“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Anxiety Attack Symptoms and Panic Attacks, How To Stop

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk and Grace Lian, BA (Psychology), MDiv (Counseling), DMin.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Updated: August 11, 2019


Anxiety Attack Symptoms and Panic: Causes, Descriptions, Treatment.

Anxiety Attack and Panic Attacks Signs and Symptoms:

Anxiety attacks (panic attacks) are episodes of acute fears accompanied by strong symptoms, such as pounding and racing heart, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, tingling, feeling it is out of control, and more.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), defines panic attacks as: A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause.[1]

Those who experience anxiety attacks quickly learn that they can be highly unpleasant experiences. Even so, anxiety attacks and their symptoms can be successfully overcome with the right information, help, and support.


What does an anxiety attack feel like?

Anxiety attacks are acute episodes of intense fear that are accompanied by a few or many strong signs and symptoms. Anxiety attack symptoms (panic attack symptoms) can include:

  • A feeling of overwhelming fear or impending doom
  • Feeling of going crazy or losing control
  • Feeling you are in grave danger
  • Heightened sense of danger, heightened awareness of danger, increased danger surveillance
  • Feeling you might pass out or faint
  • A surge of doom and gloom
  • An urgency to escape
  • Dizziness
  • Heart Palpitations, pounding heart, or racing or accelerated heart
  • Headache, pounding head, or flushed head feeling
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath, feel like you are smothering
  • Chest pressure, pain, discomfort, or fullness feeling
  • Turning pale
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Tense muscles, muscle pain and stiffness
  • Dissociation (feel like things are surreal, dreamlike, out-of-body like)
  • Feel weird, suddenly confused, difficulty thinking straight
  • Irrational and confused thinking
  • Feel like you can’t free your mind from the fear
  • Weak in the knees
  • Burning skin
  • Pins and needles
  • Hot and cold flushes
  • Numbness and tingling sensations - Paresthesia
  • Feeling shaky
  • Nausea, stomach, or abdominal cramping, discomfort, or distress

The above anxiety attack symptoms can be accompanied by:

  • Choking sensation, tightening throat, it feels like your throat is closing, it feels like something is stuck in your throat
  • Confusion
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from reality, separate from one-self, separate from normal emotions)
  • Derealization (feeling unreal, in a dream-like state)
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, unsteadiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Emotional distress
  • Emotional upset
  • Inability to calm yourself down
  • Knot in the stomach, tight stomach
  • Panicky feeling
  • Pounding, racing heart
  • Butterflies in the stomach
  • Sudden urge to go to the bathroom (urinate, defecate)
  • Vomiting
  • Feel like crying

This list of symptoms is not exhaustive.

Anxiety attacks can be experienced as “limited-symptom” panic attacks where the attack is accompanied by only a few symptoms whereas they can also be experienced as ‘full-blown” anxiety attacks where the attack is accompanied by many or all of the symptoms.

Moreover, a person can have a “limited-symptom” anxiety attack one time with few symptoms and have a “full-blown” anxiety attack with many or all of the symptoms at a different time. All variations and combinations are common.

As you can see, there are many physical, psychological, and emotional signs and symptoms of anxiety attacks and panic attacks. For more detailed information about each anxiety symptom, see our anxiety symptoms list all section.

Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, anxiety attacks and their symptoms can affect each person differently. Consequently, symptoms can vary from person to person in type or kind, number, intensity, duration, and frequency. If your anxiety symptoms don’t exactly match the above list, that doesn’t mean you aren’t having an anxiety attack. It could mean your body is responding differently than someone else, and therefore, presenting symptoms differently than someone else.

Medical Advisory

We recommend all new, changing, persistent, and returning anxiety symptoms be discussed with your doctor as some medical conditions and medications can cause anxiety-like symptoms, including anxiety attacks and panic attacks. If your doctor concludes your anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and their symptoms are solely anxiety-related, you can be confident there isn't a medical cause. Generally, doctors can easily determine the difference between symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack from those caused by a medical condition.

Doctors aren't infallible, however. If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, you can seek a second or more opinions. But if all opinions agree, you can be assured your anxiety attacks, panic attacks and their symptoms are solely anxiety-related.

How long can anxiety attacks last?

Anxiety attacks and their symptoms can last from a few moments to upwards of 30 minutes or more. Sometimes, the entire anxiety attack episode (a series of anxiety attacks and symptoms can last much longer and can stretch out over days where attacks will happen, then subside for a time, then reoccur). The length and severity of an anxiety attack and its symptoms are generally determined by how frightened the person is and how they react to what it is they are afraid of. Or, how they react to the anxiety attack or symptoms themselves. Typically, the greater and prolonged the reaction, the longer the attack and symptoms. We explain this in more detail a bit later.

Can anxiety attacks last for hours?

Yes! While a typical anxiety attack and its symptoms last for about 30 minutes, some anxiety attack episodes and their symptoms can last for hours. This is especially true if a person is afraid of the symptoms and strong feelings of an anxiety attack.

Can anxiety attacks last for days?

Yes! Typically anxiety attacks and their symptoms last for about 30 minutes. But some anxiety attack episodes and symptoms can last for days where attacks and symptoms increase and decrease for many days in a row.

Can anxiety attacks last for months?

Anxiety attacks and their symptoms generally last for about 30 minutes. But a person can have an episode of anxiety attacks that extends over hours and even days at a time. Anxiety attacks and their symptoms that occur over many days is often diagnosed as anxiety disorder.

For more information about prolonged anxiety attacks, see the section “Series of Anxiety Attacks.”

What is the difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack?

The DSM-5 suggests there is a difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks.[1]

The main differences are that an anxiety attack has mild symptoms, is short to long in duration, and the symptoms come on gradually whereas a panic attack has intense symptoms, is short in duration, and symptoms come on suddenly. Overall, an anxiety attack is mild and a panic attack is severe.

This difference is important, however, as the DSM-5 uses panic attack as a “clinical term” used to define symptoms and determine treatment options whereas anxiety attack is not used in a clinical manner. The difference can impact treatment by a mental health professional.

Is having a panic attack the same as having panic disorder?

A panic attack is the experience of having a panic attack accompanied by a few or many symptoms.

The DSM-5 describes the criteria for panic disorder as panic attacks that must be associated with longer than 1 month of subsequent persistent worry about: (1) having another attack or consequences of the attack, or (2) significant maladaptive behavioral changes related to the attack. To make the diagnosis of panic disorder, panic attacks cannot directly or physiologically result from substance use (intoxication or withdrawal), medical conditions, or another psychiatric disorder. Other symptoms or signs may include headache, cold hands, diarrhea, insomnia, fatigue, intrusive thoughts, and ruminations.[1]

Are anxiety attack symptoms serious?

Even though anxiety attack symptoms and signs can seem powerful and even feel out of control, they aren’t harmful. Anxiety attacks symptoms and signs are the same as panic attacks symptoms and signs but lesser in severity.

Can you die from having a panic attack?

Panic attacks themselves aren’t harmful. But since anxiety attacks can severely stress the body, they could exacerbate an existing health condition if it is aggravated by stress.

What are anxiety attacks?

Anxiety attacks and panic attacks and their signs and symptoms are episodes of high degree anxiety and fear that are accompanied by high degree stress responses.

To gain a better understanding of anxiety attacks, a little background about anxiety is required.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as: A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a real or imagined event, situation, or circumstance that we think might be threatening.[2]

In other words, if we become concerned (afraid) that something could harm or endanger us, this concern (fear) creates the state of being anxious.

