Impacts Of Panic Attacks At Night
Nighttime panic attacks result in issues both directly and indirectly. Directly, the person will feel immensely uncomfortable, fearful, and scared. Indirectly, these panic attacks and the fear of additional panic attacks can result in higher levels of stress and anxiety that spread throughout the individuals waking life.
As the person begins to anticipate the next panic attack, they could:1,2
Overall, panic attacks are extremely problematic and detrimental to the individual who experiences them.
Panic attacks are linked to:1,3
- Higher rates of depression, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder
- Greater physical health concerns
- Higher rates of suicide
What Causes Nocturnal Panic Attack
Stress might be the leading cause of many major and minor deteriorations of health. Panic attacks are one of them it doesn’t matter if it’s a daytime panic attack or a nocturnal panic attack. Unfortunately, people who suffer panic attacks usually mistake it for a heart attack.
But, there might be many other causes that must be considered before jumping to conclusions.
How To Subdue A Panic Episode In 9 Steps
Here is something you can try to treat the pre-described symptoms,
It is a series of simple breathing techniques aimed at helping your body override its natural fight-or-flight response .
The following may be performed sitting down, standing up, or lying down. You can do this whilst on a crowded commute into work, when youre in bed, during a stressful work meeting, or basically in any situation where it is safe to switch your attention to yourself for a few minutes.
To feel less panicky, do the following:
This simple breathing exercise is effective because when you are feeling stressed, your breathing pattern changes. When we feel anxious, out natural physiological response is to breathe too much in short shallow bursts.
The above abdominal breathing exercise makes you conscious of how you are breathing.
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Who Might Experience Nocturnal Panic Attacks
While they can happen to anyone , some people are more predisposed to experiencing nocturnal panic attacks, including:
- Those who suffer from PTSD-related nightmares. “Individuals with PTSD may have nightmares about their trauma these nightmares essentially replay what they endured,” which may cause them to wake up “in a frightened state as they feel like they are reliving this trauma,” explains Dr. Magavi. The nightmares could “lead to panic attacks while they are sleeping.”
- People who have general anxiety and panic disorder. “About 18 percent of panic attacks will occur during the night,” adds Dr. Dimitriu, who says that nocturnal panic attacks are “common in people who also experience daytime panic attacks.”
- Those with sleep disorders. “Sleep apnea can result in sudden awakening due to inability to breathe, which could cause sweating, palpitations, and panic attacks,” says Dr. Magavi. “Sleep-initiation and sleep-maintenance can cause panic attacks as individuals begin to experience significant anxiety when they are unable to sleep.” (
Some People May Develop Panic Disorders
For many people, the feelings of panic occur only occasionally during periods of stress or illness. A person who experiences recurring panic attacks is said to have panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. They generally have recurring and unexpected panic attacks and persistent fears of repeated attacks.
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What Is A Nocturnal Panic Attack
Panic attacks are unexpected, sudden episodes of intense anxiety or fear. Those who experience panic attacks while awake can often identify triggers , however nocturnal panic attacks can happen without a trigger, often waking a person from sleep. Nocturnal panic attacks trigger the same symptoms as they would during the day, just at night. These include:
Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
Feeling disconnected from your surroundings and out of control
Increased heart rate
Shortness of breath and chest pains
Excessive sweating and fluctuating body temperature
Shaking or trembling
Palpitations and muscle spasms
Tingling and numbness
Although nocturnal panic attacks typically last for only a few minutes, its much harder to calm yourself down and fall asleep again. Worrying about whether you may have another panic attack can also lead to insomnia and sleeping difficulties.
Anxiety And Sleep Research
There is, however, plenty of research on how anxiety can affect sleep and vice versa.
According to the ADAA, research shows that sleep disorders occur in almost all psychiatric disorders.
In a small 2015 study , researchers examined the relationship between cognitive behavioral therapy and sleep quality in people with anxiety. Researchers found that both sleep quality and sleep latency improved in participants who responded to CBT.
The researchers believe that targeting sleep problems during anxiety treatment might be beneficial for those who have trouble sleeping.
Its important to remember that it can take time to find the right treatment approach for your anxiety. Because of this, you and your doctor may choose to use a variety of different treatment options.
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When Might I Have Panic Attacks
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people have one panic attack then don’t ever experience another, or you might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might notice that particular places, situations or activities seem to trigger panic attacks. For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.
