Is there a difference between a meltdown and a panic attack?

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Hawthorne
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15 Feb 2009, 6:03 pm

Someone please explain the difference (if there is one.)



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15 Feb 2009, 6:49 pm

I think a panic attack is a result of having a meltdown :)



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15 Feb 2009, 6:50 pm

A panic attack can lead to a meltdown, but it doesn't have to if you recognize the panic attack before it gets unmanageable.

Have you ever felt a little jittery, like you had a cup of coffee to many, but you didn't? If you take that very moment you feel it and focus on letting it pass over you, like leaning down under and into an ocean wave. Usually that is enough to let it pass if you catch it early enough.

If you figure out you are in a panic attack at a later point, get some water to drink and ( I am not allergic so I get a couple of asprin if I can) and go take a 15 minute break in a quiet spot with little or no irritations. Consciously calming yourself while acknowledging the anxiety helps defuse the 'attack' to just an anxiety 'awareness'.

The point is, not every anxiety attack leads to a meltdown. The only anxiety attacks that lead to a meltdown are the ones you don't deal with before it reaches that point.

it takes a bit of control to control it, but then, what else doesn't?

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history_of_psychiatry
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15 Feb 2009, 6:53 pm

Panic attack: "OMG, I'm gonna die!"

Meltdown: "OMG, I'm gonna make you all die!! !"


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marshall
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15 Feb 2009, 7:34 pm

They are very different animals. A panic attack is an extreme version of the physiological fight-or-flight response. The anxiety builds to such an intense level that it makes you feel physically very ill. It can't kill you but it often feels like it might. People sometimes go to the ER after a panic attacks.

I consider a meltdown more as a sense of being overwhelmed by emotions to such a degree that it's impossible to focus or think clearly. I think a panic attack is more serious than a meltdown because it makes you feel much more physically miserable when it occurs.



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15 Feb 2009, 8:00 pm

Yes there is because when I got a panic attack last year, my vision became blurry, I had trouble breathing, I couldn't walk too well, I panicked severely, I felt dizzy, and I had stomach upset. A meltdown is just getting mad about or at someone or something with crying, angriness, and impulsivity. But a severe meltdown could lead to a panic attack. Otherwise, they are 2 very different things.


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15 Feb 2009, 8:25 pm

and I'll say that they are very different. I had panic attacks by the boatloads in college, it's due to the constant adrenaline rush of being in a constantly anxious state. Your body gets ready for survival, it's exactly like you feel if you've ever narrowly missed a car wreck or other terrifying real event. Only there's no event. You're sitting in a calm environment and wondering why you really feel like you're going to die right now because there's nothing wrong. If you stay in a constant anxious state, it only takes a small event or thought to tip you over that edge.

But once I realized what the attack was, I could ward it off. And then I found lots of ways to cope with anxiety, and one of them was NOT making a schedule for myself. I literally used to schedule every waking hour, on paper, while in college.

Now, I still have meltdowns and they are usually brought about by over-stimulation or too much social interaction. I feel no "panic." I feel overwhelmed and if I can huddle under lots of heavy blankets with tight socks on and a fan going on high in the background, it will not escalate INTO a panic attack. I don't know if that makes sense or not. I guess you just have to live it.



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16 Feb 2009, 4:00 am

Also for me meltdowns and panic attacks are almost opposite in sensation. A meltdown is a very numb, hazy, emotionally disinhibited state. The sense of tension releasing is very profound. It's as if my brain becomes jelly. Then I feel like I'm drifting in slow motion with loads of raw emotion suddenly channeling through me. In such a state I could probably break my hand punching the wall without even feeling it.

A panic attack is opposite in that there is no release of tension, or numbness. To the contrary I become increasingly aware of every bodily sensation. It's a very strong conscious malaise - cold sweat, tremors, and labored breathing, unbearable tension, dizziness, nausea.