As you can see, anxiety is not something that comes over us for no reason. We create anxiety when we believe we could be in danger, such as something has the potential harm us. The degree of anxiety is proportional to how much danger we think we could be in.

For instance, if you think something could cause little harm, you will experience slight anxiety, such as being a little nervous. If you believe you could be in grave danger, such as being killed, you will experience high degree anxiety.

There are instances where we can feel anxious for no reason, which we also explain a bit later.

The Stress Response

The moment we believe we could be in danger, the body activates the stress response, which secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it. This survival reaction is the reason why it’s often referred to as the fight or flight response, the emergency response, or the fight, flight, or freeze response (some people freeze when they are afraid like a “deer caught in headlights”).[3][4][5]

We can think of the fight or flight response as an emergency mechanism the body mobilizes to give us an extra edge or “super-strength” when dangerous situations occur.

Sometimes people have said they felt like they had “superhuman” strength when they were in danger. For example: the ability to lift the full weight of a car because someone was trapped underneath. Or, having the ability to run well beyond a person’s capability in order to get help for someone in trouble. Such feats were made possible by the body’s automatic emergency response system and the hormones it naturally produces when danger is perceived.

In the days when humans had to protect themselves against vicious beasts on a daily basis, this “emergency system” came in handy. Even though the beasts we face today may be different (pressure on the job rather than a Saber-toothed tiger chasing us), the emergency system still responds the same way.

Without going into great detail, the following will give you a brief overview of how the fight or flight response works. If you want a more detailed explanation, visit our “stress response” page.

As mentioned, the moment we think we could be in danger, such as being harmed in some way, the amygdala (considered to be the “fear center” of the brain) sends a message to the hypothalamus area of the brain (considered to be the “command center”), which in turn signals the adrenal glands to release stress hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol, and others). These hormones are powerful stimulants that instantly stimulate the body into emergency readiness.[6][7]

When we say “instantly” we mean the body can trigger an emergency response within milliseconds of the perception of danger. In fact, it can occur so quickly that it can seem like the response happened first and then we realized we were in danger. In some instances that can occur as visual information can trigger the emergency response before the rationalization areas of the brain have had a chance to realize danger could be imminent. We explain this in more detail in the Recovery Support area.

Suffice to say, the fight or flight response can happen in the blink of an eye, and sometimes even before we realize we could be in danger.

Dr. Hans Selye, a 20th-century Vienna-born scientist well-known for his work on stress and the author of, “The Stress Of Life,” identified three specific stages of the stress response. He called these stages the “General Adaptation Syndrome” (GAS).[2] They are:

  • Alarm stage - Sensing danger triggers the stress response. The stress response causes the secretion of stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat – to fight or flee.
  • Resistance stage – The stress response changes are engaged to give the body an extra “boost” in energy and resources to deal with a threat.
  • Exhaustion stage – After the threat has passed, the stress response ends, and the stress hormones are used up or expelled, the body enters a recovery phase where it recovers from the stress response changes and rebuilds its energy stores for next time a stress response is needed.

For simplicity sake, the three stages of an emergency response can be illustrated as:

anxiety attack symptoms General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).

Notice that when an emergency alarm is triggered, stress hormones flood the bloodstream and instantly cause the many changes that give the body the resources to either fight or flee. As we are fighting or fleeing, the body uses up the emergency resources until the danger has passed. Once the danger has passed, the body comes off of high alert, the SNS gears down, and the body recovers and returns to normal physiology.

Stress hormones affect the body in many ways because they are SUPPOSED to equip the body for emergency action – to either fight or flee.

anxiety attack symptoms stress alarm.

There are two phases of the stress response.[3][4] Phase one occurs for immediate short-term threats where adrenaline and noradrenaline are released. And, phase two for threats that are more serious and longer-lasting. We explain these two phases in more detail on our “The Stress Response” page.

Overall, here are some of the many ways the emergency response equips the body for emergency action:

Overall stress response body-wide changes:

  • Heightens senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch).
  • The nervous system goes on high alert.
  • The sympathetic nervous system suspends all nonessential bodily functions and increases activity in the areas of the body that are needed to fight or flee.
  • Suppresses the immune system and pain response - to help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Increases metabolism – so that we have the energy we need to fight or flee.
  • Reduces insulin sensitivity.
  • Suppresses the production of testosterone.
  • Suppresses the growth system – a nonessential system when in danger.
  • Increases blood clotting activity - to prevent unstoppable bleeding.
  • Interferes with the onset and sustainability of the Sleep mechanism - so that we don’t fall asleep when fighting or fleeing.

Specific stress response body-wide changes:

  • Increases activity in the amygdala and hippocampus, and suppresses prefrontal cortex - which heightens fear and memory storage, and reduces executive functions, such as rationalization.
  • Increases a sense of danger – caused by the brain function changes above.
  • Increases urgency to escape -  caused by the brain function changes above.
  • Dilates pupils – to take in enhanced visual information.
  • Narrows peripheral vision (tunnel vision) - so we can focus on the threat without peripheral distractions.
  • Inhibits the lacrimal gland - responsible for tear production and salivation, which helps increase visual perception and reduces digestion.
  • Reduces hearing - so that the brain isn’t distracted and overwhelmed by extraneous auditory data.
  • Tightens the body's muscles - to make them more resistant to damage, to protect the underlying structures, and to increase reaction time.
  • Increases perspiration - to eliminate the body's water through the skin rather than through the kidneys (stopping to urinate when in a dangerous situation may impede or prevent escape).
  • Causes goosebumps – Piloerector muscles cause shivers, “goosebumps,” and hair standing on end - to help maintain body temperature (constricted blood vessels and diverted blood cause the surface of the body to cool).
  • Increases respiration - breathing increases (shallow and faster breathing) taking in more oxygen and eliminating the body's increased waste products, which are being produced by the increased metabolism.
  • Elevates heart rate - to pump the required oxygen and blood sugar-rich blood to the necessary body parts so that the body is ready to take action.
  • Increases blood pressure - by contracting the muscular layer in the walls of the arteries to shunt blood away from and to parts of the body more vital to survival, and rushes blood to the muscles.
  • Quickly converts the body's storage of sugar (glycogen) and fats into usable energy - for the immediate production of energy at the cellular level.
  • Increases blood sugar, oxygen, and blood flow to the brain.
  • Inhibits digestion - so that more of the body’s resources can be used for fighting or fleeing by decreasing motility in the digestive tract and by increasing hydrochloric acid in the stomach to speed food through the digestive system.
  • Tightens abdomen muscles - causing an urgency to urinate or void bowels to quickly eliminate any remaining food or waste from the body so that you don’t have to urinate or defecate while fighting or fleeing.
  • Pancreas decreases insulin secretion – so that the body’s energy isn’t reduced.[8]
  • Kidneys increase renin secretion - a hormone that regulates blood pressure and other physiological functions, such as cell growth and electrolyte balance.[9][10]
  • Relaxes gallbladder.
  • Contracts Sphincter muscles.
  • Relaxes the bladder - so we don't accidently urinate when we are fighting or fleeing.
  • Suppresses sexual arousal.

Stress hormones activate the body’s sympathetic nervous system (SNS), the nervous system responsible for stimulating the body. The SNS is activated by fearful, anxious, stressful, angry, and distressing thoughts. Since the fight or flight response activates the entire SNS, it’s little wonder why we can experience so many symptoms during anxiety attacks. Notice how anxiety symptoms reflect the changes caused by the emergency response.

