What Causes Night Time Panic Attacks
While nocturnal panic attacks can be sudden and frightening, theyre actually a common mental health condition. So what causes them?
So far, research hasnt found a single, clear-cut reason for why people experience panic attacks at night. However, we do know that the brain doesnt switch off during sleep, so its possible for any pent-up worries or anxieties to manifest in our unconscious brains, causing a nocturnal panic attack. Also, struggling with day time panic attacks makes it more likely that you will experience panic attacks at night.
Research suggests there are a number of other factors that could increase the risk of someone suffering from both day and night time panic attacks. These include:
Getting Yourself To A Place Where Youre Experiencing Panic Attacks Less Frequently
In the midst of an attack, youre terrified and once its over youre terrified of the next one. It can be an excruciating cycle. Reaching out to a qualified therapist for help, practicing these tips daily, and stress management will aid in experiencing less panic over time.
While it may not always be possible to stay stress free, visualizaion and breathing are always tools to keep in your pocket.
Kick Your Caffeine Habit
How Can it Help?Caffeine can be a good way for many of us to power through the work day but, unfortunately, its a terrible choice for most people who suffer from anxiety. Caffeine can cause jitters and other uncomfortable side effects that can exacerbate the symptoms of panic attacks. Caffeine withdrawal can be even worse, sending social anxiety through the roof until we get our morning dose.
For most people with anxiety, my advice would be to avoid caffeine as much as possible.
My Personal Experience I used to drink a cup of coffee per day for work, which I didnt consider to be a whole lot. Over time, however, I realized the little ways in which I had become dependent upon caffeine. Actually, I didnt feel particular anxious from the caffeine itself rather, I felt anxious whenever I needed more caffeine.
Once I realized that my social anxiety was through the roof in the morning before my coffee, I decided that caffeine was doing more harm than good for me. I kicked the habit cold-turkey, and had all kinds of horrible side effects: from headaches to two nights of heart palpitations. Just brutal. In the weeks that followed my withdrawal, I noticed a significant decrease to my anxiety levels and a boost to my natural energy levels. Now, I swear to all my family and friends that caffeine-free in the way to go.
For more information on the anti-anxiety benefits of quitting caffeine, check out this article.
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When To See A Specialist
If you have recurrent panic attacks, whether they come on without a definite trigger or are triggered by certain situations, you may wish to see a specialist, especially if the panic attacks are beginning to interfere with your daily life. For example, if you have panic attacks about speaking in public, this may inhibit your chances of receiving promotions at work. Panic attacks from driving over bridges or going through heavy traffic can limit your opportunities to travel or may make your daily commute stressful and overly difficult.
Repeated panic attacks may indicate that you have panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks and a noticeable fear that youll suffer from another one. Without treatment, panic disorder can lead to other difficult, anxiety-related conditions such as:
If the panic attacks are starting to take a long-term toll on your health, such as high blood pressure or stress headaches, certain medications can help. These can reduce the effects of the panic attack on your body and help you find mental relief.
Some people experience panic attacks yet are otherwise happy and healthy. Others may have panic attacks stemming from undiagnosed depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or bipolar disorder. These mental health illnesses can be treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Often, treating the underlying cause of panic attacks will help the attacks naturally resolve themselves.
Aromatherapy And Essential Oils
Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include:
Learn How To Manage Your Anxious Thoughts
Anxiety doesnt come out of the blue. When you have anxiety attacks, its often because your mind tends to spiral into negative thoughts often without your control. Sometimes you can control this anxiety by keeping these thoughts at bay and learning to dismiss triggers that cause you anxiety.
For many, this is easier said than done. But there are many different strategies you can try that may be effective. These include:
A Question Checklist
When you feel anxious, have a checklist on hand of questions to ask yourself about that anxiety experience. The longer the checklist, the more youll find that your thoughts become more realistic. Questions that you can use include:
- Is there a reason to believe something is wrong?
- What evidence is there that something is wrong?
- Is there a chance Im blowing this out of proportion?
Affirmations not for everyone, but those that do use them find them to be very beneficial. Affirmations are things that you say to yourself to make yourself feel better. These include:
- Im okay. This is just anxiety and I will get passed this .
