Are meltdowns and panic attacks different, similar?

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Wolfpup
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27 Feb 2008, 10:25 am

A person in a group I'm attending is going to talk about panic attacks tonight, and I'm wondering if they can be similar to/related to "melt downs" or if they're totally different.

I've always been confused (since finding out about Asperger's) by what exactly a meltdown is, and I'm never 100% sure if the things I have are meltdowns (or as some people have noted, possibly mini-meltdowns). Or...possibly they're panic attacks. Or maybe that's the same thing. I don't know.



kattoo13
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27 Feb 2008, 10:40 am

Good question. My son has melt downs when he is overwhelmed with something. Say for example his homework is too much, he will just stop what he's doing and start crying. I think this is more so from him becoming overloaded.

He has anxiety attacks if he is in a large crowd, or if he's upset I am not around (separation anxiety). He will start breathing very fast and sometimes, cry as well.

I think the outcome is similar, but the precipitants are different. I think with melt downs, they are caused more by mental strain/frustration. With anxiety attacks, I think they are caused more by the enviorment (ie- crowds, separation from a loved one etc.). I could be wrong, but that's what I have observed with my own son.



DLJunkie
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27 Feb 2008, 10:58 am

Yes - My son too:
Mornings
Home work
Being on time
Always!

O U C H!! ! It's killing me!!



Mudboy
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27 Feb 2008, 11:27 am

For me a meltdown is like a headache with nausea. It is like I get motion sickness. A panic attack is where I feel like I cant breathe, my heart beats real fast, and my stomach feels like it just got punched.
They are both caused by different things. My panic attacks are from being scared of something, or feeling something bad is going to happen. Being overwhelmed by to much input, causes me meltdowns (shopping, long repetitive worksheets that will take forever).


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Wolfpup
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27 Feb 2008, 11:37 am

kattoo13 wrote:
...
I think the outcome is similar, but the precipitants are different. I think with melt downs, they are caused more by mental strain/frustration. With anxiety attacks, I think they are caused more by the enviorment (ie- crowds, separation from a loved one etc.). I could be wrong, but that's what I have observed with my own son.


Hmm...I'm still a bit confused, because for me mental strain and frustration are typically caused by the environment (or specific things like changes at work), so I don't know what that means :?:

Mudboy wrote:
For me a meltdown is like a headache with nausea. It is like I get motion sickness. A panic attack is where I feel like I cant breathe, my heart beats real fast, and my stomach feels like it just got punched.
They are both caused by different things. My panic attacks are from being scared of something, or feeling something bad is going to happen. Being overwhelmed by to much input, causes me meltdowns (shopping, long repetitive worksheets that will take forever).


I guess I more relate to the second set of symptoms, although...well I'm not sure.

This group is actually an OCD support group (I'm completely shocked we have one here!) No Asperger's groups around here though (just an autism thing that's for parents).



kattoo13
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27 Feb 2008, 11:39 am

mental strain as in frustration from not being able to figure out how to solve a problem etc.



Sora
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27 Feb 2008, 12:20 pm

I know both and they are quite different for me.

A professional said I'm unhealthily controlled and composed and that my meltdowns are not like regular meltdowns. I agree on the first, I know that, but I'm not sure what's a 'normal meltdown' or whether there is such a thing.

Panic attacks are just that: a state of total panic, mind and body. Such a mortal fear that the heartbeat speeds up, vision, hearing and all other senses alter, movement becomes uncoordinated. Breathlessness, shacking, an overall tense up of the body, narrow focus, dizziness, a flight reaction. Typical reactions of the body in mortal danger (not the same as anxiety). Hallucinations can occur too.

Included is an extreme overwhelming fear, a fear so intense it fills every fibre of one's body and mind. Very common is also a feeling of derealisation/depersonaliasation.
A person may be rendered unable to do anything, move and speak even.

Thinking becomes 'stuck' on the particular thought that caused the attack. Rational thoughts disappear at worst.

The intensity of panic attacks can vary from person to person and depending on the situation. The above is all that which I experience during panic attacks and I find mine pretty bad. I suppose panic attack can be less worse.



Wolfpup
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27 Feb 2008, 12:36 pm

That sounds similar to what happened to me a few times last year. My OCD gets really bad too during those times. All were triggered because of changes and scary stuff at work.

So what happens to you during a meltdown? How is that different?



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27 Feb 2008, 2:09 pm

kattoo13 wrote:
mental strain as in frustration from not being able to figure out how to solve a problem etc.
That just makes me get the fidgets. (repeated rapid leg or hand movement)

Sora's description of a panic attack was too accurate. I could almost feel it again, and it did give me the fidgets.