So it’s not that anxiety attack symptoms are indications that the body is experiencing a medical emergency, but that they are indications that the body has experienced an emergency response or is under chronic stress, since stress activates the stress response.

To eliminate the strong feelings of anxiety attacks and their symptoms, we need to engage the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), the one responsible for calming the body. The PNS is activated by thoughts of calm, peace, optimism, and reassurance.[9]

The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work in opposition to each other. When one is active, the other is subdued. If we don’t want one nervous system to dominate, we merely need to activate the other.[11]

Below is an illustration that summarizes how the two nervous systems affect body function, keeping in mind that stress responses stimulate the sympathetic nervous system:

Anxiety attack symptoms stress response changes.

The stress response reaction is proportional to the degree of perceived threat

The degree of emergency response and its physiological, psychological, and emotional changes are directly proportional to the degree of anxiety. For example, if you are only slightly concerned, such as being slightly nervous about meeting someone new, the body produces a small degree response. The small degree response can be so slight that you don’t even notice it.

If you are greatly afraid, however, such as being terrified that there is a burglar in your home that is about to harm you, the body produces a high degree response. We generally experience high degree stress responses as anxiety attacks: where the emergency changes are so profound they get our full attention. The greater the degree of anxiety and stress response, the more changes the body experiences.

Low degree anxiousness will produce small fight or flight changes in the body whereas high degree anxiousness will produce high degree fight or flight changes. Again, high degree fight or flight response changes are called anxiety attacks.

Just as anxiety and the corresponding emergency response can range in degrees of severity, anxiety attacks can also range in degrees of severity. For instance, a moderate degree threat will produce a moderately high degree emergency reaction whereas an extreme threat will produce a very high degree emergency reaction.

Consequently, anxiety attack symptoms and panic attack symptoms can also vary in degrees, with more severe anxiety attacks and panic attacks causing a greater number of symptoms and intensities than lesser degree attacks. Since anxiety and panic attacks are triggered by the same reasons, both can vary in degrees of severity and symptoms with panic attacks generally being more severe.

Series of stress responses

Prolonged threats aren’t managed by one big, long stress response. A prolonged threat causes a series of stress responses until the threat has passed. Each stress response in the series will be directly proportional to the degree of threat perceived as the danger unfolds.

For example, every time you think you could be in danger, or think you are still in danger, your body produces a stress response and one that is proportional to degree of danger you believe you are still in. This series of stress responses only stops when you believe the threat has passed and you are no longer in danger.

Rather than one big, long stress response, prolonged threats and stressors produce a series of stress responses.

This is what we meant when we said earlier that an anxiety attack episode can last longer than just one anxiety attack. While one anxiety attack can last up to 30 minutes or more before it completely subsides, an “episode” (series) of anxiety attacks can last as long as we continue to trigger stress alarms.

anxiety attack symptoms series of gases.

The emergency response doesn’t have to end before another one can fire. A response will be set off every time you think you are in danger. Even if you have just experienced an emergency alarm, another one can occur if you thought you were still in danger, which dumps more stress hormones into the bloodstream. This is why reacting to an anxiety attack with worry and fear, which set off emergency alarms, can string out the anxiety attack episode (retriggering emergency alarms will extend anxiety attack episodes).

Once you believe the danger has passed, the body uses up or expels the remaining stress hormones and the body enters the exhaustion/recovery stage. The length of recovery time is not only proportional to the degree of stress response but also to the length of the series of stress responses.

For instance, if a series of low degree stress responses occurred in response to a minor threat over a 15-minute period, recovery might take a few to several minutes. However, if a series of high degree stress responses occurred in response to a major threat over several hours, recovery might take several minutes to an hour or more. And, the effects of that stressful episode might affect the body for days.

It’s not uncommon to feel the after effects for several days after a prolonged anxiety attack episode. This is especially true if your body is already chronically stressed and symptomatic.

Again, visit our “Stress Response” page for more detailed information.

Anxiety attacks (panic attacks) are episodes of high degree fight or flight responses precipitated or followed by high degree anxiety.

Types of Anxiety and Panic Attacks

There are two main types of anxiety attacks:

Voluntary anxiety attacks

These types of anxiety attacks are caused voluntarily, meaning by our direct control. Anxious thinking, such as feeling overwhelmed, being greatly nervous about something, or when you think your life is in serious danger is the most common cause of involuntary panic attacks.

Voluntary anxiety attacks account for the majority of anxiety attacks.

Involuntary anxiety attacks

These types of anxiety attacks are caused involuntarily, meaning outside of our direct control. Involuntary panic attacks occur less often.

What causes anxiety attacks and their symptoms?

There are six main causes of anxiety attacks (panic attacks):

1. High degree anxiety

The most common cause of anxiety attacks is thinking you are in grave danger.[12][13][14] Believing you are in extreme danger causes the body to produce a high degree stress response. As noted earlier, a high degree stress response can cause profound physiological, psychological, and emotional changes in the body, which can be unnerving to the unsuspecting person.

Once these changes are initiated, we can react to them with more fear, which causes more stress responses, which can cause more physiological, psychological, and emotional changes, and so on.

Overly apprehensive behavior - the ways we think and act in overly anxious ways - is the most common cause of anxiety attacks.

Intolerance of Uncertainty

There are many underlying factors – behaviors (the ways we think and act), situations, and circumstances – that cause issues with high degree anxiety, such as Intolerance of Uncertainty.

Intolerance of uncertainty is a dispositional characteristic that results from a set of negative beliefs about uncertainty and its implications and involves the tendency to react negatively on an emotional, cognitive, and behavioral level to uncertain situations and events.[15]  Current research show that this is a characteristic associated with anxiety attacks or panic disorder.

Emotional Reasoning

Emotional Reasoning – putting great emphasis on how you feel physically and emotionally – is another common underlying factor of anxiety. As are catastrophizing, pessimism, issues with control, and so on.

There are many underlying factors that contribute to the development of anxiety disorder, including anxiety attacks.

Other common reasons associated the initiation of high degree anxiety and panic attacks include:

  • Medical concerns
  • Work and career pressure
  • Financial pressure
  • Relationship challenges
  • Parenting challenges
  • Family problems
  • Being a caregiver of a loved one who is sick or dying
  • Major life transitions and changes, such as moving to a city or country, buying a new home,
  • Feeling overwhelmed with too much to do
  • Loss of physical or mental functioning
  • Loss of independence
  • Facing a phobia, such as public speaking, spiders, big dogs, claustrophobia, etc.
  • Flashbacks from a previous traumatic experience

And so on.

2. Chronic stress

When stress is kept within a healthy range, the body functions normally. When stress is allowed to build with no opportunity to de-stress, the body can become chronically stressed. Research has shown that chronic stress can lead to involuntary panic attacks – an involuntary high degree stress response that wasn’t caused by behavior.[16][17]

When we experience an involuntary high degree stress response, the symptoms can be so profound that we think we are having a medical emergency, which anxious personalities react to with more fear. And when we become more afraid, the body is going to produce another stress response, which causes more changes and symptoms, which we can react to with more fear, experience more symptoms, and so on.

Most people experience panic attacks when they’ve either become very afraid or due to chronic stress.

