For the last few years or so I've had pretty bad anxiety problems, which have been getting worse and worse (and Chris's sudden death last October was a major trauma after which it got really bad). It's always been brought on by increasing levels of stress, fears over my ability to work (which then forms a vicious cycle), and worries about other peoples' safety. One of my most consistent panic attack triggers seems to be anything which makes me think about how my cat might be imperiled, for example (such as when I was remodelling my kitchen and Werner was sniffing around the unplugged microwave when it was on the floor, or while visiting Jenn and Mike in Seattle and seeing their "rescue pets inside" sticker by their front door).
Other anxiety triggers are whenever people are talking about their own stress or health issues, or about really bad situations that other people have gotten themselves into, and so on.
I was briefly on Prozac to try treating it at a neurochemical level, but that only made the panic attacks more frequent and much more intense.
I've been seeing a therapist for several years now and he's been somewhat helpful, but he still generally takes the approach of telling me to calm down and think rationally about things, which is like telling a depressed person to cheer up.
The various non-medical anxiety treatment regimens I see online are all about convincing yourself that you're safe, but safety isn't generally the underlying cause of my anxiety, so I'm not sure how convincing myself that I'm safe is particularly productive. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is supposedly effective for treating "all forms of anxiety disorder" but everything I read up on it indicates that it's about desensitizing people to phobias. How can I desensitize myself to worries about whether my cat is okay or whether someone I used to know is drinking himself to death and screwing up everyone else's lives around him? When I'm driving and have an anxiety attack, it's not anxiety about my own safety, but that I'll do something that hurts someone else. And many of my anxiety attacks are just self-fulfilling meta-anxiety, like "I'm stuck in this meeting that is very vicious and it would be terrible if I got an anxiety attack right now — and there it is."
Sometimes I try to detangle what's going on at the root of all this and it always seems to come down to the fact that my career tends to be fairly stressful and I push myself really hard to over-perform, and I wonder if I could switch careers, but anything else I want to do I'm not particularly good at and even if I were an expert in the field I wouldn't pull down enough income to pay for my lifestyle, which of course has gotten much more expensive due to making so much income in the field which has destroyed me so badly to begin with.
I like to think that winning the lottery would fix all those problems, but then I think about how useless I'd feel and how I'd just be a leech who is having a good life due to pure luck, and I feel like I'd only feel worthless and like I wouldn't deserve anything I had. (Then again, I usually feel that way now, too, so maybe that wouldn't change much anyway.)
For now I'm just taking lorazepam for acute issues (when I can predict there will be a problem, anyway) and when an attack does happen I try to breathe deep and relax and count until I forget to keep counting but that's getting less and less effective.
Sometimes I think I just need a one-month vacation from reality. (But then I worry about what I'd be coming back to, job-wise and otherwise.)
tl;dr: I am a mess.