A panic attack is an abrupt surge of intense fear or anxiety. Most people usually dismiss an occasional nighttime panic attack as an outcome of stress or restlessness. However, frequent episodes of panic attack in sleep may indicate a serious underlying problem. Panic attacks in sleep can occur with no obvious trigger. Like daytime panic attack, nocturnal attacks can also produce alarming symptoms, including sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, flushing or chills, rapid heart rate and a sense of impending doom.
While panic attacks during night usually last only for a few minutes, the person experiencing the symptoms may take a while to go back to sleep. Nighttime panic attacks may also bother the victim during the day, thereby, affecting the quality of life. Although the actual causes of panic attacks are unknown, genetics, stress and certain changes in the brain functioning may contribute to the problem.
Midnight panic attack may also occur due to insomnia or sleeplessness that triggers an anxiety cycle, regulated by different stressors an individual experiences at a given time. Concerns like well-being of family members, fear of losing the job or some other reasons may not only affect the time to fall asleep, but may also trouble the person somewhere in the night. Such a condition keeps the individual awake with nervous thoughts racing inside his or her restless mind, leading to panic attack.
Dealing with panic attacks
People suffering from nocturnal panic attack can consider some lifestyle changes to enjoy a sound sleep. Some of these ways include:
Facing the fear: Professor Paul Salkovskis of Clinical Psychology and Applied Science at the University of Bath suggests people experiencing panic attacks to confront the fear rather than looking for distractions. He says that panic attacks are caused by anxiety and does not represent anything dangerous. “Ride out the attack. Try to keep doing things. If possible, don’t leave the situation until the anxiety has subsided…Confront your fear. If you don’t run away from it, you’re giving yourself a chance to discover that nothing’s going to happen,” said Salkovskis.
Breathing exercises can help: Experts advice to do a breathing exercise to alleviate the symptoms of a nighttime panic attack. People experiencing such attacks more frequently can meet an expert for suggestions related to right breathing exercises.
Physical activities soothe body: Physical activities ranging from a stroll down the street to specialized relaxation techniques like yoga and stretching can be effective in reducing muscle tension and managing panic attacks.
Proper diet can make a difference: Like any other mental health problem, panic attacks are linked to diet. Eating regular meals can help stabilize blood sugar levels, which, in turn, may have calming effect on symptoms of panic attacks. In addition, experts also advice people vulnerable to panic attacks or other anxiety-related problems to avoid caffeine, smoking and alcohol.
Treatment of panic attacks
Tossing and turning, and waiting all night in the hope of falling asleep soon cannot help improve the symptoms of panic attack. If self-help strategy does not alleviate the symptoms of panic attacks in sleep, it is time to seek professional help. Generally, experts recommend psychotherapies like cognitive behavioral therapy and medications, or a combination of both to help prevent panic attacks and minimize their intensity.
Remember that panic attacks may lead to panic disorder and other psychological problems. If you or your loved one is suffering from panic attacks and is looking to connect with reputed treatment centers for panic disorders in California, Sovereign Health can help. Our trained staff provide all the help and support to facilitate recovery so that you can enjoy better quality of life. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our experts to know about our panic disorders treatment in California.