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Can panic attacks feel different from time to time?


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I was diagnosed with anxiety disorders 12 years ago but my doctors have never really spoken about it in depth since my bipolar diagnosis. So I don't really know as much about anxiety as I probably should.

I was wondering, can panic attacks feel different in different circumstances? I was wondering, because over the last few months I've had spells where I start shaking so badly I can't hold a pen or paper, whole body burns up and I turn bright pink, can't swallow, struggle to breathe, sometimes throw up, mind races until it hurts my head and I can just cry and nothing else.

On the other hand, I've had a lot of panic attacks while manic and they felt quite different... A lot more numbness rather than burning up... Can panic attacks be different from time to time? Not sure if mania makes it different somehow...

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My panic attacks tend to evolve in their symptoms. When I was 17 I started experiencing depersonalization when having panic attacks. The last time I had a panic attack I realized that my left side was no longer being affected. Left side issues (numbness, heaviness, paralysis, pain) was always a main symptom of my panic attacks. 

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For me panic attacks happen ie when I used to drive.  I didn't "freeze" in place, unable to talk or anything, but I became anxious, dizzy, heart rate went up, etc.  And I couldn't  drive because of that (one of the things at least).

Another time I get the worst panic attacks are when I dunk my head under the water (in the low end of the pool), even for a couple seconds, and then I freeze/become stiff ... can't move.  Fortunately part of my mind tells me to grab onto the side and pull myself up, or push up from the bottom.  When I get my head up above water it takes a couple seconds to get my bearings.  I still feel frozen, but am back to normal soon after I am no longer under water.

Those are 2 different ones I have.

Edited by melissaw72
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Hell yes... Which is why I always thought I was seriously dying because each panic attack had a different symptom so I assumed well it isn't like the last one so this must be something else.. and then it was a vicious cycle. I have had many symptoms ranging from nausea- choking sensations-feeling like I am going to faint- or I like I am about to black out and probably more I can't think of at the moment. When I was manic... my heart would be pounding and I would sweat a lot when I would have panic attacks.. and it felt like I was on speed. But yeah. Absolutely they can. :)

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Yeah, totally. They can certainly change, as can your symptoms overall. For instance, I sometimes disassociate before or during an attack. That only started happening a couple years ago, and when it did, I called my shrink to ask if I was too crazy to be out in the world and if I needed to be IP. I'd bring it up to your doc, just so you guys can keep track of how your symptoms present. 

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This is interesting ... there are 2 types of panic attacks: expected and unexpected.

https://www.verywell.com/symptoms-of-panic-disorder-and-attacks-2584246

Quote
  • Unexpected - Unexpected panic attacks occur suddenly without any external or internal cues. In other words, they occur without a fearful situation or a fearful thought or feeling. They may seem to happen "out of the blue" when someone is completely relaxed.
  • Expected - Expected panic attacks occur when someone is exposed to a situation for which they carry a fear. For example, someone who has a fear of flying may have a panic attack after being seated in a plane or during take-off.

Unexpected panic attacks are more common among those with panic disorder, but people may experience both types of panic.

I didn't know this.

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Yes! I swear I get different panic attacks depending on what triggered one. Social anxiety ones/stress induced tend to be (in some sort of cruel irony) very noticeable? I usually burst into tears, hyperventilate, etc. Usually lasts about 30 minutes? If it's PTSD though... those can just linger. Literally hours of just weird dissociative dread. Depressive panic attacks are similar but I can become like panicky suicidal for some reason. But yeah. It helps to recognise the context that leads up to them. Sometimes panic attacks happen days after the 'trigger' happened. 

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Like colours in a sucky rainbow...   Super tension, "fear" hyped up feeling, Disasociation (Once and weirder then weird feeling)   Just can't sit, lay down or get comfortable.  More I'm forgetting about (Or trying to)  Oh heart ones.  If you've had heart problems those are great...  Panic that your having a heart attack.  The only good thing about that is that I have Nitro pills that if they work I know I really am having heart problems.   If not then I can prn some Valium or try TDoc tricks to meditate rather then medicate myself out of them.   *Not that this seems to work well.

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I've had the anxiety attacks so bad I've thrown up, also had one lead into a migraine. So I get what you're saying. Not fun at all. I've had maybe five attacks over the years where I have vomited, and I've had anxiety since early childhood. I used to get the worst stomach drop feelings, it didn't always mean I'd puke though, a lot of times it would just cramp up my tummy. I get tunnel vision and sweaty with increased heart rate. For a long time I didn't understand it, but I am working on breathing my way through them now and not relying on a rescue PRN med. Doesn't always work, but sometimes it does. You like breathe in slowly, to an 8 count and then exhale to a 10 count. Other things to try are like grounding, where you look for 3 things that are red or blue or whatever color, and then see what you can smell, and listen for 3 things you can hear. I am sure someone else has the exact technique and can correct me, because obviously it's not one I use much. I do the breathing thing though and try to visualize myself as a river, with leaves being these anxious thoughts and I let them come and am learning (via my tdoc's training) to watch them float away slowly as if the current of my mind (like the current in a river) lets them go. Like anake says, PTSD panic attacks are a whole other animal though, and I've actually had a PRN med not help before with one that lasted hours. Totally disabling. :(

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