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Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 128
   Posted 3/30/2007 6:53 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello everyone, just wanted to know if this happens alot to anyone. I always seem to get panic attacks when i am shopping. I love to shop, (Shopaholic)-but i must say now i hate it.It would always happen to me when i was in Walmart. Thought something in the air was making me sick. i would avoid it for a while, go back and again a panic attack, usually right at the check out counter. what an awful thing...now i dont dare go without my husband. if i feel weird i just go out to the parking lot, and wait for him to check out. i usually start to feel it within 15 minutes of being in there. now i cant do my grocery shopping. what is it with stores. like i said i would love to shop and browse now i cant. this is a horrible thing for me. cant see what there is to buy, cant do christmas shopping, groceries, clothes buying or buying gifts for anyone. now i depend on my husband for all the shopping or buy things thru the internet. its nice, but not the same. cant hunt for bargins, or feel the items for their quality. it has become a big burden for me and my family, especially for my husband. anyone else get like this? any suggestions? i also noticed that the bright lights in the store make me feel very weird, and i guess thats when the feeling of panic comes in. i dont know what it could be, always trying to figure it out. would love to hear anyones situations. thanks and have a great day. I want to shop again and have fun...God Bless

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 2500
   Posted 3/30/2007 7:07 AM (GMT -7)   
Try it in little spurts...Go in feel the panic go out regain composure and go back in etc...Push yourself a littl e further each time...not fool proof but might help Hopefully others will be by to help you out. I know this affects many of us.
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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2006
Total Posts : 74
   Posted 3/30/2007 7:12 AM (GMT -7)   
i know for me personally this has to do with the fact that stores have so much stimulii. there are walls and walls and shelves and shelves of products. not to mention tons of people around and lots of noise and often flourescent lighting. people who have anxiety problems tend to be kind of sensitive and too much stimulii can overwhelm the nervous system, moreso if you are already in the midst of a having a high-anxiety day/week/month etc.
i've walked into a CVS on two occassions and had sort of a tunnel vision thing happen where it's like the whole store started to close in on me like a funnel. recognizing what was happening i was able to control it and not totally freak out and then shake it off quickly. but it's still unpleasant. and it's all in the head. it's amazing what the mind can do to your physical senses. it's like my mind had way too much to process at that moment and it started to blur everything as a protective measure so that i wouldn't have so much stimulii to process.

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 116
   Posted 3/30/2007 9:44 AM (GMT -7)   
I know EXACTLY how you feel. I get the same way, especially at Walmart( Although have had it happen at Kmart as well) and I definantly can not do malls at all..YUCK! Anyways.,.what I do is start out small. Go to a drug store, convenience store..etc. Have your hubby stay in the car the first couple of times, and just run in for milk, bread, pop..whatever. It is a small thing, but if you can manage that, it truly gives you confidence to work your way up to a big store. Walmart always gives me fits. At my store, they keep it way to hot, so when I start to sweat I think there is something wrong with me. Course, this has happened SOOO many times, I know by now there is nothing wrong. Walmart is always crowded so that might be what is setting you off as well. What I have learned to do it just IGNORE how I am feeling. When I get feelings of panic, I just say to myself..ok, now you know you have had these feelings before, you didnt die, so you wont this time either. And I tend to just relax myself and try to steady my focus on ONE thing. That way your head isnt spinning looking at ten things at once. Really, the only way to conquer fear of going to Walmart, is to go there and face it. Sometimes I just concentrate on WHY I am there, to do a task( grocery shop for my family so they can eat) and when you concentrate on other people, sometimes that fear does tend to subside. And you get the strength to do what you need to do.
I think why stores are so hard to deal with is...,.we are among strangers and the last thing most people want is to have a panic attack, heart attack, or other problem arise in the midst of people we dont know. We feel crowded in upon, and that feeling can be very overwhelming. We dont want people looking at us strangly..etc. By nature I think most people are just more relaxed at home, in smaller settings.
Like I said, the way I handle this, is to just force myself to go to the store and concentrate on why I am there. Picture myself walking out the door(after buying what I need)and returning home and relaxing. Nothing is going to happen to you. If it was...it would have by now. Just the knowledge that it IS anxiety, is a help. You know it isnt anything that is going to kill you. :-)
God bless!
'I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.' ....Walt Witman
"Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.".....Galatians 6:2

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 1449
   Posted 3/30/2007 2:45 PM (GMT -7)   

shops are usually a problem as mentioned theres lots of bright lights and noise, queues or check lines or waiting to be served make you feel detained or trapped

it helps to have the car nearby and visible thru the shop window, also keep returning to the car to cool off

wear sunglasses and a hat, some get help from earplugs, push a shopping trollery around for balance

recovered former longtime anxiety and panic attack sufferer and helper of other sufferers  but no training or  qualifications in medicine or psychology, any remarks that may be taken as advice must be confirmed with doctor or other health professional
emails are welcome but do mention healingwell to avoid risk of deletion as spam

New Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 3/30/2007 4:43 PM (GMT -7)   

i can't believe how accurate all of this is to me as well.  ESPECIALLY AT WALMART!  i agree though, the lights are definitely what gets me.  I've realized that as time goes by (for some reason i do a little better at target).  But I agree...just keep exposing yourself to it and realize HEY I'VE DONE THIS BEFORE, I EVEN FELT THIS WAY, AND NOTHING HAPPENED.  i think that when we have a safety person (husband or friend) with us it's easier because we know that if something happens to us they will find help or know what to do.  if we are surrounded by strangers we often don't give people the benefit of the doubt.  we feel alone and worry that none of these people would know what to do and if we're panicky or having a heart attack we can't help ourselves.  i've started to have faith in people again....there's definitely an amount of bad that happens in the world today, however there's a ton of good too.  we get so caught up in the news and all of the bad things that happen we forget about the good in people.  if something were to happen to you, i promise there is someone in the store with a good heart (and probably not just one person, probably close to all) and those people will hurriedly come to your aid.  i tend not to let myself read bad news anymore, instead i google inspiring stories and heros.  it really helps me put more faith in our human race and that helps me calm down a little bit.  anyways, i'm rambling, but like i said - keep going to the store.  avoiding it will only make it worse.  look your fear in the face...my grandmother sent me this quote in hopes of helping my anxiety and it does help and makes a lot of sense..

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'  Eleanor Roosevelt

best of luck with everything - hopefully we can be our complete shopahollic selves soon!

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 128
   Posted 3/31/2007 5:31 AM (GMT -7)   
Good Morning Friends, thanks you so much for all of your replies, concerns and advice. i really do appreciate all of you here on this site. it really helps me out alot to hear  all of your suggestions and stories shared here. I will take in  all of your tips and go forward and hopefully i can regain my self confidence and one day be a normal shopper and enjoy my shopping expieriences. Hope you all have a wonderful day. You are all in my prayers. God Bless. Thanks Again

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 58
   Posted 4/2/2007 10:02 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello -

As you can see, many of us have this panic trigger, as well. It took me a while to realize why everytime I went into a Wal-mart or another department store that after a short time, I would become light-headed which caused a panic attack. I realized that the intense lights, noise, and overwhelming amount of stuff to see is causing it. It still strikes me as odd that years ago I never had this problem yet I do now.

I have learned to focus on my shopping, don't browse as much (which saves my impulse shopping anyway!) and try to take my time picking items out. My vision seems to take a hit when my anxiety goes up so it makes looking at small details of items hard to do.

Hang in there...you'll find your coping method and be able to shop like before!

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 242
   Posted 4/2/2007 11:17 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi wanna, I can sooooo relate to the whole store episodes! Big Stores I flat out stay away from. I have tried and tried to go in them, but no go for me. Smaller stores are on a day by day thing. Some days are a ok and others are just so frustrating! Only thing good about it is my husband has to do the grocery shopping and he does not impulse buy like me! lol so it has saved us money!

Also for me going to anythingn on a second floor is out of the question! Anytime I have to find a Dr. or specialists, I always have to find out if they are in a single story building first!

As time goes by and I get older and pay attention to the espisodes more, I really believe mine start out because I start breathing fast and short breaths. Hyperventalation? maybe, not sure, but then it implodes into an panic attack. Either way it is very frustrating and life limiting.

Also everything depends on if it's "that time" of the month, when it is that time, it is usually much worse.

It can get better, I was this way years ago and some how snapped out of it. Only for it to return in my older years now.

All we can do is trudge forward and keep the faith!

signed a shopaholic in withdrawals! lol but thank goodness for the internet! lol
I reject your reality and subsitute my own

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 128
   Posted 4/2/2007 1:05 PM (GMT -7)   
Hello Jamie28, thank you for your response and adivce. it makes me feel a little better to know that is a genuine problem with anxiety sufferers. i thought it was just me. started to think that there was something in the stores making me sick. hopefully i can have some confidence to know its not something in the air making me ill. its just my anxiety. and as you mention it, all the stuff in the store i do notice that i get really confused in making a choice in making a  decision on what color or what item to buy. i start to get anxious and confused. its all the stuff....too much stimuli. if i cant make up my mind on a color to buy i usually buy them all.(thats sick) i have had this problem also with compulsion buying and not being able to make a decsion on which one to buy because i cant decide on the color i like. so i would buy them all, take them home hoping to make a decsion at home and eventually return the item that i did not want to keep. but it does not usually work for me that way anymore, because i cant get back to the store to return the items. so  i have double or triple of things in different colors. Boy did i get my self into trouble, financially and upset with the husband. i have been good lately, i guess because i am not in the stores like i used to. and the things were usually for other people.would think too much if that person would like the item that i was getting. i like to buy for other people and give gifts, but it has not been fun anymore. i notice that the brigh flourescent lights really bother me, another thing is the dust, i think it also triggers something for me, i feel like i cant breathe right and then i start to panic. it a whole lot of things happening at once. then the fear of an attack. i ususally go into a store with anxiety and the fear of an attack, so i feel like i am just running or walking fast getting very confused and not being  able to shop or concentrate. usually leave with nothing.wasted trips. i guess i will try a little time at a time and keep your and everyone else advice to my heart. thank you so much. god bless

