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How Your Sleep Is Affected by Panic Disorders

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as a third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. There are several reasons you might be prevented from getting enough sleep. Physical discomfort, racing thoughts, and demanding schedules can prevent you from getting seven to nine hours of sleep before the next day begins. 

According to the CDC, a lack of sleep is connected to a host of other issues such as obesity, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. 

In some cases, sleep issues aren’t caused by inconsistent schedules or physical problems. Instead, co-occurring issues may cause symptoms like sleeplessness. Anxiety and panic disorders often go hand-in-hand with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Learn more about panic disorders and sleeplessness. 

What Are Nocturnal Panic Attacks?

Several different psychological disorders can cause panic attacks. Though they are commonly associated with panic disorders, they can also be caused by obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress, and phobias. They are also associated with some physical disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome. 

A nocturnal panic attack is when you are awoken suddenly from sleep with symptoms of panic. They come with the same symptoms as a daytime episode, with the main difference that they can interrupt sleep with seemingly no trigger. Symptoms can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Chest pains
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea

Waking up with panic can cause disorientation, which can worsen panic symptoms. For many, it’s difficult to go back to sleep after waking up with a panic attack.

Other Ways Panic Disorders Can Prevent Sleep

Not all panic-related sleep issues involve waking up in the middle of the night with a panic attack. Episodes of panic characterize panic disorders, but it’s not the only time symptoms manifest. Panic disorders can cause anxiety between panic attacks. Episodes are so unpleasant that people with panic disorders often fear the return of another episode. This anxiety can make it  hard to get to sleep and lead to insomnia.

Panic disorders can also cause physical symptoms that make you worry about your health. Symptoms can include heart palpitations, chest pains, and even numbness in your hands. Panic shares some symptoms with other issues that are more immediately dangerous, like heart attacks or strokes. People who have experienced these symptoms during a panic attack may worry there is something physically wrong with them. Seeking treatment can alleviate some of these fears, but ultimately, panic disorder needs to be addressed to effectively deal with anxiety. 

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Signs That Insomnia Causes Panic Disorders

There are other anxiety disorders, physical problems, and other factors that can contribute to sleep issues. Diagnosing a panic disorder can be challenging for medical and clinical professionals. Because it involves physical symptoms, a proper diagnosis should involve a medical exam from a doctor and any tests they see as necessary. 
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), you must experience panic attack symptoms regularly for your issue to qualify as a panic disorder. The DSM-5 also says panic symptoms can’t be accounted for by drugs or prescriptions, or by other mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 15). CDC – Sleep Home Page – Sleep and Sleep Disorders. Retrieved June 05, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/index.html

Cleveland Clinic. (2018, February 01). Panic Disorder Diagnosis and Tests. Retrieved June 05, 2020, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4451-panic-disorder/diagnosis-and-tests

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, February). Depression. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

National Institute of Mental Health. (2018, July). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020, April 15). Panic Disorder. Retrieved June 05, 2020, from https://medlineplus.gov/panicdisorder.html

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