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Fear and Anxiety at Night

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Hi, I am 15 years old and about three months ago I had a “Panic Attack” in bed at night. Since then at night-time I have this extreme fear. This includes heart palpation, trembling, numbing in hands and feet, fast breathing, fearful thoughts such as someone breaking in, ghosts creepy dolls you name it! I also sweat and feel extreme nausea the whole time. Because of this, trying to sleep is a problem as I can’t stop thinking of the fear, I can’t close my eyes for more than 5 seconds and if I want to sleep I have to have a video on and sometimes my lamp on though sometimes it is impossible to shut my mind off. It used to be much worse than now as I don’t have it regularly and can kind of control it but i do have my days. From what I have googled I cannot find many people with the same problem. I also have experienced waking up with my whole body numb, with loud ringing in my ears heart pounding and difficulty breathing. It is like I am in a bag as I feel detached from reality. When it is over however it feels like it never happened (btw I can move a bit but very difficult) it has happened twice but it terrifies me . I also have no idea what that is and when I went to the doctor he was not helpful AT ALL. I have been to counseling but the problem has not been solved. I get very stressed easily and have my fair share of anxiety in the day too. I am quite a healthy in size yet I don’t exercise and my diet could be better. I am just wondering what the fear at night is and if it may be possibly linked to stress during the day. Thanks a lot for taking your time to read this. (age 15, from New Zealand)

Fear and Anxiety at Night

Answered by on -


What you are describing here sounds like you may have developed Panic Disorder. You report that you had a panic attack in bed and since then these other fears have developed. Part of Panic Disorder is fear of having another one, but many of the symptoms are very physical — like the ones you describe. Once you are worried and fearful, the fears can take on many forms and can worsen and change over time.

I’m glad that you are in counseling and have spoken to your doctor but am concerned that you feel like it hasn’t helped. Please let both your counselor and doctor know how serious and frequent your symptoms are. You may need to go on medication for a time while you learn other techniques to get your symptoms under control. Learning deep breathing techniques through meditation or yoga can be immensely helpful, as well as other relaxation exercises. I often suggest clients get a self-help book, such as The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook, to help broaden your tool kit and teach skills that you can use anywhere. You might also look into joining a group or taking a class that is geared in this direction, as well as getting some guided imagery or guided meditation cd’s to listen to before going to bed.

Anxiety disorders can be very serious and very frightening, but the good news is that they are very treatable. I hope you feel better soon.

All the best,

Dr. Holly Counts

Fear and Anxiety at Night

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Holly Counts, Psy.D.

Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.

APA Reference
Counts, H. (2018). Fear and Anxiety at Night. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 9 Nov 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.