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(1,351 posts)
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 09:43 PM Apr 2019

Bizarre and terrifying derealization experience--panic attack?

I had the most terrifying experience a couple of days ago which landed me in the ER. I have anxiety (GAD) but I've never had a panic attack before. I'm wondering if this is what I experienced?

Basically, I woke up that morning feeling fine. Went for a run around noon and sort of putzed around the house for a few hours. I laid down at around 6:00 pm to watch a soccer game when all of a sudden I was hit with this sensation of being sort of "out of it". I don't know how to describe it. My ears started ringing very loudly, my legs felt weak and I had a burning sensation in my feet, I felt nauseous, I was hit with vertigo, and my vision seemed affected as well (not as in blurred vision, more as in distorted vision--like looking down at my legs they seemed 10 feet away).

I knew where I was but I had this overwhelming fear that "something is wrong with me". I called my brother who has had panic attacks. I remember talking to him and answering him, but it felt like I had to concentrate very hard to stay focused on what he was saying and how to respond.

I got my husband from outside and he tried helping me to calm down. But the sensation just got worse. I thought I might have low blood sugar or something so had him get me some juice, but that didn't help. Tried to wait it out but the sensation just got worse and I felt like I was dying. I told my husband "I really feel like I'm going to die".

Long story short we went to the ER and they did an EKG, CAT Scan, CT Scan with contrast, and did some blood work. All tests were normal though I was very slightly dehydrated. I finally started feeling better around 10 pm, so about 4 hours after the whole thing started.

I still have ear ringing but it's getting a bit better with time. I still have the weird sensation of burning feet (not painful, just annoying).

Anyone else ever have a panic attack that manifested as a depersonalization/derealization type sensation?

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Bizarre and terrifying derealization experience--panic attack? (Original Post) crimycarny Apr 2019 OP
First, let me say how sorry I am that you had this happen to you. CaliforniaPeggy Apr 2019 #1
Not like that irisblue Apr 2019 #2
no but mopinko Apr 2019 #3
That's interesting.... crimycarny Apr 2019 #7
well, i am someone who is prone to mopinko Apr 2019 #8
Epilepsy is so misunderstood crimycarny Apr 2019 #10
my youngest had 3 serious mi dx before she was finally found to have mopinko Apr 2019 #13
I have had panic attacks in the past BigmanPigman Apr 2019 #4
Could be a complex partial seizure n/t RamblingRose Apr 2019 #5
Kind of sounds like a severe hypoglycemic episode. Are you maybe borderline diabetic ... marble falls Apr 2019 #6
Blood sugar levels ok crimycarny Apr 2019 #12
Don't be too hard on hubby. We men sometimes don't listen as we try to solve problems ... marble falls Apr 2019 #16
Husband is borderline diabetic as well crimycarny Apr 2019 #19
I don't know why, but I'm guessing sugar bcause I had a spike two pysicals ago ... marble falls Apr 2019 #20
Sorry to hear about the cancer crimycarny Apr 2019 #24
I have to fight it: the alternative is not acceptable. So far in five years: five bladder surgeries marble falls Apr 2019 #25
when i had em they sorta started like a bell ringing in my head followed by a rush msongs Apr 2019 #9
I will try that crimycarny Apr 2019 #15
I'm sorry you experienced this happybird Apr 2019 #11
Did she also experience fatigue? crimycarny Apr 2019 #14
She did happybird Apr 2019 #17
Thank you crimycarny Apr 2019 #18
Has your stress load increased recently? Bayard Apr 2019 #21
Yes--stress has been off the charts crimycarny Apr 2019 #23
Oh, you have teenagers at home? Lulu KC Apr 2019 #27
I think it was some sort of seizure crimycarny Apr 2019 #28
This is all familiar Lulu KC Apr 2019 #29
This message was self-deleted by its author Bayard Apr 2019 #22
You said that you were very dehydrated. That in itself can make you very light headed & dizzy. YOHABLO Apr 2019 #26
Depersonalization has always been the worst symptom of anxiety attacks Maraya1969 Apr 2019 #30


(149,993 posts)
1. First, let me say how sorry I am that you had this happen to you.
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 09:51 PM
Apr 2019

You describe it so well that I feel as though I'm right there alongside you.

Alas, I have never experienced such an attack and I am helpless to offer any assistance.

Do you have a counselor or therapist you could talk to? That would be my thought. I hope someone will see your post and offer better suggestions than mine!

Feel free to talk to us here. There is usually someone around who will answer.


(33,113 posts)
2. Not like that
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 09:51 PM
Apr 2019

Will you be able to get the ER records and see your mental health provider really soon. Med change time maybe?


