Is It Normal To Feel Spaced Out After A Panic Attack?

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 27, 2021

Is It Normal To Feel Spaced Out After A Panic Attack?

Complete Question

I recently had a panic attack and felt spaced out afterward for a week. This has never happened to me before. Is it normal to feel spaced out after a panic attack?

Answer

A panic attack is a high-degree stress response most often accompanied by, or initiated by, high-degree anxiety.

Visit our “Panic Attack Symptoms” article for everything you wanted to know about panic attacks.

Visit our “Stress Response” article for more information about the many physiological, psychological, and emotional changes caused by a stress response.

Stress responses consume a lot of energy because they cause many body-wide changes, including stimulating the body into action, increasing blood sugar, increasing blood pressure, increasing heart rate and respiration, increasing metabolism, and tightening muscles, to name a few. The degree of energy consumption is proportional to the degree of stress response.

For instance, mild stress responses, such as caused by being mildly nervous, consume a small amount of the body’s energy, whereas high degree stress responses, such as panic attacks, consume a lot of energy.

Consequently, you can feel drained of energy after a panic attack has ended. The higher the degree of panic attack, the more energy is consumed (yes, there are also degrees of panic attacks).

Moreover, high-degree stress responses can also affect our emotions. Many people become overly emotional during a panic attack. Once the attack has ended, it’s also common to feel emotionally drained, which can lead to the feeling of being “spaced out.”

So, yes, many people feel physically and emotionally spent after a panic attack.  Fortunately, this “spaced out” and “devoid of energy” feeling subsides as the body recovers from the changes caused by the panic attack.

Since feeling “spaced out” after a panic attack is a common experience, it needn’t be a cause for concern. Again, it will subside as your body recovers from the changes caused by the high-degree stress response.

Successfully addressing your anxiety issues will eliminate your struggle with anxiety, which will also eliminate panic attacks and feeling spaced out afterward.

If you are having difficulty with anxiety and panic, you might want to connect with one of our recommended anxiety disorder therapists to help you address the underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety.

Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to overcome what can seem like problematic anxiety (anxiety disorder), including panic attacks.[1][2][3]

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequently Asked Questions page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Is It Normal To Feel Spaced Out After A Panic Attack?

References

1. Hofmann, Stefan G., et al. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3584580/.

2. Leichsenring, Falk. “Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy the Gold Standard for Psychotherapy?” JAMA, American Medical Association, 10 Oct. 2017, jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2654783.

3. DISCLAIMER: Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, and because each person will have a unique mix of symptoms and underlying factors, recovery results may vary. Variances can occur for many reasons, including due to the severity of the condition, the ability of the person to apply the recovery concepts, and the commitment to making behavioral change.