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Do you ever have panic attacks?

I just started researching the link between panic disorders and diabetes.

I had a bad one last night, and two really bad ones (requiring medical attention) last fall.

Tags: panic, panic attack, panic disorder

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Interesting topic, I never knew that there was a link between Diabetes and panic attacks.
I suffered from panic attacks quite a lot, before I had diabetes. I didn't go to school for a year, because I had panic attacks every day. Only after 9 months of cognitive behavioural therapy did I go to school again. When I got 'D' a few years later, I wasn't to terrified since it couldn't possibly be worse ;-)

It's good to read others' experiences and thoughts about panic attacks and hypos. One thing I notice is that, while there are some features common to both, I interpret them very differently, so far.

I find it hard to talk myself out of panic. I think that's part of the PTSD: I start thinking that I deserve to feel hopeless, that I really am out of control, that I've somehow earned what I'm going through, right then. Depression mounts sky-high, my judgment about myself and my life becomes absolutely warped and I feel full of shame.

But if my BG is too low, I don't tie the way it feels to anything in my immediate environment. I start to feel shaky and uncertain, mildly confused. My meter is on my desk, or otherwise nearby, so I haven't had any problem about checking my BG. When I see the too-low number, I know what to do and it's easy for me to do it. I also know that I'll feel much better within 10-15 minutes. Even if I'm still too low, then, I don't feel as unwell as I did and I know I can correct, again. Usually I'll double up on whatever I ate or drank the first time and that takes care of things. I may end up going a bit too high, but I wait about two hours before I do anything about that and then I step down slowly to my safest range, maybe taking about half the insulin I may need and waiting another hour before I take any more.

The important thing is that for whatever reason, I don't tend to blame myself for having or being in the midst of a low. I find that remarkable for a perfectionist! I'm able to see the hypo as a mistake, something that happens to all of us from time to time, something I'll be able to learn from later, when I'm feeling well again. But with a panic attack, my thoughts become very dark, critical and full of blame. I'm sure that everyone's experience of these things is different. I'm glad we're having this discussion--I hadn't thought about these things in any organized way until now.

Thanks, Ann. Learning a bit about your thought processes helps me, too.

When I was in my twenties, I often had panic attacks "for no reason" that I could fathom. They'd just happen out of the blue.

Now it seems that every time I have one (99% of the time?) there is a cognitive trigger, usually moderate to strong stress combined with really negative self-talk, usually involving something psych doctors call "catastrophizing". This is the kind of cognitive distortion where, for example, a lump under your skin becomes "I'm going to die a hideously painful death from cancer just like my poor brother" or a harsh word from a moody co-worker turns into "I'm going to get fired and I'll never get another job and I'll be homeless and freeze to death under a bridge". The rational mind knows better than to go down these rabbit holes, but because of the adrenalin dump it's really hard to stop the negative feedback loop once it gets triggered.

Believe it or not many times shoot for hypo's. First off and number one when I overshoot my chances of being high are slim to none. Second I like being able to eat junk and not feeling like s*** and this is one of the only safe ways of doing it. Don't get me wrong hypos screw with me mentally pretty bad and if I had the choice I'd never want to experience one again but it see it as the lesser of two evils. My biggest problem is going to sleep at night with low sugar. In the last two years I've had some real close calls. Negative is my middle name. My folks didn't help with that but I fear much of what you said. I live in a house that is paid for and still fear being in the streets like some drug addict. You feel like your loosing control of your thoughts and when I crises kicks in you just want to crawl into bed and not wake up and face it.

The difference, Gary, is that my analysis of what is going on with me lines up with the medical literature and yours really doesn't. I don't report panic disorder symptoms being caused by near-normal blood glucose levels, for example. I know that I have adrenal hyperplasia and an abnormal output of adrenal hormones because I've had several medical procedures to confirm both of these facts over a period of years at three different medical facilities. I've also been diagnosed with PTSD by different doctors, decades apart. The problem I have with what you post is not that I don't believe you're distressed and having symptoms. I just don't believe that your self-diagnosis of what causes your symptoms is either accurate or supported by an objective, scientific evaluation of evidence.

So when I take a glucose reading and see 105 and am irritable and then take a unit of insulin to bring me down roughly 25 points and I start feeling better that is not evidence? Or if I check my sugar and it reads 62 and I am in mental distress and after eating 10 to 15 carb grams I start feeling much better that is not evidence either? The only thing I can't say for sure is that this is 100% accurate all the time but from my experiences I'd say its most of the time. I am honestly hoping I have another problem that somehow is interfering with the glucose making feel well kind of a mess at levels that I really shouldn't but I ain't holding my breath. As you probably know many diabetics after years of extremely high blood sugar claim they feel low even at the higher end of normal. For years I've tried to pay real close attention to the different varied symptoms I had been experiencing being highs and lows can sometimes be confusing or similar enough and I know my body fairly well. I can't say I never screw up if I don't test but more of the time I can tell the difference of a high vs a low. I have been testing more of late but still no where near what most people do. I know a woman locally for many years also with type 1. She's on a pump and basically admitted she doesn't test. She claims to feel fine elevated up to a certain point and feels much worse low. She runs not so great A1C's but has had diabetes as long if not longer then me and has no complications.

