A lot Of People Have Nocturnal Panic Attacks And Don’t Even Realize It- Are You One Of Them?
Panic attacks at night can be terrifying. You can be sound asleep one moment and then gripped in the throes of extreme and unexplained fear on the next. The worst thing about it is that when your nocturnal panic attack has passed, you would find yourself restless and unable to go back to sleep, rendering you exhausted in the morning.
No one knows why panic attacks at night actually occur. Many researchers even find the phenomenon strange because the body is supposed to be at rest whilst sleeping and there are no evident triggers that could have caused the panic attack.
Nonetheless, nocturnal panic attacks afflict many people who suffer from some form of anxiety disorder. Statistics show that as many as 77% of people who suffer from panic disorder go through at least one instance of panic attacks at night in their lifetime.
Symptoms of Nocturnal Panic Attacks
Just like daytime panic attacks, panic attacks that occur at night display the following symptoms:
- Rapid and painful heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling like choking or being smothered
- Numbness in the limbs
- Trembling or shaking
- Sweating accompanied by hot flashes and chills
- A sense of unreality or detachment from ones self
- An overwhelming fear that one is going to die
Sometimes, night-time panic attacks are mistaken for heart attacks. That is primarily because heart attacks have similar symptoms as panic attacks, and they also occur suddenly and without warning.
The one thing about nocturnal panic attacks is that even though an episode may last for less than ten minutes, you may not be able to go back to sleep after your ordeal. You would be too wakeful and restless, not to mention fearful, to find any rest for the remainder of the night.
The effects of sleep deprivation are well documented. Initially, you would find that after a bout of a night-time panic attack, you would not have the energy or the focus to go through your tasks for the day.
However, if your night-time panic attacks recur and with alarming frequency, you may end up having a host of other ailments such as high blood pressure, weakened immune system, unwanted weight gain and depression.
Treating Nocturnal Panic Attacks
When it comes to treatment for panic attacks whilst sleeping, doctors often take a different approach. What they usually do is to check first if the person suffering from it has a sleeping disorder such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is said to have the ability to trigger night-time panic attacks.
For lasting relief against panic attacks at night, you may wish to seek medication or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for your condition. Medications prescribed for panic disorders include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs and beta-blockers. In CBT, on the other hand, you will learn to change the way you think so as to address the fear that is fuelling your panic attacks.
If you cannot afford medication or therapy for your panic attacks at night, you can turn to self-help programmes that use CBT techniques. These self-help programmes can also help you relax and de-stress to avoid having another panic attack. You can also take herbal supplements that are formulated for patients dealing with anxiety disorders.
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