Can Icing Your Chest Ease a Panic Attack and Make You Sleep Better?

You might think you're experiencing a heart attack. Even though panic attacks don't threaten your safety or health, having them frequently can affect other aspects of your life, lowering your quality of life.

What is Panic Attack

When faced with routine, unthreatening circumstances, a panic attack produces strong physical reactions and sudden, momentary feelings of fear. When experiencing a manic episode, you might perspire profusely, find breathing difficult, and feel like your heart is racing. That means you are facing panic attack.

When we experience high anxiety or panic attacks, our fight-or-flight response is activated, and during panic attacks, the reaction remains active. Our bodies naturally respond in a fight-or-flight manner when confronted with mentally or emotionally terrifying situations, known as an acute stress response. When this response is elicited, hormones are abruptly released, causing a series of physiological reactions in us, including but not limited to a rapid heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and rapid breathing.

The ice techniques will make your system startled out of the fight-or-flight reaction. These activities distract you from your panic and help you concentrate on your body and surroundings. Additionally, the ice may cause your brain to experience a pain-like reaction that compels your neurotransmitters to refocus.

Panic episodes are the hallmark of panic disorder. Yet, they may also occur along with other events like −

  • Diseases of anxiety

  • Abnormalities of mood.

  • Phobias.

  • Diseases of the mind.

  • Illnesses involving drug use.

  • Illnesses linked to stress and trauma

  • Specific health problems.

There are many instances of panic attacks. The percentage of American adults who have panic attacks on a yearly basis varies from 11% to 14%. Panic disorder affects between 2% and 3% of the population in the United States. Those who are born with a feminine gender preference are at a greater risk of developing panic disorder than others. This risk increases by a factor of two.


  • Hyperventilation or other respiratory difficulties.

  • Either trembling or quivering

  • Chills.

  • Nausea.

  • Sweating.

  • Your fingertips or toes may tingle or feel numb.

Other symptoms may also include −

  • Terrifyingly strong.

  • The feeling of being choked or smothered.

  • The anxiety of losing control.

  • As if you were about to pass away

  • Depersonalization or derealization, or the perception of unreality (feeling detached from yourself).

In most cases, panic attacks last anywhere from five to twenty minutes. Nonetheless, there have been reports of people experiencing attacks that lasted for a whole hour.

Researchers claim that the reasons have not been found, but that these disorders may be caused by issues with your amygdala. The amygdala is the region of your brain that is responsible for processing fear and other sensations. In addition to this, they think that hormonal alterations involving serotonin, cortisol, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) may be key influences.

The following factors increase your chance of panic disorder −

  • An anxiety disorder's familial history − Panic disorder is one anxiety condition that frequently runs in families. If one of your first-degree relatives (parents, siblings, or biological children) has panic disorder, you have a 40% higher chance of getting it yourself.

  • Disorders of the mind − Panic attacks are more common in people with anxiety disorders, melancholy, or other mental health issues.

  • Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are distressing incidents between the ages of 1 and 17. Most of the time, these encounters are upsetting. The onset of panic disorder and panic episodes may be influenced by ACEs.

Frequently, there is no apparent cause of panic episodes. However, phobia sufferers can encounter phobia-related triggers that result in a panic episodes. For instance, if they have to have their blood drawn for a medical test, a person who suffers from trypanophobia (a severe fear of needles) might have a panic episode. Some people's panic attacks are frequently brought on by their dread of having one.

Will Chilling your Chest Reduce Panic Attacks and help you Sleep?

  • Doctors said that even if you are unaware of it, being under a lot of stress makes your sympathetic system overload. Your vagus nerve is "iced" because cold temps can encourage cardiac vagal activity, which raises heart rate variability. The variability of heart rate indicates a reduction in tension. The heart's variability may be increased by cold stimuli, such as using an ice pack. Your sympathetic nervous system may be brought back to normal by chest icing; however, anxiety and heart rate can rise if it is in overdrive. According to other studies, whole-body cryotherapy, which involves submerging the body entirely in cold water, may help treat anxiety and mood problems.

  • Get a diagnosis and treatment from a medical professional, as well as some therapy.

  • In addition, individuals may learn to better regulate their stress, anxiety, and sleep via the use of a variety of risk-free strategies, such as exercises that enhance their breathing and meditation. You should also be cautious not to put the ice pack directly to your flesh in order to prevent getting frostbite or irritating your skin in any way. When using it on your face, you should always wrap it in a towel first.

  • The long cranial nerve, known as the vagus nerve, runs from the root of the brain through your abdominal organs. The parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates many involuntary bodily functions and initiates your body's relaxation response after a time of stress, includes the vagus nerve. It controls internal bodily functions like respiration, heart rate, and digestion. Activating the vagus nerve is easy. Take icy cold baths to accomplish this. By swimming in icy waters, you can achieve this. However, simply place an ice compress on your chest's midsection to spare yourself the discomfort. Put a towel over it, position it there, and lie down for at least 15 minutes.

  • In research, increased melatonin secretion was linked to vagus nerve stimulation, accomplished with an implanted electronic device. This improved the study subjects' ability to fall asleep. While your reactive nervous system prepares you for battle or flight in a dangerous situation, your parasympathetic nervous system calms you down and promotes relaxation.

Updated on: 02-Mar-2023


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