Anxiety Support

First Panic Attack in a While Last Night

I fell asleep around 11:30 pm last night, at 2am I woke up in a panic...my heart racing and skipping beats, shaking a bit, blood pressure up, eyes wide open, no longer tired, and finding it hard to breathe. Knowing it was just a panic attack, I turned my TV on and started playing my computer game that takes a lot of focus and concentration, so gets my mind off the panic and calms me down. Finally, at 4:30 am I was able to go back to sleep, but I was supposed to be up at 5! Needless to say, I got up late and was late for work. Looking back, I think I know what caused it: I had some coffee at 6 or 7pm and two bowls of cereal covered in sugar just before I went to sleep at 11:30. I won't make that mistake again.

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We live and learn Cforte. Make sure to flush out your system today by drinking plenty of water. Hope you have a better day then you did the night. :)

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How are you feeling this morning??

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Fine...I am most anxious at work and have to fight off feelings of panic all day here...the feelings of a heavy chest, it feel like a brick on my chest all day crushing my lungs and heart and I have no energy, I also have to breathe deeply a lot....but I make it through. I have to drink coffee to stay awake, but I stop now at 3 pm, I don't drink any at night. Thank you for asking.

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Take care. I'll let you get back to work. :)

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I think you're doing great. At least you're up and about and working. I haven't had work in months because I'm too afraid. All the best!

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May I suggest you don't fight off the feelings of panic all day which only generates more stress hormone to keep your nerves sensitised. Instead simply accept the bad feelings, let them come, they do not have the power to harm your body or mind in any meaningful way. So accept them and by doing so you stop the steady flow of fear hormone that is constantly resensitising your nervous system. As time passes your nerves recover and all is well with the world once again.

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I never understood your concept of "accept." By "accepting" them, by dwelling on the feelings or thinking about them, that is how they turn into a full-blown panic attack. Please explain what you mean by "accept"? If you think about them they get worse. It is by forgetting the feelings and thoughts that they go away. Like a toothache that hurts when you are lying still or thinking about it, but you forget about the pain when you are distracted. Unlike a toothache, which has a real reason for existence and won't really go way until actually fixed, panic attack symptoms aren't based on anything real, so once you forget about them, they are gone....well...until the next time, anyways. I just don't understand this "accept" concept?

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I understand what you're saying, Cforte. But if you're feeling high anxiety or panic you can't just forget about the feelings, they don't go away. They are the elephant in the room.

But equally don't keep thinking or dwelling on them to the point of obsessing about them. They are really not important enough to be given such attention and it does no good anyway. Acceptance is being prepared to experience the bad feelings for the time being, let them be your constant 'companion' but just stop caring about them so much.

So all these bad feelings are hitting you twelve to the dozen, so what? They are not lethal as you well know, accept them as a fellow traveller for the moment. Let them exist in the background until eventually it doesn't matter whether they are there or not. Just stop caring about them so much, they're not worth the effort.

You can't live in fear of when you're going to have your next panic attack and whether it's going to be a Biggie so just let them come if they want, stop caring so much. Caring too much means more feelings of fear, more fear hormones, more anxious and panicky feelings. I don't write a lot of new posts but I wrote one 'Anxiety I laugh in your face'. We should all laugh in its face, we should all adopt a 'couldn't care less' attitude to it. It does take time and a lot of practice. That's the best I can do to explain the mind set of Acceptance.

Do the sleep apnea thing but you may just find you're too young for that. I would think sleeping on your side is preferable.

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This is what I mean by "distracting myself": I do what you suggest and try to act as if the panic doesn't exist, but you can't act that way when you are trying to fall asleep. This is why Xanax didn't help me. It stopped the physical symptoms, but I still had the thoughts and they scared me to death. From what I know, sleep apnea has little to do with age. And it does run in my family, my father has it and uses c-pap machine. When I was a kid, I did a sleep study, and it was discovered my brain never quieted down at night, that it was always firing. To this day, I have very vivid, detailed dreams where I sometimes become self-aware and I wake up several times throughout the night. I also have all the symptoms of it. And I did not diagnose myself with sleep apnea. My doctor and psychiatrist strongly suspects it. I'll find out for sure in a sleep study. I have no earthly idea as to what else could be causing my chromic anxiety. I did not have this just last December and nothing has changed in my life since then. Other than the facts that I am withdrawing from doing tons of stimulants (diet pills) every day for years that my doctor agrees will take my body a while to recover from.

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Keep practicing. Stop caring. Keep practicing. Maybe read the book by the person who invented acceptance. Keep practicing. Stop caring.

