Sanctuary for the Abused

Friday, March 29, 2013

Panic Disorder

What is a panic attack?
Panic attacks are marked by a sudden, very intense episode of fear or anxiety. There is often a feeling of impending disaster, such as dying. Panic attacks come on very suddenly and typically last only a relatively brief period of time. If the episode of anxiety gradually develops and/or peaks after more than 10 minutes, it is not called panic but rather extremely intense anxiety.

Accompanying a panic attack are several uncomfortable physical symptoms and a fearful state of mind. Included among the physical symptoms are:

palpitations, pounding heart or accelerated heart rate
trembling or shaking
shortness of breath
feeling of choking
chest pain or discomfort
nausea or abdominal distress
feeling dizzy, unsteady,light-headed or faint
feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
fear of losing control or going crazy
fear of dying
numbness or tingling sensations
chills or hot flushes

Several of these symptoms must occur all at once and the attack must reach a peak in ten minutes or less for the episode to be called a panic attack.

The fear that develops in people who have panic attacks is largely related to the physical symptoms experienced. These symptoms are often mistaken to indicate a serious illness or other pending disaster. Panickers often state that during an attack they fear they are going to die or have a heart attack.

Panic attacks are often accompanied by Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is diagnosed when the person avoids situations or activities from which they cannot escape or in which help is not immediately available if a panic attack occurs. The person believes that by avoiding these situations they can avoid the panic attacks. Unfortunately, this avoidance has a tendency to grow and spread to more and more situations. In extreme cases the fearful and avoiding individual becomes totally housebound.

Causes of Panic Disorder 
Essentially, panic disorder results from a combinations of biological factors, psychological factors and current stress factors. The interaction of these factors is complex and typically it is not possible to fully know why any one person develops a panic disorder.

Some people have more excitable nerves than do others. Thus they tend to be more reactive and anxious than other people. In other people, the fight/flight response to stress is more easily triggered than in others. Some people hyperventilate chronically and others may have a disturbance in their sense of balance. These conditions all will increase the likelihood that a person will develop a panic disorder. However, it is important to note that there is no biological dysfunction that is responsible for all panics.

Psychological factors include our learning history. If we learn to associate physical symptoms with frightening situations, then over time whenever we have these physical symptoms, we tend to become fearful. Control issues are another psychological factor that can contribute to the development of a panic disorder. Panickers typically need to feel in control at all times and yet often feel out of control. Being out of control is associated in a panicker's mind with being is a highly threatening and fear producing situation.

Research into the onset of panic disorder indicates that in the majority of first panics, the person is experiencing a time of high stress. The stressful condition can be interpersonal such as a divorce, or may involve a situation in which the person feels overwhelmed by his or her own emotions. It is also possible for panic to result from the use of a medication or illegal substance.

Treatment of Panic Disorder
In the past, the psychological treatment of panic involved uncovering the psychological conflicts in the individual. These conflicts often dated back to childhood and were believed to be revealed in different symptoms including panic. Therapy was often long-term. Some people found this form of therapy helpful, others did not. More recently, instead of focusing on buried conflicts from childhood, psychotherapy has focused on what problems have been going on in the person's life that have not been handled well.

A more specific treatment for panic disorder has been developed as research has progressed in the area of panic disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be over 80% effective in people suffering from panic disorder without agoraphobia. The results are somewhat lower for panic disorder with agoraphobia. Cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic involves a great deal of homework on the part of the client. Thus, a person experiencing panic disorder must be willing to put in the effort to follow-through with the homework typically assigned in the course of cognitive-behavioral treatment of panic. While this many be daunting, the positive aspect is that it empowers the individual to help him or herself.

Medications have long been used in the treatment of panic, as well as other anxiety disorders. They do not cure the disorder but do often decrease the symptoms, which is helpful. However, the tranquilizers that are often used can produce physical and/or psychological dependence, making it difficult to stop their use. An additional problems is that with the use of the medications, the panicker becomes used to lower levels of anxiety. When taken off the medication, the panicker may find it difficult to adjust to the higher levels of anxiety. Research has indicated that people with panic disorder did better when treated with cognitive-behavioral therapy alone as compared to those treated with a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications.

The decision regarding what form of therapy is best in a particular case is certainly an individual one. This should be undertaken in consultation with professionals experienced in the treatment of panic.

Zuercher-White, E. Orvercoming Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia.Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 1999.

Cathy A. Chance, Ph.D

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Heartfelt THANK YOUs!


And most of all, my therapist of 15 years, the late Dr. Kathryn Faughey - who when I showed her this site told me emphatically to "Continue! Continue!" and gave me advice, support, straight talk and compassion.  I owe my sanity to her.

