What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a sudden and unexpected surge of physiological arousal that can occur unexpectedly or in response to encountering or thinking about a scary situation.

During a panic attack, a person may suddenly overcome by strong fear and physical symptoms of anxiety, like increased heart rate, sweating, difficulty breathing, shaking, feeling dizzy or feeling sick. Panic attacks often feel overwhelming. Someone experiencing a panic attack might feel like they’re losing control or even having a heart attack. This often leads to intense fear of having a panic attack, which can lead to increased anxiety and a greater likelihood that a panic attack will occur.

Some tips for managing panic attacks:

  • Remind yourself that the physical symptoms you are experiencing, while unpleasant, cannot harm you. You do not need to be afraid of the symptoms.
  • Ground yourself in there here-and-now by noticing five things that you can see, hear, touch, smell.
  • Breathe deeply – breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 2 counts and breathe out for 6 counts.
  • Move around or engage in physical activity to expel extra energy.
  • Do something that requires you to focus your attention, such as reading a novel
  • Repeat a positive, realistic statement to yourself, such as “I will get through this”.
  • Allow time to pass. Panic attacks are unpleasant but they do pass and the symptoms cannot harm you, no matter how unpleasant they feel.
  • If you feel comfortable, let supportive people around you know. This way they may be able to help you if you want them to.