Most panic attacks last between 5 to 20 minutes. They can come on very quickly. Your symptoms will usually be at their worst within 10 minutes. You might also experience symptoms of a panic attack over a longer period of time. This could be because you’re having a second panic attack, or you’re experiencing other symptoms of anxiety.
“My panic attacks seem to come out of the blue now. But in fact, they seem to be triggered mainly at night when I want to go to sleep but cannot stop my mind racing, experiencing worry and panic about anything that may be on my mind.”
What You Need To Know About Panic Disorders
Unlike anxiety, which often has clear triggers, panic attacks occur suddenly and unexpectedly and typically only last for a few minutes.
Those who experience panic attacks have reported lightheadedness, chest pain, hot flashes, chills, and stomach discomfort. Some say they feel like they were being choked or suffocated. Others say an attack made them feel detached from reality.
Occasional panic attacks can happen to anyone, although for some individuals, they occur more frequently and cause significant distress and impairment.
Evidence-based treatments for panic disorder are similar to those for anxiety and involve exposure-based treatment. Mindfulness and meditation can also be useful to curb stress and promote increased psychological flexibility.
Sometimes medications are used to augment behavioral treatments for panic disorder and include beta-blockers, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
If you have had continued panic attacks, you may need to seek professional help. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, other mental health and medical conditions, and whether you are experiencing abnormal stress or anxiety. Blood tests and a heart examination may also be required.
Both panic and anxiety are treatable and manageableeven when they may feel as if they are out of your control.
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Medication For Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder
Medication can be used to temporarily control or reduce some of the symptoms of panic disorder. However, it doesnt treat or resolve the problem. Medication can be useful in severe cases, but it should not be the only treatment pursued. Medication is most effective when combined with other treatments, such as therapy and lifestyle changes, that address the underlying causes of panic disorder.
Medications used may include:
Antidepressants. It takes several weeks before antidepressants begin to work, so you have to take them continuously, not just during a panic attack.
Benzodiazepines. These are anti-anxiety drugs that act very quickly . Taking them during a panic attack provides rapid relief of symptoms. However, benzodiazepines are highly addictive and have serious withdrawal symptoms, so they should be used with caution.
How To Treat Night Time Anxiety Attacks
The treatment of nighttime anxiety attacks may vary from one person to another. You can combine medications and self-care techniques to reduce frequency and manage the symptoms. Anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed to help calm the nerves. The common techniques include:
- Understanding the cause of the panic attack
- Looking for ways to deal with the symptoms
- Doing activities that calm the system such as tai chi or meditation
- Getting into a regular sleeping pattern, especially for people who have poor sleeping habits
Cognitive behavioral therapy is often recommended in some cases the therapy has a high success rate in dealing with anxiety attacks. The therapy focuses on the individual’s thought and behavior process. If your attacks are caused by acid reflux or obstructive sleep apnea, seek medical treatments. A balanced diet, less fatty, overly spicy, processed food and moderate alcohol, and regular exercise can also help manage the condition.
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They Can Be Scary And Disorienting Here’s How To Cope With Manage And Even Prevent Panic Attacks At Night
If you have ever experienced a panic attack, youre 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.
I Think My Partner Has Anxiety What Should I Do
People with anxiety often know that they are feeling anxious all the time. As you will know, different people react differently to personal feedback and when it comes to addressing anxiety, quite often, partners can aggravate the situation despite their good intentions.
Here are a few tips to show that you care and are empathetic to their feelings of anxiety:
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What Causes Panic Attacks At Night
If you wake up with a panic attack, it’s not often clear why these nighttime panic attacks have occurred – often there is no explanation. Similar to daytime panic attacks, symptoms can include feeling faint or dizzy, a pounding heart, shortness of breath, nausea, and sweating. 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 daytime panic attacks makes it more likely that you will experience panic attacks at night.
While nocturnal panic attacks can be sudden and frightening, theyre actually a common mental health condition. So what causes them?
