Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.
It sounds like you have panic disorder. People with panic disorder often describe themselves as constantly anxious or always feeling panicky. That is because when you are anxious, your thoughts are causing your thoughts are causing your mind to think your in danger. Your body reacts by releasing adrenaline into your system. Adrenaline causes the symptoms you feel, including the panic attacks. It is much like after you have had a bad scare like a car accident. Your body releases the adrenaline and you feel unreal, your legs turn to jelly, you have trouble thinking and your body may feel it's tingling. You just don't notice it as much because your focus is on what is going on around you. Except with anxiety, there is no focus. The only thing you have to focus on is how you feel.
It may not feel like it, but the panic does subside. The adrenaline in your system does deplete and needs time to replenish. But because your thoughts are probably always on alert, so is your body. This may be why you always feel anxious and panicky.
You may also need a change in your medication. Medications are helpful to ease the symptoms but they vary in their effectiveness. Each person has their own body chemistry and what works for one may not work for another. Also, once you take medication for a while, your body becomes accustomed to it and you either need an increase in dosage or you need to try a new medication.
The good news is that anxiety is easy to treat with therapy. In therapy, you learn to pay attention to what you are thinking to make yourself anxious. The therapist then can help you change your thoughts and therefore how your body reacts to your thoughts. You also can learn about how to let yourself float through your anxiety thereby gaining more control over how you feel. When a panic attack comes on, you allow it to flow over you without tensing or panicking in response. This makes the panic reduce or go away faster. To find a therapist, talk to your doctor about a referral. Or you can search on line at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/.
You can also help yourself at home. There are numerous resources to help you learn more about anxiety and how to control your panic. Here are some to get you started:
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne is excellent for any fears. It is self help and contains everything from supplements to relaxation techniques.
The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Anxiety: A Step-by-Step Program by Bill Knaus Ed.D. and Jon Carlson Psy.D. Ed.D.
From Panic to Power: Proven Techniques to Calm Your Anxieties, Conquer Your Fears, and Put You in Control of Your Life by Lucinda Bassett
You can find these books on Amazon.com or your local library may have them for you.
I hope this has helped you,Kate
Getting panic under control is two part- learning how anxiety works (which you probably already know being a social worker) and learning to accept the feelings of anxiety and not to tense yourself in the face of them.
First you have to tell yourself that panic attacks are not dangerous. They will not hurt you. The only thing they do is trigger your automatic danger response. This is because your thoughts are telling your body to react. Changing your thoughts (cognitive behavioral therapy) will help you control your panic before it even triggers your body's response. You can start by picking out several calming thoughts to write down for yourself. Here are some examples:
"This will pass"
"I can let go and everything will be ok"
"My feelings cannot hurt me"
And so on. Make the list and keep it with you. Each time you feel anxious, read the list. Also, try the Edmund Bourne book and any Claire Weekes books for examples of very good thought changing techniques.
Also, work on relaxation exercises. Deep breathing is essential. When you have anxiety, you tend to breathe shallow and you may not even be aware of it. This makes you more anxious because your body is not getting enough oxygen. Practice deep breathing so you get used to taking a breathe each time you feel anxious. It will also help your body to relax, which you want to re train it to do.
Lastly, do deep muscle relaxation techniques to help you re train yourself to relax. As you practice them and get more used to using them, the deep muscle relaxation exercises will help you relax when the anxiety starts to build. Here is a great resource to help you:
With these three techniques, you may be able to help yourself relax enough to get back to work.