Re: Suggestions for Anxiety/Panic Attacks
I've dealt with acute anxiety a few times. The first was when I was about 19, after I was informed I'll need open heart surgery at some point to replace a valve. I obsessed about it, spent far too much time researching the surgery itself. I had panic attacks at work, and my issues were compounded by the fact that anxiety symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of heart failure, so I often didn't know what was anxiety-related and what wasn't. I was given a prescription for clonazepam to take on-demand, and I did take it when I felt I was panicking, but I'm not sure whether it helped as the effect wasn't obvious to me.
I've found that during that time and other times in my life, counselling hasn't helped in the short-term. It's only been years afterwards that I've realized how much it's helped me, and how long it took to help (as in, how long after I stopped going). Perhaps it mostly helps because of the simple benefit of gathering my thoughts into something external; something I can verbalize. I think it's worth doing, if only for that.
I think the thing that's helped me the most is just distraction. It sounds like it should be unhealthy to cover up anxiety with something else, but I've found that while getting obsessed with something else (e.g. hiking or some other kind of exercise or hobby) doesn't get rid of anxiety, it also doesn't extend it. By which I mean, the anxiety keeps going/diminishing at its regular rate in the background, so I might as well distract myself. That doesn't mean I stop going to counselling or stop taking drugs I've been prescribed; just that I try to live my life as well.
Interesting, now, 10 years later, I'm going through a similar thing again. Actually, it's more like PTSD this time as I had a bad experience involving my heart problems, leading up to the birth of my son in September. I sometimes startle when my husband walks into the room, and I've had a lot of trouble with trying to keep my fight/flight response under control. But, my life goes on. I don't even know how sometimes, but it does.
Sometimes, living life means I have to check in with people to make sure it's okay. It's been good for me to get confirmation from doctors that yes, its okay for me to exercise, and there's no safety concern even though exercise is harder than it used to be. That confirmation does more than just allow me to move forward: it provides a boundary for me to test. I know, internally, that I'm almost hoping something bad will happen to prove them wrong and let them know everything really isn't okay... but what's actually happened so far is I've proven them right. I'm doing better than I thought I would. My exercise tolerance is improving. I'm feeling a bit more confident in my body again and that makes all the difference in the world.
Sorry, I'm not sure if this applies to your situation since my anxiety's been really rooted in specific issues. But in case you're dealing with anything similar, I hope it helps.