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2007
Total Posts : 128
   Posted 4/2/2007 1:14 PM (GMT -7)   
hi karen, i can totally relate. i feel the breathing thing happening while i am in the store. then i get real thirsty and the the heart pounds dizzy lightheaded and the dread of passing out. i have always loved to shop but like you said no more. it has traumatized me. if i go it has to be with my husband. i mean my husband only. it cant be with a causal friend for they dont understand and do not know my rituals like my husband. my husband knows if he does not see me  in the store or if i say got to go, he knows i will be outside waiting. my husband does all the grocery shopping. i may once in a while stop in at a conveniant store and pick up milk. i miss shopping, also in the same respect we anxiety sufferers in the long run are saving some money like you said. that is one good point..Hahaha... how about yard sales. do you do them? i used to love them, cant no more.. i dont know why. i am outside and can just go if i had to. i get all worked up and start to panic. what could that be. well thanks for your support. we will chat again hopefully-everyone...god bless

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 14
   Posted 4/3/2007 7:54 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi all, I experience the same things you all have talked about in your messages. I also, experience it when i drive. Do any of you? Also, do any of you take any meds for this and if so which ones?


Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 66
   Posted 4/4/2007 2:47 AM (GMT -7)   
I too expierience phobias of stores its a form of agoraphobia i have learned that wearing headphones sometimes helps me in with crowds agoraphobia is a fear of unsafe places such as crowds loud places anywhere u feel uncomfortable i make myself go to the store once a week just to get past the store thing but i still have them its no fun at all i feel your pain i take ativan for my panic attacks and it seems to work a whole lot better then xanax the xanax makes my breathing shallow which leads to more anxiety and worry but you might wanna try the headphones with some comforting music while your in the store thats what my physciotrist suggested and it works pretty good for me


Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2007
Total Posts : 116
   Posted 4/4/2007 4:43 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello there! Yes, I too experience panic/anxiety attacks while driving. It is particularly scarey because I am afraid of wrecking my car and causing an accident and hurting someone else or myself. But I think it is the fear of all that happening that causes the panic in the first place. So I just assure myself that I am a GOOD driver, that I am very capable of getting to my destination safely, and that I KNOW God is with me and will watch over me. And I ALWAYS leave myself enough time to get where I need to be, that way I am not RUSHING myself( which can cause panic). I justr went to Walmart yesterday with my mom( I DROVE :-) ) and was in there shopping for about an hour and a half. I noticed a couple of times I thought I was feeling alittle anxious, so I just told myself , I can do this, I am going to be fine, and went on with my business and pretty soon it was over and I was on my way home. While I was there though, I did get the "jelly legs", and the dizzniess, and the "feeling like I cant take a deep breath" sensations, but I just FORCED myself to keep going! I tried to keep my mind focused on why I was there. The trick is, to get the upper hand on the fear...controling it and not letting it control you. It is hard to do this, but with Gods help, I KNOW you can!! I say prayers before I go anyplace and then just leave it in HIS hands.
I am not currently on any meds. I have a prescription for Klonopin and Zoloft, but never started taking them. I am trying the natural route first. Vitamins, minerals, lots of water and good eating..etc. I have the medicine filled and may decide to try it in the future.
Take care and God bless!
In His Grip,
godluvsu said...
Hi all, I experience the same things you all have talked about in your messages. I also, experience it when i drive. Do any of you? Also, do any of you take any meds for this and if so which ones?


'I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.' ....Walt Witman
"Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.".....Galatians 6:2

Elite Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 24909
   Posted 4/11/2007 11:57 AM (GMT -7)   
There are many meds out there and what may work for one may not work for another
I wish you all the best in your quest
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Marilyn H
New Member

Date Joined Dec 2016
Total Posts : 7
   Posted 12/9/2016 2:11 PM (GMT -7)   
I was having a similar issue in the grocery store, and figured out it was the lights and noise. Did some research on it and found out that if you wear sunglasses in the store, the bright lights aren't absorbed by your eyes which in turn make us more sensitive to noise, movement, etc. Now I try to remember to wear my shades in the store. I forgot them today and sure paid the price. It was all I could do to FORCE myself to stay in the store. I took a few deep breaths and made it okay. By the time I was checking out, I was feeling pretty normal again. tongue

Scaredy Cat
Forum Moderator

Date Joined Sep 2006
Total Posts : 26974
   Posted 12/9/2016 2:24 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Marilyn and welcome!

Yes! Fluorescent lighting is a known trigger for panic! I used to have trouble in both stores and church. (powerful overhead lights)

Good job on finding this trigger for you....as well as a solution!

*bonus* you can pretend you're a rockstar while sporting your shades all around...makes errands more interesting...;)

Thanks for responding. I will now lock down this thread as it is older now...

...but please continue to post with us...and start a new thread of introduction for yourself anytime you feel comfortable doing so.

We'd like to officially welcome and get to know you better.:)

Talk soon,

Scaredy Cat

"Courage is not the abscence of fear, it is feeling afraid and doing it anyway!"

"Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles...it empties today of its strength."
Corrie Ten Boom

Panic Syndrome recovery due to CBT
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