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4149717 tn?1389507161

Panic attacks and withdrawls???

HI everyone. As some might know, this is my 4th time getting clean off of a long time fairly heavy use of opiates. (im on day 8 now)  So with that I thought I knew what to expect of all the symptoms I could have from withdrawls BUT for 2 nights in a row I have had, what I believe to be , full on panic attacks! Both times now they have awoken me out of sleep, drenched in sweat, really rapid heart rate and palpitations and having a hard time catching my breath! They lasted about 10-15 minutes each time! I have NEVER at least in the past had a history of anxiety or panic attacks. I know that anxiety is a pretty normal symptom of withdrawl, and during the daytime I have had a bit of that, but this is something completely new to me!

Has anyone ever had this happen before? Is it something I should be concerened about? Its freaking me out!!

I know its pretty quiet here on the weekends so any help I can get is GREATLY appreciated!!
11 Responses
480448 tn?1426952138
Congrats on day 8, what an accomplishment!  Celebrate that!

Detox often comes with emotions that are all over the place, with a lot of anxiety.  What you describe is a textbook panic attack. I personally am not an addict, but I have panic disorder, so I can totally relate.  They're just terrifying!

Let me reassure you, that while they may be SO scary, and while it feels like you could die, have a heart attack, or go crazy.....none of those things will happen.  Without the presence of a serious underlying medical condition, PAs are harmless...they are just emotions.  PAs are basically the activation of the fight or flight response, which is our body's way of protecting ourselves in the event of real, life threatening danger.  When there is no real danger, they are scary.

In a panic attack, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, causing a dump of adrenaline.  That's what causes the increased heart rate and breathing, sometimes you'll feel some numbness/tingling in your arms/legs, dizziness...and a feeling of impending doom.  Again, in a real life danger situation, this would help you.  The FOF response allows the blood flow of the body to be concentrated to parts of the body we would use to fend off an attck, or run...increasing blood flow to the legs, for example.  In return, the blood flow to other parts of the body is decreased, which explains the symptoms.

The amazing thing about this process, besides the fact that is helps with self preservation if you really would be in danger....it also is self limiting.  Meaning, no matter how long a PA lasts, and how awful it feels, your brain will ALWAYS figure out that there is not really any real danger, and then the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in, and stops the FOF response.  Isn't that amazing?  Sometimes it helps a person feel better just by better understanding what a PA is.

I agree with the others, if this continues, please see your doctor.  There are lots of treatment approaches for panic, one of the more successful being CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy.  CBT helps break that cycle of anxious thiking.  The simple worrying about having another PA can often trigger more of them.  That's where CBT is helpful.  You learn how to stop that kind of conditioning.  Also, the SSRI antidepressants, like Zoloft, Lexapro, etc...can be very helpful in reducing panic symptoms, if necessary.

Because your PAs are likely related to your detox (b/c you have no history), they should subside on their own, as you continue to improve, and your emotions level out.  Just be sure to keep an eye on it...because like I said, sometimes just HAVING one and being "traumatized" by it, can lead to more.  The very best thing you could do is try very hard to kind of blow it off....minimize it...try not to think about it too much.  The more you think about it and worry about it, the more likely it is that you will have more.  That's what I call "fearing the fear".  It's kind of one of those self fulfilling prophecy kind of things.  The worrying basically makes your brain start thinking there is something to be afraid of.

Hope you never have one again...and it's just a fluke.  Just remember, it's JUST emotions, that's all.  Take care...thinking of you.
1970885 tn?1435864028
I experienced something very similar; once at night for no reason, and then several more times when something minor popped up in everyday life.
As you are aware, emotions and drama run high now.
I think it's normal, but if it continues and you're worried call your doc.
Avatar universal
I'm not sure if I had true panic attacks, but I had severe anxiety with symptoms like you are explaining. I didn't sleep more than an 1hr or 2 for two weeks, so I began to feel various degrees of that all the time. Have you been getting any exercise, walks at least. I think that may help your mind relax. Hopefully you will mellow out, but like kyle said, talk to your doctor if it gets too scary. Day 8 is an amazing achievement, you are doing great.
Avatar universal
Hi Teresa, WOW, day 8 going on 9...YAY! What your describing was the normal for my detox. I mean I would experience mild anxiety when I would run out of pills, but nothing like what I had going when I detoxed. I would wake mid might or very early am with my heart pounding out of my chest and a racing heartbeat. I tried thr benzo's and although they helped , they brought on a whole new problem. What ultimatly helped besides daily exercise was getting right up out of bed, moving around , drinking water and believe it or not getting a little something in my tummy. Just knowing it was normal made it doable. Not sure if you've had kids, but I also did my old lamaze breathing really taking deep breaths till my body leveled out. This will pass, but it may be a few weeks. Your doing GREAT....Keep those days com'in.
4149717 tn?1389507161
Thank you guys so far for the responses! It definitely put my mind at ease knowing that others have experienced these panic attacks before. It scared the S@@T out of me! no lie! lol I am soooo much better though than I was. I read a book (50 shades of grey, probably not the best idea for the rapid heartbeat! lol) and tried taking my mind of everything. within 30 minutes I was back asleep and didnt wake up until just a little bit ago!! The night before after I had my first one, I was afraid to fall back asleep.

Yep! Day 8!! I feel this calm over me this morning and can not wait to get out in the day! Its been a very long time since I have felt this at ease.

You guys are great and Im so happy to have met people who really do genuinely care about helping all of us break this deadly cycle. :)

Think Ill go golfing today :) Happy Sunday all!
Avatar universal
50 shades of grey.....WELL NO WONDER your hearts a-going-a flutter! Its all crystal clear now, this heart stuff has nothing to do with detox ha! Just want to throw you some encouragement. Just wait till you hit 30 days! The days just keep getting better and better. Have a fun golf day and then go read some old math textbooks or something....That'll keep your heart calm. :))
1796826 tn?1558679629
Just to add to nursegirls's excellent and accurate comment: You can also "train" your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in faster. The best way I found was by taking "calming" breaths. Basically mimicking the breathing pattern you have when you're feeling completely calm. It takes a little bit of practice, but one you get it, it becomes easy. And it's a great tool if you have to do any public speaking!
4149717 tn?1389507161
Thanks everyone for the advice! I feel good today and definitely think now its all related to my body, mind and spirit detoxing. This is the first time I have ever REALLY gotten serious about being sober and its bringing up alot of things I have repressed for a long time. I guess my biggest concern was that it was happening while I was in a dead sleep! But Nursegirl had great advise about minimizing them so im not going to give these panic attacks another thought! Not going to let them invade my brain!

Day 8 has been a good day for me! I played golf for the first time sober, played the best I ever have AND my Packers won! If only all my sober days will be half this good then Im going to be ok! :)

Oh and Selfinduced, The math books were EXCELLENT! hahaha :)
3197167 tn?1348972206
You made it thru another trial......and you had a good golf game on day 8!!

That thoroughly amazes me......you WILL do it this time~~~
4149717 tn?1389507161
Thank you!! I have to admit that I was SOOO amazed at not only golfing well, but golfing an entire 18 holes!! LOL Golfing sober was actually ALOT of fun!! :)  It was a great day!!

I know I am going to do it this time! I cant wait to post to all of you when I hit my milestones! :) Life really is good again!!
Avatar universal
Making sober memories is a milestone. Sometimes it's a struggle to get motivated, but each new memory builds a new life. Glad you are feeling better. I could have never golfed 18 holes on day 9. Nicely done!
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