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Can You Have a Panic Attack in a Dream?

Can You Have a Panic Attack in a Dream?

A question I never thought I would have. It never really occurred to me until now. I'd love to spike a discussion about this one in the comments section below.

Now, I don't consider my anxiety to be severe (mild maybe with a few moderate cases). I've probably never had more than 3 panic attacks in my 26 years of life, but I swear to you, I just had one more and in my dream at that.

   A sudden image of the Norman Manley International Airport in Jamaica, though not a vaguely familiar surrounding apart from the roundabout I knew so well. I was in strange territory, separated from my parents who were bound for the same flight as me. Neither was it comforting that my friends and I couldn't figure out the boarding process. 
    The airport was flooded with vehicles and I'm not sure if this was all happening during the COVID-19 Pandemic as I couldn't identify if masks were being worn, but there was sure as hell no social distancing. We drove around in circles for hours in two separate cars and got separated somewhere along the way. The line towards the entrance finally started moving and I watched us pass my parents parked on the side, signaling them to follow. 
    We got to the entrance of the building where a security guard was spitting out instructions to a rioting crowd eager to get their luggage inside and register for some event to happen before takeoff. Oh! A graduation ceremony. At the airport? OK.
We finally got inside, and my friends were headed to the check-in station, when I realized my parents had my luggage and I didn't want to leave them behind. So, I told my friends I'd catch up with them and went outside to search for my family. 
    This dream felt like I'd spent hours in a panicked crowd, inducing panic in myself searching for them. Going in circles until I lost myself. We communicated via phone and the closer they got to the destination (front door for departures), was the further away I went until I was completely lost. I told them to stay put when they identified Juici Patties that I knew of next to the entrance, but I just couldn't find my way back. 
No friends, no family and no... wait, one familiar face from high school.
    I ran up to her to ask for directions. She tried to explain, but it was all so confusing. As she continued, her voice became muffled and my vision blurred. My heart sped up and I couldn't breathe. Before I knew it, I was falling to the round and landed in my bed, eyes wide open with fear. I felt like there was a thin wall between me laying in bed and the scene at the airport with persons standing over me calling for help. "Now you all wanna help", I thought to myself. 

I couldn't separate...

... my dream from reality.

I'm sure it's easy to pass this off as a bad dream (it's not that serious). But if it is, maybe a nightmare or even a night terror, given the level of fear I experienced upon waking to sleep paralysis of some sort. Though I've been experiencing bad dreams more often lately, this wasn't a recurring thing.

This was different.

[By more frequently, I mean moving from not remembering a single dream in months to having bad dreams maybe 2-3 times a week]

Just to clear some things up. Let's talk concepts!

Curiosity killed me & after some reading, this cat noted the following:

I have these ALL the time.

I like to equate these to 'having a bad day'. You tend to wake up feeling frustrated and unsettled over an occurrence or occurrences in your dream, but you're able to deal with it and quickly acknowledge it for what it was, just a dream. You probably can get on with your 'day as usual', just affirming that you didn't have the best night.

If it occurred in the middle of the night, you may have greater ease with drifting back off.

I think we've all had our fair share of these over the years.

They tend to encapsulate an evil presence. Definitely something we are fearful of in real life or based on something we've watched or been exposed to in some way. There's an increased level of fear than in just-a-bad-dream. Nightmares develop with a story-line like most dreams and usually has a theme. Just live a movie!

When you wake from a nightmare, you tend to need a minute to gather yourself, catch a breath. And it could take a little while before you fall back to sleep. Having to get up in the middle of the night, possibly not being able to go back to bed depending on the level of anxiety you experience can’t be fun. Nightmares are pretty bad.

This is why parents usually don't allow their kids to watch scary movies before bed. Young imaginations are wild, a hell of a thing.

On doing a degree in psychology, I had learned there’s something more dangerous than nightmares, that you can definitely set apart.

These are like live nightmares, but more often than not we don't remember them when we wake. The episode usually has to be identified by your bed partner or roommate, because there is no way they can sleep after you've been screaming, moaning, crying, sweating, and maybe even sleepwalking.

You could be sleeping then BAMM!! the terror begins, unlike our gradual plot buildup in a nightmare. This is due to the stage of sleep that the two occur in:

This dream?

I have no idea.

It was definitely a bad dream but based on the details and the intensity of fear, I can't subject it to a measly bad dream. It definitely wasn't a night terror and it felt more than my usual nightmare. I actually felt like I dreamed about having a panic attack and woke in the middle of one characterized by my pounding heart, trembling, a faint and suffocating feeling, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, fear of losing control, followed by feeling detached from myself and paresthesia (numbness).

I really think it could be a nightmare that ended with a panic attack. Is there such a name for that?

You get my confusion?

I personally believe dreams serve a purpose and have 1 of any parts

  1. Messages to be interpreted for improvements in our lives

  2. Our subconscious issues that need to be dealt with (unresolved traumas)

  3. Our imaginative interpretations of our daily thoughts and feelings

  4. Our encoded hopes & desires

So, what do you think?

What do dreams mean to you?


Do you think that was a panic attack in a dream or am I overreacting?

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