General Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

How do you deal with fear?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5466 points ) January 5th, 2013

Very occasionally, seemingly out of the blue, I get struck by fear, an anxiety of sorts, a momentary, yet crippling feeling of wanting to flee, and having nowhere to run to. My question to you is if you ever experienced something like this do you have a proven method to stop that fear dead in its tracks, or does it just have to “pass through” you? Is it normal to feel intense fear like this (happens once or twice a year, tops)? (for the record I don’t do nor have I ever done drugs, and I am generally quite content with my life)

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22 Answers

Shippy's avatar

I do, except I have given them a name, panic attacks and anxiety attacks. The feeling of wanting to run and flee is possibly an adrenaline rush that occurs at the time. Honestly the only thing that helped me was medication for it. Because at those times, even relaxation methods or anything of the sort, made it worse.

It is normal to feel like this if you suffer generalized anxiety. It is also normal to feel it if it is directly related to a fear stimulus. It becomes abnormal when it becomes debilitating or interferes with your daily functioning.

augustlan's avatar

Sounds like a panic attack, and yes I get them. Not fun! For me, the only thing that works is medication, but I suspect that’s because I waited far too long to get help for the situation. People I know who caught their anxiety earlier in life have had good outcomes with things like CBT, mindfulness, meditation and other drug-free solutions.

tom_g's avatar

Sounds like panic. The best thing to do immediately is to do some quality breathing. Often, panic is the result of hyperventilation – or at least it can be made worse by it. Try fully exhaling. I mean completely and forcefully make sure every last bit of air is out of your lung. Now, as calmly as you can, take a deep breath through your nose so that your stomach pushes out (in other words, don’t take a shallow upper chest breath). Hold this breath nearly as long as you can, then slowly exhale through pursed lips completely until you have absolutely no air left (slowly is key, hence the very tight lips). Now start again with the in breath. After a couple of these, you will likely feel somewhat in control.

Anyway, as @Shippy mentions, just be on the lookout for any behavior changes that might be a result of such occurrences (avoiding situations, etc) and see someone immediately. They are completely treatable and within your power to deal with. And as @augustlan mentions, CBT, mindfulness, and meditation are also pretty helpful.

Sunny2's avatar

Denial! Defiance! A smile! A look straight in the eye. I may be shaking in my bones, but you’ll never know it.

marinelife's avatar

I have had them. Sometimes deep breathing helps, calling someone you can talk to about it helps, making a list of calming things (not while in one) and then going down it helps.

dxs's avatar

When it comes to social phobias, I tend to put myself in a lock-down mode. My thoughts of outside life goes idle and I wait for the fear to end. So, I tend to let it “pass through” me. If I do anything else, I’ll make even more of a scene. (Definitely not a way to overcome the fear)
When it comes to other types of fear, I usually just try not to think about it, such as fears of fate because worrying and contemplating only seems to makes things worse, including your mood.
When it comes to spiders, I scream like a five-year-old girl.

flutherother's avatar

I haven’t felt like this in a long time. When I did I ran along the shore near my home as hard as I could in the dark.

tom_g's avatar

Forgot to mention – people who haven’t experienced this might suspect that it is fear of something that you are describing. But panic doesn’t have to be that way. In a way, panic attacks can be merely a fight-or-flight adrenaline rush towards the purest fear available. It’s a free-fall. The fear feeds more fear, and in a strange way it’s difficult to describe to someone because it sounds like you’re putting the cart before the horse as you describe fear resulting from fear, etc.
So, I guess I just wanted to mention that anxiety, phobias, and panic are completely different things. You will know what it is you are experiencing. Just make sure you don’t allow others to label your experience as merely “fear” or “anxiety” if in fact you’re experiencing panic. It’s like describing Mt Everest as “a small hill”.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@fremen_warrior Are you sure it’s not an allergic reaction? I’ve had three of those and the symptoms are very very close. Each one was a little worse. When I have to think about breathing it’s pretty scary. Check with your doctor.

spykenij's avatar

I had this problem every day of my life from 5 yrs old to 32 yrs old. I was on a low dose of Xanax for over 16 yrs and it kind of helped, but not how I needed it to. I’m now on Neurontin/Gabapentin (non-narcotic, non-habit forming) due to severe chronic pain issues that were close to ending my life. It has completely saved me from this horrible curse and my severe chronic pain. I have been anxious twice now since I started taking it, just over a yr ago. I can’t say this would work for others, but it definitely worked for me. I don’t recommend using Xanax or ANY other habit forming meds to alleviate this. The withdrawal from the Xanax was worse than the withdrawal from the Dilaudid, which is 8 times stronger than Morphine.

