IBS and Panic Attacks: The Basics
IBS and Panic Attacks? What Gives??
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can be very difficult and overwhelming to live with on a day to day basis, as I’m sure most of you know. This is why I don’t bother envisioning my IBS journey in the future (It would be terribly overwhelming).
The unfortunate truth is that a lot is unknown about the disorder. Don’t get me started on the frustrating doctor visits and the research leading me to nowhere.
IBS can sum up many different illnesses and conditions that affect the GI tract. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a very vague diagnosis and because of that, many other conditions can go hand-in-hand with IBS, like IBS and panic attacks.
Both the mind and body can become very sensitive to digestive issues. Without knowing the true underlying condition, it’s tough to say what causes these illnesses to occur simultaneously.
A Whole New Lifestyle
Irritable Bowel Syndrome can create a total lifestyle change, mark my words! I had to drastically change my diet and daily routines and I’ve long forgotten what my life was like prior to IBS. Even the smallest things like when I go to sleep and what type of pants I wear (don’t judge my baggy pants!) have an effect on my IBS symptoms.
IBS can create added stress and anxiety in your life due to the anticipation of symptoms/flare ups and having to make major lifestyle changes. Additionally, IBS puts a lot of physical stress on the body.
In the healthcare world, it is believed that IBS is solely a stress-related disorder, meaning that stress is what causes the muscles of the abdomen to contract too quickly or slowly. These irregular contractions can cause constipation, diarrhea and cramping. But there are many other theories on this disorder.
Every time I have a bad flare up I worry. I always worry if it will stop and what if I just keep getting worse and the attack doesn’t subside? All of this worry can be detrimental both physically and mentally.
Panic Disorder IBS
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) tell us that “A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.”.
The website lists several other symptoms. If this sounds terrifying to you, I can truthfully tell you, it is.
The Connection: IBS and Panic Attacks
Both Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Panic Attacks stem from stress. It’s no surprise that the two can go hand-in-hand.
Our bodies have different ways of coping with stress. Panic attacks and anxiety are two common ways for our bodies to deal with overwhelming stress.
The different aches and pains of IBS along with other out of the ordinary symptoms can be worrisome.
When I discover a new symptom I’ve never experienced, it elevates my stress levels and I begin to worry and fixate on the issue.
IBS Attack Top Picks:
My IBS and Panic Attacks
The first panic attack I had was the most frightening experience and landed me in the ER when I was 18.
I recall feeling a tightness in my chest (what’s going on here, am I having congestive heart failure??), feeling like I couldn’t breathe, tingling in my hands and feet and a wave of extreme panic. I thought I was going to die.
Feeling like you can’t control your breathing is one of the worst experiences as a human in my opinion.
That night began with an IBS flare up and ended with the sudden panic attack and a long night at the hospital. All because I was worried about my IBS flare up.
After experiencing that first panic attack, I was constantly worried about having another one. A panic attack can happen out of nowhere and it can be downright scary!
Approaches To Panic Attacks: The Best of the Best!
There is no cookie-cutter way to treat panic attacks across the board. Everyone is different, requiring different treatments. These books on amazon have some amazing advice and ways to help reduce and eliminate panic attacks.
Each book outlines different techniques that can be used to reduce panic attacks and/or get rid of them completely.