“I used medication to control my panic attacks for two years. Now, I am planning a pregnancy and I want to be medication free during my pregnancy. I hope those awful panic attacks don’t come back into my life during my pregnancy. What can I do to prevent a relapse? What If the panic attacks return with a vengeance when I go off my medication during my pregnancy?”
Medication-Free Methods of Eliminating Panic Attacks during Pregnancy
*Sally, a 22 year old married nurse, had relied on anti-anxiety medication to control her panic attacks for the past two years. Now, Sally was starting to talk with her husband about planning for a family. She thought, “I don’t want to be on medication during my pregnancy. What if I have a big setback when I go off my medication? What if I can’t control my panic attacks during the pregnancy?”
Preparation for a Panic-Free Pregnancy without Medication
The Preparation Phase
As soon as Sally thought of a pregnancy without medication, a wave of lightheadedness, and head pressure swept over her. Just the idea of suffering again with panic attacks was enough to trigger panic attack symptoms. She forgot how much she had relied on anti-anxiety medication to control her symptoms. When you use medication to avoid an encounter with your panic attack symptoms, the underlying dread of another panic attack is always lingering in the background. If you dread panic attack symptoms, you trigger panic attack symptoms. Sally began to realize she had never learned how to control her panic attacks without her medication. Her fear of panic attacks was just as strong as they had ever been. She felt so vulnerable and weak, a victim to her panic attacks.
What Is Your Panic Profile?
When I asked Sally, “What are the panic attack symptoms you dread most?”
Sally replied, “Dizziness, heart pounding and chest pressure.”
Then, I asked her “What is your greatest fear about what would happen if the dizziness and heart pounding spiraled into a full-blown panic attack?”
Sally responded, “Die, have a heart attack and collapse.”
I asked Sally, “What is the worst that has ever happened from a panic attack.
Sally said, “Nothing!”
Doctor Blumberg’s Instructions to Sally
The Three Factor takeCONTROL Training Stance
First, develop the Three Factor takeCONTROL Training Stance so you are ready to take control of your panic attack symptoms without relying on medication.
Factor One: Be Symptom Ready: Are you ready to feel the panic attack symptoms without fear?
Factor Two: Be Symptom Tough: Don’t blink or shrink when your symptoms come for a visit.
Factor Three: Be Symptom Friendly: Welcome your symptoms as natural normal feelings of adrenaline.
Then consult your family doctor. Under the supervision of your doctor, develop a plan. The plan will allow you gradually to increase your skill in applying the cognitive behavioral techniques I taught you to stop panic attacks, while decreasing your reliance on medication to control panic.
*This educational information should always be used in consultation with your doctor to confirm a diagnosis and review available treatments for panic disorder. References to real persons, places and events are made in a fictional context, and are not intended to be in any way libelous, defamatory or in any way factual.
The ideas in this blog are developed from Dr. Blumberg’s panicLINK Program. PanicLINK is a comprehensive, twelve session, four phase, multi-media educational program on panic disorder. The material in this Blog and the panicLINK Program are copyright protected by Out of the Blue Network, LLC. No permission is granted to reproduce this blog for commercial purposes. For more information about the panicLINK Program connect at www.paniclink.com.