Was this a panic attack or something else?

A couple of days ago I awoke at about 2:30 am in a panic. My heart felt like it was beating very fast and I had weird feeling in my solar plexus. I felt a bit confused and unsure of what was happening, being half asleep. I thought ok I'll use my home blood pressure and heart rate monitor and see what is going on. My blood pressure was all over the place from 150/105 to 135/95. Normally it is 115/75. My hear rate was between 95-120 bpm. Normally it is around 60 bpm when I am resting. The afternoon before this I had had a neurofeedback session and also had a pretty intense 5 hour workday. Which my normal work day is between 4-5 hours. I was finally able to calm down after about an hour of this erratic high metabolic or is it physiological activity and now two days later am feeling more like myself. My sleep the next night went well. I have a few questions: 1. Has anyone else experienced something like this before? 2. If so, please share what was the situation around your experience here or send me a message here. 3. Do you think there is any connection between this event and the neurofeedback session? I'm thinking there might be, as on a few prior occasions, the night of the day I have had the neurofeedback sessions I have had some pretty intense nightmares and woke up with a startle. Thank you in advance for your support and help.

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  • Sounds like you need to get your heart checked out because I don't think you can wake in a panic attack as that is a fear state usually related to something specific. Although your rapid heart beat could be related to a dream even if you don't remember it because everybody sometimes has dreams which they wake from feeling sweaty, rapid heartbeat and in a state of angst etc because the dream has put them in a fearful state so even in sleep they become adrenaline fuelled. By your description of fluctuating rapid heart beat and yo yo ing BP it could perhaps be something like atrial fibrillation. Sounds like you are possibly an anxious person as you have the equipment to be checking your BP and heart rate. Maybe it was high anxiety rather than a panic attack. Just my thoughts which I am sure you can negate them all. We are not medically trained on here and it is important you get your GP to check you rather than doing it yourself which is clearly prolonging your anxious state.

  • Thank you for your input. Yes, I was having a nightmare when this happened, which I think I left out of my original post. Yes, I'll get this checked out and see if my GP can figure anything out about it.

  • Hi Sca. I wouldn't attempt a diagnosis ; this is simply a description of similar events in my life.

    Around 20 years ago I started having (what I now know to be) Paroxysmal-Super-ventricular-Tachycardia (PSVT). The first time it happened I was sure it was a symptom of a serious heart condition.

    I woke suddenly in the early hours with my heart racing and, unlike palpitations, there was no irregularity ; the beats were like a powerful machine, pounding against my chest, and three times faster than a normal resting heartbeat.

    This was accompanied by an aching sensation in the chest and throat, light-headedness and shortness of breath.

    I was blue-lighted a couple of times to A&E where I was diagnosed as having PSVT and told there was no drug treatment, only minor surgery (Ablation) to cauterise the cells responsible for the impulses causing the attacks.

    However, after being offered the choice of managing the attacks myself with vagal manoeuvers to shock the heart back into normal rhythm, or Ablation, I chose to manage them myself.

    Many years later, I saw a cardiologist as the attacks were happening on a nightly basis and he offered me a drug which has eliminated them (more or less) completely.

    The cardiologist asked me to think of this as 'an electrical short-circuiting issue' and not an organic condition. He also explained that it wasn't linked to anxiety, and the triggers for the 'misfiring' were unknown.

    Nightmares are usually a result of psychological disturbance but can sometimes be triggered by neurological issues.

    Hope this helps a little bit Sca...................

    Cat x

  • Yes, this is very helpful. I'll get this looked into. What are these Vagal maneuvers? What drug is it that worked? If you want, feel free to message me with this information.

  • The vagal manoeuvers are pretty ridiculous to witness (I'm told) and some work better than others for different people.

    1. Lean forward (whilst sitting) and cough. OR............

    2. Take deep breath then block airways (hold nose & close mouth) and exert outward force (checks will puff out and eyes will feel like they're 'popping' ! OR...........

    3. Plunge your face into cold water. OR........

    4. Push down hard and aggressively against your back passage with abdominal muscles so that you feel pressure in your chest.

    It was usually the cough which worked best for me ; you might find otherwise. The aim is to shock your heart back into rhythm by interrupting the 'short circuit'.

    The drug I have to control it is Flecainide

    It might be wise to talk with a cardiologist and maybe wear a monitor for a couple of weeks so he/she can diagnose the problem accurately.

    Best wishes xx

  • Sounds similar to an episode I had a year ago, when I awoke I midst of some sort of dream/sleep paralysis thinking I was dying. Took me some good few minutes to rouse myself enough to call 111 who assured me it was a panic attack after having heard that very day that my latest results were not as positive as hoped for, but to see my gp in the morning for reassurance.

    I wrote lots of details about the incident (and short notes to both of my kids in case my premonition became reality. Felt bit better to have done as much as I could and now have more awareness of how much can be triggered by stress/strange things.

    Hope you get some peace ....personally I wouldn't ever have my own bp machine....nor even a fitbit to monitor sleep patterns etc. ....one "irregular" reading would spook the heck out of me !

    Good luck :-)

  • Actually we had obtained the BP monitor to monitor my wife's situation previously. She is fine now. It's me with the current challenges. Thanks for sharing you experience with me too.

  • Hi sca,

    I get the following quite regularly : suddenly awake with manic heartbeat ( v. annoying ) and a rapid internal vibrating sensation ( ugh ! ) that I have fondly christened 'wobbling internal organ syndrome' lol, my eyes often shift rapidly from side to side too - only lasts a few seconds, with the heartrate taking a bit longer to calm down. I also often get the same thing whilst dozing off, sometimes being reawoken by it a few times before I can fall into proper sleep. I also experience sleep paralysis occasionally. It feels like my body has a problem with the normally smooth transition from wake to sleep and sleep to wake. I don't have a working BP monitor now but might not want to know the details anyway ! Could be a neurological problem, similar to autonomic dysfunction ? As all have advised, get checked out for peace of mind. x

  • Thank you. I'll get it checked out.

  • ive just read your post and it sounds that you need your heart checking and also that you might be having anxiety level raised , but also ask your doctor to see if you might have dissociative disorder . as your syptom sound similar to mind but my attacks are brought on due to stress and anxiety levels being high . so your not alone .

  • Thank you. I'll get it checked out.

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