A panic attack occurring at nighttime can happen even to people who have no history of anxiety disorders. It can take place with no apparent trigger and of course, it can awaken you from your sleep. It can be accompanied by excessive sweating, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation or heavy breathing, shortness of breath, and trembling or chills. It can be really alarming, so if you have experienced a nocturnal panic attack, see any of the best psychologists in Brossard who are experts in dealing with this kind of situation.
Usually, nocturnal panic attacks only last for a few minutes, but it may take a while before you can calm down totally and go back to sleep. Although no one knows why these panic attacks occur even while sleeping, there are underlying factors that can be considered such as genetics, stress, or changes in the way some parts of your brain work.
There are also different types of triggers that may cause nocturnal anxiety attacks. Let us take a closer look at some of the possible causes below.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) :
Also known as acid reflux disease, GERD may also be a cause of nocturnal panic attacks. Those who suffer from GERD experience symptoms that mirror more serious health issues, which includes chest pains, hyperventilation, labored breathing, headaches, and nighttime sweats. These symptoms can cause a person to wake up and trigger a serious nocturnal panic attack. Although GERD does not always cause these symptoms, severe cases can lead to them.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea :
This is a type of sleep apnea, which occurs when there is an obstruction in the upper airway. When it happens, the airway is blocked to the point where your body actually stops breathing for as long as 30 seconds, or even more. It triggers hypoventilation, which leads to stress on the heart and other symptoms that simulate a heart disease. It may be caused by obesity hypoventilation syndrome, and is more likely to occur among people with excess fat around the head and neck.
- Frequent Nightmares :
Nighttime panic attacks may also be caused by frequent nightmares as they may cause a person to hyperventilate in their sleep. In some cases, a person who has a sufficiently frightening nightmare can already wake up in the process of a nocturnal panic attack.
Given that some of the possible triggers are already identified, how can nocturnal panic attacks or nighttime fears be combatted? It can be pretty challenging to deal with nocturnal panic attacks, because they involve sheer shock that make them harder to control. However, there are things that can be done and below are some of them.
- Lose weight through exercise :
Weight is an important factor, especially when the panic attack is caused by obstructive sleep apnea. Although weight may not always cause the problem, losing weight can cut down the hypoventilation drastically.
- Take acid tablets or undergo GERD treatments :
This is an important precautionary measure if the attacks and symptoms are likely caused by GERD. While there are medications that can be bought over the counter, these medications can only be used for a short time. Talking to a specialist about acid reflux treatment is still the best option.
- Other treatments may also be available aside from acid tablets. Although these treatment options may not necessarily be designed for panic attacks, the attacks can be prevented by reliving the triggers.
- Having a panic cheat sheet can also help those who wake up in panic regain control every time. It can be a reminder of what they are dealing with and how to make sure that the symptoms do not get out of control. It can be a big help because it can control the extent of the attack and make the person experiencing it manage the situation better.