I even want to say thank you to my abusers, those who abused & used me, and those who open blogs about me yet NEVER met me - who forced me to look for ways keep putting one foot in front of the other - and who showed me that even Evil looks just like you & me.

Bless you all -
I remain your humble servant & fellow victim and survivor

his site is well over 1,000,000 hits. That's a Million hits in the 10 years since I opened this site to the public.

I am honored and awed that so many have found resources and answers here. I am moved often to tears by the thank you letters I get from women & men who found the strength and information they needed to reclaim their lives here.

I started this blog in November, 2003 as a way to keep my own personal research on abuse private and out of view from people around me, including some of my abusers and my abusive relatives. As a voracious reader and a research junkie... I needed answers and I got them.

Nine years ago I was (for hopefully the LAST time in my life), 'emotionally raped' by a narcissistic sociopath. I'd had a Narcissistic Parent, pathological partners, 'friends' and bosses. I made a decision to open this site to the public not only for my own therapy - but because the pain I realized so many others were going through was similar to mine.

I won't tell anyone what to do about the abuse in their lives. I know I personally turned a blind eye to it for years and even rationalized it away thanks to the brainwashing & gaslighting I was subjected to. I learned that one big reason was because I was raised by a pathological parent so had no idea and was brainwashed to 'accept the unacceptable'. On this site I simply put the information out there. You must reach your own decisions.

In the last years many, many painful revelations have come for me. Only through reading, therapy and helping others - has any of what I have personally experienced made any sense at all.

In 2004 after finally getting clarification on one of the more soul-rending experiences I have had with being abused, I decided that only by trying to help others could I be right with myself about decisions I had made. I am hoping this site helps others.

I know first hand what it is to be taken advantage of, brainwashed, emotionally raped, used, lied to, manipulated, laughed at, slandered, covertly abused, ignored, sexually used, psychologically abused and much more. I look to see where people who visit here come from... what groups & links brought them here.... and what I post hopefully answers that.

I want to remind all of you that I am trying to make this site a one-stop-reference place. I don't push anyone to any of the links. If you see something that you think belongs here, or that this site needs to address - please email me. (link at left)

The sad thing about this site reaching over 1,000,000 hits is that it shows the deep need for validation. That abuse, particularly non-physical abuse, is running rampant.

Sociopathy and Narcissism are becoming more prevalent in our society. Women & men are suffering in silence every day for a variety of reasons -- embarrassment, lack of information, feeling alone, thinking their situation is unique - and no one will understand, etc.

And the Internet has opened not only avenues for predators to stalk and prey on the trusting but new pathways for victims to find healing and fellowship.  I have made some mistakes in this area, feeling sorry for people who turned out to be disordered and probably beyond help.

I believe in the "Bumblebee Effect." The Bumblebee Effect says that a bumblebee flapping its wings in Italy, can cause an eventual tornado in Toledo, Ohio.

Ironically, 3/29, the date the first 10,000 hits was reached by this site, was the birthdate of my original, first abuser. My history has a lot of varying types of abuse in it; abuse that I translated into my personal life - and I am determined that it will stop with me. How about you?


Right now there's a lot being put on the web about me by a group of disordered person on the internet.  Some of it is true, a lot is laughably fallacious & concocted.  Some of these people are looking up 'facts' about me that are 10 or more years old - 35 year old photos, finding out who my family is and attacking them and I to get a rise out of me.  If you see anything that you are questioning, feel free to contact me.  Otherwise, note that it is all the same "voice" because it is fabricated by the same group who were unable to con me.  Please ignore it.  This is price that those of us who speak out about abuse pay.  Even other alleged 'abuse advocates' are hard at smear campaigns to pull down anyone who might be cutting into their bottom line. This is the ONLY blog I run.  I am only me - not writing or blogging under any other name.  I write extensively but I want the experts writing to be seen here.   I am truly grateful for the many many emails I have gotten from those who see right through the stuff out there.

The Paypal button here does NOT go to me.  I absorb any taxes and send it on to a DV organization.  I do not collect credit card or social security numbers.  My accountant know about all this, the police have looked into me (at my smearer's request) and found no credible evidence against me.  I have never scammed anyone.

Again, I thank each and every one who uses this site. I want to especially thank Shari, Sandra P., Nani, Linda, Holly, the late Kathy Krajco, Anna Valerious and my friends who listened to me, who - when I told them everything - still supported me & understood, cried with me.  Thank you all.  I am humbled by the support I have recieved.  


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