Has anyone experienced them? Suggestions on how to deal or stop them?
I recently started working a late shift get off around 10:30 pm and have had two episodes.
The first one was about a week ago. As I was going to sleep I just started thinking how it is crazy that we go to sleep assuming we will wake up and if I died I would never see it coming. Well, suddenly I was convinced I was going to die in my sleep. It was a short one.
Yesterday, as I was going to sleep I the idea that this was some king of virtual reality and that those who “seriously” realized that would be able to wake up i.e. The Matrix. My heart started beating a little faster so, I got up and began getting slight tunnel vision. It started to feel like everything around me was not real. That was not the worst of it. What really brought on the panic was that I would somehow get stuck between this “reality” and the real world in a state of insanity. I had to get my brother to help me calm down. Lasted about 3 minutes.
They have only happened twice at night in the morning I feel fine but, as if it never even happened, it was a dream or disbelief that it could happen to me.
- Aside from working late I am under no stress or anxiety. I do not drink or smoke. The only thing is that I have drank some diet soda at around 8-9 PM which does have some caffeine.[/quote]
Okay, I am going strictly based on what you said, so take it with a grain of salt AND talk to a professional ultimately. This is a muscle head forum.
What a lot of people don’t realize about panic attacks is that they can be debilitating, crippling things if go un-managed. They come from nowhere, with out warning, not stimulated by anything in particular and make you feel as if you are going to die either from the symptoms or the fear itself. And since you never know when or where they are going to hit, they can make your life a prison if left unchecked.
So first thing is there are two issues to address, you have the acute symptoms, the panic attack itself and then you have the underlying cause for the panic attacks.
First the acute symptoms. The cure for acute symptoms is benzodiazepines. Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium would all work. The point of these is to have them on hand so that if you start to feel symptomatic you can pop a pill and minimize it or eliminate it. This will at least give you the confidence to move on with your life while dealing with the issue.
The underlying cause is far harder to find and treat because there can be a multitude of reasons for it. It could be a chemical imbalance, i.e. something physiological. For that you have to look at your family history and look for instances of depression and anxiety. But that does not end it. Your family history can be clean and YOU can have a chemical imbalance, even if not genetically cause. Environmental factors can mess up your squash.
So long instances of extremely stressful situations, or things like going to war, if you served in the military, PTSD, abusive childhood, being held prisoner, really fucked up family situations, etc. This or things like this, especially if they carried on for a long time can actually make physical changes in your brain. Put more simply if your brain had been put in survival mode either repeatedly, or for extended periods of time it can actually change the physiology of the brain, particularly with the neurotransmitter production, uptake and reuptake.
Now, the change may or may not be permanent. Sometimes it can work itself out and sometimes not. This is pretty individual and the stressors have to be eliminated long enough, or better coping mechanisms employed to give your nervous system ‘a break’. This is highly individual, some people do recover others do not and there is really no way to tell who will or will not.
The key to having a chance at recovery is eliminating stressors for a long enough period of time.
The way to grant your nervous system a long enough ‘break’ from stress to give it a chance to heal is behavior modification (making changes in your life where you minimize stress), physical activity (intense is usually better, but over doing it is also bad), and therapy. Therapy can help you identify and maybe correct or make adjustments to how you deal with stress. Or it can identify a source which may in fact be simple to correct. If your serious about getting well therapy should be tried, if it doesn’t help you can just quit.
What’s going on in the brain: The source area for panic and other anxiety related issues has largely to do with the amygdala and there is some mid-brain activity. The amygdala is called the ‘fear center’ of the brain and is mainly where fear and ‘fight or flight’ responses come from. It a panic attack situation this part of your brain is malfunctioning. Stabilizing the neurotransmitter activity in this region of the brain is key to managing or eliminating the symptoms. Under stress this part of your brain is activated and excessive stress, especially for long periods of time can keep this part of your brain to active for normal everyday life leading to anxiety and yes panic attacks.
This can be managed by medication. SSRI’s and DRI’s (some newer drugs combine the two) are good drugs to manage this on a daily basis. It will serve to stabilize the activity in the amygdala. Also, interestingly enough, this part of your brain is very sensitive to sex hormones. I.E., something like low testosterone can also cause issues in this part of the brain. Sex hormones work opposite of the seretonin or dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Sex hormones are actually essential to synapse creation and healing. So, also, get your testosterone levels checked. You are young, hopefully this is not a problem, but honestly young people are not immune to sex hormone imbalance.
So in summary, panic attacks and anxiety ARE a physiological problem. Physiological problems can both be caused and corrected by environmental factors, but not necessarily if there is a genetic link. Your first order of business is to control the acute symptoms and you do that with drugs, i.e. benzodiazepines. Once you get control of the acute symptoms start working on the core issue, there is one, you just have to find out what that is. Look at family history. Also, change you daily life by eliminating and managing stress where you can. Seek therapy to see if you can identify a possible source for the stress. Get your testosterone levels checked.
Feel free to check out any of the information I stated, cross reference it all you want. But I hope I was able to give you some good information to help you through this.