- I have a great life and Im looking forward to tomorrow.
- My anxiety wont control me.
Getting Used to Physical Symptoms
The latter is known as exposure therapy and there are countless ways to create exercises that will habituate you to your panic attack triggers.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Panic Disorder
While many people experience just one or two panic attacks without further episodes or complicationsand theres little reason to worry if thats yousome people go on to develop panic disorder. Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks, combined with major changes in behavior or persistent anxiety over having further attacks.
You may be suffering from panic disorder if you:
- Experience frequent, unexpected panic attacks that arent tied to a specific situation
- Worry a lot about having another panic attack
- Are behaving differently because of the panic attacks, such as avoiding places where youve previously panicked
While a single panic attack may only last a few minutes, the effects of the experience can leave a lasting imprint. If you have panic disorder, the recurrent panic attacks take an emotional toll. The memory of the intense fear and terror that you felt during the attacks can negatively impact your self-confidence and cause serious disruption to your everyday life. Eventually, this leads to the following panic disorder symptoms:
Anticipatory anxiety Instead of feeling relaxed and like your normal self in between panic attacks, you feel anxious and tense. This anxiety stems from a fear of having future panic attacks. This fear of fear is present most of the time, and can be extremely disabling.
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Eliminate Or Minimize Stressors
How Can it Help?I mentioned earlier how panic attacks can seem random, but they often have many underlying causes that can go unrecognized by us. One of the largest contributors to anxiety and panic attacks is stress.
While major stressors such as phobias may be obvious, we often overlook the effect that smaller, cumulative stressors have on us. For example, it can be obvious why someone with glossophobia might feel panicky before giving a big speech. But we might not immediately recognize the source of our anxiety when it is due to many smaller factors such as work, relationships, and bills.
Nobody wants such stressors in their lives, and its likely that some of them are unavoidable. What you can do, however, is take some time to do some introspective work. Try and figure out the major causes of stress in your life, and consider what steps you might take to decrease your stress. This will look different for everyone, but may involve making adjustments to your lifestyle, relationships, or career.
My Personal Experience My very first panic attack was likely mostly to blame on the stressors in my life at the time. I was in high school, experiencing all of the typical social pressures and hormonal changes that adolescents typically experience. I was overcaffeinated, socially anxious, and stressed out about all manner of things from dating to exams.
What Is Panic Disorder
People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes or longer. These are called panic attacks. Panic attacks are characterized by a fear of disaster or of losing control even when there is no real danger. A person may also have a strong physical reaction during a panic attack. It may feel like having a heart attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, and many people with panic disorder worry about and dread the possibility of having another attack.
A person with panic disorder may become discouraged and feel ashamed because he or she cannot carry out normal routines like going to school or work, going to the grocery store, or driving.
Panic disorder often begins in the late teens or early adulthood. More women than men have panic disorder. But not everyone who experiences panic attacks will develop panic disorder.
Develop Anxiety Coping Skills
Your avoidance behaviors revolve around not wanting to experience anxiety or other symptoms of panic disorder. The most effective way to get past this fear is to learn techniques that will help you control your symptoms. Coping skills can help you keep your anxiety in check and may even assist in managing your panic attacks.
Such skills can be learned through the help of a therapist or on your own by using self-help books. Some common strategies to aid in coping with anxiety include:
S For Getting Through A Panic Attack
It feels like Im dying. Those are the words people use to describe what a panic attack feels like. The process of addressing and managing them is a journey theres no immediate cure or course of action that will stop a panic attack in its tracks.
It takes time, patience and dedication to identify your unique triggers. However, there are steps that serve as preemptive measures to help shorten the duration of a panic attack when it is occurring, and reduce the frequency and severity of your anxiety in the long term.
Panic attacks can make you feel like youve lost control, but with the right tips, you can get back in the drivers seat.
Unsettled. Scared. Anxious. Physically ill. The way you feel during a panic attack can be frightening and overwhelming.
With everything going on in the world, panic attacks might be new to you or have made a reappearance or maybe this isnt your first rodeo.
