If You Have Panic Attacks At Night Heres What To Do
If you have ever experienced a panic attack, you’re not alone. In fact, a larger number of people experience panic attacks than you might think.
Panic attacks can occur at any time of the day. You can even be awakened out of your sleep with symptoms like an accelerated heartbeat, sweaty palms, and shortness of breath.
Panic attacks at night are not uncommon and although they can disrupt your daily life and lead to chronic sleep anxiety, there is hope. There are steps you can take before, during, and after experiencing a nocturnal panic attack that may help treat and prevent them.
Where Do I Go From Here
In addition to talking to your family doctor, check out the resources below for more information about anxiety disorders:
Visit www.anxietycanada.com for anxiety resources for children, youth, and adults. Learn more about anxiety, use My Anxiety Plan to help manage anxiety, download the MindShift app, and find local mental health professionals and services across Canada.
BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information
Visit www.heretohelp.bc.ca for info sheets, tips and personal stories to help you understand anxiety disorders. You can also take self-tests to check in on your anxiety, mental health, and well-being.
Call 811 or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca to access free, non-emergency health information for anyone in your family, including mental health information. Through 811, you can also speak to a registered nurse about symptoms you’re worried about or talk with a pharmacist about medication questions.
Crisis lines aren’t only for people in crisis. You can call for information on local services or if you just need someone to talk to. If you are in distress, call 310-6789 24 hours a day to connect to a BC crisis line, without a wait or busy signal. The crisis lines linked in through 310-6789 have received advanced training in mental health issues and services by members of the BC Partners for Mental Health and Substance Use Information.
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What Is A Panic Attack
A panic attack is a sudden overwhelming feeling of dread, anxiety, or fear. They can come on suddenly for no reason or can be triggered by certain phobias or fears. Most panic attacks share many common symptoms, but the one defining characteristic of panic attacks is the crippling sense of fear.
Panic attacks can happen once or twice in someones life, or they can be chronic and happen on and off for years. You may not realize youre having a panic attack at first. Some people describe the symptoms as feeling like theyre having a heart attack. The most common feeling many people have is a sense of dread and impending doom and the urge to fight or flee.
If youre experiencing a feeling of fear or dread and have at least four of the following symptoms, you may be having a panic attack. Panic attack symptoms include:
- Chills or hot flashes
- Trouble breathing or feeling like youre being smothered
- Shakiness or trembling all over
- Feeling detached from events around you or feeling like youre looking at things from far away
- A sudden sense of dread or feeling like youre dying
- Feeling like youre losing control or going crazy
- Tightness in the chest or trouble breathing
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Less Likely To Be A Heart Attack
Sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning
Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing
Gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes
Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds
Pain in diffuse area, including a constant pain in middle of chest
Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other
Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back
Pain that is localized to one small spot
Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea
Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms
Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest
Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion
What Can I Do About It
If you think that you have an anxiety disorder, it’s a good idea to talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner. They can recommend treatment or connect you with specialized services.
Your exact treatment will depend on the specific illness, but in general, anxiety disorders may be treated with a combination of psychotherapy, medications, and self-help. In many cases, psychotherapy is recommended as the first treatment, with medications recommended if psychotherapy doesn’t work on its own. Self-management includes little things you do every day to take care of yourself, like eating well, staying active, getting enough sleep, and watching your use of alcohol and other drugs. These strategies can have a big impact on your well-being.
Waves Of Panic Attacks
If you have panic attack symptoms for an hour or more, you may really be having a wave of panic attacks, one after another. There’s actually a period of recovery between them, though you may not notice it. The overall effect feels like you’re being hit with one never-ending attack.
It’s rare that this happens, though. The fight or flight response is so draining, it’s hard to set it off that often.
Complications Due To Frequent Panic Attacks
If people are having regular panic attacks it can become a serious disruption in their life. The complications associated with such attacks include:
* Those people who have regular panic attacks are more likely to turn to alcohol or drug abuse. This can exacerbate the problem.* It interferes with the ability of the individual to find happiness in life.* It can lead to symptoms of depression.* The individual may become suicidal and some will commit suicide.* It leads to problems at work or at school.* The disruption of these attacks can interfere with the ability of the individual to make money and advance in their career.* It interferes with the individuals ability to form meaningful relationships.* It may limit their movements. They may even become unwilling to travel to anywhere in case they have a panic attack.* The individual may develop a phobia about leaving the house.* They may feel the need to avoid social situations.