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:
What Are Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can happen day or night. They are sudden, unexpected episodes of intense anxiety, which can cause a variety of frightening symptoms. These include:
- Feeling out of control and disconnected from your surroundings
- Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- Chest pains and shortness of breath – tightness of the chest and feeling as though its a struggle to breathe
- A racing or pounding heart
- Numbness and tingling, for example, tingling lips and numbness in your fingers and toes
- Fluctuating body temperature feeling very hot or very cold
These symptoms can be so severe they sometimes make first time sufferers believe theyre experiencing a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Over time, panic attacks can become more frequent, and the fear of having a panic attack becomes embedded, resulting in a ‘vicious circle’. You might also experience what’s known as hypnic jerks. If you’re particuarly stressed or anxious, you might also experience what’s known as hypnic jerks. These involuntary muscle sensations, like jolts, occur when you are in your lightest stage of sleep.
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What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like
People have described their panic attacks as being:
- Physical sensations of nausea, passing out, numbness or tingling, faint, a pounding heart, shaking, sudden sweating, chest pain.
- Feeling as though they are going crazy or dying from a heart attack, stroke, or choking.
- Feeling detached from reality.
- Feeling as though they have lost all control of their body and emotions.
Panic attacks are serious, however, an individual panic attack will not kill you despite feeling it will do so.
What Happens Inside Your Body
Your bodyâs âfight or flightâ response is behind these intense physical symptoms. Normally when you encounter a threat — whether itâs a grizzly bear or a swerving car — your nervous system springs into action. The hormone adrenaline floods into your bloodstream, putting your body on high alert. Your heartbeat quickens, which sends more blood to your muscles. Your breathing becomes fast and shallow, so you can take in more oxygen. Your blood sugar spikes. Your senses get sharper.
All of these changes — which happen in an instant — give you the energy you need to confront a dangerous situation or get out of harmâs way quickly.
With random panic attacks, your body goes on alert for no reason. Researchers donât know exactly what triggers them. But the physical effects are real: During a panic attack, the adrenaline levels in the body can spike by 2 1/2 times or more.
Panic attacks may not come as unexpectedly as they seem. The physical changes may start about an hour before an attack. In one study, people with panic disorder wore devices that tracked their heart activity, sweating, and breathing. The results showed lower-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide, a sign of rapid, deep breathing that can leave you breathless, as early as about 45 minutes before the panic attack.
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How You Manage Daytime Panic Attacks Might Help You At Night
Dr. Bea says the stress management techniques that you rely on during the day can help you recover from sleep panic attacks. While theres no surefire method, he says that normalizing the experience regardless of when it occurs can make a huge difference. The purpose of this is to get to a place where you no longer feel threatened or disturbed by the panic attack.
Thinking about how you feel after a stressful event is an observational strategy that keeps you from trying to fix the experience. When you dont try to fix things, the sensations in your body are going to pass pretty quickly.
If youre driving in your car and someone cuts you off, youre going to jerk the wheel to avoid the collision. Your brain and body are going to be activated very quickly so even though youve avoided danger, youre still going to feel on edge, he says.
But if you continue to drive and simply notice the sensations in your body, theyll dissipate on their own. The same strategy can be used in the midst of a panic episode. Simply noticing the sensations, perhaps rating the discomfort then noticing the remaining sensations can be much more useful than taking any steps to fix the panicky feeling.
What Are Panic Disorder Symptoms
A panic attack is a sudden strong feeling of fear that can happen anywhere, at any time. Youâll have four or more of these signs:
- A sense of approaching danger
- Pounding or fast heartbeat
- Shortness of breath or a feeling of being smothered
- Throat tightness
- A fear of losing control or going crazy
- A fear of dying
An attack usually passes in 5 to 10 minutes, but it can linger for hours. It can feel like youâre having a heart attack or a stroke. So people with panic attacks often wind up in the emergency room for evaluation.
Many people with panic disorder relate an attack to what they were doing when it happened. They may think the restaurant, elevator, or classroom caused the attack. Then they’ll avoid those places. That may lead to something called agoraphobia, the fear of leaving home or being in public places.
If you feel like you’re having a panic attack, see your doctor right away. They arenât dangerous, but they can get worse without treatment.
Also keep in mind that symptoms of a panic attack are similar to those for more serious conditions. If you’re not sure if what you’re having is a panic attack, call your doctor, just to be safe.
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Always Seek Professional Advice
Always seek medical advice if you are not sure whether your symptoms, or another persons symptoms, indicate a panic attack. In an emergency, dial triple zero for an ambulance. Its important to see your doctor for a check-up to make sure that any recurring physical panic-like symptoms are not due to illnesses, including: