, considering they work together. A little bit of every vitamin-B needs to be present when the body works with specific vitamin-B variant in large quantities.
• It can also be a good idea to add Panthotenic acid (B5) 500mg, 1 tablet daily. Panthotenic acid is essential for the adrenal gland, and improves our stress threshold.
• Inositol, which is part of the lecithin molecule, has shown to be a great against panic attacks and other mental imbalances. To be taken in doses of 500 mg, 2 x a day.
• Lastly, I recommend, Rhodiola. It is the only product which is not part of the vitamin series. Rhodiola is a remarkable plant, which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for countless years. It is known for its many good qualities, among which the reduction of a variety of stresses, also those which go back many years. They aid in optimizing the adrenal glands’ function. Different studies also show that Rhodiola help regulate the serotonin level in the brain.
There are other dietary supplements that I could have recommended to Silla. For instance, vitamin B6, Ashwagandha, larger doses of essential fats, Schisandra, St. Johns Wort and more. But, based on my consult with her, I chose to recommend the list above.
When it comes to tea, I have recommended a few cups of chamomile per day. Chamomile, generally has a calming effect on the nervous system. Another delicious treat that she could try is Rooibos, which has a mildly balancing effect on the mind. There are, of course, other therapeutic measures that can be taken. For Silla, it also helped to see a psychologist, allowing her to talk with someone about her troubles, both present and past.
For a short period of time, it might even be a good idea to take prescription medicine to help her through the worst. But Silla has completely rejected this option.
Knock therapy, thought field therapy and acupuncture are, among the many forms of therapy that could have positive effects on panic attacks.
Silla is a strong willed, clever young woman, determined to claw her way back to an everyday life where she can function normally again.
Luckily, her workplace is very happy to have her, and they have allowed her to work part-time for as long as she needs.
Within a month of starting her “treatment”, Silla’s panic attacks started to decrease in frequency, giving her better control over them, allowing her to use the coping mechanism her psychologist taught her.
For those struggling with panic attacks it could also be smart to contact www.angstforeningen.dk. The association offers many wonderful options, including a support group where you can talk to others about your particular situation.
There are no Danish studies about how many people actually suffer from panic attacks, but by comparing the numbers from other countries, it seems safe to say that at least 2% of the population in Denmark will suffer from panic attacks at one time or other. That amounts to a 100,000 people in Denmark alone.