Symptoms of panic attacks in dreams, treatment of nocturnal panic attacks

Updated 2 years ago on April 03, 2023

Panic attacks at night are sudden attacks of anxiety and fear (most often fear of death) that occur at night or while sleeping and are accompanied by marked autonomic symptoms - palpitations, feelings of shortness of breath, shedding of sweat, and dizziness. Regular panic attacks are called panic disorder.

The causes of sleep panic attacks are still unknown. It is believed that they are based on the disruption of biologically active substances (noradrenaline and gamma-aminobutyric acid). In 15% of cases, there is a hereditary predisposition, when similar conditions occur in close relatives.

Panic attacks are diagnosed and treated by a psychotherapist.

The triggering factors include:

  • Severe stress, conflicts, childhood experiences and psychological trauma
  • Abuse of strong coffee, alcohol
  • Excessive physical activity, mental overstrain
  • Hormone metabolism disorders, trauma and infectious diseases of the brain

Less common are panic attacks with two or three symptoms, so-called minor attacks. They are not accompanied by a feeling of fear and mimic other diseases - heart disease, disorders of the endocrine glands (for example, thyroid gland).

Such patients are observed and treated for a long time by general practitioners, cardiologists and neurologists with a diagnosis of "IHD" or "neurocirculatory dystonia". If treatment by other specialists helps poorly or has no effect at all, you need to see a psychotherapist.

Panic attacks during sleep

Panic attacks differ from nightmares in the timing of their occurrence. Nightmares occur in the second half of the night during the REM sleep phase, and the person often remembers what he or she dreamt. Nocturnal panic attacks are not associated with dreams and more often develop between twelve at night and four in the morning.

Panic attacks during sleep have serious negative consequences for a person's health and general well-being. The attacks interfere with the body's ability to rest, disrupt sleep, and lead to lack of sleep and constant fatigue.

Important! Panic attacks at night are impossible to forget. The person begins to live in constant fear that it will happen again, is afraid to go to bed.

Repeated attacks of anxiety and fear at night should be alarming and become a reason to see a specialist. Over time, attacks occur more frequently, and their duration increases. For example, if at the beginning of the disease, there are 1-2 panic episodes once every two or three months, then without treatment, attacks can develop daily.

Treatment of nocturnal panic attacks

What can I do to get rid of panic attacks in my sleep? Panic attacks are treated with a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The treatment has two main directions:

  1. Learn how to stop seizures.
  2. Do not allow them to be repeated.

An attack - that is, to stop it quickly and get rid of the symptoms - can be cured with medication or nonmedication. If the patient wishes, the doctor can prescribe an anti-anxiety drug (anxiolytic), which brings the nervous system into a relaxed state within a few minutes.

Nonmedicamental relaxation techniques should be taught to the patient at sessions of individual psychotherapy. These are control of thoughts, self-involvement and correct breathing. Modern relaxation techniques include biofeedback therapy.

To get rid of panic attacks at night for good, you need to get to the bottom of their causes. This may require several therapy sessions, and the patient must be willing to make the effort, change, listen carefully to the therapist and follow his recommendations clearly. If this is the case, the prognosis will be favorable.

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