I think so, though not directly. I can’t say much about panic attacks and all of that as I’m not a doctor. But I can tell you about a way I think anxiety can kill people cause I’ve been through it : suicide.
Read if you’re interested enough, I’m sorry if it’s boring, but here’s my story and what led me to that conclusion:
I’ve been bullied a lot in middle school and most of it wasn’t physical violence, so even though I see it as a 4 years long nightmare, it ended up. High school was way better for me and I really thought I was over harassment and all that, even though I kept on being sort of isolated and fearful.
I was always really anxious but in high school, it was more about social anxiety (due to my background, obviously). I was very shy and I could panic very easily for nothing, but as I had good grades and two great friends, it was “ok”. My anxiety wasn’t eating me alive, yet.
But then, I entered university (I’m a law student) and things changed. My anxiety grew, quietly but surely, month after month. For the first time ever, I had to be stressed out about work (I used to have good grades without any efforts, which isn’t really possible anymore at university).
I had it under control until one day (and what I’m about to say might sound very stupid to you, but eh, it’s the truth) : when David Bowie died. He was (and still is) my idol and it triggered everything. It wasn’t instantaneous, strangely enough, I was terribly sad when it happened but managed to have a great summer and kept my grades up.
I only completely lost control around September. That’s when my anxiety took over. I became depressed, irritable and awfully aggressive toward my mother : I was nervous every time we were in the same room and I hated her for no reason (I silently hated everyone, you know, like that guy in The catcher in the Rye). I couldn’t work anymore because I kept on worrying about the fact that I needed to work more. I was stuck. My grades went down along with my mood. I felt bad all the time, even with my friends, though I did everything to make them think I was alright. It worked, almost nobody noticed how anxious I was (few people did, some of those extraordinarily sensitive ones, I guess).
I was crying and panicking at the same time alone in my bed at night, in silence so that my mum wouldn’t notice. I was waking up in the middle of the night, thinking about death. I was spending all my time on my phone cause any other activity was too exhausting (I stopped reading, I wouldn’t go out and thought “that’s okay I’m an introvert”).
I reached the worst back in January. It was the anniversary of the death of my idol (the one who made me think alienation was alright), it was the time of my exams, which I thought I had failed. One day, driving home from university, I cried all the way home and thought “If there isn’t anybody near the cliff, I’m jumping” (there’s a cliff near my house). And I was determined, I wanted it to end, and I’m telling you, it wasn’t depression, it was anxiety. My heart was pounding in my chest and my thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone. Fortunately enough, there were lots of people near the cliff on that day and as I have social anxiety, I was too scared to stop the car. But I kept on thinking about that cliff. A few days after that, I tried to hang myself, I stared at the belt for one hour and a half without moving (literally), just internally panicking. I did put it around my neck a few times but as I started choking (I didn’t jump or anything), I got terrified by the thought of death and stopped on time.
I kept on thinking about death and it was only me, myself and I. Sometimes I’d make suicide jokes with my friends and they were thinking, indeed, that it was a joke. How I wished someone would have taken it seriously.
Then my mum, who didn’t know everything but surely knew something was going on, told me “you’ve got to choose, to fight or give up, to live or die”. So I decided to live. I went to a psychiatrist, thinking “whatever, nothing to loose”. God that was the right choice. She immediately told me about anxiety (I knew what it was but everything was so blurry in my head), she took the time to tell my about the symptoms and told me that even though I was going through as depressive phase, the thing with me was anxiety.
She gave me medications, which I was terrified about, we talked, and now everything has changed. I’m scared of the medications, I fear that I might go back to my previous state and that it’s just a temporary release but I don’t think so. It’s not even strong, what she gave me, it’s just things against anxiety. I’m no zombie like I thought I could become. It’s a blessing.
As seen from now, I think that the death of my idol + the stress of university triggered something that had been inside me since middle school, something I thought was long gone. I feel awfully better now and hopefully this is the end of the story.
All of that to say, I’m 100% sure that anxiety can kill you. You can make an impulsive choice, just once, because you can’t take it anymore. Anxiety is like a little demon inside you, I won’t leave you alone and it comes back when you’re alone or don’t expect it.