When Migraine Symptoms and Panic Triggers Overlap

Just like I could never forget my first panic attack, I could never forget my first migraine.

I was sixteen or so and had absolutely no idea what was wrong with me.  Laying face-down on the couch in my parents' living room with the lights out, I remember stuffing my throbbing head between the cushions.  Nothing could kill the pain.

I was half convinced that my brain and my heart had temporarily switched locations.  My newly-transplanted heart, I imagined, had gotten cozy behind my right eye and it stabbed my optic nerve with each beat.

Put simply, migraines aren't just painful -- they can be scary.  I'm about halfway through Dr. Carolyn Bernstein's The Migraine Brain, and even after 11+ years of suffering from at least 2 or 3 migraines per month, my storehouse of migraine-related knowledge has increased threefold thanks to this book.

Migraines aren't just bad headaches -- they're a complex neurological disorder that involves far more than just head pain.  They're something like a four-act play.

A four-act play that, in my case (and perhaps yours), can invite anxiety and panic.


The Roots of My Dental Anxiety

When I was 6 years old, I slapped my dentist.

Yes. Seriously.

He'd found a cavity in one of my baby teeth.  At age 6, I didn't fully understand the mechanics of getting a filling -- but I did know that cavities resulted in loud and scary drilling sounds.

So, I was nervous.

My mom sat nearby as the hygienist reclined the child-sized dental chair.  I was whining and whimpering.  Most of my friends were just starting to lose their baby teeth -- surely I'd be next, right?  Why did the dentist need to fix a cavity in a tooth that was going to fall out anyway?


6 Ways to Distract Yourself From Panic

Let's face it: in the throes of panic, it's not always comfortable to mindfully meditate on the present moment.  Focusing on your pounding heart or on your irregular breathing patterns can fan the the panic attack flames.

Over time, you can work to desensitize yourself to the uncomfortable physiological sensations of panic. But, in the meantime, here are a few ways to distract yourself out of a panic attack.


The Anxiety Lens: How Context Changes Meaning

Has anyone ever called you a jerk?

Go ahead.  Raise your hand.  Being called a jerk is not always a bad thing.  The word "jerk" doesn't always have to mean a "contemptibly obnoxious person", as Google's dictionary so concisely phrases it.

Consider the below conversation:
Roommate 1: Have you seen my Calculus book?  I have a final exam tomorrow.  I need to study.
Roommate 2: Yep...I needed a few bucks, so I sold it back to the bookstore for beer money.
Roommate 1: ...are you kidding me?  What the hell, man?  That's my book!
Roommate 2: Yeah, I know...but I never saw you reading it, so I figured you didn't need it.
Roommate 1: You're a jerk!  Now I'm screwed for my exam.


Do You Panic About Anxiety? (I Do.)

Yup, it's true: Panic About Anxiety.  That's the (somewhat self-referential) title of this new blog.  Anxiety, on its own, is bad enough.  Panic is even worse.
But what happens when one amplifies the other?
What happens when you become anxious about the fact that you have panic attacks?  What happens when you begin to panic about the fact that you're anxious?

Welcome to Panic About Anxiety

Lots of people experience panic attacks. For some people, it can get so bad that they also get agoraphobia -- the fear of leaving one's house. So I'm happy to introduce Panic About Anxiety with Summer Beretsky, a blog that will explore panic, agoraphobia...