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Author Topic: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.  (Read 666 times)

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Offline Venomsoar

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Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« on: April 10, 2014, 10:22:15 PM »
A few days ago, I started worrying (irrationally) about the very unlikely chance that I may be another severely unlucky sufferer of sporadic familial insomnia (which has arose from my health anxiety). That same day, I had a good 7 hours sleep and I woke naturally 20 minutes before my alarm. Good. That same night, I started worrying about sleep yet again. I slept - but only for about 3 hours (12-3am). I couldn't get back to sleep though.

When it reached about 8-9 in the morning, I drifted off to sleep again while watching something on youtube. This was for about 2 hours (although it could of been more).

But anyway, from then, I once again started worrying about sleep that night. Which had started causing me panic attacks. From then, (it was about 10pm), I tried relaxing myself by watching things. When I wasn't trying to sleep, and I was just doing things to take my mind of it, I would feel myself getting really tired. But every time I laid down with the intentions of sleeping, my heart would start pumping again. I started having racing thoughts etc. - I was having panic attacks. It was the thought that maybe I will never sleep again.

From then, it progressively got worse and worse. I didn't sleep at all that night. I was tired though. I knew that my panic attacks were not going to allow my body to sleep. The panic attacks arose from the fear of dyeing. Therefore, I understand that my body is keeping me awake because it may think it is in danger because of my thoughts. But despite that, anyone who has health anxiety knows that you still have the worrying thought about having a serious illness which is what is causing the panic attacks.

I started losing my mind. Literally. "I'm never going to sleep". "This will be the end of me". "My brain cannot function without sleep". "How can I possibly sleep". "If I don't sleep, my panic attacks will get worse - and therefore keep me awake". "This will never end". "I'm going to die". "I'm going to start to hallucinate soon". "I will start to literally go mental due to lack of sleep". "Nothing can be done". All these are examples of some of the thoughts that was going through my mind over and over again. And this was in the morning. I was shouting at my Father. "What am I going to do". "I need help". I went to the doc. Told him about it. He said he can either do two things about the problem. He said that my problem is of course that I get anxious about not sleeping, which causes me to not sleep. But now that I am not sleeping, my anxiety is getting worse. I knew this.

So he said that we need to stop the anxiety - or make you sleep to break the cycle. He can give me antidepressants. Which will start to kick in in 2 weeks. Or, he can give me sleeping pills (Zopiclone). I had taken the sleeping pills option. Obviously because my only worry was that I need to get to sleep. And I certainly don't want to wait 2 weeks.

After the doctor appointment, I tried sitting down and relaxing - no hopes. I tried listening to music - no hope. Whatever I tried doing, my mind was still occupied with the thoughts - and therefore my heart was still pounding through my chest. It would get worse - but then sometimes I would get brief moments of rationality. And this is at 2 in the afternoon. I was convinced that I am not going to sleep. I had taken two walks. The first was for an hour. The second, which followed about an hour after my first walk, was about 2 hours. I was trying to drain my bodies energy. But every moment of the walk, I wasn't having any other thoughts about anything other than the same anxiety ones. I wasn't convinced that the pills will work. And therefore if they didn't work, I would definitely be convinced that I had sporadic fatal insomnia. "I am going to die". "This is it". "There is no hope for me". "The pills won't work". I was still having thoughts like these.

At about 5pm, I couldn't take it. I really needed to see if I can sleep on those pills. I really wanted to wait until between 8-10PM to take them. But my anxiety was the worse it has ever been. So I took one. And guess what, I was knocked out almost instantly. I woke up not along ago about 2am. A good 7-8 hours sleep (perfect for me). So now, I am definitely a lot more relaxed about it NOT being sporadic fatal insomnia (I know how irrational that worry is). However, I am still slightly on edge. I am having thoughts like "What if they don't work tonight", "What if I start panicking tonight again", "What if I end up back in the cycle", "What if I can't sleep without medication" - and of course, I know this is not going to help. I know somewhere in me that I can do it. But then the anxiety is taken over me completely. I really feel hopeless still.

I need help. Is there anyone who has had the same or similar problems? I had never thought about insomnia as being a severe thing. Honestly. I thought that not sleeping would just be frustrating but never this severe to cause constant panic attacks. I am really scared. I was telling my dad this over and over again yesterday.
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Offline ArKano22

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2014, 07:47:54 AM »
Hi Venomsoar,

My case is almost identical to yours. A year ago I managed to stay awake for three days-there nights in a row, after which i felt completely drained and spaced-out. I just didnīt have enough energy to pull myself around anymore, i spent the third day lying in the couch watching TV like a zombie.

My doctor also prescribed me some sleeping pills, which worked wonders the first few days, then insomnia returned. I felt desperate because i was now completely alone in my fight against insomnia, with no external help at all. After about 3-4 months of sleeping maybe 3-4 hours a day -if lucky-, i grew so tired of having to plan everything everyday having my insomnia in mind (like canceling stuff or altering work schemes because i was too tired) that i just accepted it as part of my life. And then it disappeared.

It vanished the moment I stopped thinking about it. You must give it zero importance. When you go to bed, just lie there and think about other stuff. Do things during the day that keep your mind off these intrusive thoughts. Easier said than done, i know, specially when you are too tired to make any efforts. But thatīs the secret.

Oh. And donīt rely too much on the pills. Their effect will wear off. And when it starts to, ask your doctor to slowly taper off your dose, don't leave them abruptly, even if zoplicone is not a real benzodiazepine.
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Offline shaula

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2014, 10:19:20 AM »
Hello,

I came to respond to you because our situations are very much identical. I don't remember where it was that I first read about SFFI (maybe on Wikipedia or Google....), but in my worst bouts of insomnia, it comes back to haunt me.

Anyway, what happens to me is that I can usually have a pretty good day....and just as I wind down to sleep, I feel my heart start to race....and I begin to panic. And I stay in panic mode for hours, sometimes all night. It is very difficult. It does not happen all the time, but each time it does it makes me panic even more. Eventually it does go away, but it is still difficult to handle. ArKano22 is right by saying that it goes away when you stop thinking about it. I usually read to wind down, and keep myself distracted during the day.
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Everything will be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it's not the end.

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Offline Venomsoar

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2014, 04:05:18 PM »
Thank you for replying. Good news is that after I created this thread, I had another 9 hours sleep. Unfortunately, it seems to be getting worse now though. My belief that I cannot sleep without pills is only being reinforced. The next day after taking a sleeping pill (Friday), I decided not to take one for that night. I had 2 hours (7-11am). The next day (Saturday), I had a pill at around 10pm - it didn't work. I had another at around 3:30am, that one did it. I slept, once again, for a good 11 hours. But then the next day, (Sunday), I decided once again, not to take any pills - I wanted to see if I can sleep without them. And once again, no sleep. Not even two hours this time.

It is Monday now, I have had no sleep. I am thinking of taking a pill. But then again, this will reinforce my belief that I cannot sleep without them. And then when they start to wear off, I don't know what I am going to do. I would literally start to lose it big time. Even bigger. I cannot get myself out of the vicious cycle. I keep getting myself in it each day.
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Offline rob20

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2014, 09:49:45 AM »
In my opinion one of the most important things when it comes to adequate sleep for everyone who tease such problems, particularly insomnia is that the bed and mattress were of high quality. everyone must be able to ensure that well and sleep comfortably.
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Offline Kavenchols

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2014, 06:03:16 PM »
Treatment options for an anxiety disorder also include cognitive-behavior therapy, as well as relaxation techniques, and medication. Your doctor or therapist may recommend one or a combination of these treatments.
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Offline Venomsoar

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 08:04:53 AM »
Treatment options for an anxiety disorder also include cognitive-behavior therapy, as well as relaxation techniques, and medication. Your doctor or therapist may recommend one or a combination of these treatments.

I am currently taking CBT with a professional for my social anxiety and health anxiety but I struggle to do the "exposure tasks" that you have to do for social anxiety. My health anxiety I feel is getting a little better because I can usually counteract my catastrophizing thoughts with more rational ones which make me feel better. And I usually plan to take a certain action if I feel any symptoms do become worrisome and ask myself "can I do anything about it right now?" - and if the answer is no, I can usually let go of the worry.

I am also taking medication. I am currently on Citalopram. I'm only on my 6th day and have been taking 5mg daily. Tomorrow I will be increasing the dose to 10mg. I had tried Sertraline but I couldn't stand the insomnia that accompanied it (even after 5 weeks) and the anti-anxiety effects were either non-existent or was masked by the increased anxiety over the side-effects. I was taking 50mg for 5 weeks. I don't hold many hopes for this Citalopram that I am taking because I have always felt that most medication for me is completely useless. Even strong pain killers rarely work for me.

With that aside, I understand the importance of relaxation techniques and how helpful it can be - but relaxation techniques are only good if I have the patience and I am not already in panic/anxiety mode. While I am panicking or having my anxiety episodes, it makes it almost impossible for me to sit down and try relaxation techniques. Especially when I haven't slept for over 24 hours and all I want is to sleep. Paradoxically, the last thing I can do in that situation is "clam down and relax" even though thats all I want to do. 
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Offline Insomniac32

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2014, 02:03:58 PM »
I have a problem very similar to this. I'm on about the third cycle of it since 2002 or so. Anxiety and insomnia become a vicious cycle. I used Ambien to help get over it the past two times; doctors had also suggested anti-depressants but I resisted them. I'm in the midst of horrible anxiety over sleep again and am not sure what is going to work. Worst feeling I've ever had. Ruining ability to work, deal with family, etc.
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Offline Venomsoar

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2014, 09:00:45 PM »
I have a problem very similar to this. I'm on about the third cycle of it since 2002 or so. Anxiety and insomnia become a vicious cycle. I used Ambien to help get over it the past two times; doctors had also suggested anti-depressants but I resisted them. I'm in the midst of horrible anxiety over sleep again and am not sure what is going to work. Worst feeling I've ever had. Ruining ability to work, deal with family, etc.


