32 thoughts on “Low Blood Sugar And Panic Attacks: How Are They Related?

  • February 23, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Thank you for a concise explanation. I am at the very beginning of experiencing something like panic attacks, but not sure if on right track. Mine begin with something like ticks, i.e. Stomach twitch, head pulling to side. Seizures have been ruled out, and neurologist thinks its a reaction to Zofran given by primary care doc for nausea, and that it should go away in a week. Its been 2 weeks and now Neuro says I am just getting anxious over the ticks, so i just need to relax…easy for her to say as i feel they’re happening involuntarily. I dont feel an impending doom or heart racing, but definitely shortness of breath and lightheadedness. Any input would be appreciated!

    Reply
    • February 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Patosa, those sound like very uncomfortable side effects for you. If they continue to the degree you are experiencing [or worsen], I would persist in talking about some alternative [a different dosage, or different medication, perhaps….]. It may not be intentional [or true in this case], but a clinician could slip into a pattern of minimizing other’s reactions and you are right….she isn’t in your body.

      Raven, very interesting….Sounds like treating the inflammation helped your psyche.

      And yes….one can get so used to blaming physical symptoms of a racing heart, sweating, etc. on anxiety, that one can forget those symptoms really COULD be related to something physical [like hypoglycemia]. Low blood sugar will most certainly cause anxiety or a “feeling of something not being right”. It’s easy to rule out if you don’t have a glucometer to check: Eat a few raisins, drink some fruit juice, or have a teaspoon of honey….something with fast sugar. If you are hypoglycemic, you will feel better in a moment.

      But that brings me to the next comment. The sugar fix is for ACUTE low blood sugar [happening now], NOT for MAINTENANCE. It is important [really, for ALL of us, BUT ESPECIALLY when one is hypoglycemic] to avoid simple sugars. It might even be wise to be careful about overdoing the healthier complex carbohydrates if one is having issues with hypoglycemia. Regardless of source, it all turns to sugar, so if your already sensitive to the ups and downs of blood sugar shifts, the less you consume of it in any form, the better. [now, if only I could follow my own advice all of the time!]

      You could learn more about this by reading about “glycemic index” in foods. Some sugars, for example, may have a similar caloric intake, but burn more slowly, causing less of spike [and subsequent large drop] in blood sugar. That is an example of two types of sugar having a different glycemic index. Neither one might be good for you, but one is definitely worse!

      [RN, BSN, Psych.]

      Reply
  • February 23, 2014 at 9:21 am

    This was interesting…I wonder if that is why what I have finally found that helps with anxiety is having a near-constant intake of candy…

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  • February 23, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I get low blood sugar episodes, too – and sometimes a mini panic attack when I realize I haven’t eaten in a while, and am afraid of having a low blood sugar episode, lovely vicious cycles! 🙂

    But what I’ve only recently found out, is that a condition called Migraine Associated Vertigo (MAV), or vestibular migraines, really mimics panic attacks – to the extent that I now believe a large quantity of “panic” episodes I’ve experienced over the last 15 years, were actually migraines. I don’t get headaches, just dizzy, nauseous, derealization and feeling like I’m about to faint. They can trigger panic attacks, too (well, who wouldn’t panic, feeling like that?!?), so lots of overlap in symptoms.

    For the last year, I’ve been unable to go into a supermarket or library or busy place, without a migraine being triggered – just scanning shelves for something sets them off, and I feel better almost as soon as I leave the stimulus. Sounds like a panic attack, right? Almost, except now that I’m aware of them, I can control the panic part (to a point), yet I still get the visual symptoms.

    And the real kicker – I’ve been taking ibuprofen before going anywhere outside my house, because it seems to help, and since doing that, when going into situations where I used to always experience feeling faint (dog training class, friends get togethers) – well, it isn’t happening anymore. And these are places where I expect to feel that way. It’s been a real eye-opener.

    And I’m not alone – there are lots of MAV sufferers that describe the exact same symptoms that I thought for years were panic attacks. I truly wonder how many people suffering from panic disorder, especially with agoraphobia, are actually suffering from migraines.

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    • March 4, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Not sure you will see this as your comment was a few years ago but also look into Binocular Vision Dysfunction. There is a Dr. in Michigan who tests for it and I go to one in Kentucky who treats it.

      Reply
  • February 24, 2014 at 4:20 am

    Very interesting info. I have suffered about 5 or 6 years with panic attacks and just recently realizing I have bloodsugar problems thx for the eye openers. I’ll be doing more research.

