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Nocturnal Panic Attacks: Causes and Treatment

Tachycardia, sweating, shortness of breath, restlessness and then an abrupt and startled awake – these symptoms are known as nocturnal panic attack. Not differ from daytime anxiety attacks except that you cannot foresee as in some cases to daytime.

nocturnal panic attackNocturnal panic attacks rarely occur in isolation, generally accompanying a picture of anxiety which also occurs during the day but at night these crises occur in a small percentage of those with anxiety.

Although the patient may seem long lasting as time is distorted to be associated with bedtime, those night panic attacks usually last between 10 – 20 minutes. They often occur when people are more relaxed. In general anxiety attacks during daytime often also occur when the person relaxes after cessation of activation or tensions associated with a task orientation.

There are three factors that can intervene on the causes of day or night panic attacks: a dependence of the existence of environmental trigger component; biological disorders such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, very present in the nocturnal panic attacks; difficulties in emotional management.

Among patients who experience anxiety during daylight hours only 10% experienced night panic attacks. It is not an isolated entity but accompanying a picture of anxiety in waking hours and not about night terrors and nightmares that we produce awakening.

Although night panic crises are less studied, it is believed that in many cases it is possible that the next day you will not remember or be aware of them. They can be caused by a single event, such as witnessing a traffic accident, which derives a syndrome of post-traumatic stress limited to a few days. In most cases they occur because there is a state of anxiety that affects all areas of our life.

There are cognitive-behavioral therapies that can function, avoiding caffeine, relaxation techniques and habituation, especially in cases where is fear going to sleep at the prospect of having nocturnal panic attack – the fear of the thought of going to sleep increases anxiety. In these cases we must help the patient cope with the experience. There is a tendency to overmedication with tranquilizers and antidepressants, but doing so only the symptoms are alleviated and we will not go to the core of the problem.

There is need of the development of emotional skills, exploring the causes of anxiety and attention to the needs of the person with the aim of overcoming panic attacks because more and more physical disorders are associated with emotional disorders.