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Panic Attacks?

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Q. Sometimes at night while I’m falling into a deep sleep, I get a sudden urge to wake up. I feel as if someone is pressing down on my head. It feels like I’m dying and if I don’t wake up, I will die. I have to force myself to wake up and sometimes it can take me several minutes to wake. I try to scream, but I don’t know if I am actually screaming or if it’s all in my head.

This has been going on for about a year now. Sometimes I won’t get one for months. Other times I will experience 5 in one night. They are terrifying and occasionally cause me to cry. I was diagnosed with anxiety a few years ago. What am I experiencing? Are they panic attacks? I don’t experience these at times when I am more stressed out. What could they be caused by? How can I stop these? They are absolutely terrifying.

Panic Attacks?

Answered by on -

A.

I am not sure what you are experiencing. I have a few suggestions as to how you can further explore this matter. One idea is to make an appointment with a therapist to explore these attacks and ask him or her for a referral for a sleep study. The therapist may also want to refer you to a neurologist for testing and examination.

You should also make an appointment with your primary care physician (PCP). Tell the PCP about your experiences. Have the PCP evaluate you medically to assess for a physical cause. You can also ask the doctor for a referral to a neurologist or a sleep study.

You did not mention whether or not you have been evaluated by a physician for this problem. If you have not done this, I would strongly advise that you consider these aforementioned suggestions. I wish you luck.

Panic Attacks?

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). Panic Attacks?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 18, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/07/07/panic-attacks/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.