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  • July 27, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I working outside today when I started feeling really wierd. I hadn’t eaten and all I had to drink was a coffe and an energy drink. I was dizzy, fuzzy, and things started looking wierd. I litterally had no idea what was happening and thought I was having a stroke and thought that I was going to die. I went inside ate some food and laid down for a bit. My girlfriend said it was probably low blood sugar/panic. I started googling the combo and found this article. It made me feel soooo much better and I was able to calm down! Thanks for writing the article, it helped ease my nerves.

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  • August 4, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I cannot thank you enough for explaining this. I have suffered from both panic attacks and hypo for a long time. It makes more sense to know the two can feed off each other. Panic causes blood sugar to deplete, which raises adrenalune causing feelings of panic! oh god the irony lol

    Reply
  • August 26, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Man, this is SO true! After suffering a few panic attacks over the past three weeks, I think I finally have figured out that my blood sugar has been dipping. These attacks have happened in the morning. It turns out that one month ago, I began cutting back on carbs in an effort to lose weight. Well, that goes for OJ and sodas. This morning I woke up to feeling anxious. Whilst on the way to dropping off my daughter at school, I needed to pull over. I felt as if I was going to pass out.. I went into a corner store, purchased a bottle of OJ and drank it. The frenzy ceased almost immediately! I have now defeated my anxiety issues by figuring all of this out! This blog has further confirmed it for me! Thanks for your insight!

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  • September 18, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Ah-ha! Thank you!! I’m 37 and have had serious hypoglycemia my whole life (it was diagnosed in elementary school when I was passing out about once a week) so I’m VERY aware of my blood sugar levels and have always been careful to eat health and eat often. However, about a year ago I started having hypothyroid-type symptoms including panic attacks (heart pounding, cold sweats, nausea, can’t breath, feel like I’m going to implode and can’t calm down). Test results came back normal.

    Then I stumbled onto this article. I’m realizing the panic attacks most often happen in the evenings or at night after long, stressful days at work. I’m not sleeping or eating properly if at all. I’ve gotten good at pulling all-nighters and pushing through the hypoglycemic symptoms if there are client deadlines to be met, so the adrenal rush is probably my body’s last attempt to keep me conscious.

    It has never occurred to me this could be linked to hypoglycemia. My plan now is to tighten up my diet and eating schedule (paleo anyone?) and see if that doesn’t do the trick. THANK YOU, you might have just saved me a significant amount of time, money, and emotional exhaustion. And I’m sure my husband, who has to talk me off the proverbial ledge each time, also thanks you 🙂 Fingers crossed!

    Reply
  • January 26, 2015 at 10:31 am

    For me, I can usually tell the difference when I’m feeling low blood sugar and when I’m just becoming anxious about something. With low blood sugar, I feel more shaky, confused, and feelings of nausea. I also feel some light pains in the abdominal area and sometimes in my legs. The low blood sugar symptoms are also more intense. I try to remember when I last ate and it usualy has been three or more hours since the last time. Often relieving my bladder and eating a protein meal or snack helps. Sometimes it helps to go into a dark room since my eyes dilate when feeling either. When it’s just panic is when my thoughts go from concern to worry about something. With low blood sugar, I just feel the change in my body quickly.

    Reply
  • March 11, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Where to start. I have a combo of things going on. Panic attacks, allergic(anaphlaxis/mouth hives), and GERD which scarred my throat a bit.

    I skipped lunch today, I have been the last several days and skipped the candy too. Lo and behold, I had the beginnings of a panic attack. Not sure if there was a little reflux right before it (mine is silent), but after I had a cough drop, I disappeared. If it was for the fact that I didnt eat, why didnt it happen days prior? Currently on prevacid and generic allergy med that also helps with onset of panic attack but after eating. For some reason Promise margarine spread, hoagies, a sirloin steak canned soup, and one time sitting down eight before eating pizza and sushi (not having taken a bite)

    Ive had reflux over time and allergies emerged from it, but I wonder if this is a sugar thing now. Anyone have any insight?

    Reply
  • May 11, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Hi,
    From this post I understand What is the related between blood sugar and panic attcks??For panic disorder I would took the xanax pills…..For blood sugar What drug shouls i take????

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    • May 3, 2016 at 11:12 am

      I take cinnamon pills with my meals, it has been helping to regulate my levels. 1/2 of the panic attacks are instigated by the fear of them coming on.

