High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship?

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rlown
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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by rlown » Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:12 am

Thanks. Paul and I know its mostly in the mind, for some of the reasons you mentioned. He is in Boston and I'm at sea level as well. We know the drill to acclimatize. Brains are funny things sometimes. It's really weird when he's trying to be quiet and I wake up with the first slow tent zipper opening. As I'm awakened at the first tick of the zipper, I just say, "if you're going out, do it quickly."

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by balance » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:10 am

Greetings rlown

A bit more medical info: "Although all breathing dysrhythmias do not have the same cause, instability in the feedback control involved in the chemical regulation of breathing is the leading cause of Cheyne-Stokes Respiration.

The bicarbonate buffer system helps maintain the pH of the body by expelling carbon dioxide through exhalation.

As those with Cheyne-Stokes respiration hyperventilate, their total carbon dioxide stores are likely to be reduced, which interferes with the carbon dioxide buffering capacity of the body.

Low levels of oxygen in the body may also intensify blood gas fluctuations in those with Cheyne-Stokes respiration."

Cheyne-Stokes may be increased by other factors (fatigue, hydration, stress). But is not so much "in the mind" as it is in the "bicarbonate buffer system".

Peace

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by rlown » Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:40 am

It's the mind that reacts.. Chemistry is nice as well, but end of the day, brain decides what to do. Your last statement "(fatigue, hydration, stress)" pretty much describes normal operating procedures on a backpacking trip. Stress kind of disappears once acclimatized.

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by DannyL » Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:11 pm

I too have had a panic attack or two while in the backcountry. It's always at night while sleeping, and seems to occur when I have really overdone it during the day. Proper hydration and good quality rest breaks (pack off, in shade, sitting) along the trail with proper caloric nutrition helps.

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by rlown » Sun Aug 20, 2017 5:52 pm

Welcome to the HST. I like the rest breaks as well.

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by Dave_Ayers » Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:35 pm

One factor is the tight enclosure of many tents which may contribute to bouts of claustrophobia and panic for some. I find that open sight lines when in lying positions is key. Consider getting a tent such as the BA Seedhouse or Flycreek for which the inner layer is mostly netting. Then don't put up the fly unless it is absolutely necessary. Once you know your tent, it is easy to slap a fly on in the middle of the night if rain comes when the first few drops hit. Or put the fly on but with half of it folded back on itself, ready to be flipped over in a jiffy if rain starts to fall. Sleep with the tent flap fully open or open it after the bugs and/or rain have gone away for the night.

A factor in altitude sickness that rarely gets mentioned is blood pH. Human respiration includes a mechanism to adjust blood pH via respiration rates (exhale of CO2. etc.). This is separate from the mechanism for oxygen needs. Each system's sensors are in separate locations in the body. The control loop for blood pH can be at odds with the control loop for oxygen needs. That the two systems compete with each other is evidenced by periodic fast and slow breathing episodes common in AMS. Keeping well hydrated and reducing acidifying foods (table salt, grains, etc.) in favor of fruits and veggies (and potassium) reduces the need for pH control adjustments. This in turn reduces competition between the two systems and evens out nighttime breathing. This has been helpful for at least one person sensitive to AMS. So think twice about hitting the burger joint for salty fries on the trip into the high country.

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by rlown » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:39 pm

we sleep with a double rainbow, vestibules open wide. that should be enough. If you close your eyes, the vestibules don't really matter. Just saying the problem is deeper in the psyche. I get the blood ph thing, and it's really up to what he chooses and not what I say. I do like a good carbo load pre trip...

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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by maverick » Mon Aug 21, 2017 5:57 pm

Had a friend, who has backpacking experience, have a panic attack while going thru Paradise Valley. We had an early start, thunderstorms started mid-day, light rain with some hail, when we got to Upper Paradise in the afternoon, we set up the tarps to wait out some heavier rain, the thunder claps really started to get loud, and all of a sudden, my friend, who was under the tarp with me says "I got to get out of here", panic was written all over his face, so we packed up and hiked back to Roads End, drove out to Fresno, found a hotel room, and spent the night.
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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by rlown » Mon Aug 21, 2017 6:04 pm

maverick wrote:Had a friend, who has backpacking experience, have a panic attack while going thru Paradise Valley. We had an early start, thunderstorms started mid-day, light rain with some hail, when we got to Upper Paradise in the afternoon, we set up the tarps to wait out some heavier rain, the thunder claps really started to get loud, and all of a sudden, my friend, who was under the tarp with me says "I got to get out of here", panic was written all over his face, so we packed up and hiked back to Roads End, drove out to Fresno, found a hotel room, and spent the night.
I totally respect it when anyone says "I've got to get out of here." It isn't an argument if someone feels like something is wrong. No judgement at all.

That being said, I do have a problem when someone is drunk and throws their Pai Gow hand into the fire and it's our only pack of cards.. Check out the ace of clubs.. :) Yes, we got all the cards out before they burned. We put him to bed and continued playing.
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Re: High altitudes, anxiety, and panic attacks: Relationship

Post by gdurkee » Mon Dec 11, 2017 9:01 pm

Scrolling through old threads (a quiet night on the frontier here...). Interesting discussion. It's rare, but I have heard of people with panic attacks and have attributed it to some unknown severity of AMS. Not sure Cheynes-Stokes is related. One of our snow-survey buddies was susceptible to that. It wasn't acclimatization because he lived at 7,000 and spent a lot of time at altitude (our SS cabins were about 10,500, on average). Also, he snored like a water buffalo. Hard to be in a 10X12 cabin with him. He did start trying malatonin and that seemed to help though.

Regarding the comment that the panic attacks are probably in the mind but, as Dumbledore said to Harry: 'Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?'

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