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Your story brings back memories for me, but remember, division is only a quick fix, if you want long term recovery you must face it head on, once you can lay still with symptoms and not divert your attention by distracting yourself from it, that's when all the unpleasant symptoms fade away permanently :-) xxx

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I don't understand. What am I supposed to face? "Lying still" with the lying thoughts of not being able to breathe when I am breathing or with a racing heart that is caused by caffeine and goes away causes me to panic. These panic attacks happen just out of the blue at anytime for no reason (even if I have no caffeine or stress) and even when I am totally relaxed. I do appreciate your advice, I just don't understand how to put it into practice?

But It is very suspected by my doctor and psychiatrist that I have sleep apnea, so when my body stops breathing at night, especially if it is for a long time, I suspect even if I don't know it, my body does and just automatically goes into panic mode, both waking me up. The possible sleep apnea wakes me up many times at night, but sometimes I actually feel that I stopped breathing and need to gasp for air, and this causes me to panic. I have been refer to a sleep study and once I get this taken care of, one of the causes of my anxiety should be resolved. Though there are probably more.

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Just don't plan on it curing your anxiety. I have terrible sleep apnea. I was being woken 60 times AN HOUR. I sleep with a cpap now and I only have 3 or 4 a night now. But I still have anxiety. I only wake up in the middle of the night (like you described) once or twice a year but it still happens.

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Panic/anxiety attacks often do just appear out of the blue with no apparent reason or cause, that's why they are so bewildering and frightening. I suffered for a very long time, I had many many symptoms, pain, dizziness, blurred vision, utter panic, breathlessness, palpitations, felt like I would faint or just die at any moment, I stopped going out, I couldn't bath, couldn't work, scared stiff if I saw certain things on tv, scared every time I heard an ambulance siren or heard about people dying, I was a prisoner in my own body and my home, I lost relationships and friends due to my state of mind, I was absolutely overwhelmed by fear and panic, slightest thing could set me off, I began using safety mechanisms like, never being alone at night or taking my phone to the loo and using it as a distraction while I sat there, I would read the info on shampoo bottles or any other item just to stop myself from focusing on the terrifying sensations, the list is endless, I was scared stiff, now if I feel uneasy or have an unexplained sensation or symptom, instead of distracting myself from it I let it be there, I sit there and alow myself to feel it, I don't jump up and panic as before, I feel it, I tell myself " ok this is just a feeing" this is how I face it, and 9 times out of 10 when I react to it in this way it disappears in seconds because I've removed the fear, I can't even remember the last time I had a full blown attack?, I'm not saying this has been easy, it's been difficult and it's taken alot of practice, the books and research on anxiety, stress and panic have helped me to react better, they helped me understand what was happening to me, they gave me encouragement and comfort, they gave me the belief that I could recover, and here I am today, living a normal life, working, going out aline etc etc, last week I was cooking at home alone, I wasn't thinking about anything in particular, I was busy concentrating on the task at hand, suddenly out of nowhere I felt a slight serge of panic come up to my chest, it came from the pit if my stomach, I reacted by standing there and continuing wirh my cooking, I did absolutely nothing about it, I didn't rush to the phone or retreat, I carried on, because I did nothing and because I just let it be there and because I accepted it's presence it just disappeared as quick as it appeared, gone, nothing happened, this is an example of acceptance, do nothing just allow the unpleasant symptoms to come and go.dont even react to it, try telling yourself "ok feels like a strange anxiety symptom, I'm ok though" Read the books, get information and understanding, honestly it works, the sleep apnea is probably a trigger as you say, but it's how you react to the sensations/symptoms that will determine how well you recover from the panic xxx

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That is exactly what I do. I recognize the symptoms aren't real, that is just a panic attack and I carry on in my work or whatever I'm doing. But at night when I am relaxed and trying to sleep the intrusive, obsessive thoughts are too powerful, and the only way to stop the panic is to distract myself and try to think of something else. But I can't "accept" or dwell on my panic symptoms, that is how a full-blown attack occurs, by thinking and dwelling om it.

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I wouldn't recommend dwelling on it, it's about doing nothing when the symptoms appear, don't dwell, just leave it, if and when the symptoms appear just leave them be, you've had these symptoms before and ALWAYS SURVIVED, and you will continue to survive them despite how bad they feel, at night when your feeling at your worst remember, the night can't last forever, it's not an easy thing I understand that, it comes with practice, each episode of fear and unpleasant symptoms is another chance to practice acceptance, don't worry that it doesn't seem to work immediately, it takes time and much patience, please feel free to message me anytime, if I can help I will, hang in there xxx

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Instead of distracting yourself away from those intrusive thoughts, let them have their say, let them have their space within your mind but learn not to do anything with those thoughts such as trying to push them away or trying to distract yourself. Observe them with curiosity instead of avoiding them, controlling them or using distraction techniques.

Deal with the intrusive thoughts in the same way you deal with the feelings of panic. Recognise that the thoughts are not real and let them go. The source of your Intrusive thoughts and panic attacks are the same. Surges of energy that are being released. The trick is to not stand in the way of this process by doing anything to stop the energy being released. Let yourself think and feel anything and not do anything about it. This is the way to recover.

