Scary night last night...panic attack / question


Spork Queen
In my entire life, I've only had 2 or 3 panic/anxiety attacks, all occuring last year. Last night I had one that scared the living daylights out of me...and poor husband who had to witness it.

I have had major sinus and pnuemonia problems since last spring. It is a RARE night that I can sleep unconjested. I went to bed last night, then woke up with a bolt (I swear I jumped 10 feet out of the bed) as my sinuses had swollen shut and my mouth didn't open to breathe. I could NOT get enough air into my lungs. Entrance: panic mode. I could not get it under control.

This went on for about 1 1/2 hours. I'd finally stop a few minutes, and then it felt like someone was squeezing every bit of breath out of my lungs. I paced (husband is yelling at me to sit down) I cried (oh, how THAT helped the sinus issue). I got so light headed and couldn't walk because I was going numb. husband was within a thread of calling 911. I paced for hours after that.

Fast forward to 4am and I finally allowed myself to lay down. I didn't sleep all night as I was terrified I wouldn't wake up again.

My question is this: Are those of you who have this issue going on having it happen a lot? Mine seem to be situational, but it scared me that I couldn't bring myself back in. I can't imagine going through that on a daily basis.

I was terrified and wanted to flee, which is probably the WORST thing to do at that point.

Oddly enough, I'm on an anti-anxiety medication. It was made as an antihistomine, but they found this also helped anxiety.

Just looking for thoughts on those of you who endure this on a regular basis. If that happens to me...I'm checking into the loony bin. :hammer:



Well-Known Member
I am so sorry! That sounds awful.
I'd switch to another medication. Antihistamines make me hyper, and I would guess if you're on the wrong kind, they could really exacerbate an anxiety attack. Besides, antihistamines are more for that "ahem" drippy crud in your throat, and red eyes. Decongestants are better for the type of congestion you want to treat. I'd go to the dr and get another evaluation and new medications.
I assume you'll sleep tonight, just from exhaustion!



The last panic attack I had I did end up at the ER because I felt like I was having a heart attack. That was the worst one. Of course it came about because difficult child 2 had tried to set fire to the house on mother's day. We put him in the hospital and I freaked out thinking about the what could of beens. That was at least three years ago. I used to get little ones from other things. I truly can't tell you what made them stop. I have ativan myself now to take if I feel anxious but only on an as needed basis.

One other thing is mine are not always the same. One of my first happened when I used to get migraines. I was in ER for some medications for that. This was many years ago as I don't get those any more. That one though not funny at the time is funny now. I put all my clothes back on cuz I was freaking out. With IV in my arm I started to sneak past the nurses desk. (On tip toe) I could almost hear the mission impossible music when I did it. The doctor saw me and cut me off before I could leave. My response to his leading me back was just that I had to get out of there. In that case they gave me bendryl..

Again this is just me. Mine came for about a six year period maybe more then abruptly stopped after my last ER visit. I don't know for sure what made the difference. I know this probably doesn't help. I do know I started making me a little more of a priority and (me being a control freak) handing some things to husband to handle lightened my load. Maybe that was all it took. But I think everyone is different.



Active Member
I only had one. ant was in his teens and acting scarey. I woke in the middle of the night feeling my chest crushed. I could not breathe or expand my chest I thought. I was filled with dread. I could not sleep then thinking I would die. I went on the porch to :censored2: in air and I just could not get enough.

I too have a few ativan here for when I go in an airplane. I never had an attack since but if I did, I would take one I think.


Well-Known Member
Hi Abbey, so sorry you are experiencing panic attacks. I had them last year and they were situational (mostly upon fearing the worst for my oldest difficult child then in prison rehab). They did seem to come closer together as time went on.
I haven't had one since getting on bipolar medications in Feb...after a breakdown. I do know that my Thyroid was not where it should be when I had the breakdown. I think you should see a Dr to find out what might be going on. I hope you get them under control, they are scarey.

hugs and care,


Spork Queen

You DID describe it perfectly. Heart attack did cross my mind as the crushing feeling was so bad. I really think it was sleep-based as I am a 'sensitive' sleeper. Doesn't take much to keep me up. I don't know how long I wasn't breathing...but it seemed like eternity.



New Member
I get the panic attacks where it's hard to breathe too. my heart starts to race and I feel like i have a big lump in my chest. It's a terrible feeling.


Well-Known Member
Did you know that Anxiety is the 2nd most common ailment in the US? Second only to drug and alcohol addictions in men.

I just read this last night while sitting in Barnes & Noble drinking coffee.

I have not had the attack that severe. I am so sorry this happened to you. It must have been scary.

It is about controlling your thoughts. Cognitive Behavior Therapy.
When you are panicking you are not in control of your thoughts. You have to talk yourself out of the panic. Then try to rationalize your thoughts.

I think for a bit you might want that machine that tells you when you are not getting enough oxygen. You can sleep with it on, it only makes noise if your airflow decreases. I am sure you will be fine to sleep without it - but maybe some reassurance for a bit will ensure getting some sleep. Especially since you are back at school.