Since stress can cause the amygdala to become more active, and therefore, cause our thoughts to take on a more threatening tone, chronic stress can cause feelings of fear, anxiety, and doom and gloom to arise involuntarily. That's why we can feel anxious with symptoms even though we haven’t behaved apprehensively.

Other sources of chronic stress include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Extreme temperatures and temperature changes
  • Exposure to chemicals that you are sensitive to or react to
  • Being the victim of criminal activity
  • Being the victim of violence
  • Being a victim of abuse (physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, sexual, etc.)
  • Job and career pressures
  • Dealing with a serious medical matter
  • Being the caregiver of a loved one who is sick or dying
  • Participating in an important event, such as a concert recital, sporting event, educational event, etc.
  • Death or the separation from a loved one.

And so on. Any experience that chronically stresses the body can trigger involuntary anxiety attacks and symptoms.

Hyperstimulation is a common cause of involuntary anxiety attacks.

For more information about how stress affects the body, how elevated stress can cause involuntary panic attacks, and why just knowing this information may not be enough to stop them, you can read Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, and 14 in the Recovery Support area of our website.

3. Grief

It’s natural to grieve the loss of something we hold close to our hearts. While we don’t want to shortcut the process of grieving and moving on, we want to be aware that grieving stresses the body. A body that’s chronically stressed can cause involuntary panic attacks. And if you are an anxious person, it’s common to react to the anxiety attack with more fear, which can cause more stress hormones to be triggered.

Moreover, grieving can be accompanied by anxiety if the loss has caused uncertainty in your life. This anxiety can fuel an existing anxiety disorder, which can contribute to the onset of panic attacks.

If you are grieving, do your best to take breaks so that you can rest your body. Frequent rest and mind breaks can reduce the buildup of stress. If you notice an increase in anxiety, you might also want to talk with a therapist about the uncertainties you are facing and ways of dealing with the associated anxiety.

4. A medical condition

Many medical conditions can cause involuntary panic attacks either due to the condition itself or because of the stress it places on the body. Examples of medical conditions include:

  • Fluctuating hormone levels (such as menstruation cycle, perimenopause, menopause, postpartum recovery, etc.)
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep apnea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome, stomach upset, digestive issues
  • Vitamin and mineral imbalances
  • Brain disorders
  • Cancer
  • Lung and respiratory disease
  • Metabolic conditions

Hyperventilation can also cause the start of an anxiety attack, as running short of oxygen can trigger the body’s automatic startle reflex.

Low blood sugar can also cause the start of an anxiety attack. This occurs as a result of the body required an immediate increase in blood sugar, which a stress response can produce. For some people, even blood sugar that is low within the normal range can cause the start of a panic attack.

5. Medication

Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can cause involuntary anxiety attacks and symptoms, including psychotropic medications, steroids, hormone replacement therapy, antibiotics, and so on.

Withdrawing from medication can also be a factor.

For more information, talk with your doctor and pharmacist about your medications to see if they may be causing involuntary anxiety attacks.

6. Ingesting stimulants

Stimulants stimulate the body. A body that becomes overly stimulated can cause involuntary anxiety attacks and symptoms. We’ve worked with many people whose first encounter with anxiety was due to a “power drink” that caused the first panic attack. The first panic attack then propelled them into anxiety disorder due to the combination of the ingested stimulant, how it exacerbated their hyperstimulation, which they then reacted to anxiously.

7. Recreational drug use

Many recreational drugs have been known to initiate panic attacks, including alcohol, nicotine, marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, and phencyclidine.

Withdrawing from recreational drug use can also cause involuntary panic attacks and symptoms for some people.

Can you have an anxiety attack for no reason?

Yes, involuntary anxiety attacks can occur for seemingly no reason. Involuntary anxiety attacks can be caused by chronic stress, side effects of medication, a medical condition such as low blood sugar or hyperventilation, ingesting stimulants, grief, and by some recreational drugs.

Determining the reason for involuntary anxiety attacks can prevent them.

Anatomy of an anxiety attack

Based on what we’ve covered so far, here is a brief summary overview of the anatomy of an anxiety attack:

  • Stage 1: The moment we think we are in danger an emergency alarm goes off.
  • Stage 2: The amygdala signals the hypothalamus, which in turn signals the adrenal glands to release stress hormones.
  • Stage 3: Stress hormones stimulate the SNS into immediate action.
  • Stage 4: The changes caused by the SNS cause sensations that we experience as anxiety attack symptoms, such as shortness of breath, racing heart, lightheadedness, and so on. These symptoms can remain as long as the stress response changes are active.
  • Stage 5: Once the stress hormones are used up, the SNS gears down, the body calms down, and symptoms subside.

This pattern will repeat every time we trigger a stress alarm.

anatomy of an anxiety attack.

A prolonged panic attack can be caused by a series of retriggered stress alarms, which can be caused by:

  • Being afraid of the feelings of a stimulated sympathetic nervous system and its associated sensations.
  • A chronically stressed body that involuntarily triggers a series of stress alarms.
  • Repeating distressing thoughts about a stressful situation or circumstance.
  • An ingested stimulant that the body hasn’t used up.
  • A side effect of medication.
  • A medical condition that hasn’t been resolved.

And so on.

Being afraid of the feelings of high degree anxiety, or believing a medical emergency is causing the sensations caused by a high degree stress alarm are the most common causes of prolonged anxiety attacks.

You don’t have to be afraid of anxiety attacks or their symptoms

Even though panic attacks can cause a wide range of strong symptoms and feelings, you don’t have to be afraid of them since they are merely high degree stress responses that were triggered by one (or many) of the above reasons.

Because we can stop anxiety attacks by addressing the cause, we don’t have to be afraid of them.

In fact, fight or flight responses are our ally when in real danger. Furthermore, many people go to great lengths to cause the feelings of being “pumped up” and “adrenalized.” Those feelings are caused by the same hormones.

Calming yourself down, which stimulates the PNS, can end anxiety attacks, as well as reduce the body’s stress. It may take time, however, for a once started attack to end, but it will…in time. All anxiety attacks end…eventually.

Also keep in mind that we just have to end the current anxiety attack cycle and not retrigger another one. If you do that, it’s only a matter of time until the attack ends, the body reverts back to its normal physiological state, and symptoms end. Calming yourself down and being patient while your body uses up or expels the remaining stress hormones will bring an end to a panic attack and its symptoms. Once you become proficient at calming yourself down, you can stop anxiety attacks and symptoms every time.

Yes, it might seem difficult to calm yourself down initially. But as with anything you work at, you can learn the skill calming yourself down. With practice, it gets easier and faster. As you become proficient at calming yourself down, it becomes second nature. In time, it will require no effort at all to calm yourself down and end any episode of panic.

Overall, behaving less anxiously and keeping your body’s stress in a healthy range can prevent anxiety attacks and their symptoms. Therefore, they needn’t be a cause for concern.

Remember, anxiety attacks and their symptoms aren’t an indication of a medical emergency. They are just the body’s way of trying to boost your energy when you think you are in danger.

How to stop an anxiety attack and panic attacks

Anxiety attacks can be powerful and unnerving experiences that are accompanied by a few to many symptoms. But we can control, stop, and prevent panic and its symptoms with practice. The more you practice, the more proficient you become at ending them. As your proficiency increases, so will your confidence. As your confidence builds, anxiety attacks, panic, and their symptoms become a non-issue. Eventually, your skills will become second nature and your struggle with anxiety attacks, panic, and their symptoms will end.