Whether youve had many panic attacks or just one, many strategies exist that can help you get through an attack.
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Start Talking To A Therapist
How Can it Help?Its important to remember that you are never alone with mental health issues. If you arent comfortable reaching out to a friend or family member about your anxiety, or if you feel your needs are greater than what they can help you with, you should absolutely consider seeking professional help.
Psychotherapy no longer has the negative connotation it once did. Today, many perfectly healthy people see therapists on a regular basis to help then navigate their mental health and relationships. Finding the right therapist for you could be the difference between daily panic attacks versus none.
My Personal Experience Ive talked to therapists in the past and have found it to be a helpful and healthy way to talk through things with an attentive and non-biased professional third party. I recommend everyone, anxiety or not, at least try talking to a therapist for a period of time. It may not be for you, or it may be the most cathartic experience of your life the only way to know is to try it.
For those looking to experience a one-on-one experience with a therapist from the comfort of their own home, I suggest checking out my online therapy review.
You Are Not Alone Reach Out
If you or a loved one are experiencing panic attacks and you dont know what to do, reach out. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will get better. And, in this day and age, theres so much research and efficacy behind the methods used by teams like the counselors at Makin Wellness.
Please share this video with people in need, comment on what you do to relax, and subscribe to our channel so you dont miss any new content. Support is an amazing tool in healing. It can be used for and supported by you. Both equally rewarding.
Sara Makin MSEd, LPC, NCC
All articles are written in conjunction with the Makin Wellness Research Team.
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Can Cbd Reduce Panic Attacks
CBD has been shown to help with a range of mental health conditions. Scientific research suggests that regularly taking the compound can regulate brain function and promote a healthy mindset. One condition people across the globe experience is anxiety. Our way of life is far more stressful than our bodies and brains evolved to cope with over the past 100 thousand years or so. veryone will experience anxiety at some stage in their life and for some this can develop into debilitating panic attacks. CBD is being shown to be a positive tool when tackling the general anxiety we all experience on a day to day basis, as well as being a potential quick fix for more extreme panic attacks.
What To Do When Someone Else Is Having A Panic Attack
This section will provide some tips on how to help a person having a panic attack.
First, try talking them through a few of the methods above. For instance, help them find a peaceful spot, encourage them to take slow, deep breaths, and ask them to focus on a nearby object.
If you do not know the person, introduce yourself and ask them if they need help. Ask them if they have had a panic attack before, and if so, what helps them regain control.
People can also try the following tips when someone else is having a panic attack:
- Try to remain calm. This will help them relax a little more.
- Suggest moving to a quiet spot nearby and help them find one. Sitting down in a comfortable place can be very effective, as it allows them to focus on their breathing.
- Remind the person that panic attacks always end.
- Stay positive and nonjudgmental. Avoid validating any negative statements.
- Try having a gentle, friendly conversation to distract them and help them feel safe.
- Avoid telling them to calm down or telling them that there is nothing to worry about, as this devalues their emotions.
- Stay with them. If they feel that they need to be alone, make sure they remain visible.
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Using Meditation For Panic Attack Management
A more advanced exercise your clients can practice is meditation.
Like the other exercises described in this article, meditation comes in different varieties. Each variety has its own particular procedure and way of describing the process, which may be more or less accessible to your client depending on the goals for their therapy and their personal or spiritual beliefs.
These differences should be considered carefully, but all forms of meditation share the same basic function as a system of relaxation through embodied thought.
Embodied thought is a concept we havent yet mentioned explicitly, but its really a combination of the exercises already described above. It takes the ideas behind controlled breathing and the different types of grounding and applies them in a single exercise.
In meditation, your client adopts a comfortable seated position and then typically begins by closing their eyes and engaging controlled breathing. This brings on a state of relaxation, but importantly, it also brings on a state of focus through sensory grounding, as your client deliberately pays attention to the rhythm and sensation of their breathing.
This state is maintained for a period, often around 15 minutes, and when your client comes out of the meditative state, they should feel more relaxed and in control of their mind. This should directly benefit their therapeutic efforts to lower the background levels of negative mood and anxiety that may predispose them to panic attacks.