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What Makes You Worry That Chest Pain Is Serious Like A Heart Attack
When is chest pain serious? That dull burning feeling in your chest doesn’t seem to be going away, and even feels like it is getting worse. Is it a heart attack, or;?
It’s a vexing question, one that millions of people and their doctors face each year. What’s the problem? Chest pain can stem from dozens of conditions besides , from pancreatitis to pneumonia or panic attack.
Millions of Americans with chest pain are seen in hospital emergency departments every year. Only 20% of them are diagnosed with a heart attack or an episode of unstable , a warning sign that a heart attack may happen soon. A few have another potentially life-threatening problem, such as pulmonary embolism or aortic dissection . Some are experiencing “regular” angina, which occurs when part of the heart isn’t getting as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs during periods of physical exertion or emotional stress. Most of them, though, had a condition unrelated to the heart or arteries.
The other tricky problem with heart attacks is that different people experience them in different ways. Some have classic chest pain. Others have jaw pain or back pain. Still others become breathless, or extremely fatigued, or nauseated.
What Are Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that have similar symptoms around problem anxiety, though the cause of anxiety may be different.
With selective mutism, people can’t speak or communicate in some situations. It’s common for children with selective mutism to speak around their immediate family members but not at school. Many people with selective mutism also experience a lot of anxiety. People with this illness have normal language abilities, they just can’t communicate in certain situations. Selective mutism is often most noticeable when children start school and have to manage more social interactions. While many children seem to outgrow selective mutism, they may continue to experience anxiety problems like social anxiety disorder into adulthood.2,3
Generalized anxiety disorder
People with generalized anxiety disorder or GAD worry or feel anxious most days. They worry about different parts of daily life, such as their home, work, family, health, finances, and the future. Triggers for anxiety can change from day to day. These worries are extreme or unrealistic and hard to control. Many people with GAD say it’s almost impossible to stop their anxiety and that they can’t remember the last time they felt relaxed. GAD can cause a lot of physical signs of anxiety, like muscle tension, headaches, stomach problems, and sleep problems.4
Social anxiety disorder
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When To Get Help
See a GP if you’ve been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.
They’ll ask you to describe your symptoms, how often you get them, and how long you have had them.
They may also carry out a physical examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed.
You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have regular and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.
Shortness Of Breath Even When Im Not Having An Anxiety Attack
Hello I’m a 32 year old female,I have been having anxiety and some depression for about four years now!!so I understand everything that everybody on here is going through!!!!I started back on my meds almost 3 weeks ago….I can just be sitting there on my bed and start getting shortness of breath,even if I’m not having an anxiety attack….ive been to the er so many times because of my panicking….I’ve had xrays,ekg’s,and lots of blood work done,& the doctors tell me that I’m healthy….my psychiatrist told me that I think about the breathing too much and that Its just in my head,but it scares me!!!does anybody else have that same problem???I have read other stories with the same issues!!!I just want to know that I’m not the only one going through this!!!!!
14 likes, 261 replies
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Why We Need To Make Sure People Understand The Difference
While conducting research for this article, we encountered more than a dozen mental health professionals who mistakenly believed the terms anxiety attack and panic attack were synonymous. They were licensed professionals, but none of them had a specialty in anxiety. Because anxiety attack is not a clinical term, they assumed it was a synonym for panic attack. This caused them to use the terms interchangeably, which can often confuse the issue even more.
People who deal with anxiety attacks or panic attacks often make similar mistakes. Some suffer from panic attacks but use the term anxiety attack to describe their symptoms and vice versa.
This confusion is why potential therapy clients and other anxiety sufferers need to educate themselves more on the topic or work with an anxiety specialist who really understands the differences. If you dont understand the terms and their differences, you might end up treating a panic disorder that you dont actually have. In the worst case scenario, you could even become dependent on a medication you dont need. Thats why its vital to seek out information about your specific condition and work with someone who is knowledgeable about the challenges that your unique condition presents. With luck, this article has been helpful in shedding some light on the differences between these similar terms!
