Can anxiety attacks cause fainting? Why do I feel like fainting?
Fainting, or Syncope, is a temporary loss of consciousness and muscle tone due to blood loss to the brain. It is usually caused by hypotension, or low blood pressure. -source
Dizzy spells and feeling like you’re going to faint or pass out can be an anxiety symptom and nothing more. Assuming you are healthy and have not been diagnosed with low blood sugar or low blood pressure, most of the time, feeling like fainting and being nervous about it can be attributed to anxiety.
Fainting Anxiety and the strange feelings that go with it are very disturbing to the nervous person. You may feel like your body is off balance, or that your legs are going to give out. You may also experience weakness, trembling, nausea, palpitations, visual disturbances, and sweating. All of these things are what typically happens right before someone actually does faint, which makes them seem all the more frightening.
But healthy people faint.
That’s true. Soldiers who have to stand at attention for long periods of time sometimes faint, for example while on parade. This is usually when they are overheated and are standing very still for extended periods, in which case the blood pressure drops.
And some people faint at the sight of blood. That is often referred to as needle phobia and that, too is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.
What to Do About Fainting Anxiety
If you suffer from fainting anxiety it’s not enough to just know that you’ll be ok (at least it isn’t for me, and you will be ok, by the way). You must have some anxiety self help tools to help you once you start to experience the symptoms that scare you. Here are some helpful tips for fainting anxiety:
1. Make sure you’ve eaten.
All the symptoms that accompany fainting anxiety can be brought on by low blood sugar. Make sure your diet includes enough protein. You can also have something sweet in a pinch to quickly raise your blood sugar level. A glass of orange juice or even a piece of candy works.
If no food is available, just sit down and rest for about 10 minutes. This will give your liver enough time to release stores of glycogen (which eventually break down into glucose and raise your blood sugar).
2. Move just a little.
It can be helpful if you are experiencing theses symptoms to make sure you are not locking your knees. Shifting your balance from one foot to the other helps. You can also tighten and release your fists or your thigh muscles. That way, you are “proving to yourself” that you have muscle tone and that you aren’t standing too still. tightening and releasing muscles groups also raised blood pressure. You couldn’t do these things if you were going to faint.
3. Make sure you’re breathing correctly.
Feeling like you’re going to pass out when caused by anxiety is usually not caused by a drop in blood pressure, but by over-breathing, or hyperventilation. the sufferer does this without even knowing it. When you feel symptoms of fainting anxiety, consciously slow down your breathing, and take in slow, deep breaths from the belly.
Fainting Anxiety- What NOT To Do
Do not give in to the fear and retreat because of the feelings. Do not make a pilgrimage from chair to chair. Do not run out of the room or out of the situation. This is letting anxiety win and will only serve to keep you afraid of the feelings.
I had fainting anxiety last week at work. For the record you should know I have never fainted in my life. But there I was, assisting a doctor at a patient’s bedside. The patient was a child and was bleeding (not badly) and the family around the bed were hysterical. It was a very tense situation.
I wanted to run away, but I was the only one who could assist, and the doctor needed me. I felt dizzy and sweaty and was 100% convinced I was going to faint. I felt trapped. I had such an urge to run, I felt that was the only way I would not faint.
Instead of running or standing there and going straight into a panic attack, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. I tensed up and released my fists just enough to show myself that I had good control of my muscles I tensed up and released my thigh muscles to ensure my blood pressure wasn’t dropping. I made sure I wasn’t hyperventilating – I kept my breathing slow. And then I did the best I could to stay focused on the situation at hand, not my symptoms.
Sure enough, the little patient was dong well in no time and the anxious nurse assisting the doctor was too.
If she would practice walking forward in the way I have stressed so much… by letting her body do whatever it wants to – tremble if it must, feel weak if it must, even faint if it feels like it (this takes a lot of acceptance!) – she would find behind the trembling and the faintness the strength to move forward, however hesitatingly. She would not faint.
-Dr Claire Weekes, Peace From Nervous Suffering, p. 173
If you have fainting anxiety symptoms and follow the 3 steps above, you will be fine. You can function with the fear, and the feelings will pass.
Do you ever get fainting anxiety? What helped you?
I wish you peace,
Looking for even more free anxiety tips? Sign up for my newsletter and don’t miss a single post!