(70,486 posts)
3. no but
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 09:52 PM
Apr 2019

i have had seizures. this sounds like the ones i used to have as a kid. there are a bunch of different kinds.

did they recommend any follow up?


(1,351 posts)
7. That's interesting....
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:25 PM
Apr 2019

I had just started on CBD oil to help with joint pain. This is CBD oil with no THC so I didn't think it could be a factor.

That being said, CBD oil can be used to help reduce seizure activity in some people (usually children I believe). Well, that tells me CBD oil is doing something to alter brain chemistry. If it could reduce seizure in some people, perhaps it can induce seizure activity in others? I will have to research that.

I haven't taken any CBD oil since that experience and I don't really feel like experimenting to see if it will happen again...lol. But you've given me something to think about.

Thank you!


(70,486 posts)
8. well, i am someone who is prone to
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:29 PM
Apr 2019

"paradoxical reactions" to drugs. there are a couple of pain killers that leave me writhing in pain. so, who knows.

but if it reoccurs you might want to be prepared to do a little battle. it took years for my daughter to get a dx of epilepsy.


(1,351 posts)
10. Epilepsy is so misunderstood
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:41 PM
Apr 2019

I have a very close friend who would get hit with sensations of overwhelming deja vu. It was scary to her because she also felt sort of "out of it" during those episodes. One time she temporarily forgot where she was. A lot of doctors pretty much wrote her off as emotional. Finally, she found a doctor who listened and put her on anti-seizure meds. Her deja vu episodes ceased and never came back.


(70,486 posts)
13. my youngest had 3 serious mi dx before she was finally found to have
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:58 PM
Apr 2019

epilepsy. she had a head injury at 6, and got a dx at 21.
still trying to sort out the interaction between the 2.

good luck.


(51,739 posts)
4. I have had panic attacks in the past
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:04 PM
Apr 2019

and learned that if you put a plastic or paper bag to your face and breath into it for several minutes it stops the attack. It worked for me!

My attacks were like a heart attack, I imagine. They occurred out of the blue (once even while I was sleeping). The first time I suddenly felt my heart beating so hard and fast I could actually see my chest going up and down. The next time was during the day and I managed to drive myself to the hospital but by the time I got to their door it had stopped and I went home. After I had them a few times while awake I learned about them and what to do when it happened again. The odd thing is is that I was not upset or anxious about anything any of the times that they happened. My doctor thought it possibly was subliminal and I got help/therapy for anxiety. I haven't had any in over 20 years now.

marble falls

(58,048 posts)
6. Kind of sounds like a severe hypoglycemic episode. Are you maybe borderline diabetic ...
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:10 PM
Apr 2019

confusion is common in insulin shock, people in this condition have been mistakenly accused of drunkenness or being on drugs.

I'd think I'd talk to my physician about this.


(1,351 posts)
12. Blood sugar levels ok
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:57 PM
Apr 2019

They checked my glucose level and it was ok. I've had it checked from time to time during my physicals and it's always been normal.
So I think blood sugar wasn't the issue, though that thought did occur to me when I was going through this so asked my husband to get me some juice. Unfortunately, it didn't help.

Funny, I remember my husband taking my blood pressure when this first started and we were still at home. I remember thinking how odd it was that my husband---Mr. Opposite of a Hypochondriac--was taking my blood pressure. (My blood pressure was 122/68 during this episode--odd that I can remember that--some things were super sharp in focus and others too hard to grasp).

Love my husband though. When he was trying to calm me down in the ER he kept asking me how I felt and what my symptoms were. No matter what I'd say he'd nod his head enthusiastically and say "I know what you mean! I had the same thing happen to me!'. I swear I could have mentioned my labor pains during childbirth and he would have nodded and said: "I had the exact same thing!"

marble falls

(58,048 posts)
16. Don't be too hard on hubby. We men sometimes don't listen as we try to solve problems ...
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 11:15 PM
Apr 2019

outside our ken.

Like Red Green says: I'm a man. I can change. If I have to.

On a positive note, your blood pressure was good and says you were actually pretty calm about a pretty scary episode.

I blacked out for the first time in my life a few weeks ago, I remember feeling unwell and telling myself I could hack it - just breathe and sip water (I was in a restaurant with friends). And looked up to see the whole table looking at me in almost wide eyed alarm. I was told I was babbling and had been "out" for several minutes. The show was good enough to quiet the restaurant.

I think you handled your episode much better than I did: I left the restaurant in major embarrassment just before EMS showed up. I have been borderline diabetic for a couple of years and have been controlling it with diet. The weird thing for me is I kind of remember talking to someone not at the table as I came to. I guess that was what the babbling was about.

Please take of yourself.