Active Member
I get anxiety attacks, and each one is different. There are the rare ones like you are describing, which I had just the other day. I think I have had 3 like that in 3 years, 2 of which I ended up in the ER, because I thought I was having a heart attack. It is complicated by the fact that I have Tachycardia, so I was not sure if I really was having heart problems, or if it was anxiety. Those kind of anxiety attacks feel so physical, like death, that it is really hard to discern.

Then I have others where I cannot catch my breath, I hyperventilate, things get fuzzy, loud - but if I leave the situation and am able to calm down I am OK. I get them when I am out shopping, or difficult child is having a meltdown, but if I remove myself from the environment I am able to breathe, slowly, again. (Although it takes a lot of concentration and work.) And then I have others where my heart races, I am little out of breath, but able to bring things under control with positive and calm thinking within the environment that I am in.

All of these only happen only when I am under a lot of stress. OR. When I am having issues with breathing like allergies, or like you described, congestion. There is really something about the lack of air in our lungs, that in addition to stress, can trigger an anxiety attack. Not sure, how, or why, but it is very biological.

The ONLY thing that stops an attack as bad as the first one I described is a medication like Xanax or Klonopin. Nothing else works. The minute it is in my blood stream I can breathe again. I would talk to your doctor about it.

Sending major hugs.......because really........there is NOTHING worse!!!! I have tried to describe this to others who don't get them, and they just nod, as if I am a loon. It is so real, and as close to feeling like you are going to die as you can get.

PS I forgot - wine! It also nips an anxiety attack in the bud, instantly.


(the future) MRS. GERE
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">The ONLY thing that stops an attack as bad as the first one I described is a medication like Xanax or Klonopin. Nothing else works. The minute it is in my blood stream I can breathe again. I would talk to your doctor about it...PS I forgot - wine! It also nips an anxiety attack in the bud, instantly. </div></div>

I agree! Since I can't always have a glass of wine :wink: I make sure I always have some klonopin (clonazepam) with me.

I'm so sorry, Deb. I've had them off and on for 35 years. They are horrible.

I've learned a few things over the years....

...recent findings suggest that there can be a strong correlation between low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and panic attacks.

...and antihistamines also make me nuts hyper/therefore more inclined to anxiety... do SSRI's.

...hormone levels and thyroid levels can impact this as well.

You need to get all of these checked to rule out a physical reason.

You poor thing. You've had a heckuva year. The main problem about panic attacks is that they are so frightening that the dread of possibly having another one can really debilitate you.

Do you know what finally turned you around? If you found something that worked, remember it in case you need it again. For me, I eat something and do a LOT of self-talk ("you're okay; breathe in through your nose, out your mouth; you'll be fine; look at the sunshine/mountain/falling leaves"/whatever will distract me)



Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful

I've woken with them so bad that I'd collapse if I tried to walk across the room, then I'd not be able to speak. Also had the not breathing version. That type like to scare me to death.

I have all kinds. Usually it will be triggered by stress of some sort, and yes even illness counts as stress.

I had daily (sometimes all day long) bouts for 2 yrs following being run over by a truck. At the moment it's under control without medications. :smile: I might have one now and again but can talk myself out of it within a few mins.



call 911

I am sorry you had such a lousy night. The last panic attack I had ended up being a stroke. It was a day like any other day. difficult child had been home doing his usual antics, and then the police pulled up and told us he was a suspect in 3 burgularies asking for the loot, then when we confronted difficult child he attempted to commit suicide. This was all within a 2 day period.

A week later the police went to the psychiatric hospital and arrested difficult child, took him to juvenille hall and told me he was to be arraigned the next day. Until I heard the judge tell him he could get life in prison at 16 I was fine. After that...

I was walking in the grocery store. DF usually pushed the cart but I grabbed one for myself just to help me walk. I had no 'obvious' symptoms but all of a sudden I felt like someone had slapped the back of my calves with a whip, my vision disappeared, I felt my body going to the ground, I could hear everyone like I was in a tunnel, I couldn't breath or catch my breath and as things came back into view and my heart felt like it was being ripped from my chest it was as if I were having a real life out of body experience. For a moment I could see myself hanging on to the handle of the cart but I was watching me.

DF got me to a booth in the cafeteria and I put my head down, and had my tongue sticking out like an ant eater trying to get air (unaware of how beautiful I must have looked) and my eyes were rolling. I was dizzy, I felt weird and I just wanted to sit there. I did for about 20 minutes. As the symptoms subsided I was able to walk, find DF but I was like a child. It was like I was a little kid lost in the store, I began to tremble and shake but kept holding on to DF's arm.

An hour later I was in the hospital. I was sure I had had a heart attack. I had had a mini stroke. I couldn't sign my name, my handwriting was like that of a 2 year old scribbles, and for 3 hours in the waiting room I shook on and off. Eventually I went back to see the doctor, and refused a wheel chair. We got just around the corner from the room and it happened again. It was like someone sliced the back of my legs open and down I went again.

