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Thread: DWD MH Factsheet #3 - Panic Attacks

  1. #1
    Princess Sparkles Paula's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Jane Austen country

    DWD MH Factsheet #3 - Panic Attacks

    At DWD we cannot and will never try to replace a qualified medical team. We are not medically trained. The information contained within this factsheet is based on literature from reputable sources (e.g. national and international health services, established national and international charities etc) along with experience gained from our own lives as they’ve been affected by mental health problems.

    Panic attacks are often connected to anxiety and occur when your body goes into the Fight, Flight or Freeze autonomic response. This is where hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are produced to create alertness and increase blood flow to enable the body to do whatever needs to be done when a threat appears. Panic attacks trigger physical symptoms that can be very frightening and can make you feel like you’re having a heart attack, going to collapse or dying. However, it’s important to remember that panic attacks are not dangerous.

    Physical symptoms can include:

    - a racing heartbeat
    - feeling faint or dizzy
    - feeling very hot or very cold
    - sweating
    - shaking
    - feeling sick
    - pain in your chest or abdomen
    - struggling to breathe
    - feeling like your legs are shaky
    - feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings

    Panic attacks can happen at any time, day or night. It may be that there is an obvious cause or trigger (eg being in an enclosed space or in a crowd) but often they seem to come out of the blue. Some people have just one panic attack with no recurrence but many have them regularly or several over a short space of time. If you are having lots of panic attacks regularly, you may be diagnosed with a panic disorder.

    Most panic attacks last between 5 minutes and half an hour. Rarely does a panic attack last longer than this and usually that would be because you’re experiencing a second panic attack, or having anxiety symptoms.

    There are treatments available to help with panic attacks such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or medication (anti depressants, benzodiazepines, Pregabalin etc). Self help techniques can be very beneficial and can include mindfulness, breathing exercises, taking care of your physical health (including eating and drinking well and getting enough sleep), yoga, reflexology, meditation or other complementary therapies. Peer to peer support can also be invaluable such as a forum like

    There are ways to manage while having a panic attack, including:

    - concentrate on your breathing: it can help to slowly breathe in and out, counting to five at each in and each out breath. The organisation No Panic have a very useful recorded message that can ‘talk’ you through a panic attack and which is available to listen to 24/7 (

    - stamp on the spot, which also helps you manage breathing

    - grounding techniques which can help you keep connected to the present. These can include: listening to sounds around you; walking barefoot; wrapping yourself in a blanket and focusing on how it feels; sniffing something with a strong smell; holding something that has special meaning for you

    - reminding yourself that it will pass and you are in no danger

    Panic attacks are debilitating, frightening and exhausting but there are treatments available which, along with the right support, can help minimise the impact they have or even reduce/eliminate these attacks.


    Dealing with Depression (DWD) - Helplines etc

    MIND - What is a Panic Attack?

    NHS - Panic Disorder
    The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.

  2. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Paula For This Useful Post:

    Jaquaia (19-09-18),Jarre (10-10-18),OldMike (19-09-18),Suzi (19-09-18)

  3. #2
    Boss Lady ;) Suzi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Surrey. UK
    Another brilliant fact sheet. Thank you so much!
    Do a little of something that makes you happy every day!

  4. The Following User Says Thank You to Suzi For This Useful Post:

    Paula (19-09-18)

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