(1,351 posts)
19. Husband is borderline diabetic as well
Wed Apr 10, 2019, 01:47 AM
Apr 2019

My husband found out he had Type II diabetes about 3 (?) years ago. I had a feeling he was developing diabetes since he was showing all the symptoms: drinking water constantly (and it had to be really cold, he started putting glasses of water in the refrigerator), urinating frequently (not being able to sit through a movie without getting up to go to the bathroom), headaches, fatigue, etc. He wouldn't go to the doctor so I finally asked the doctor to order labs for him. He reluctantly got his lab work done and his A1C came back as 13! He was so shocked. But he refused to start on insulin and wanted to try diet and exercise first. He changed his diet and started walking. Dropped 25 lbs in one month. Within 6 months his A1C had dropped from 13 to 6. He's kept it low mostly by exercise. His diet is getting bad again (has a huge sweet tooth) but he's kept up the exercise and that seems to be keeping it under control (A1C home test was 5.8 last time we checked).

Did you find out why you blacked out? Isn't it funny that sometimes we worry more about being embarrassed than hurt, etc? Like if you fall and hurt yourself, the first thing you think is "did anyone see that?", second is "did I break anything?"

marble falls

(58,048 posts)
20. I don't know why, but I'm guessing sugar bcause I had a spike two pysicals ago ...
Wed Apr 10, 2019, 07:21 AM
Apr 2019

my primary physician told me my sugar was no longer "high normal" but was into "diabetic". She asked my if I would take a prescription and I told her I'd try modifying my diet first. At my next physical I was back to high normal.

I am getting older (aren't we all?) and it felt like what I was told sugar shock felt like felt like. There's quite a history of diabetes in my family - as a child in the fifties I remember my great grandmother using an old fashioned glass syringe to take insulin.

I'm waiting for my physical later this month to discuss it with my doctor.

I hate making scenes and I made the biggest one I ever made and I just wanted to slink away. Bad move, as I've been told by several nurses and PA at my pre-op appointment and at the morning of my surgery when I was asked if had fallen down recently. If there's a next incident I will wait for EMS.

Bullet-proof, iron clad and rocked ribbed until the cancer showed up five years ago, its been hard to admit my years have significance and have caught up to me. I still feel great and feel only 35 but I am very close to double that.

Now if I could only shake this little bout of cancer .....


(1,351 posts)
24. Sorry to hear about the cancer
Fri Apr 12, 2019, 01:40 AM
Apr 2019

Just within the past couple of years, I've had several friends come down with cancer, we're all around the same age (50-60's). A very good friend who led the healthiest life I can image was diagnosed with breast cancer, which she beat. My old boss was diagnosed with kidney cancer, which she beat. A co-worker was recently diagnosed with bone marrow cancer, which he is beating due to a new treatment program at Stanford. I guess the good news is that so many are beating cancer these days. Good luck on your battle with it! If you feel only 35, sounds like you're winning...

marble falls

(58,048 posts)
25. I have to fight it: the alternative is not acceptable. So far in five years: five bladder surgeries
Fri Apr 12, 2019, 03:38 AM
Apr 2019

(the last one this last Monday), one colon surgery (I now have a semi-colon), a course of BCG immunotherapy and in the next month or so I will probably be having the bladder removed and if they take the bladder - the prostate has to go, too.

I've been contacted by several DUers on what happens and how it changes one's life and a good life is highly likely.

I went to my doctor as soon as a symptom presented itself. I met a guy about my age who waited because there is no pain involved and I do not want to be where he is now, his cancer broke through attacked his prostate and bowel before he went in.

Life is good and I intend to live it for many years to come.

Talk to your physician about your spell and take the worry, not knowing, and uncertainty out of your life.

We both need to hang around to see Trump dragged out of the WH and a good Democrat use a Democratic Congress sweep up the mess he's making.


(67,603 posts)
9. when i had em they sorta started like a bell ringing in my head followed by a rush
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:35 PM
Apr 2019

and the need to get up and get out of wherever I was. the paper bag thing does actually work if its just a panic attack


(1,351 posts)
15. I will try that
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 11:04 PM
Apr 2019

I remember my step-sister having panic attacks and how breathing into a paper bag worked for her. If I hadn't been so terrified and overly aware of all the weird sensory stuff going on I might have thought of that. Dang.


(4,708 posts)
11. I'm sorry you experienced this
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 10:43 PM
Apr 2019

It sounds terrifying.

What jumped out at me was your description of your legs and feet. Not to be an alarmist, and I am certainly no expert, but a friend experienced similar sensations in her legs and feet a few months before she was diagnosed with MS. The episodes came on suddenly, and her legs felt weak while her feet felt like they were burning. The burning sensation lasted for a few days, but not as intense as during the initial onset. She also experienced vision and hearing anomalies, as well as vertigo. It might be something to ask your doctor about, just to make sure and to rule it out.


