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How Can I Stop My Panic Attacks?

By: Anna Martin - Updated: 6 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Combating Panic Anxiety Thoughts Feeling


I have been suffering from panic attacks for the past 6 months, I panic when I am anywhere where I can't get out quickly, if I hear a police siren I am terrified that they are coming for me, even though I have not done anything that would warrant that.

My stomach is constantly in knots and my moods are very up and down. I am finding this so distressing as I have always prided myself on how strong a person I am. I seem to be getting headaches more and more and that is something that I have never suffered from until recently.

Some days I don't want to get dressed, I just want to stay in bed, I force myself to go to work as when I'm there it's as though I can be someone else. I'm struggling to understand whats happening to me and am having trouble dealing with this. Could you tell me what it could be and how I can deal with it?

(K.W, 17 February 2009)


A panic attack is a physical response to a situation we view as being potentially stressful. Similar to a fight or flight response, an anxiety or panic attack motivates us to create movement away from a situation, because our body is on alert and warning us of danger. Although this is in fact a natural reaction, for some people being able to assess whether or not a situation is dangerous or stressful becomes difficult and physically uncomfortable.

How It Feels

A panic attack can leave you feeling dizzy, detached, short of breath, shaking, trembling and worrying that you are going crazy. It can also cause you to feel pains in your chest, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, chills and a sense of acute fear. Having one or more of these symptoms will mean you are experiencing a stressful situation that is manifesting as a panic attack.

Panic Disorder

If you are experiencing panic attacks regularly you may be suffering from a panic disorder. Getting a diagnosis will enable you to understand the triggers to your panic attacks and will help you identify ways of combating stressful situations that may potentially bring on an attack. Although the physical symptoms may or may not be directly linked to a mental condition, it is worth having a psychiatric assessment as well as a physical check-up.

Combating Panic

The moment you begin to feel the stirrings of panic you may attempt to relax, but generally by this point in is already too late to relax your mind and body sufficiently. Instead you can slow down your thoughts and feelings by counting backwards from 100, in 9s, then 8s, 7s and 6s. Doing this will greatly reduce your state of panic as you have to give your full concentration to working out the number pattern. Doing this also reduces the acuteness of your fears and enables you to gain a more relaxed view of what it is that is making you feel panicky and anxious.

Allowing the fear of panic to do its worst – in other words, just sitting quietly, in a safe place, with the feeling until it no longer affects you – will also help you to understand that the fear is simply a feeling that passes with time. Acknowledging it will also help you release the feeling of panic, as you will start to look at potentially stressful situations in a new way.

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