The Link Between Weed & Panic Attacks
A 2010 study published on Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology looked at panic behaviors in adults in the United States who use marijuana. It accounted for various factors, such as age, income, race, education, and socioeconomic status.
After accounting for these factors, the study concluded that marijuana use is indeed correlated to an increased likelihood of experiencing a panic attack.
In fact, the study found that people who smoke weed for a long time were likely to have been diagnosed with panic disorders. Some people even resort to marijuana to treat their generalized anxiety disorder.
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Why Avoidance Doesnt Work
You cant really control when or where attacks happen, no matter how you try. Case in point: Its possible to experience panic attacks while asleep, and sleep isnt something you can safely avoid.
Avoidance can seem helpful. In reality, though, it only prevents you from exploring more effective ways to navigate uncomfortable emotions, such as anxiety, or unwanted experiences, such as panic attacks.
Its pretty much impossible to avoid emotional distress in life. Building a toolbox of coping skills breathing exercises, journaling, or relaxing music, to name a few can prepare for unexpected challenges and help you weather discomfort more easily.
The same is true for panic disorder.
Panic attacks are unpredictable, and you may never pin down a specific trigger. Avoiding the things you enjoy and the people and places you love generally only isolates you and worsens anxiety and distress.
A better approach than avoidance? Treatment and support.
Panic disorder cant be cured, but treatment and coping strategies can make a big difference in your symptoms.
If Treated Successfully A Panic Disorder Does Not Relapse
A panic disorder can continue for many years. Some people become housebound for decades.
I have heard it said that a panic disorder can return at any time, even after years; but this is not true. What is true is that it may not have been treated successfully in the first place.
Some people think they are better because they no longer feel uncomfortable in places they used to avoid. And they may not have had a panic attack for months, even years. If they had an accompanying depression, which is not unusual, the depression may have disappeared. But, still, that period of remission does not constitute a cure.
A panic attack goes away when the panicky person is no longer afraid of the attack. Having a bad panic attack 10 or 12 times in different phobic situations without leaving the situation is usually enough to convince that person that the panic attack does not cause a heart attack, a fall to the ground, or any other loss of control. Long before that, the fear of at least certain phobic situations has already disappeared. Finally, the phobic continues to experience occasional, very brief panic attacks at increasing intervals until they go away altogether.
Not good enough, I told her. That means that you are still afraid of a possible panic attack in that place.
A few months later she began having panic attacks in other restaurants, and soon she was avoiding all restaurants and some other places too.
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How Long Do Anxiety Disorders Last
The above list, however, refers to how long a specific attack lasts. The disorders themselves can last the rest of your life or only a few days. Your ability to overcome the anxiety depends a great deal on the help you seek out and your willingness to commit to treatments.
Anxiety attacks tend to be self-sustaining. Suffering from an anxiety attack often causes fear of experiencing an anxiety attack again, and that fear can make your anxiety symptoms worse and trigger another attack. That’s why seeking help is so important.
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What Should I Do If I Have Anxiety In Pregnancy
Talk to your midwife or doctor if you:
- feel anxious most of the time for more than two weeks
- have anxiety that is making you feel physically ill with fast heartbeat, fast breathing, sweating, feeling faint, feeling sick and diarrhoea
- have;a panic attack/s
- have unpleasant thoughts that keep coming back and you cant control them.
- find yourself;repeating an action; to feel better.
- are so;afraid of giving birth;that you dont want to go through with it
- you are so afraid of blood tests that you avoid having them.
Tell your midwife or GP if you have experienced anxiety before even if you arent feeling anxious right now. The more they know about your mental health history the better they can support you during your pregnancy.
The midwife or doctor wont criticise you or judge you for having these feelings. They know this happens to many pregnant women, and they will focus on finding the right treatment to help you recover.
If you find anxiety difficult to talk about, you could write down how you feel before your appointment or take someone with you for support.
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Chest Pain And Heart Attack Symptoms
Chest pain is only one of the possible signs of an impending heart attack. If you notice one or more of the signs below in yourself or someone else, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, burning, tightness, or pain in the center of the chest
Pain, numbness, pinching, prickling, or other uncomfortable sensations in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
Shortness of breath
Heat/flushing or a cold sweat
Sudden heaviness, weakness, or aching in one or both arms