(1,351 posts)
14. Did she also experience fatigue?
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 11:03 PM
Apr 2019

One other thing I noticed was the last couple of weeks I've been easily out of breath. Walking upstairs, during my runs (I've been a runner for 30+ years). A good friend of my developed MS around her 40's. I remember her describing how she drove herself to the ER and tried to get out to walk but couldn't feel her legs or feet. The nurses saw her struggling and ran out to grab her. They diagnosed her with MS which, thankfully, she has been in remission for the last 20 years.

I will check with my primary care doctor this week. And I will make sure to post an update.


(4,708 posts)
17. She did
Tue Apr 9, 2019, 11:28 PM
Apr 2019

She worked at a nursery (plants and shrubs, not kids) and kept chalking it up to overexertion even though her workload had not increased.

I've since lost touch with her (we moved away), but last we spoke, she was managing it well. Not sure if she was technically in remission, but it sounded pretty close, with only a few bad days a year and no new symptoms/progression.

I hope your doctor visit goes well. Please do update us. I'll be thinking of you and sending positive energy your way.


(1,351 posts)
18. Thank you
Wed Apr 10, 2019, 01:34 AM
Apr 2019

Thanks for the positive energy, I really need it.

Will keep everyone posted and I truly appreciate all the feedback.


(22,355 posts)
21. Has your stress load increased recently?
Wed Apr 10, 2019, 11:05 AM
Apr 2019

When I was under extreme stress several years ago, I would have panic attacks. I felt like I couldn't breathe, heart racing, shaking. Sometimes sobbing. Add that to being bipolar, and it was a recipe for disaster.


(1,351 posts)
23. Yes--stress has been off the charts
Fri Apr 12, 2019, 01:31 AM
Apr 2019

Been working 12-16 hours days, have been working with my 3 kids on various paperwork for their college apps, FAFSA, etc. Middle son recently told me was dealing with deep depression so I've been trying to get him help. Other than that...lol.

I was wondering if stress had contributed. There are times I'm so stressed it feels that I'm literally vibrating.

Lulu KC

(2,587 posts)
27. Oh, you have teenagers at home?
Fri Apr 12, 2019, 04:16 AM
Apr 2019

I was reading this thinking seizures, call the neurologist, but teenagers at home is a different reality. I'm kind of kidding and kind of not.
Do keep us posted! And neurologists can discover things that are not mental illness, though they appear to be.


(1,351 posts)
28. I think it was some sort of seizure
Sat Apr 13, 2019, 12:39 AM
Apr 2019

The more I read about seizures the more I think I had one. The whole ear ringing and visual perception alteration seem more akin to something happening in my brain. Both my brother and sister have partial simple seizures. They said my "episode" was similar to their partial simple seizure, though mine lasted much longer than anything they've ever had (theirs last maybe 2 minutes, max, mine was 4 hours. I will be meeting with a neurologist but I'm not hopeful for a diagnosis. Both my brother and sister had normal EEG's, etc. My sister had these for years, since she was a teenager. She started yoga and meditation about 10 years ago and hasn't had a single seizure since. My brother is in a high-stress job, doesn't eat right, doesn't exercise, so continues to have his partial simple seizures.

Since my stress has been off the charts and I was also getting maybe 4 hours of sleep a night for several days in a row (I have Restless Leg Syndrome as well), I'm leaning towards a seizure.

Lulu KC

(2,587 posts)
29. This is all familiar
Sat Apr 13, 2019, 06:26 AM
Apr 2019

I find the Hyland's homeopathic restless legs remedy really helps. I didn't realize that RLS is neurological until recently (just hadn't thought about it) and the neurologist had other recommendations on that. Yes, the normal EEG--even sleep deprived. Seizures are so much more common than I had known.

Response to crimycarny (Original post)


(22,548 posts)
30. Depersonalization has always been the worst symptom of anxiety attacks
Sun Apr 28, 2019, 12:32 PM
Apr 2019

for me. I don't think it is that unusual for people who have some bad attacks. It will still come from time to time. I think the program Recovery International is really good at helping you cope with anxiety symptoms; which can be very varied and strange.


Depersonalization can consist of a detachment within the self, regarding one's mind or body, or being a detached observer of oneself.[1] Subjects feel they have changed and that the world has become vague, dreamlike, less real, lacking in significance or being outside reality while looking in. It can be a disturbing experience. Chronic depersonalization refers to depersonalization-derealization disorder, which is classified by the DSM-5 as a dissociative disorder.[2]

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