Do You Wake Up In A Panic? (Mornings Are The Worst!)

 

How To Stop Panic Upon Waking

 

Do you ever experience panic attacks upon waking?   Racing thoughts or anxiety in the morning before you even have a chance to hit snooze on your alarm is not uncommon.

While some anxiety is considered a normal part of life, excessive worrying about daily tasks or situations that others see as nonthreatening may indicate a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Panic attacks when waking up are upsetting and damage your quality of life.  This article will explain what they are, why they happen, and most importantly, what you can do to put an end to them.

 

Morning panic may indicate generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

 

Morning Anxiety and GAD

 

Morning anxiety often indicates Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

 

Although not a medical term, morning anxiety refers to waking up with feelings of stress and worry.

If you’re dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, there’s a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months.

 

GAD involves chronic, excessive, uncontrolled worry.

 

People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.

 

Symptoms of Morning Anxiety

 

 

The symptoms of morning anxiety often mimic those of generalized anxiety disorder.

If you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you may be experiencing:

  • feeling restless, “on-edge,” or “wound up”
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • signs of a panic attack, such as tight chest, tense muscles, higher than normal heart rate, or difficulty breathing
  • difficulty concentrating and finding your mind goes blank
  • difficulty controlling the worry or nervousness

 

Causes of Morning Anxiety

 

Morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries.

 

Morning anxiety can be caused by many factors that may also contribute to an anxiety disorder.

Since morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries, there are several potential causes that may contribute to your symptoms.

 

Cortisol Awakening Response

 

Cortisol is highest when you wake up.

 

The “stress hormone” cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress.

Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives.

This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.

 

Research has found that the stress hormone, cortisol is highest in the first hour after waking up.

 

What you eat and drink first thing in the morning can also contribute to higher levels of anxiety in the early hours of the day.

Caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety symptoms, but low blood sugar due to a lack of food can make anxiety symptoms worse.

If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.

 

Morning Anxiety Treatment

 

Morning anxiety is highly treatable.

 

Living with an anxiety disorder can feel like a never-ending cycle of worry, but it doesn’t have to take over your life.

With the right treatment, you can learn ways to cope with your symptoms.

 

Anxiety disorder feels like a never-ending cycle of worry, but it’s treatable.

 

Some of the more common ways to treat morning anxiety include:

 

Psychotherapy

 

Talk therapy is a common treatment approach for GAD.

 

Otherwise known as “talk therapy,” psychotherapy can help you understand how anxiety affects your life.

Your therapist will also work with you to develop strategies that decrease the severity of your symptoms.

 

CBT is often part of psychotherapy treatment for panic and anxiety.

 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) looks at the important role of thinking in how we feel and what we do. CBT teaches you new ways of thinking, acting, and reacting to situations that cause anxiety.

 

Medication

 

 

Medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help relieve the symptoms associated with anxiety.

Many different types of medications are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, including traditional anti-anxiety drugs such as benzodiazepines (typically prescribed for short-term use) and newer options like SSRI antidepressants (often recommended as a long-term anxiety solution).

These drugs can provide temporary relief, but they also come with side effects and safety concerns—some significant.

 

Not a Cure

These medications are also not a cure. In fact, there are many questions about their long-term effectiveness.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, benzodiazepines lose their therapeutic anti-anxiety effect after 4 to 6 months of regular use.

And a recent analysis reported in JAMA Psychiatry found that the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating anxiety has been overestimated, and in some cases is no better than placebo.

What’s more, it can be very difficult to get off anxiety medications without difficult withdrawals, including rebound anxiety that can be worse than your original problem.

 

Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines (also known as tranquilizers) are the most widely prescribed type of medication for anxiety.

 

 

Because they work quickly—typically bringing relief within 30 minutes to an hour—they’re very effective when taken during a panic attack or another overwhelming anxiety episode.

However, they are physically addictive and not recommended for long-term treatment.

Benzodiazepines work by slowing down the nervous system, helping you relax both physically and mentally. But it can also lead to unwanted side effects. The higher the dose, the more intense these side effects typically are.

 

Benzodiazepines are physically addictive, and not suitable for long-term use.

 

Some people feel sleepy, foggy, and uncoordinated even on low doses, which can cause problems with work, school, or everyday activities such as driving. The medication hangover can last into the next day.

 

Benzodiazepines Side Effects
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Poor balance or coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Stomach upset
  • Headache
  • Blurred vision

 

Common Benzodiazepine Examples
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)

 

 

Benzodiazepine Cautions

According to the FDA, benzodiazepines can worsen cases of pre-existing depression, and more recent studies suggest that they may potentially lead to treatment-resistant depression.

Benzodiazepines can also cause emotional blunting or numbness and increase suicidal thoughts and feelings.

 

SSRI Medication For Anxiety

Many medications originally approved for the treatment of depression are also prescribed for anxiety.

In comparison to benzodiazepines, the risk for dependency and abuse is smaller. However, antidepressants take up to 4 to 6 weeks to begin relieving anxiety symptoms, so they can’t be taken “as needed.”

 

SSRIs may require 4-6 weeks to reach effectiveness.

 

Their use is limited to chronic anxiety problems that require ongoing treatment.

