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Randomly feeling panicky and anxiety -opinion

Discussion in 'Basic Scuba Discussions' started by Scubafanatic25, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Gjoyce3

    Gjoyce3 Angel Fish

    I went through a similar experience at a similar time in my diving. Right around 75 dives or so, I had panic attacks creep in to my diving. I think most of these were the result of mentally forecasting a bad experience based upon some trigger (real or imagined). The results were rapid breathing coupled with a voice in the back of my head telling me to get to the surface. I had multiple drag out fights at 60 feet with myself. I do not think that any bad experience (like yours) trigger the attacks, just an accumulation of worries. Some of the times, there would be something that started the chain reaction- e.g. I would need less air in my BC to get buoyant at depth and I would envision problems with popping up at the end of the dive. Other times, something as simple as my trim being off would start the chain. A couple of times, the initial trigger was narcosis. One thing that feed into the chain reaction was not wanting to disappoint other divers.

    Getting through it really came down to comfort level, which took some time along with an increase in skill level and additional preparation. I focused on what I like about diving, implemented better planning, concentrated on the fundamentals, and learned more about DCS and computers than taught in OW. Also, giving myself something to do on a dive (taking pictures) seemed to help a lot. Identifying what is going on mentally was a big thing - figuring out each trigger and then dealing said trigger (preferably prior to the dive). Some practical steps I implemented are: carrying a pony bottle (even though I have never needed it), using two computers, and switching to nitrox (less worry about NDLs on my typical dives). Being more open with the people that I dive with also helped a lot.

    Good luck with this - for me it was a process.
    Roy_W likes this.
  2. BlueTrin

    BlueTrin DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: London
    I agree with your point about sharing your experience. I think as soon as you talk with other more experienced divers you realise that many will tell you that it takes time and a bit of dedication to improve your technique and progress.

    It definitely relieved me from any kind of peer pressure.
  3. jgttrey

    jgttrey ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Houston
    There was a thread recently about someone that had a full blown panic attack after dry mouth, and many of the same points were made there.

    So, I'll repeat my observation. Yes, being conservative on your "real" dives and visualizing how to calm yourself, control your breathing, etc., are all good things. Necessary things.

    But, what I would also recommend is that you take some classes that, under the watchful eye of an instructor expose you to, and teach you to manage, stressful situations. Like a rescue class, for example. It sounds like you did some of your training in limited vis and that you remain nervous about it. Rather than running from it and having it haunt you (sorry if I'm being presumptuous here), maybe go back with an instructor and "beat it." If you can dive comfortably in the muck, then your tropical dives will seem like cake.

    The best antidote to feeling anxious underwater is to learn the skills that allow you solve problems underwater. What will help with anxiety is knowing that you can manage it. That means confronting (in a controlled way) those challenges. And, by the way, you'll be a better diver, not just a less anxious one.

    To take an example, one of the most intimidating skills for OW students can be mask removal and replacement. I bet lots of students scrape past it, scared, and just hope it never comes up again. Deep inside, they continue to lack confidence in themselves because that skill (and others) scared them. The solution is not to convince yourself that your mask won't ever get kicked off, but to practice that skill until you can laugh about the time it used to intimidate you.
  4. happy-diver

    happy-diver Skindiver Just feelin it

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: same ocean as you
    Well during our weekly assembly with all staff for that day, and 1100 students in high school
    I wondered about the lifelong ramifications of standing and swearing at the deputy principal.

    Now fourty years later, and diving for more, always having imposed a decompression ceiling
    for even the most benign of dives, I wonder about the lifelong ramifications of surfacing early
  5. Scubafanatic25

    Scubafanatic25 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Phoenix
    Thank you all for your insights and experience. I will leverage all them and get back in the water to continue to build my confidence and expertise.

    To answer the wetsuit question, I don’t think that contributes to the panic feeling. I feel comfortable in them and have worn tight ones and loose ones. I’m thinking its more the confidence piece.
  6. Prostardiver

    Prostardiver Instructor, Scuba

    My wife carried a flooded camera on some dives so she could focus on something else. It was funny watching the DM in Cozumel pointing out great shots. She dutifully pointed it at the fish and pretended to take its picture.
  7. Gjoyce3

    Gjoyce3 Angel Fish

    Reminds me of a respiratory therapist I knew in years past. When checking a patient's pulse he would always stare at his wrist. He never wore a watch. He said that he didn't need a watch to pick out what he was looking for, but that he found it made patients calmer if they thought he was looking at a watch when checking their pulse. He said that after he started doing that no one ever questioned him. I took it as a lesson that you cannot expect what makes us nervous and what calms us down to make sense when examined. Kinda of the same thing here - it is a matter of working within your boundaries.
    Jersey likes this.
  8. Billy Northrup

    Billy Northrup ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Key Largo / Norcal
    Since it's intermittent I'm going to go with Boulderjohn on CO2 buildup.

    1) working too hard, holding breath, skipping breaths kick and descending and boom... Almost as quickly as it comes it goes when you level out and stop.

    2) Constrictive thermal especially around the neck and chest.

    Question. Do you have a headache after the dive or feel drowsy?
    chillyinCanada likes this.
  9. ystrout

    ystrout Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: San Diego
    Do you have anxiety/depression or a panic disorder in general? Or you only get this when you dive?

    If you get panic attacks on land, I would guess the sensory overload that accompanies diving would trigger them underwater.

    I would think an easy fix would be to do shallow dives, dive where you feel comfortable, and remember that on shallowish dives all you have to do is swim to the surface (controlled ascent of course) and you're safe.
    TMHeimer likes this.
  10. 60plus

    60plus Barracuda

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Cumbria UK
    Its not just claustrophobia, overtight neck seals are though / known to be the cause of several diving fatalities, an article on this was in the BSAC magazine a few months ago.
    chillyinCanada likes this.

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