Coloma's avatar

I accept fear as something that will arise from time to time, especially when dealing with new ventures into the unknown. I heard a saying once about “learning to live with uncertainty.”
This has helped me a lot as everything in life is uncertain. Life is cycles within cycles within cycles, as is all of life, for everything.

Every living organism lives with uncertainty and I am not different.
The bird is not assured it’s daily worm, the squirrel is not assured it’s daily acorn.
EVERY single living creature lives with uncertainty every day as we do.
I think fear mostly shows up when we start trying to control outcomes, insisting on knowing what often can’t be known.

I deal with fear by reminding myself of these ultimate truths and that every single human that has gone before me felt the same way.
We think our lives are SO important, they are not, we are merely an organism making the best of the brief time we have here on this mysterious planet in this mysterious universe.
No more or less “special” than an oak tree or a sea turtle or a head of lettuce. lol
For some this is terrifying, for me it is comforting.

Sure, aspire to be the best you can be while you’re here, while at the same time recognizing, none of this stuff really matters, not a whit in the grand scheme of the universe. ;-)

pleiades's avatar

I agree with @augustlan

Sounds like high anxiety. They just come about and the more you focus on what’s going on inside your body instead of trying to control your breathing, the harder it is to survive the ordeal. I noticed the I started having more anxiety the more weight I put on. This year for sure I have maintained a vegetarian diet to reduce my cholesterol and have maintained working out. Triggers are rarely ever random, they are mostly attached to your diet. Remember your overall health affects your psyche!

lifeflame's avatar

I agree – deep breathing.
Also—if I’m alone—singing. Usually has the effect of making me laugh, which then makes me take everything less seriously.
Or going for a run/dancing wildly to siphon off the excess adrenaline.

In the long term, regular meditation helps me practice equanimity, so that when the big waves hit, I already have practice in grounding them and knowing that, this too—shall pass.

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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I remember it’s part of this mess/joy that is life and that there will be a time when I will not be afraid. It’s cyclical.

Blondesjon's avatar

I constantly dwell on it and then over self-medicate to compensate.

i believe it was james hetfield who sang, “you know it’s sad but truuue . . .”

hopeful5141's avatar

I think we all face this kind of fear at times. The best thing to do is take a moment and step back, see how much of what you are thinking about is real. Often, we create scenarios that are based not on what is going on in our lives, but rather things that might happen. All we have is what is right now, and I try to stay in that space. They also say if you see it, you will make it happen, so visualize good things, not bad! Feel better.

rooeytoo's avatar

There are 2 books that I think you would find helpful. One is Feel the Fear and Do It Anyhow. And actually there are several by Dr. Clair Weekes. She is long gone now but she had a common sense approach to dealing with panic/anxiety attacks. Many people find them very helpful. And of course, counseling would probably help as well. Often these fears can come if you are from a family where alcohol was a problem in which case, Alanon or ACOA meetings are helpful also. If no other methods give you the relief you seek, then definitely meds would be the go.

fremen_warrior's avatar

Thank you all for the advice, it will definitely come in handy someday again. I think deep breathing especially is a good idea. I decided recently to find time daily to do some sitting meditation, hopefully that will help me remain calm overall.

I think this year was particularly stressful for me hence a slight increase in these bursts of panic (finally finished my last year at uni, got laid off work, lost 2 grandfathers to cancer – all in a matter of months). I thought the fear that hit me frequently when I was growing up would never return, but it seems nobody is immune to this and I hav eto brace myself for the future.

Once again thank you all for your suggestions, this will hopefully help me cope better with panic attacks

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hopeful5141's avatar

Wow, a tough year you have had indeed. I do hope that this new year brings you both some calm and much happiness. All the pain in my life, I found gave me additional strength, and I hope that you find yourself imbued with the same! Smiles!

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