If you haven’t yet read the above information about anxiety attacks, their symptoms, and causes, we recommend you do before reading further. The above information will give you a necessary foundation that will help you use the following stopping and prevention strategies.

If you've done that, here are 30 ways you can stop anxiety attacks and panic attacks naturally any time you want and anywhere you want:

1. Recognition

When an anxiety attack starts, recognize the body has triggered a high degree stress response that causes the secretion of a high volume of stress hormones to enter the bloodstream. Once in the blood, stress hormones bring about many body-wide changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat – to either fight or flee. These changes will persist until the body uses use the stress hormones, which can take between a minute or so to 30 minutes or more depending on the degree of stress response that was activated.

Remember, the degree of stress response is directly proportional to the degree of anxiety. Higher degrees of anxiety will produce higher degree stress responses with higher volumes of stress hormones that will take longer for the body to use up.

Nevertheless, the stress hormones will be used up and the anxiety attack will end. Understanding this, and accepting that this is a normal part of the body’s survival mechanism, can help put anxiety attacks and panic into proper perspective.

2. Give Your Body Time To Calm Down

As mentioned, once stress hormones have entered the bloodstream, they will bring about their body-wide changes. Stress hormones are stimulants, which is why we feel stimulated during anxiety and panic attacks. However, as the body uses up these stress hormones, their stimulating effects diminish, and eventually the body will calm down.

Once you’ve recognized a high degree stress response has occurred, remain patient as the body uses up the stress hormones and moves toward calming down.

The body will calm down naturally as it uses up the remaining stress hormones!

3. The Stress Response Is Supposed To Feel Powerful

The body’s survival mechanism is supposed to feel powerful so that it motivates you to take immediate action – to either fight or flee. In its effort to keep you safe from harm, the stress response will boost your energy, increase your sense of danger and reactivity to danger, and create a sense of urgency to escape.

If these body-wide changes feel overwhelming, they’re supposed to. This means your body is doing its job in response to the perception of danger.

Choosing to not react to this strong feeling will allow the stress hormones to be used up and the body to return to its pre-stress response state.

Don’t mistake the strong feelings of an anxiety attack as being the SOURCE of danger, but rather the body’s automatic survival response TO danger. 

The body’s emergency response is not something we need to fear. It’s a reaction to danger, not the source of danger.

4. The Strong Feelings Of A Panic Attack Aren’t Dangerous

Even though the symptoms and feelings associated with a panic attack can feel strong, they aren’t dangerous. These strong feelings are merely reflecting the many changes a high degree stress response brings about.

So, don’t misconstrue anxiety and panic attacks as being dangerous. View them as merely being a survival response to the perception of danger. In this case, your body is doing what it’s supposed to when you are anxious or chronically stressed. This is normal and needn’t be a cause for concern.

5. Anxiety Attacks Aren’t A Sign Of A Medical Emergency

If your anxiety attack or panic was caused by apprehensive behavior or chronic stress, and not because of a medical reason, the attack isn’t dangerous or harmful. It’s just the body’s way of trying to protect you from harm or reacting to being chronically stressed. You don’t have to react to an anxiety attack as if the attack itself is dangerous…because it isn’t!

Anxiety attacks occur in response to apprehensive behavior or chronic stress. You don’t have to be afraid of or worry about anxiety attacks.

For more information, see our article, “The Difference Between An Anxiety Attack And A Heart Attack.”

6. You Won’t Lose Control

Even though a strong anxiety attack can make it seem like you could lose control, you won’t because you are always in control of your thoughts and actions.

One way to test this is to have something with you, such as your mobile phone, that you can pull out and look at any time you feel an anxiety attack starting. You’ll find that you can look at your phone any time you want even though your body is stimulated from a high degree stress response.

Reminding yourself that you are always in control of your thoughts and actions can remove the fear of being out of control that so often causes anxiety attacks to sustain.

7. The Stress Response Is Our Ally, Not Our Foe

The stress response is an essential part of the body’s survival mechanism. It’s designed to protect us, not harm us. So, there’s nothing to be afraid of. The stress response and the many body-wide changes it causes is just the body’s way of doing its job. While it’s doing its job, we can experience many strong sensations and feelings until the job is completed and the body reverts to pre-emergency alarm state.

8. Reframe Anxious And Dramatic Self-talk

Most anxiety and panic attacks are caused and sustained by apprehensive and dramatic self-talk. Because the brain responds to the words and thoughts we use as if they are true, every time we think anxiously and dramatically, the body is going to respond accordingly.

For instance, if you think, “I can’t stand this, I’m doomed!” Your brain will believe you ARE doomed and will trigger a corresponding emergency alarm. Even though you may not be actually doomed, your body will respond as if you are.

Just as we can think anxiously and dramatically that causes dramatic stress response reactions, we can also reframe those thoughts into self-talk that is calming, reassuring, and soothing. Reframed self-talk will also cause the body to respond but in a calming and soothing manner rather than a fearful and stimulating manner.

Reframing self-talk can quickly shut off an anxiety attack. Then, it’s only a matter of time until the body uses up the remaining stress hormones and calms down.

Take some time and identify all of the ways you think anxiously and dramatically, then come up with less dramatic ways of expressing yourself. I (Jim Folk) think you’ll be surprised at the difference less dramatic language makes.

9. Calm And Soothe Yourself

Yes, you can calm and soothe yourself. While you might feel you can’t, that’s most often because you either don’t know how or haven’t become practiced enough for it to become second nature.

As mentioned earlier, just as we can scare ourselves into panic using anxious and dramatic self-talk, we can also calm ourselves by using calming and soothing language and thoughts. That’s because the mind/body connection requires that the body directly follow our thought-life. When we use calming and soothing self-talk and mental imagery, the body HAS TO respond accordingly.

Yes, it might take some time for the body to use up the remaining stress hormones once they have entered the bloodstream, but the body will use them up and then calm down as you use calming and soothing self-talk and mental imagery.

Here is an example of how to calm and soothe yourself:
Imagine how you would calm and soothe a young child who is in distress. Then, apply that same approach to yourself.

For instance, you can say calming things to yourself such as, “It’s okay, you’ll be fine. You aren’t in any danger. Calm down. You’ll feel better in just a few minutes.”

Or, “I know an anxiety attack can feel strong, but it’s not dangerous and it won’t hurt you. Calm down and relax. These strong feelings will pass in a few minutes and you’ll feel fine again.”

Or, “Anxiety attacks aren’t dangerous even though they can feel strong. They are the body’s natural way of protecting itself. Calm down and relax. These strong feelings will end in a few minutes and you’ll feel fine again.”

Or, “You’re going to be okay. You don’t have to worry. You aren’t in any danger. These strong feelings will pass as your body calms down.”

Or, “Hang on for a few more minutes. It’s going to be okay shortly. You aren’t in any danger. You’re going to be okay!”

When you affirm yourself in a soft, reassuring, gentle, and encouraging tone, your body will respond accordingly. Some people also find it helpful to gently hug and rock themselves while using calming and soothing self-talk. Then, within a few minutes, the attack begins to subside as the body uses up and expels the remaining stress hormones.

Learn how to calm and soothe yourself, and then practice until calming and soothing becomes second nature. Becoming confident in your ability to calm and soothe yourself will give you an important skill that can not only shut off anxiety attacks anytime you want but it can also prevent anxiety attacks from starting.

