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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: Why am I experiencing paralysis?

 leafyone - Thu Aug 19, 2010 2:34 am

Every now and then I experience temporary paralysis. At first, I thought it was an absence seizure, which I now know it's not. Then I thought it was a panic attack, because I also can't breathe, my heart races, and the room spins. I have also been told that during a certain stage of sleep, you are paralised, but it has only ever happened when I am awake.
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:09 am


It's true that during some phases (non-REM) of sleep, a person has temporary paralysis.
With the associated symptoms, panic attack is a likely cause. A panic attack is a symptom that is associated with several anxiety disorders. Such a diagnosis can be made by your doctor, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I'll provide some information for you to review, in hope it will help you in deciding what your next step will be.

A panic attack is a period of time with a sudden onset of intense symptoms that may include apprehension, feeling of impending doom, inability to move, fearfulness or terror, shortness of breath, heart palpitations and/or increased pulse, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, fear of being "crazy" and fear of losing control. Panic attacks can occur with agoraphobia, in response to a specific feared object or situation, in response to a social phobia caused by certain social or performance situations, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, an anxiety disorder in response to a general medical condition, with substance-induced anxiety (as, to caffeine, recreational drugs), or other anxiety condition that does not meet the critieria for the listed disorders. The type of condition is determined by the context in which it happens - what was happening around you, what you were doing, what situation might be impending, how often it happens, how long it lasts, and if you are able to control it by avoiding certain things or situations. Certain medical conditions can contribute to panic attacks, such as hyperthyroidism. Panic attacks can happen to males or females, but occur about three times as often in females.

The recommended first step would be to see your physician to rule out any medical conditions that may be contributing. Your doctor may wish to have you try an anti-anxiety medication to see if that takes care of the problem. If the symptoms persist, seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist for evaluation is a good idea, so that the cause can be identified and treatment can be instituted before the condition becomes entrenched. It could still be treated then, but it would just be more difficult to resolve. Panic attacks can vary in intensity, but at any level, they are not pleasant to experience.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Good luck!

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