No, Gary. That's not scientific evidence. That's what's called anecdotal evidence. There is no scientific evidence that I know of that human beings feel irritable at 105 and then feel relief from irritability by injecting insulin and lowering their blood sugar down to 80.

I understand that you believe this is true and I'm not calling you a liar. I just don't see how any doctor could take a verbal report of what you're saying and use it to diagnose what's wrong or make useful suggestions about what to do about it, especially as you yourself have reported on these threads that sometimes you're MUCH HIGHER than 105 and can't feel it.

In fact, you've got your symptoms and your numbers flipped compared to other folks. Most people feel hypo symptoms when they are either low or dropping. You report hypo symptoms when you're slightly elevated and you report relief when you drop yourself lower. That's backwards from how the counter-regulatory hormones (adrenalin and glucagon) actually work.

It's been a couple of hours since I ate and I have a slight headache right now. I have no idea what my blood glucose is right this minute, and I wouldn't venture to guess. However, if I took my blood glucose reading right now and it was between 80 and 120, there is no way that I would hazard to blame my headache on my blood glucose, because I know that those numbers are pretty much within the human body's range of post-prandial homeostasis.

I understand what your saying but I've done this enough times to know where I am comfortable. In general I feel more not well then well. I am beginning to think if what I am feeling has nothing to do with my glucose level and they can't find anything else then it must be just the fact that I have diabetes as to why I get these symptoms regardless of where the level is. I just find it strange how I get relief always boils down to getting my level back in that 80-90 range either by eating carbs from a low or shooting up from a high. I woke up the other morning and I kid you not I was dead on 100 and felt like I had radiation around my body. I took my morning dosage and about a half hour after injection the discomfort was lessening. Why on occasion I have tested and been somewhat elevated and not felt horrible has been rare. Also the degree of distress and discomfort can vary even at virtually the same level. Though I don't log anything down I've been documenting this stuff for years and the level range I generally have no symptoms is between 80 and 90 and for the most part that is the most common fasting level range on most non-diabetics. It's actually closer to 80 then 90 I think. Being 100 fasting though is fine medically I feel high at that level even though I shouldn't.

Gary, why do you object to testing more frequently? You say you're seeing a new endocrinologist in about a month. I'd think that if you could take a few weeks' records of testing 8-10 times a day along with notes about what you've eaten, how many carbs, and how much insulin you've used, along with details about how you feel, you'd have a lot of good, useful data that can help the endo figure out what you might do to feel better. Just going on the basis of reported memories without other data makes it almost inevitable that the endo will have nothing to offer! If you want to feel better, complete information should be very helpful, right? Whether your symptoms are in sync with your BG levels or not is valuable information and might help sort out whether you're having problems related to your diabetes and BG levels, or whether your symptoms are psychosomatic or may have some other cause.

I know that you want to be a candidate for a new procedure or potential cure. That makes all kinds of sense to me. But having spent a lot of time with people who were candidates for other kinds of experimental interventions, I'm pretty sure that, in order to qualify for a new approach to your diabetes you'll have to do a lot of record keeping first. They always want as complete a picture of candidates as possible.

Cognitive distortion, for sure! :-) It all seems so reasonable, so realistic and inevitable at the time, but when I'm feeling better those dark thoughts seem ridiculous, or I feel troubled that they occurred to me at all.

I'm feeling fortunate that I don't feel inclined to catastrophize when I have a low BG. A couple of weeks ago, I didn't eat as much as I'd planned to eat at brunch and my BG dropped to 2.8 mmol/L (50.4 mg/ml) before I recognized that something was wrong. I went to the kitchen to get something to correct with, but felt confused about why I was there. I'm sure I would have remembered, but my partner came into the room, told me I was as white as a sheet, took my meter from my hand and gave me a couple of cookies to eat. I didn't argue! It seems I only become argumentative when I'm in or on the verge of a panic attack.

Since 2 years ago I get panic attacks in waves...My attacks do not feel the same as a low thank God but it does effect my bg and sleep...which sucks...I am thinking about going to speak to someone about because it keeps coming back...

Much of my life I have had bouts of depression and anxiety. I don't think my body works right in many ways since I've had some kind of strange issue with my thyroid my whole life but no one has figured out what it is. I found this thread very interesting because this last several days I've had this very general sense of anxiety. It's not the heart pounding, I'm going to pass out kind of panic, just this constant worry, a little difficulty breathing properly, a little heart palpitation thing.

Life is not all that great right now and I know that this round of depression is certainly understandable but I couldn't figure out where the anxiety was coming from. I wonder if it is like the false hypos that I sometimes get because I get lower than my body thinks it should even though I'm not really hypo.

With my medication dose change and the fact that I'm eating pretty low carb (60 grams a day) my BS has been lower than it has been in a while. Hopefully, my body will adapt and I'll be able to feel more normal again.




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