Learning to calm and soothe yourself is one of the main anxiety-busting skills that can benefit you over your lifetime. Self-calming and self-soothing are skills well-worth learning and developing proficiency.

10. Anxiety And Panic Attacks Always End

Anxiety attacks are based on one or a series of stress responses that were triggered by apprehensive behavior (the ways we think and act). You can stop anxiety attacks anytime by stopping apprehensive behavior and working to calm your body.

Even if your anxiety attack was an involuntarily attack, it will still end. No panic attacks go on forever. Yes, you can keep them going via apprehensive behavior. But the minute you stop apprehensive behavior, the stress alarm ends. Then, it’s only a matter of time until the body uses up or expels the remaining stress hormones and you feel better.

11. Relax Your Body

Relaxing your body stimulates the PNS, the nervous system responsible for calming the body. The more relaxed you can make yourself feel in spite of the symptoms associated with the stress response, the easier it is for your body to calm down.

Remember, the SNS and PNS work in opposition to each other. When we stimulate one, the other is subdued. Stimulating the PNS will subdue the SNS, which will lead to calming down and ending the anxiety attack.

One way to relax your body is by making it feel as loose and heavy as possible. You can think of it similar to how ice slowly melts and oozes onto the floor when heated. Any imagery you can think of that makes your body feel very relaxed can help shut off anxiety attacks and their symptoms.

Relaxing muscles can also help the body relax. Using a progressive muscle relaxation visualization can help release tight muscles and make them loose and relaxed.

12. Imagine Peaceful And Calm Imagery

Even though anxiety attacks can feel powerful and be accompanied by strong symptoms and feelings, we can still focus our mind on other types of thoughts. Dwelling on thoughts that scare you will continue to trigger stress responses that stimulate the SNS, which will prolong an anxiety attack episode.

Conjuring up thoughts of peace and calm will stimulate the PNS, which will suspend the stress response and bring an end to an anxiety attack in time…as the body uses up or expels the remaining stress hormones.

Therefore, you can end an anxiety attack merely by changing your thinking. One way to do this is by imagining a peaceful and pleasing environment, such as sitting by a serene lake, or reclining in a beautiful and quiet garden, or sitting on the beach and watching a beautiful sunset over the ocean, and so on. Imagining peaceful and calm imagery will suppress the SNS and lead to calm as the body quiets down.

Yes, it might take several minutes for the body to gear down and adapt to a change in mental imagery, but it will if you persist with the peaceful imagery and give your body sufficient time to respond.

13. Distract Yourself

Since most anxiety attacks are caused by distressing thoughts, distracting yourself with something interesting can shut off the thoughts that triggered the panic attack. Distraction can also prevent other thoughts from triggering additional stress responses and anxiety attacks. Finding things you are interested in and enjoy can be especially helpful not only in ending anxiety and panic attacks but also in reducing anxiety and stress overall, which also contribute to ending and preventing anxiety attacks and their symptoms.

14. Relaxed diaphragmatic breathing can stop anxiety attacks

Relaxed breathing – breathing with your abdomen – stimulates the PNS, the nervous system responsible for calming the body. As you stimulate the PNS, it suppresses the SNS, the nervous system that is stimulated by stress hormones.

Relaxed breathing also stimulates the vagus nerve that also works to calm the body. Both of these actions serve as the body’s natural tranquilizer that is more effective than any medication we can take. Learning how to activate the body’s natural tranquilizing effect can provide a lifetime of natural calm.

Furthermore, as you relax breathe, your body shuts off the stress alarm and the remaining stress hormones are used up or expelled. In as little as 20 minutes, you can feel much better as the stress response ends and your body returns to normal physiology.

Yes, you can still feel geared up when you start to relax breathe, but as you persevere, your body HAS TO calm down. Then, it’s only a matter of time until you feel better.

Relaxed breathing ISN’T deep breathing. Relaxed breathing is breathing a little deeper than normal but not to the point of deep breathing, which can cause hyperventilation. Hyperventilation can not only make you feel dizzy but it can also trigger involuntary stress responses if the body thinks the CO2 balance is becoming dangerously unbalanced.

Relaxed breathing prevents hyperventilation.

15. Breathe In Lavender

Research has found that breathing in lavender, especially Essential Oil Lavender can reduce stress and anxiety. So while you are diaphragmatic breathing, breathe in lavender. But breathe it in through your nose as that is more effective than breathing it in through the mouth.

16. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is having a moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness allows our thoughts to tune into the present moment rather than thinking about the past or future.

Mindfulness can distract away from apprehensive thinking an onto pleasant and calming thoughts, which can activate the body’s natural tranquilizing effect.

17. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressively relaxing your muscles – deliberately relaxing one muscle group at a time – can help relax the body as well as distract the mind. Both can help shut off and recover from an active stress response associated with an anxiety attack.

18. Focus On An Object

Most anxiety attacks are started and fueled by anxious thinking. Changing your focus from anxious thinking to a neutral, interesting, or enjoyable object can stall and shut off anxious thinking, which can bring an end to an anxiety attack. The more time you spend dwelling on the object, the less time you have for anxious thinking. Anxiety and panic attacks end when we suspend anxious thinking.

19. Envision Your Happy And Safe Place

Worry is using your imagination to scare yourself, which is a common cause of anxiety attacks. Imaging your happy and safe place will calm the body down and end an anxiety attack. If you don’t have an imaginary happy and safe place, take some time an create one. Once created, you can use your imagination to calm yourself anywhere and anytime you want.

20. Engage In Light Exercise

Anxiety attacks cause stress hormones to cause body-wide changes. Engaging in light exercise will use up these stress hormones, thereby reversing the effects of the stress response. Ending the effects of the stress response ends anxiety and panic attacks.

21. Repeat A Calming Mantra

Similar to creating a safe and happy place, creating and repeating a calming mantra can derail anxious thinking and help end an anxiety attack.

Here are some examples of a calming mantra:

  • “A stress response is a natural response to danger. It’s not harmful and will end when I keep myself calm. I will feel better in time.”
  • “I don’t have to be afraid of an anxiety attack. It will end when my body has used up the remaining stress hormones. I’m not in any danger.”
  • “I’m not in any danger. I'll be fine again in a short while.”
  • “I'll be fine. There’s nothing for me to worry about even though these feelings can feel strong at times.”
  • “This is just a high degree stress response. It will end and I’ll be fine.”

As you become more familiar with anxiety attacks and how to stop them, you can shorten your mantras, such as:

  • “Stay calm. I'll be fine again in time.”
  • “I’m not in any danger. There’s no need to react.”
  • “This is just an anxiety attack. I'll be fine!”
  • “This is just an anxiety attack. I’m ok. It will end.”
  • “Stay calm. Calm ends anxiety attacks.”
  • “Calm! I’m not in any danger. I'll be fine shortly.”

22. Ground Yourself

Some people find grounding helpful. You can ground yourself by standing on the ground in your bare feet, digging into and feeling the soil with your bare hands, or by touching and feeling a tree or other natural object. Grounding can distract anxious thinking as well as help you feel better connected to stability and certainty, both of which can help you feel safe and calm overall.

23. Go For A Walk

Leisure walking can use up stress hormones as well as shut off the stress response. Leisure walking can also distract you away from the thoughts that trigger and sustain anxiety and panic attacks.