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lastcrazyhorn
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27 Feb 2008, 4:16 pm

My meltdowns leave me curled up in a ball crying.

My panic attacks leave me curled up in a ball staring at the floor, wondering why it's in front of me.


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gbollard
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27 Feb 2008, 4:28 pm

Sometimes they're similar, but often they're not.

Meltdowns are characteristically a loss of function - you can have angry meltdowns and you can have curled up in a ball meltdowns. There's a couple of others too but they're not in my head at the moment....

Panic attacks are pretty much the same every time. (I think) though I suppose you can get the "scared rush" panic attack and the ball curling one.

I don't think you can get an anger-fueled panic attack though.



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27 Feb 2008, 11:30 pm

lastcrazyhorn wrote:
My meltdowns leave me curled up in a ball crying.

My panic attacks leave me curled up in a ball staring at the floor, wondering why it's in front of me.


Hmm...I'm more like the first one, even for things I *think* are panic attacks.

gbollard wrote:
Sometimes they're similar, but often they're not.

Meltdowns are characteristically a loss of function - you can have angry meltdowns and you can have curled up in a ball meltdowns. There's a couple of others too but they're not in my head at the moment....


What do you mean by loss of function? I have some "things" where I get kind of rigid in my thinking, and they sometimes involve anger, and sometimes freaking out/crying, and sometimes both (goes from anger into the latter).

I've also had what I think was a panic attack last year because of some changes at work, where I did have some panic attack symptoms like breathing fast, felt light headed, and my OCD symptoms got a lot worse, etc.

Quote:
I don't think you can get an anger-fueled panic attack though.


Okay, so...maybe I've had both panic attacks and meltdowns (or mini-meltdowns).

Sorry for all these questions, this is just really confusing to me, even after being on here for almost a YEAR!

I'm STILL struggling with what of my symptoms are Asperger's, what are OCD, do I even have Asperger's, etc., etc., etc. since it seems like my Asperger's symptoms are tame compared to most who are diagnosed on here, and my OCD symptoms are tame compared to some in a group I attend, and yet whatever it is I'm dealing with has completely changed the course of my life-it's MAJOR.

I do know it's not depression like this idiot psychologist thought :x :roll:



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27 Feb 2008, 11:34 pm

Panic attacks make me sweat.

Meltdowns make me cry.


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Wolfpup
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27 Feb 2008, 11:40 pm

CockneyRebel wrote:
Panic attacks make me sweat.

Meltdowns make me cry.


Sweating was indeed one of the symptoms for a panic attack (they passed out a flyer on the DSM symptoms tonight at this meeting). I don't think I've done that one, but I think all my "things", whatever they are usually leave me drained and either crying or in that state (usually somewhere alone, unless things are REAAAAAALLY bad).



gbollard
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28 Feb 2008, 12:34 am

Wolfpup wrote:
What do you mean by loss of function? I have some "things" where I get kind of rigid in my thinking, and they sometimes involve anger, and sometimes freaking out/crying, and sometimes both (goes from anger into the latter).


Loss of function is like - everything is on reflex.

You can still do things but you feel like you're outside your body when you're doing them.

This can occur in a few different ways - for example; you might lash out at somebody or something just because it attracts your attention, makes a noise etc..

If you bump into a door handle while in meltdown state, you may find yourself involuntarily punching the door - even though you don't want to break it etc... This is one of the things that can make a meltdown so dangerous.

Also, you might go into autopilot and start screaming insults or you might curl up into a ball even though you'd prefer to sneak off to the toilet to hide.

does that make a bit more sense?



lastcrazyhorn
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28 Feb 2008, 12:49 am

gbollard wrote:
Wolfpup wrote:
What do you mean by loss of function? I have some "things" where I get kind of rigid in my thinking, and they sometimes involve anger, and sometimes freaking out/crying, and sometimes both (goes from anger into the latter).


Loss of function is like - everything is on reflex.

You can still do things but you feel like you're outside your body when you're doing them.

This can occur in a few different ways - for example; you might lash out at somebody or something just because it attracts your attention, makes a noise etc..

If you bump into a door handle while in meltdown state, you may find yourself involuntarily punching the door - even though you don't want to break it etc... This is one of the things that can make a meltdown so dangerous.

Also, you might go into autopilot and start screaming insults or you might curl up into a ball even though you'd prefer to sneak off to the toilet to hide.

does that make a bit more sense?


Oh those are my meltdown signs . . . yup.

I body slammed into a bathroom stall earlier today.


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