Dr. Brian Lum
How To Stop Panic Attacks At Night
Updated: Jul 28, 2022
The best way to understand and stop anxiety and panic attacks is to see them as a part of your larger picture of health.
Your overall health matters when it comes to treating anxiety as food allergies, intestinal health, histamine intolerance, low stomach acid, inflammation levels, impaired methylation (detoxification) pathways, and nutritional deficiencies can cause panic attacks and severe anxiety regardless of your mental state.
Things most often associated with anxiety like fear, anger, and past trauma can also exacerbate underlying biochemical processes to make anxiety worse.
Biochemical processes that occur at night (like increased histamine) can make it an especially intense time for anxiety sufferers.
I have had many patients with long-term anxiety with panic attacks experience symptom resolution with the removal of the underlying problem.
I am an Institute for Functional Medicine certified doctor and have a remote (online) consultation practice and see patients all over the world.
In this article, we will go over just a few reasons why you have panic attacks at night as well as some potential solutions.
Common Causes of Panic Attacks at Night
Inflamed Nerve Anxiety
Too often doctors assume that anxiety is all in your head and is only a physical reaction to stress, thoughts, or trauma.
Most of my patients who come to me for anxiety-related issues have tried telling other doctors that the problem is not stress and that their mind can be perfectly calm while lying in bed but their body is responding like they are leaning over a huge cliff.
This happens when you have inflammation-based anxiety that can feel like it originates in your body instead of your mind. 
This happens when your body is inflamed due to an underlying biological factor like an infection, high histamine levels, copper toxicity, or a Covid infection.
Sometimes the solution can be as simple as a short-term dairy-free diet. Other times, it is worth going through a comprehensive functional medicine evaluation to identify the source of the nerve inflammation.
This can include getting larger-scale testing with panels checking thyroid, metabolic, gastrointestinal, and immune function which I can order for you through my practice.
I specialize in treating this, and other illnesses without the use of pharmaceuticals.
Histamine is released in response to a perceived threat like an infection, injury, or allergy and in some cases can be released with changes in temperature.  When mast cells explode in your body, an increase in histamine is the result.
Histamine in small amounts is part of a healthy functioning immune system but often, things like stress, underlying infections, and food and environmental allergens can cause your body to release an excess of histamine or cause your blood to have a hard time clearing up histamine once it is released.
Your body releases higher levels of histamine naturally at night as well as after meals so after dinner is when many symptoms can come up even though you've felt ok throughout the day.
Too much histamine frequently causes anxiety, panic attacks, and insomnia.
There are many potential underlying causes for too much histamine and there is no universal treatment that works for everything.
Taking activated charcoal at night, however, can be a great short-term solution for some.
How Taking Activated Charcoal at Night Can Help You Sleep
I can help you find out if histamine is the culprit behind your symptoms and, importantly, what is causing an increase in histamine as well as provide you with natural ways to lower it.
Companion Symptoms To Panic Attacks
What other symptoms are you having when you have a panic attack at night? Do you feel nauseous, dizzy, joint pain, or stomach pain before or during one? Do you experience hives or feel very hot or cold?
These symptoms can often help me quickly isolate the cause of the panic attacks.
Lately, people with patients with long covid have been diagnosed with inflamed (and sometimes enlarged) spleens.
This is often accompanied by anxiety, hives, sleeplessness at night, long periods at night where the patient feels very hot, very strong hypnic jerks (the jolts of electricity you get when you are just about to fall asleep and jerk awake) as well as sudden allergies for a wide variety of foods.
If this is the case, I can provide a spleen nourishing treatment plan, tell you what foods to include and what foods to avoid, and support your body so it can quickly resolve lingering symptoms.
None of my treatments are one-size-fits-all. Your situation will be different and your treatment plan will be tailored to you.
How Functional Medicine Can Help
As an Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner, I employ techniques and testing tools that your primary care physician is usually not aware of.
During our hour-long new patient appointment, I can usually uncover the primary issue by delving into your symptoms and patient history but sometimes additional information is needed.
In that case, testing kits can be sent to wherever you are in the world and you can get a blood draw at your local hospital or phlebotomy station.
Most functional medicine testing can also be done without a blood draw and use different types of tissue samples including urine, saliva, stool, and hair testing.
While testing is used to confirm things like autoimmune disorders and low stomach acid, there is much that you can do on your own to isolate the cause of your symptoms.
The first step is to start keeping a health journal Keep track of what you're eating, what medications or supplements you are taking, and see if there are common patterns that make some nights more prone to panic attacks than others.
Also keep in mind that environmental allergens, like pollen or black mold, are frequently responsible for anxiety conditions and panic attacks. Your reactions to these too can be treated using functional medicine.
Free 15 Minute Consultations
I offer free 15 minute consultations during which you can ask questions and see if we are a good fit. I see patients from all over the world through video or phone consultations.
You can read more about an online consultation here.
I can personalize treatment and even work with your primary care physician or order testing if you are out of state or outside of the US.
If you would like to speak with me directly you can schedule a Free 15 Minute Consultation here or call or text my office at 913-728-5291.
If you think that you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information. Nor should you ever delay seeking medical advice or treatment due to the information contained on this Website.