When I came to I was on the guerney, getting an IV and in it they put a drug called Atavan. Within minutes I felt better. I got sent home 6 hours later with a prescription for Atavan, and have used them sparingly as they are highly addictive. The lovely thing about them for me is within minutes of taking them I feel stress free and then fall asleep. WHen I wake it's like the best all day all night teenage sleep I've gotten in years. I can see where that would be addictive.

After that and with Atavan difficult child still managed to send me to the heart hospital, I'm 42 and they belive I had a heart attack due to stress and nothing else. I upped my therapy to 2 meetings a week for about 2 weeks. Got a grip on my life again and how to try to continue to live with difficult child. It was decided at that point that he needed to move out. He wont' live with us again. IT could and probably would kill me to live with the stress again.

At that I say I have a little life left and would like to live it. difficult child at 17 (then 16) has the rest of his life to live as he wishes and chooses. I chose to have him move out. He learned nothing in Department of Juvenile Justice except how to be a better crook and some 3 card Montey, oh yes....and that it's okay to watch pirated films fresh from the theater if the guard brings them in. Argh. Corruption abounds here.

I cant' take Benadryl for stress as I'm allergic, but I do keep the Atavan handy. WHen i feel that crushing feeling? It's good to have. THerapy worked wonders in conjunction with that, and they wanted to put me on Paxil again...I said no thanks it almost killed me the last time. (trying to get off of it)

Maybe you can get a prescription to keep just in case? The feelings of an anxiety attack are awful. Hugs and more hugs.

Hope you are feeling better. As far as your sinus? Have you had your sinuses x-rayed for polyps? Sounds gross but you'd be amazed how quickly you get infections that last and last when you have them.



Spork Queen
Well, I'm glad to hear for sorry for the rest of you, that others experience this.

I feel so trapped in a nightmare of medical care. I CANNOT get someone who will spend 2 minutes with me. And, with an HMO, you can only change your primary doctor, who does all the referrals once a year. I know I need to press more on our insurance company, but I just don't have the energy anymore.

Right now I'm up at midnight after not sleeping last night and I'm afraid to go to bed. No one else is home. I'm afraid I'll stop breathing. I know this is nonsense, but what is going through my mind.

My goal for tomorrow is to contact the insurance company once again and plead for them to find me a doctor who will be there and follow through with what I have been through lately. I hope there is a kind person on the receiving end of the call. The poor person... :faint:

Thank you all for your advice/stories. It makes me feel less abnormal. :smile:



OH don't feel alone. I fear the night so often too. Wish no one else had to. That is the one time I get so anxious I think too much then. Hope you can get some sleep eventually.



I take xanax now. This was a regular occurance for me. husband just thinks I am nuts and making things up. So, I sat in silence as I cannot breathe, my heart is racing, dizzy, the whole bit. When my heart feels like it is jumping out of my body, I take xanax, and pace the floor. I know better than to tell husband, he would just make me feel worse.
And of course because of all the things you are feeling, your mind then starts to think of the worst possible things and it only makes you feel worse. I just pace, or walk and keep telling myself ...breathe....breathe....breathe...
Hard to explain this feeling to someone who doesn't feel this way.


Well-Known Member
Abbey, seriously - can you have a glass of wine before bed? It really does help.

I know what you mean about the thought being ridiculous. I have that, too. My usual thought is devastating because it is about people I care about - so it is very disturbing. Same 2 people, same thought every time. I know the thought is ridiculous, but it still plays in my brain. I have to talk myself out of it.
These are real thoughts and real emotions. Even if they are impossible.

Suz, I did not know hormone levels could do this. I wonder now...

I actually attributed mine to quitting smoking. I feel like I was getting some sort of relaxation from the nicotine and when I stopped - I got these thoughts.

Kjs, men can not rationalize something like this in their brains. I feel bad for you that he was not so supportive. I would be tempted to ask him to fake it for me. Fake being a caring individual when I was having a problem - whether he believed it or not. I think eventually if he was there for every episode he would get that you are not choosing this for yourself.



Well-Known Member
I have severe panic disorder. It would go underground for years then pop up in full force during stressful times, like when I went thru my divorce. Sometimes I'd be in stores with full shopping carts and I'd freak out so badly (felt like I was in a dream and would go crazy)--I just left the cart there and drove home, going thru all red lights. Clonazapan and Paxil have helped me not have a panic attack like that in about thirteen years, but I remember how scary they were. I have a book suggestion, it helped me.
"Don't Panic" by Wilson Reid (I forget the other author, but you can find it on Amazon or ask at the book store). It's an older book, but it's the best panic disorder book I've ever read and really helped me deal with the mini-attacks I still get so that they never go out of control. I also recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy over traditional talk therapy.
Forget hub It really isn't funny, but I remember my hub telling me to "get a grip." Riiiiiiiight. Just talk to us :wink: