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Can anxiety attacks actually kill someone?

Posted Jun 08 2010 8:49am

I have anxiety attacks and sometimes have to go to the hospital for stroke like symptoms.. numbness, tunnel vision, black outs, cold/hot sweat, weakness etc. I finally figured out that it was my anxiety. but the last time it happened I was on bipolar meds and my hubby rushed me to the er because he said my lips were blue. it’s pretty scary. can I die from this if I didn’t have meds for it?

I don’t think it can actually kill you, but it can definitely cause you to pass out. Some of the symptoms you described (tingling, numbness, weakness) are caused by hyperventilation. Your nervous system gets overloaded with stress and you start breathing too fast and you don’t get enough oxygen. (Or maybe it’s too much oxygen, I’m not sure)…but in any case, it throws off the oxygen and C02 balance in your body and so you start feeling dizzy and all kinds of other symptoms. But you also get a sudden adrenaline rush and that causes a "Fight or Flight" response…you feel absolutely terrified. Your brain perceives a threat that actually isn’t there, and it kicks your body into overdrive to try to get ready for a threat. It’s like a false alarm and it doesn’t turn off.

A panic attack is absolutely terrifying. I’ve had problems with depression off and on since I was a kid. I went through a severe depression several years ago, and I’ve been having problems again. But this time, I also have a panic disorder. I had this really weird feeling of "dread" or "doom" like something bad was about to happen. Then I started having panic attacks almost every day. It’s horrible…you feel like you’re going crazy, and you feel like you’re becoming "disconnected" from the world. You feel disoriented. Sometimes you feel like you’re dying.

I don’t think it can actually kill you, but it’s disabling because your are so overcome with fear and you feel like you’re going crazy.

The big problem with a panic disorder if you don’t get it treated is that it can get worse and progress into other psychological problems. It can lead to agoraphobia, where you might be afraid to even leave the house. Thank God I never got to that point…but I can see how people can wind up that way.

If you are seeing a psychiatrist right now, you need to tell them what’s going on. A panic disorder can be an entirely different thing from whatever problems you have with bipolar depression. An anti-anxiety medication might help. I went back to counseling and I’m taking Xanax right now, and that has definitely helped. I don’t get that weird feeling of "doom" anymore and it’s been a while since I’ve had a full blown panic attack.

I don’t think a panic attack in itself can kill you…but all that stress definitely can’t be good for you long term.

By the way, I’m not saying that medication is the answer for everything, or that you’ll have to take pills for the rest of your life. I’m just saying that right now, you need to get this under control so you don’t feel miserable and you can get your life back on track.

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