I know. I have had health anxiety since last July. I thought that that was bad - but now I kinda wish I was worrying about some funny looking mole or something in order to take my mind off of sleep. Because even though I have had nights worrying about a headache or a stomach pain before, I would never worry about the amount of sleep I had or whether I did sleep or not. Whereas now, everyday it's the same thing; when I first wake up in the morning, I instantly look at the time to calculate how little I slept that night and then start worrying about whether I will sleep better the following night.

I started taking antidepressants - and I have to say, I think it is better for you to avoid them. Antidepressants have made my sleep even worse. Since I have been on antidepressants, it doesn't matter how calm I feel; I am still wide awake at 4am every morning and only ever getting 3-5 hours sleep each night - and my mood doesn't even feel better - if anything I feel worse.

To top that off, I am starting to suffer from constant hypnic jerks which further keeps me awake even when I am totally exhausted. And once again, this is something that started after starting antidepressants. And now, I have anxiety over the jerks. It's a constant fear as well. It's not just "slightly on edge" or "slightly frustrated" - it is "extremely hopeless and feelings of *****". The antidepressants don't seem to be having their "anti-anxiety" effects.

I honestly feel hopeless. I have no idea what to do. Each episode feels like it is worse than the last. Each time that I have my anxiety episodes, I end up going out at 4am in the morning standing on top of a bridge feeling extremely ***** and frightened.

But the thing is, when I do sleep, my mood and thoughts change dramatically. I go from feeling suicidal and having extremely irrational thoughts to feeling completely content and having thoughts like "all that fuss over nothing". And this can happen over a few hours. The same is for the reverse; I can go from feeling completely content - it could be 1am - I feel tired and have no concern about whether I am going to sleep or not - neither do I have any concern about how much I sleep I have… I am good - I would have brief moments of doziness as well without even thinking about it.

Then, out of the blue, I am hit with irrational thoughts and my stomach and chest area sinks and everything seems like it goes slow-motion while my thoughts are racing. I try to fight it as much as possible, "not now - what's happening - what are you doing - why are you thinking this - you know there is nothing wrong - you are catastrophizing - you are only going to make it worse" - then comes the irrational thoughts, "what if I never sleep - what if the strongest pills cannot help me - what if I start to hallucinate - what if I go mental - what if I do decide to ***** - what if I go days and days without sleep - how can I hope to hold a job with repeated episodes of this - how am I going to manage living independently - how am I going to build relationships - my life is over" etc…. and then I start to go nuts.

I have been in tears many times over this now. I often think "I would of never have been like this if I'd had the same experience before I was hit with health anxiety" and sometimes I think, "I should of never taken the antidepressant". It's a nasty roller coaster ride that I am taking and I have no idea how long it will go on for or whether it will even stop.

I also feel like I am on a one-road trip to my death - and soon as well. And it's not because of lack of sleep or some neurological disorder (which I often worry about) - I actually worry about my own life being ended by myself - wilfully - something that when I would think about when I was younger, it seemed like an impossibility that I would ever do such a thing - but now it has become so real that I am extremely frightened about it.

Sorry for the wall of text - but as you can tell, it is 2am currently and I have no glimpse of any hope of getting sleep - I am having another episode - I had a good week - although I haven't been sleeping well, I have been sleeping adequate enough to keep me calm. But last night I couldn't sleep properly because of the jerks and after just 3 hours of sleep, when I tried going back to sleep, the jerks were still happening after being asleep for 3 hours. This has bothered me a lot all today and now I am extremely frightened of dozing off to be awoken by another jerk followed by extreme anxiety.
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Offline JamesAH

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Re: Health Anxiety + Insomnia = Sever constant panic attacks.
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2014, 09:55:31 PM »
Wow I'm going through the same thing it's like we're twin brothers. I'm suffering debilitating anxiety/panic attacks relating to SFI. I suffered 2 days straight with no sleep from Monday and Tuesday. Got some decent sleep Wed but Thursday no sleep at all. Friday I drank some alcohol(I know not a good thing for insomnia)to see if that would work. Well I think I got maybe 2-3 hours of sleep that day.

Here we are Sat and I'm suffering yet again with sever panic/anxiety attacks. Worried I won't get any sleep tonight and that's the problem. It's a vicious cycle that repeats itself in a nasty way. I do have a sleep med on hand but I like you am worried that it won't work and I'm back to square 1.

I have no clue what to do. Money is scarce and I have no insurance(was lucky to get the sleep med). I'm worried that I have SFI and won't get anymore sleep. This sucks!
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