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16 Feb 2009, 4:09 am

marshall wrote:
Also for me meltdowns and panic attacks are almost opposite in sensation. A meltdown is a very numb, hazy, emotionally disinhibited state. The sense of tension releasing is very profound. It's as if my brain becomes jelly. Then I feel like I'm drifting in slow motion with loads of raw emotion suddenly channeling through me. In such a state I could probably break my hand punching the wall without even feeling it.

A panic attack is opposite in that there is no release of tension, or numbness. To the contrary I become increasingly aware of every bodily sensation. It's a very strong conscious malaise - cold sweat, tremors, and labored breathing. Incredible tension like I could pass out any minute.

that's a great description. that's how i feel.



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16 Feb 2009, 4:49 am

marshall wrote:
Also for me meltdowns and panic attacks are almost opposite in sensation. A meltdown is a very numb, hazy, emotionally disinhibited state. The sense of tension releasing is very profound. It's as if my brain becomes jelly. Then I feel like I'm drifting in slow motion with loads of raw emotion suddenly channeling through me. In such a state I could probably break my hand punching the wall without even feeling it.

A panic attack is opposite in that there is no release of tension, or numbness. To the contrary I become increasingly aware of every bodily sensation. It's a very strong conscious malaise - cold sweat, tremors, and labored breathing, unbearable tension, dizziness, nausea.


This is a good explanation. I understand what a meltdown is a bit better now.

I think for me, they still link. One can lead to the other if the wrong thing happens during either. I suppose this is because they're both a sort of extreme upsetness and release of adrenaline.
I get more shutdowns than meltdowns though, and if I have a meltdown or panic attack, I often get a shutdown afterwards. My mood is quite volatile so none of these moods are that far away from each other for me.

history_of_psychiatry's explanation makes me laugh! I suppose meltdown is more anger and general upsetness than panic and fear. Have I understood correctly?
sinsboldly - I don't want to sound rude, but why does aspirin help? Doesn't it take a while to kick in? For me, panic attacks have lasted only short amounts of time, and not been particularly painful; the symptoms are more feeling like I can't breathe and getting very dizzy.



Hawthorne
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16 Feb 2009, 6:11 am

Huh... Looks like ive had more panic attacks than meltdowns then :|

Thanks for the info ppl :)



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16 Feb 2009, 10:41 am

Kajjie wrote:
sinsboldly - I don't want to sound rude, but why does aspirin help? Doesn't it take a while to kick in? For me, panic attacks have lasted only short amounts of time, and not been particularly painful; the symptoms are more feeling like I can't breathe and getting very dizzy.


Because, I am at work and I want to calm myself from a panic attack the mere forcing myself to go and get the water and get the asprin, take a sip and take the tablets, and go down to the guards' station to get the key from the guard and then go back upstairs and open the door of the "mom's nursing room" and go in, close the door and turn off the light in the windowless room and sit on the couch, and sip the water the tablets have started their thinning of my blood it has soothed me with the routine and I can just let down for a bit.

In fifteen minutes from the start, I have returned the key to the guard and am back to work. Sometimes I am ready and sometimes I am not. However if I don't work, I don't get paid and if I don't work regularly, I don't keep my job. Terror of living on the streets again is potent stimulus to get over either a panic attack or at least distract a meltdown.

It has taken me maybe 30 years to learn to handle meltdowns, so I don't think it has anything to do with the asprin at all.

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16 Feb 2009, 2:18 pm

history_of_psychiatry wrote:
Panic attack: "OMG, I'm gonna die!"

Meltdown: "OMG, I'm gonna make you all die!! !"
f*****g win! :lol:


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16 Feb 2009, 4:45 pm

In my case, I cry violently during a meltdown and need to stim by rocking and wringing my hands, but when I have a panic attack, I just get the classic physical symptoms of a panic attack. I'm not "out of control" during a panic attack. I can function with them. But I can't function during a meltdown and need to be by myself to calm down.
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16 Aug 2009, 11:01 am

history_of_psychiatry wrote:
Panic attack: "OMG, I'm gonna die!"

Meltdown: "OMG, I'm gonna make you all die!! !"


omg sooo true lool" :lol:


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