24. Don’t Let The Peaks Of An Anxiety Attack Scare You, They Will Pass

Yes, anxiety attacks can feel powerful, and their strong feelings and symptoms can come in waves where they are intense one moment and then ease off somewhat the next. This is normal. When you feel a surge of symptoms and feelings of panic, keep yourself calm. These waves of intensity will also subside as your body uses up and expels the remaining stress hormones.

No matter how significant the wave of intensity, anxiety attacks will end when we stop triggering and fueling them. Keeping yourself calm in spite of the waves of intensity will help shut off anxiety and panic attacks. Then, it’s only a matter of time until the body calms down and recovers from the active stress response and its changes.

25. Talk With A Supportive Loved One

Talking with a supportive loved one can help you calm down, can bring reassurance that you’ll be ok, and help you feel safe, all of which can help end an anxiety attack.

26. Pray

Many people find praying to a higher power brings comfort, reassurance, and calm, all of which can end an anxiety attack.

You can also pray for help in overcoming anxiety attacks, and then pray for wisdom, guidance, and encouragement as you learn how to overcome them.

27. Refuse To Chase Anxious Thinking

Anxious thinking is the most common cause of anxiety attacks. Chasing and dwelling on anxious thinking will only prolong anxiety attacks, whereas refusing to engage in anxious thinking will bring about their end.

28. Give Yourself 20 – 30 Minutes For The Sensations To Ease Off

When you calm yourself, the body shuts off the stress response. Then, it uses up and expels the remaining stress hormones. In the meantime, your body is going to be geared up UNTIL the actions of the stress hormones cease.

Generally, it can take 20 – 30 minutes for the body to gear down from a major stress response. This is normal based on the many changes the body undergoes from a major stress alarm.

As you keep yourself calm in spite of how your body feels in the short-term, you will feel better as your body slowly recovers from the effects of the stress alarm. In time, you will feel back to your old self again.

Yes, we can recover much faster from lesser degree fight or flight responses. If you notice you are feeling better much quicker than 20 – 30 minutes, this is also common.

29. Be Patient As Your Body Uses Up Its Stress Hormones And Symptoms Subside

When I (Jim Folk) was overcoming my battle with anxiety attacks, I learned to be patient as I calmed myself and my body adjusted downward from an anxiety attack. Previously, I kept triggering myself because of the strong feelings of panic. But as I learned to stop triggering myself and be patient as the body used up and expelled the remaining stress hormones, it only became a matter of time until I felt better.

In the beginning, I said to myself, “Ok, I just had a major stress response. Calm down. It’s only a matter of 20 minutes or so until I feel better. I can wait this out.”

Whenever I felt a more intense wave of symptoms well up, I just repeated it and remained patient. Sure enough, as my body used up and expelled the remaining stress hormones, I began to feel better and better as the episode ended.

As I became proficient at calming myself and remaining patient, I could shut off panic attacks and their symptoms quickly. Sometimes in a matter of moments.

With practice, I got better and better at calming myself and remaining patient. Soon, I could shut off an anxiety attack within moments. Eventually, I stopped having panic attacks altogether. It’s been over 30 years since I had my last panic attack. I don’t even think of them anymore unless I’m working to help others.

30. Yes, You Can Conquer Anxiety Attacks For Good!

We can overcome anxiety attacks and their symptoms when we work at it. Learning and applying the skills that work solves the anxiety attack problem.

Here is a graphic you can use to remind you of How To Stop An Anxiety Attack And Panic Attacks.

How To Stop An Anxiety Attack And Panic Attacks.

You can learn more about anxiety attacks and panic attacks, and how to stop them in the Recovery Support area of our website. Our support area contains a wealth of self-help information about how to treat anxiety disorder, including panic attacks. It also includes how to overcome an established fear of anxiety attacks. Many members find this information to be their “one-stop” destination for help. You can click here for more information about our Recovery Support area membership options.

How to stop panic attacks at work?

You can stop panic attacks at work by:

  1. Acknowledging a panic attack has started.
  2. Keeping yourself calm.
  3. Relax diaphragmatic breathing.
  4. Relaxing your body and muscles.
  5. Waiting for your body to use up the remaining stress hormones.
  6. Giving your body time to calm down, between 5 to 30 minutes.

Once you learn how to stop panic attacks using the strategies we mentioned previously, you can stop panic attacks and symptoms anywhere, including at work. Practicing your stopping strategies can bring an end to panic attacks within a few to 30 minutes.

Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything else to calm yourself and end a panic attack.

If possible, you can stop panic attacks at work by listening to calming music or a calming audio track. If you are allowed to wear headphones or earbuds at work, no one will know you are working through a panic attack.

As you know, most people can’t tell you are having a panic attack even though the strong feelings may be raging on the inside. Knowing that you look calm on the outside can remove the unnecessary pressure of what people might be thinking of you while having a panic attack.

If some of the waves of panic or its symptoms feel overly strong, you can always get up and go for a quick stroll to the washroom, quiet space at work, or outside until the wave passes and you stabilize yourself. Once you feel the attack is subsiding and feel more in control, you can return to work and continue as you were before the attack.

As you become successful at calming yourself and ending anxiety attacks, you should be able to stop them even while working. When I (Jim Folk) was in the final stages of overcoming anxiety attacks and panic, I was so confident in my ability to shut them off and stop them, I could do it within a moment or two.

For instance, when I felt a panic attack coming on, I would say to myself, “Well, here comes another panic attack. I’ve been through so many of them I don’t care anymore. I’m just going to ignore it and get busy with what I was doing.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already beginning to dissipate. After a while, I didn’t even pay attention to them. They eventually stopped altogether.

Yes, it can be challenging as you learn and work at the skill of ending a panic attack. But with practice and time, you’ll be an expert at it and eventually, panic attacks will no longer occur.

No matter where you are when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice.

If you are starting to overcome panic attacks, you might want to tell your superiors that you are working to overcome them so they know what you are doing when you get up and leave. Knowing they understand can remove the unnecessary pressure of keeping your attacks and actions to overcome them secret. You might be surprised at how understanding most people are about panic. Many people in upper management also experience anxiety and panic attacks. They might identify with your efforts to overcome them. Who knows, you might be able to help them overcome theirs, too, as you work to overcome yours. We’ve seen this happen with some of our Recovery Support members and therapy clients.

If you know your supervisors have a dim view of anxiety and panic attacks, it might be best to keep your struggle to yourself, as some people have no patience for those who are struggling with anxiety disorder and panic attacks.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent having a panic attack at work, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop panic attacks at school

You can stop panic attacks at school by using the how to stop panic attacks strategies we mentioned previously. The moment you feel panic coming on, you can use any of the strategies to stop it, such as acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything else to calm yourself and end a panic attack.

It's also worth keeping in mind that most people can’t tell you are having a panic attack even though the strong feelings may be raging on the inside. Knowing that you look calm on the outside can remove the unnecessary pressure of what people might be thinking of you while having a panic attack.

If some of the waves of panic attack symptoms feel overly strong, you can always get up and go to the washroom, quiet space at school, or outside until the wave passes and you stabilize yourself. Once you feel the attack is subsiding and feel more in control, you can return to class and continue as you were before the attack.

As you become successful at calming yourself and ending panic attacks, you should be able to stop them even while sitting in class. When I (Jim Folk) was in the final stages of overcoming anxiety attacks and panic, I was so confident in my ability to stop them, I could do it within a moment or two.

