Anxiety Support
35,687 members39,204 posts

Terrified

I’m laying in bed and every time I fall asleep I wake up gasping for air because it feels like I stop breathing. I’m always constantly dizzy and have shortness of breath. My doctor says I have anxiety. It seems easy to say that everything is anxiety related. This may seem like a silly thing to ask.. but how do I know that it’s not something serious ? Or that it is really is just anxiety?

16 Replies
oldestnewest

Hi Erinkatja,

The symptoms of an anxiety attack, also called a panic attack (nocturnal panic attack at night)come on suddenly and feel very alarming and frightening.

In panic disorder, unexpected panic attacks happen out of the blue, in the absence of any apparent trigger.

For one thing, the thoughts that cross your mind during a panic or anxiety attack can feel unreal, illogical, and out of character. The physical symptoms of panic and anxiety - like a pounding pulse, chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, trembling, or dizziness - may get you thinking the worst. You may rush to the emergency room fearful that you're sick, having a heart attack, or dying.

Luckily, in most cases, anxiety falls into the category of "its bark is much worse than its bite."

What's often happening is that the mind gets caught up in a process called somatization. The word somatization comes from the Greek for "body" and basically means that the mind transforms emotions into physical symptoms. Our minds tend to transform emotions into a few main categories of physical symptoms.

Tension headache - When anxious, you may be more likely to clench your fists, tense your jaw, or furrow your brow. The tension in the muscles can lead to headaches and backaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, and hyperventilation.

Wave of nervous nausea - Anxiety can make the smooth muscles that line your intestines and stomach go into spasm, triggering abdominal cramps, nausea, heartburn, or diarrhea. The smooth, tiny muscles inside of the blood vessels can spasm, too, causing migraines and spiking blood pressure.

Feeling faint - During times of high anxiety, your senses can become overwhelmed. Your breathing becomes shallow and fast, leading to hyperventilation and feeling like you are about to faint. However, fainting during a panic attack would require a drop in blood pressure, which is quite the opposite to what is actually going on. The stimulation of your body by the "fight or flight" hormones actually causes a rise in blood pressure.

Many of the symptoms mentioned are common during panic attacks and could be easily mistaken for something more serious - especially when you're distressed and unsure about what's happening to you.

If you have seen your doctor for a wellbeing check up, then it is up to you to trust the medical advice provided to you.

Having said that, if you experience anything out of the ordinary that concerns you, always seek medical advice.

Lots more useful information about anxiety at this website below

medbroadcast.com/channel/me...

4 likes
Reply

Wow what a great explanation of anxiety and all the symptoms.

1 like
Reply

Have you been tested for sleep apnea as that sounds like it with waking up gasping for air.

3 likes
Reply

I strongly agree with KELLYLORRAINE899~ GET TESTED~I have it, and it is a horrifying ! No longer since testing and correcting :)) was also told BY a DR. for 1 yr. it was just panic and anxiety attack .. NOT.......Happy camper now~ Just get it checked out, either way, both diagnoses can be solved so you won't have that happen anymore when you sleep....

1 like
Reply

Noticed your reply as i have had the same worries these past month or so. Not every night this would happened to me but it has happened often for me to remember and worry but i would also get awaken out of my sleep or drifting off and would jump up feeling like im gasping for air. Like i would literally as im jumping out of my sleep sucking in a deep breath as if ive lost my breath or stopped breathing...Was this an every night thing for you? And you said you went through this for an year before you were told it was sleep apnea?

1 like
Reply

No, not every night, but often enough that I knew there must be something going on~So I went in and had it checked and I did have sleep apnea~ But I have a cousin who this happens to also, but not every night, and she went in a got tested and it was not sleep apnea, hers was very random and not alot... It didn't seem to bother her as much, where I would get woke up with a gasping like I stopped breathing for a few, sccccared me and it happened often~ Hope that helps you in some way~

Reply

Yes. Thank you for responding. It is something i may need to get further checked into. Just incase. Because its not an every night thing but it has happened quite often enough that it made me believe i could be gasping for my breath.

Reply

I woke up gasping a few times as well and was tested for sleep apnea. $1000 later I was able to confirm I stop breathing a few times in the night while sleeping on my back primarily. On my side I did better with minimal stoppage of breathing. Do you sleep on your back? I know it is hard to force a different sleeping position but in general most people snore less while on their side and also while propped up.

Reply

Wow. You had to spend $1000 dollars to find out you had sleep apnea? Did you go to different docs paying money or just one doc and you kept paying to get checked for sleep apnea? How long did you go through it before you were told it was sleep apnea?

Reply

Oh that was AFTER insurance covered the other 80%! That was just for my overnight sleep study. They hook you up to all kinds of wires and watch your heart rate, oxygen levels, brain waves etc. I checked in at 9pm and they woke me up around 5am. You get the results about 2 weeks later of course have to make another appointment, they won't just call me. So add another $40 copay and that's when my pulmonary Dr confirmed to me the results. And I have had 2 done 😴 because I was having these concerns years ago and sometimes the only way to cure my anxiety is to go to a thousand doctor appointments. Puh. 😒 both times I had some sleep apnea but was borderline enough that I didn't get prescribed a sleep machine.

Reply

Oh wow. Do you live in the states? Were you able to just call an make an appointment about this or dud your doc have to refer you?

Reply

Yes I'm in NJ. Health services are expensive here so my cost may be higher than average. I had to first see a pulmonologist for a brief consultation and describe my symptoms - wake up gasping for air , tired and sluggish, etc. Had to answer a questionnaire - on a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to fall asleep at work, while driving, while sitting on a couch etc. She ordered a sleep study and the sleep lab called me to schedule the appointment.

Reply

Yes, thank you black cat!

Erin, I had the freaking out of a dead sleep during my benzodiazepine withdrawal and it was terrifying! And, I have dealth with the breathlessness as a major daytime anxiety symptom.

I did though get tested and I do have sleep apnea. I have since gotten a CPAP machine and sleep so much better. This did not, however, put an end to my daily battle with anxiety.

Reply

I was thinking about that. My doctor just thinks all of my symptoms are caused by anxiety so won’t test for other things.

Reply

My doctor is like this at times. But I will just insist "I have insurance. I want the test. " Period. I've had several things done and one came back abnormal which is a stress test. Need to go back and have it re-checked. That is a heart stress test. My feeling is that doing all these tests has a few benefits ; first it gives you a baseline recording as you age. And second, this IS my anxiety treatment. Ruling out other possibilities, since that really is the only way to be sure it's anxiety

Reply

Sleep apnea I would nearly guarantee . I have to be tested for this

Reply

You may also like...