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These are brilliant words, suzie482, if we had medals for best application of the recovery method of Claire Weekes we'd award one to you. Face - Accept - Float - And let time pass. That's all it takes, that's it.

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I still don't understand. How do you "let them go"? They don't "go." When my mind tells me I am not breathing, I say, "No, I AM breathing," but the thought doesn't "go away," or is "let go." No matter what opposing, positive thing I tell myself, the thought just lingers then turns into panic. I don't' understand what you guys mean by "accept," and "let the thought go." It doesn't go. It only "goes" when I distract myself from it thus forgetting about it.

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And fyi, I am talking about the thoughts BEFORE the panic attack. This is not a "surge of energy." It is a thought or signal sent by my brain telling me a lie, that I am having difficulty breathing when I am not. It is when I dwell on that thought and don't fight back that it turns into a full-blown panic attack, that that "surge of energy" or adrenalin is released.

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Sugar and caffeine. That might have caused someone who does not suffer with panic attacks some discomfort.

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True. I won't make that mistake again.

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I've just discovered a new way of describing acceptance: stop caring about the bad feelings. Stop caring.

You're 'fighting back' and trying to ignore the bad feelings and it's not working for you so try the opposite: stop fighting back and don't try and blank them out, let them come freely into your mind and body and stop caring about it. I had a scintilating scotomata (visual aura) yesterday, I wasn't even feeling anxious (though some bathroom tiles are coming off the walk) but I DIDN'T CARE about the SS. I couldn't ignore it even if I wanted but I just kept on stabbing at my mobile phone, what you call cellphone, and it passed after 20 minutes. I didn't care so I felt no fear. I get missed heartbeats sometimes, I don't care so I feel no fear.

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Doing that is what causes the thoughts to turn into a full-blown panic attack. And since I have thoughts like that all day and all night, you are basically telling me to have a panic attack all the time.

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I think it unlikely you would have a panic attack all the time. But yes, if that's what it takes to accept them, let full blown panic attacks come as frequent as they f*****g well like but stop caring about them, accepting them is the only weapon you hsve to counter them other than meds. You're living in fear of a full blown attack. But fear is the enemy.

"So I'm having a full blown panic attack. So what? Not at all nice but at least I'm not investing it with fear so before too long I'll be free if them."

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Because I am at work or doing something else. That is why I can't have a panic attack. And yes, I have generalized anxiety and panic disorder, meaning, I can have multiple attacks throughout the day. Maybe we are just talking past each other, maybe we are saying the same thing just in different ways: when I feel these lying thoughts starting, I do exactly what you suggest., I say to myself, "it's not real. its' not going to hurt me. I'm going to ignore it." But "ignoring" it means thinking of something else, which is hard to do at night when you have nothing else to think about. But you can't just let panic attacks happen when you have a life to live.

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My comment on your last line would be "But you must let panic attacks happen so you will have a life to lead."

People can carry on doing their job as normal even though experiencing a panic attack. When you reach that stage you stop fearing that you're going to have a panic attack at work. And fear is what makes the panic attacks keep coming back. Fear is the number one enemy. The only enemy actually.

I've had panic attacks at work years ago and managed to just grin and bear it. People around me didn't know what I was experiencing. I could always summon up a sentence or two to cover myself for the duration. It's sort of acting. Quite early on I stopped having panic attacks and it was replaced by just high anxiety on occasions.

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Jeff1943, I appreciate your help, but I'll never understand you. Thanks for trying though.

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Sorry not to have been able to help. Perceptions can change with time though.

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Thank you. I do appreciate all help and advice.

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I had the same thing last night literally around the same time. I don't understand anxiety. Like you can be fine one minute and then all jazzed up the next. I wonder if the time change doesn't effect us. I noticed I'm hyped up since the time changed, and if I'm working I'm fine if I'm home I'm not. Granted I have a lot in my plate right now. I feel for you! And know exactly how you feel. Even with knowing the symptoms are anxiety it's like you can't just let them go and you think the absolute worst.

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The time change actually helped me. Now that it is lighter later, I can fall asleep better. I used to love the night, the darkness and cold, but when I had a panic attack at night once, it caused me to hate it. So I can sleep well in bright sunlight, during the day, and when the world is busy with life, but have trouble falling asleep at night now when it is dark and quiet and I feel all alone.

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Awe , well if you ever need anyone to talk to I'm here for you man

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Thank you.

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Update: I had no caffeine after 5pm and at 8 pm before I got into bed I had one bowl of cereal with light sugar (last night I had two covered in sugar.) My heart was still racing for a few hours, and though I tried to fall asleep at 9pm, I didn't actually sleep until 11, however, this time I did not wake up in the middle of the night in a panic. I had a relatively good sleep and woke up this morning peacefully.

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