      Reply
  • June 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    i have calmed down considerably after reading all the above.for some time i have had the odd sugar low, but because i panic and all the usual symptoms it can take longer for a fix to work. This week i have been anxious then a real low 2.1 it took a couple of sweets and a drink to get it up to 5 , i have all the tests and my gp says everything is normal….. argh i dont feel it, yesterday and today i have snacked on pecan nuts(not too many) and raisens, and didnt experience a low…. but sods law i have been anxious all day but my sugar levels have been 5.1 . i am persevering with all the tips re: protien , carbs etc and I WILL BEAT THIS

    Reply
  • August 5, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Thank you very much for your article. I was just experiencing exactly what everybody else is talking about. I was diagnosed with panic disorder when I was 38 years old I’m now 70. I have lived many years with the panic disorder and anxiety attacks but I did find some peace. I really understand the connection between diet and these attacks it all makes perfect sense. I have been checked out from one end to the other from a psychiatrist to DR and numerous other people in the medical field I’ve been to group therapy you name it I’ve done it. But when it all came down to it this makes the most sense of all. At 70 years of age everyone things your senile, but we aren’t. It was very frustrating to call someone my doctor and go through all those tests just because of my age it is incredibly irritating and stressful. Thank you so much for this article it was like a light came in finally. Maybe I can enjoy the rest of my years just living my life and not stressing out all the time. Just so everyone knows please when you talk to senior citizens about anxiety attacks or stress don’t always think that you’re having a heart attack or stroke it really brings a person down, so I guess what I’m saying is let’s all respect each other for the person they are not just a number, we are are unique.

    Reply
  • August 5, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    Thank you very much for your article. I was just experiencing exactly what everybody else is talking about. I was diagnosed with panic disorder when I was 38 years old I’m now 70. I have lived many years with the panic disorder and anxiety attacks but I did find some peace. I really understand the connection between diet and these attacks it all makes perfect sense. I have been checked out from one end to the other from a psychiatrist to DR and numerous other people in the medical field I’ve been to group therapy you name it I’ve done it. But when it all came down to it this makes the most sense of all. At 70 years of age everyone thinks your senile, but we aren’t. It was very frustrating to call my doctor and go through all those tests just because of my age it is incredibly irritating and stressful. Thank you so much for this article it was like a light came in finally. Maybe I can enjoy the rest of my years just living my life and not stressing out all the time. Just so everyone knows please when you talk to senior citizens about anxiety attacks or stress don’t always think that you’re having a heart attack or stroke it really brings a person down, so I guess what I’m saying is let’s all respect each other for the person they are not just a number, we are are unique.

    Reply
  • August 30, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Hi, this article was great at pulling together these two confusing situations. I was treating crazy low blood sugar episodes with sugar tabs which can be purchased at any CVS. But then again at times I would have what seem to be panic attack-y anxiety attacks which occur from certain identifiable trigger events. Never could figure out which was which until now. It all makes sense! This can even occur from on-going stress as well when diet is not closely monitored. Especially for those of use with real or perceived food sensitivities. I know I do not do well with any type of sugar. There is also alcoholism in my family. So although I cannot control all of the stress in my life I can be more vigilant when it comes to making sure I eat a good breakfast to start the day and then stay on top of hydrating and regular meals. I think this is 90% of the battle.

    Reply
  • October 26, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Here’s my question/concern about this. I’ve had anxiety and panic mostly my whole life. Im 41 now and was probably 15 or 16 when i first started noticing it. I’ve had 2 big episodes the last 3 days. Saturday i checked my sugar with my wifes old diabetes thingy from when she had gestational diabetes. That reading was 102. Then this morning it was 82, which both fall in the range of “normal”. The difference is this morning i hadn’t eaten since about 9PM last night and saturday I had eaten a couple hours before. So my question is, will my blood sugar read normal if i’m having a hypoglycemic episode? I get this starving sensation like i have to eat and shove food in my mouth NOW. but saturday and today my knees week, felt empty inside my body, and vision is funky. I have an appointment for this wednesday but 2 days seems so far off

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  • November 19, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I am grateful for this article, but I seem to be the only one coming from the other side of the spectrum. I am not relieved in gaining information on blood sugar and hypoglycemia mimicking panic and anxiety attacks. I am more terrified. I have had panic and anxiety most of my life – I am 50 (female / perimenopausal) now. I experience hypoglycemic episodes at times of HIGH stress if I don’t eat properly – which is understandable. I have even had blood work done twice in the last year and everything checks out fine. But when I have a hypoglycemic episode, PANIC BIG TIME – and this is because I have read so many horror stories online about low blood sugar – that if not treated PROMPTLY can cause one to have seizures and even coma. OMG!!!!!! So if I don’t start stuffing the proper sort of food into my mouth as quickly as possible … I may drop to the floor and start seizing??? This absolutely horrifies me!! I can deal with my panic – I have ways of talking myself down very quickly, but since reading these horror stories and DIRE warnings from “reputable” medical sites, I can no longer relax. Since a hypoglycemic episode a week ago, I have not been able to come down. I’ve been in full panic for days now. I’m exhausted from it and am hoping someone here can tell me that these stories are in the most extreme cases and are rare. Can someone tell me that the odds of me feinting, cracking my head on a counter, seizing and slipping into a coma on my kitchen floor are slim.
    Thank you to anyone that can help me calm down!!

    Reply
    • August 25, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Yes!!! I understand completely what you’re saying and couldn’t have said it better! I have had anxiety for 20 years, I’m 48, perimenopausal, taking meds for hpb and type 2 diabetes. I find my anxiety is much worse around ” monthly misery” time. Just want you to know you are not alone in your feelings 🙂

      Reply
    • February 23, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      I have this same issue. I’ve been to 3 doctors who have been no help. How have you gotten through it?!

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      • February 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        Good question, Renee. I always try to eat enough protein nowadays to stabilize my blood sugar. It seems to prevent the lows fairly well!

        Reply
  • December 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

    It’s great that you recommend to avoid simple carbs, but for anxious people complex carbs are not any better in the long run. Your brain still uses glucose as energy source, and this wreaks havoc. Moreover, grains and legumes are just starch and not even very nutritious.

    I’ve treated my anxiety (and I know several people who have treated their anxieties) with ketogenic diet, where you eat only a little carbs and the most of the calories come from natural fats. Your body uses ketones as energy source instead of glucose. Compared to glucose, ketones are superior energy source for the brain. Did you know that carbohydrates are not essential macronutrients and your body can produce all the glucose it needs? Fat and proteins are essential! But if you eat too much protein, your body will handle them just like carbs… So protein should be eaten only in moderation.

    And yes, when you start to eat ketogenic food and transfer yourself from burning sugar to burning fat (talk about weight loss!), you feel crappy for some time, that is the keto-adaptation phase. However, once you get over it, I bet you feel much better than before! Though, ketogenic food and ketosis is not for everyone, but I recommend to try it out, since it’s a very natural and powerful way to heal both physical and mental conditions.

    Reply
  • July 29, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you so much for this! Once i read this I immediately understood whats going on with me!

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  • August 14, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    thanks so much for your time and information,i’m going to give it a go. i’ve suffered with anxiety and panic attacks most of my life.again thanks alot.

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  • August 25, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Oh sister! Do you know my world or do you know my world? Thx for the help….encouraging! Straight Ahead! Joel

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  • October 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for an easy to understand answer to my question: Does stress lead to low blood sugar? I have twice had this reaction when in public and hurt by 1) a chair masseuse 2) by a nail professional during a pedicure. I am diabetic and conscious of the need to eat properly and when these two episodes happened, my blood sugar should have been fine. The explanation you provide totally makes sense for me and it was written to be understood, which those of us without medical degrees so appreciate.

    Reply
  • May 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    I came to this article looking for some answers, since my doctor can’t or won’t give answers…

    When I thought I was having a panic attack, as it turns out, I probably was suffering sugar, it was 14 days after a depo shot in my hip, and the day after my anxiety, I was tested and my sugar went from my normal 90 pts to 153 pts…. that’s a big clue my doctor over looked since she sent me a psychologist, who was clowning around with questions I was not hearing his nonsense.

    My doctor has been trying to avoid me ever since I tested positive for Lyme.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2017 at 7:26 am

    Thanks for writing, reading this article was really helpful for me.

    Reply
  • November 26, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Thank you for posting this article. I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia 25 years ago. I had it under control since then until I quit smoking 3 months ago. It’s been a struggle ever since. My doctor thinks I’m nuts. Through my research, I’ve found that nicotine affects blood sugar. Quitting smoking also causes anxiety attacks! For the last week I’ve bounced back and forth between low sugar and anxiety. I barely sleep because my mind races about what the next day will be like..it’s horrible. I’m hoping patience and allowing my body time to heal and find its new sense of “normal” will fix the problems!

    Reply
 

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