Posted 5/4/2006 9:12 AM (GMT -8)
Hey, if a placebo effect works, then keep going with it! I mean, what is a panic attack? It's my understanding that it's your body suddenly deciding that something's very wrong and that you need to react right now to save your own life--as Blondie pointed out, the fight-or-flight syndrome. You get that rush of adreneline, the heart races, you get short of breath, you feel the need to do something right now, etc. But in reality, there is nothing wrong with you at all--nothing to make you need to flee, at any rate.
I seem to recall a long time ago, on a nature program, them explaining that when animals get nervous--like when lions are stalking the herd--many of them will suddenly defecate. They're not really sure why they do this--is this a warning sign to the other animals, an attempt to lighten them up to run faster, a way of confusing the predator about their scent trail as they flee? Animals have a much better sense of smell than we do and it is thought that their droppings can convey to others how they were feeling, whether or not they were sick, etc. So dropping some droppings when they are agitated may warn other animals moving through there later that hey, something scared the you-know-what out of me here yesterday. Beware!
So, I guess it makes sense that when you get a panic attack and your body is saying, hey we need to get out of here right now, having your bowels suddenly dump out is natural. Happens in animals, anyways.
Unfortunately for you, you get these attacks when you're not under any stress or life-threatening situation. So something's triggering the brain when it shouldn't. I guess that's what anxiety meds do--they try to block those false signals to the brain. The thing about placebos is they work only because you believe that they work. But then, you're not really under any duress, your brain just thinks that you are, so what does it matter if a bath product doesn't actually have any physical effect on you if thinking it works makes that false signal turn off? Basically, it's all in your head. I don't mean that you are hallucinating these problems or lying about them or even causing yourself to have them. I mean that literally your problem is being caused by some brain signal dysfunction. If some product allows you to send a different message to your brain--a better message--just by thinking about it, then so what? I say get back into your bathtub. Stress usually causes panic attacks so if having a nice soak in the tub while getting some nice aromatherapy makes you feel less stressed and makes you have less attacks, then more power to the Bath Rescue Remedy!
You may want to look into Tai Chi or yoga classes (I think classes are better than tapes, since you can get feedback--but tapes are good once you know the basic postures and moves). They can be very relaxing and destressing. There are meditation groups around too that could help you calm your mind. You'd be surprised at how worrying a little bit over one little thing can cause you to have an attack, even when you're not in the middle of worrying about it. It's like it hangs out in the back of your mind and nags at you until your body freaks out over it. So you may want to examine all aspects of your life and see if there is something that bothers you pretty frequently--parents, spouse, children, money problems. The least little thing, left to fester for a while, can mess you up. Getting rid of the problem usually gets rid of the panic. At the very least, if you can't get rid of it, recognizing it and getting some counseling about it will often destress a person enough to make them feel better. I have read in numerous articles about people who, once they get over some small problem in their life say that they feel instantly better; they didn't even realize that one problems was weighing them down so much that they felt depressed or angry all the time.
Basically anything that calms you down, lets you relax, destresses you, should help you have less severe and less frequent panic attacks. If you can find out what's stressing you, and deal with it or get rid of it, that might get rid of the attacks. And, of course, there is always medication to help block those signals to the brain to panic, but you mention you don't like being on them (can't blame you there). And have you ever had your thyroid gland tested? I think--but I'm not real sure--that the thyroid is what generally makes adreniline, which is what you probably are getting too much of when you get these attacks. If the thyroid is not funcitoning properly, maybe that's why you get these sudden attacks when you're just walking along, minding your own business, being cool with the world. Worth looking into, at any rate. I hear a dysfunctional thyroid can cause all sorts of odd problems all over the body. Any gland that's not functioning properly, for that matter, can cause you problems everywhere.
I hope you feel better and get groovy!