Panic disorders range in prevalence between 1% and 3% of the general population. Approximately 6–14% of young adults report at least one spontaneous panic attack.51,52 Most of these events occur during the day, but as many as 2.5% of the attacks may occur exclusively as nighttime events. Two-thirds of patients with panic attacks have had one or more events at night.
Polysomnographic data demonstrate that panic attacks can occur at sleep onset or during stage 2 or slow-wave sleep, but the hallmark is that the event occurs after awakening. On polysomnography, patients have an abrupt arousal from sleep, followed by52–55:
Further systematic monitoring may be required to distinguish nocturnal panic attacks from other etiologies:
Reviewed and revised April 2004 by Steven C. Schachter, MD, epilepsy.com Editorial Board.
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