The antidepressants most widely prescribed for anxiety are SSRIs such as

  • Prozac
  • Zoloft
  • Paxil
  • Lexapro, and
  • Celexa

SSRIs have been used to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

Common side effects of SSRIs:
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Nervousness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased sweating

 

Medication Questions For Your Doctor or Mental Health Professional

 

 

If you’re trying to decide whether or not to treat your anxiety with medication, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons in conjunction with your doctor.

It’s also important to learn about the common side effects of the anxiety medication you are considering.

Side effects of anxiety medication range from mild nuisances such as dry mouth to more severe problems such as acute nausea or pronounced weight gain.

 

Discuss these topics with your doctor or mental health professional:

  • How will the medication help my anxiety?
  • What are the drug’s common side effects?
  • Are there any food and drinks I will need to avoid?
  • How will this drug interact with my other prescriptions?
  • How long will I have to take the anxiety medication?
  • Will withdrawing from the medication be difficult?
  • Will my anxiety return when I stop taking the medication?
  • How will the medication help my anxiety?
  • What are the drug’s common side effects?
  • Are there any food and drinks I will need to avoid?
  • How will this drug interact with my other prescriptions?
  • How long will I have to take the anxiety medication?
  • Will withdrawing from the medication be difficult?
  • Will my anxiety return when I stop taking the medication?

 

For any anxiety medication, you’ll have to balance the side effects against the benefits.

 

Lifestyle Changes

 

Make an effort to get enough sleep.

 

Many lifestyle changes can help you manage morning anxiety, including:

  • getting enough sleep
  • limiting alcohol and caffeine (both can trigger anxiety and panic attacks)
  • eating a healthy diet that limits processed food and sugar
  • reducing stress at work and home

 

Self-Care Strategies for Anxiety Upon Waking

 

There are also self-care strategies you can use right when you wake up feeling anxious.

They include:

 

Physical Activity

 

A morning walk is one of the best things you can do.

 

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the morning, especially if you are dealing with an excessive amount of worry when you wake up.

Any physical activity, such as taking a walk, can:

Aim to exercise at least five days per week for 30–45 minutes each session.

 

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the morning.

 

Mindfulness and Meditation

 

A mindful state can help reduce anxiety.

 

The goal of meditation practice is to be aware, and to observe and notice thoughts, feelings, and body states without reacting to them or believing them to be true.

While it may take practice to get into a mindful state when you wake up in the morning, it can help to reduce anxiety symptoms.

 

Deep Breathing Exercises

 

Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing done first thing in the morning can help take the focus off of your negative and anxious thoughts and turn your focus and energy toward your body.

 

Video: Demonstration of Diaphragmatic Breathing

 

Challenging Your Negative Thoughts

 

If you wake up with negative thoughts about your day (often called “awfulizing”) challenge them and focus on what you can control.

You can keep a journal by your bed and write down what you are grateful for. It’s also a good idea to list at least three things you are looking forward to.

 

Limiting Your Worry

 

If you’re new to these techniques and you’re finding that managing morning anxiety is a lot harder than you thought, try setting a worry timer.

Give yourself a time limit of 10 minutes to experience those feelings.

 

When the timer goes off, move on to your self-care strategies.

 

Though you can’t expect to simply “turn off” your anxiety, this approach allows you to acknowledge your worry and gives you a concrete point at which to move on to self-care.

Even though the symptoms of morning anxiety can feel overwhelming and permanent, they are highly treatable.

When you combine professional treatment along with the self-care strategies listed above, you can experience relief from the racing thoughts and worry that invade your mind.

 

Proven Natural Treatment for Panic

 

The Panic Away Program was born in 2001, and through the sheer number of success stories, it has gone on to become one of the world’s most successful programs for ending panic and anxiety.

Video Testimonials

People you’ll meet in this video include:

 

Tracy

Tracy suffered with anxiety since she was a child, and it prevented her from being the mother she is and wanted to be.

Tracy found Panic Away and she is now living life to the fullest and enjoying being a mother and wife.

 

Patrick

Patrick suffered from anxiety for many years, his life began to change when he discovered Panic Away and now he is looking forward to his holiday in Hawaii!

 

Jacki

Jacki has always been prone to anxiety and was prescribed medication for her anxiety.

After using Panic Away, she is anxiety free- no medication needed!

 

Danielle

Danielle started having Panic Attacks after the birth of her first child.

She could not go anywhere alone.

She saw a huge transformation within days of using the program.

End General Anxiety and Panic Attacks

 

The Panic Away Program teaches how to end panic attacks and reduce feelings of general anxiety.

The program is used in over 32 countries worldwide and is proving to be one of the most successful non- pharmaceutical approaches to ending an anxiety disorder.

Using the 21-7 Technique, Barry McDonagh teaches how to stop a panic attack in 21 seconds and reduce feelings of general anxiety in less than 7 minutes.

The programs global success is a result of communicating psychological techniques in an easy to follow, step by step manner.

You’ll quickly learn how to:

  • Stop Panic Attacks
  • End Feelings of General Anxiety
  • Eliminate Anxious Thoughts
  • Feel More Confident and In Control

In the past 15 years, The Panic Away Program has touched over 150,000 lives in 32 countries worldwide. For more information, visit the Panic Away Program website.

Hey!  Thanks for dropping by …   

I’d love to hear your thoughts – really! 

Drop me a comment below!

 

 

 

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