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What Is a Panic Attack Hangover?

If you mention the word “hangover,” most people are likely to think about the morning after a night of heavy drinking. But hangovers aren’t limited to alcohol abuse, or even to substance use. In today’s post, we take a look at what happens when a person experiences a panic attack hangover.

What Are Panic Attacks?

As its name suggests, a panic attack hangover occurs in the aftermath of a panic attack. Before we discuss what this type of hangover involves, let’s take a moment to review what happens when someone has a panic attack.

Panic attacks are extremely distressing episodes that are characterized by overwhelming fear and a variety of other physical and psychological symptoms. In addition to the severity of the symptoms a person experiences, one of the other reasons why panic attacks can be so disruptive is that they can occur at any time, with no apparent cause.

Symptoms of a panic attack can include:

  • Racing heart rate
  • Rise in body temperature
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or vertigo
  • Chest pain
  • Hyperventilation
  • Sensation of being choked
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Depersonalization (a sense of separation from one’s own body, thoughts, and feelings)
  • Derealization (a feeling of detachment from one’s surroundings)

Panic attacks are typically brief. In most cases, symptoms peak within about 10 minutes, then begin to subside. However, the brevity of the experience does not make it comfortable. During a panic attack, a person may believe that they are about to die. 

Why Do People Have Panic Attacks?

People who have multiple panic attacks may be diagnosed with panic disorder, which is a type of anxiety disorder. However, panic disorder isn’t the only reason why someone may have panic attacks.

In some cases, an overwhelming amount of stress or a history of untreated trauma can cause someone to experience the symptoms that we listed in the previous section. In other cases, panic attacks can be brought on by substance abuse or certain medical conditions.

The most common causes of panic attacks are mental health disorders. In addition to panic disorder, other conditions that have been associated with panic attacks include:

  • Specific phobia and other anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Psychotic disorders

Anyone who has panic attacks should be assessed by a qualified healthcare provider. Once the cause of these attacks has been identified, the individual can begin to receive the care that will preclude future such attacks (and eliminate panic attack hangovers).

What Is a Panic Attack Hangover?

The physical and psychological pain of panic attacks don’t always dissipate once the attack has subsided. In the aftermath of a panic attack, it’s not uncommon for people to have what’s known as a panic attack hangover.

Exhaustion is a primary characteristic of a panic attack hangover. Sometimes, this sense of pervasive fatigue can last for the rest of the day, or even for multiple days, following a panic attack.

Other possible symptoms of a panic attack hangover include:

  • Pain in your teeth or jaw (if you were clenching during the panic attack)
  • Soreness throughout your body (which can be an aftereffect of extreme muscle tension)
  • Stomach aches and/or nausea
  • Weakness, trembling, or shakiness
  • Residual dizziness or lightheadedness

Self-care can be extremely important in the aftermath of a panic attack. The following actions can help you minimize the impact of a panic attack hangover:

  • Have a light, nutritious snack
  • Find a comfortable place to sit or lie down
  • Go for a walk or engage in another form of low-intensity exercise
  • Contact a close friend or trusted family member

It’s also important to remember that self-care shouldn’t be reserved for times when you’re having a panic attack hangover. Following a nutritious diet, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, exercising regularly, and staying in touch with loved ones are vital components of a healthy life.

How Are Panic Attacks Treated?

One way to avoid a panic attack hangover is to get treatment to prevent these episodes from happening in the first place. People who have been having panic attacks are often treated via a comprehensive approach that incorporates medication with various forms of therapy. 

If a person’s panic attacks are related to panic disorder or certain other mental health concerns, their care may involve one of the following types of medications:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) 
  • Benzodiazepines 

The therapeutic part of treatment for panic disorder and panic disorder hangovers is designed to help people regain control of their thoughts and actions. During therapy, participants can:

  • Learn about any mental health disorders that they have been living with
  • Identify triggers, which are circumstances that may prompt the onset of a panic attack
  • Develop more effective stress management skills
  • Practice techniques for minimizing distress during a panic attack
  • Replace self-defeating thought patterns with healthier ways of thinking

Find Treatment for Panic Attacks in Atlanta, GA

Peachtree Wellness Solutions offers personalized care and comprehensive support for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area who have been experiencing panic attacks and other distressing mental health symptoms. At our center, a team of experienced professionals can help you identify the cause of your panic attacks, then provide the focused services that will help you learn to manage your symptoms and achieve improved health. 

To learn more about our programming, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our admissions page or call our center today.