For instance, when I felt a panic attack and its symptoms coming on, I would say to myself, “Well, here comes another panic attack. I’ve been through so many of them I don’t care anymore. I’m just going to ignore it and get busy with what I was doing.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already beginning to dissipate. After a while, I stopped paying attention to panic attacks and their symptoms. Over time, panic attacks and their symptoms stopped altogether.

Sure, it can be challenging as you learn and work at the skill of ending a panic attack. But with practice and time, you’ll be an expert at it, and eventually, your panic attacks will become a non-issue, too.

No matter where you are when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice.

If you are beginning your work at overcoming panic attacks, you might want to tell your teacher/professor that you are working at overcoming panic so they know what you are doing when you get up and leave. Knowing they understand can remove the unnecessary pressure of feeling you are trapped in class, or of keeping your panic attacks and actions to overcome them secret. You might be surprised how understanding most people are about anxiety disorder, including panic attacks.

Many educators also experience anxiety and panic attacks. They might identify with your efforts to overcome them. Who knows, you might inspire them to overcome their struggle with panic, too, as you work at overcoming yours.

If, however, you know your teacher/professor has an unhelpful view of anxiety and panic attacks, it’s best to keep your struggle to yourself. Some people have no patience for those who are working to overcome a mental health issue.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent having panic attacks at school, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop a panic attack while driving?

You can stop panic attacks while driving by using the same how to stop panic attacks strategies we mentioned previously. You can use these panic stopping strategies no matter when or where a panic attack starts, including at while driving. For instance, the moment you feel panic coming on, you can use any of the strategies to stop it, such as acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything else to calm yourself and end a panic attack.

I (Jim Folk) had many panic attacks while driving. Initially, I thought they might cause me to lose control and have an accident. But as I managed my panic attacks, I realized I could still drive and end a panic attack even while driving.

If you feel uncomfortable continuing to drive as you learn to bring an end to panic attacks, you might want to pull over, end your panic attack, and then resume driving. You’ll find that as your panic attack ends, you’ll be able to continue to drive to your destination.

Furthermore, if some of the waves of panic and symptoms feel overly strong, you can pull over and settle yourself. Or, you can get out of the vehicle and go for a walk until you feel better. Or, get out of the vehicle and sit on the curb or nearby bench until your body has used up the remaining stress hormones. When you feel better, you can return to the vehicle and begin driving again. If you get a series of panic attack episodes that come one after another, you can pull over as many times as necessary until you feel good enough to finish your drive.

I did that myself when I first started working on ending panic attacks. Sometimes it would take several attempts at stopping them until I finally felt good enough to finish my drive. Eventually, I could stop any intensity and wave of panic even while driving. When I was in the final stages of overcoming panic attacks, I was so confident in my ability to stop them, I could do it within a moment or two.

For instance, when I felt panic and its symptoms coming on, I would say to myself, “Here comes another panic attack. Oh well, I’ve been through so many of them I don’t care anymore. I’m just going to ignore it and keep driving.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already dissipating. After a while, I stopped paying attention to them or their symptoms. Eventually, panic attacks and their symptoms stopped occurring altogether.

Yes, having a panic attack while driving can be disconcerting as you learn and work at the skill of ending panic and its symptoms. With practice and time, however, you’ll be an expert at it. Eventually, panic attacks will become a non-issue for you, too, and their occurrences will cease altogether.

No matter where you are when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice.

If you are beginning your work at overcoming panic attacks, you might want to tell your passengers so they know what you are doing when you are having a panic attack or feel the need to pull over and get out for a walk. Knowing your passengers understand your situation can remove the unnecessary pressure of feeling you have to keep it to yourself and try to deal with it without anyone knowing. You might be surprised at how understanding most people are about anxiety disorder and having panic attacks.

Everyone I told during my struggle with panic were empathetic and understanding. And who knows, one of your passengers might also be struggling with anxiety disorder and panic. You might inspire them to overcome their struggle with panic, too, as you work at overcoming yours.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent having a panic attack while driving, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop a panic attack in public

Stopping a panic attack in public is no different than stopping a panic attack anywhere else. Once you learn how to stop panic attacks using the strategies we mentioned previously, you can stop panic and its symptoms anywhere, including in public. The moment you feel panic coming on, you can use any of the strategies to stop it, such as acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything else to calm yourself and end a panic attack.

Keep in mind that most people can’t tell you are having a panic attack even though the strong feelings may be raging on the inside. Knowing that you look calm on the outside can remove the unnecessary pressure of what people might be thinking of you while having and dealing with a panic attack.

If some of the waves of panic and its symptoms feel overly strong, you can move to a quiet place, or go for a walk outside until the wave passes and you stabilize yourself. Once you feel the attack is subsiding and feel more in control, you can return to where you were before the attack.

As you become successful at calming yourself and ending panic attacks, you should be able to stop them even while remaining in public. I (Jim Folk) had a great many panic attacks in public places. When I  was in the final stages of overcoming panic and its symptoms, I was so confident in my ability to stop them, I could do it within a moment or two anywhere, including being in public.

For instance, when I felt panic and its symptoms coming on, I would say to myself, “This is just a panic attack. I’ve been through so many of them I don’t care. I’m going to ignore it. It will go away in a few minutes. There’s nothing to worry about.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already dissipating. After a while, I stopped paying attention to panic attacks and their symptoms entirely. Over time, panic attacks stopped altogether.

Yes, having a panic attack in public can be unsettling as you learn and work at the skill of ending panic and their symptoms. With practice and time, however, you’ll be an expert at it, and eventually, panic attacks will become a non-issue, for you, too!

No matter where you are when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice. Becoming unafraid of panic and its symptoms, and effectively stopping them at will, should be your goal. You will succeed by working at it as you would any new skill you want to develop proficiency.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent having a panic attack in public, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop a panic attack alone?

How to stop a panic attack alone is no different than stopping panic attacks anywhere. You can use the how to stop panic attack strategies we mentioned earlier, such as reframing anxious thinking so that you stop voluntary panic attacks, and reducing stress so that you stop involuntary panic attacks. Both of which you can do anywhere and at any time, including when alone.

For instance, the moment you feel panic coming on, you can use any of the strategies to stop it, such as acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything or anyone else to calm yourself and end a panic attack.

Some people find it helpful to make a “cheat sheet” of reminders to help themselves stop panic attacks, such as itemizing a list of all of the things you can do to calm yourself and stop panic attacks.

You also might find it helpful to have an audio track handy that walks you through the process of calming yourself.

You might also want to call a loved one to help you calm down. You can employ any strategy you find helpful in ending a panic attack. As your confidence builds, you will be able to recall everything on your own without the assistance of “cheat notes” or “aids.”

As you become successful at calming yourself and ending panic attacks, you should be able to stop them anytime and anywhere, and even when by yourself. I (Jim Folk) had a great many panic attacks when alone, such as when home or at work alone, in the middle of the night when everyone else was sleeping, when driving by myself, when out walking alone, and so on. When I  was in the final stages of overcoming panic and its symptoms, I was so confident in my ability to shut them off and stop them, I could do it within a moment or two anywhere, even while alone.

For instance, when I felt panic and its symptoms coming on, I would say to myself, “This is just another panic attack. I’ve had thousands of them. I don’t care anymore. I’m going to ignore it, and it will go away. There’s no need to worry.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already dissipating. After a while, I stopped paying attention to panic attacks and their symptoms. Over time, panic attacks and their symptoms eventually stopped altogether.

Yes, having a panic attack by yourself can be unnerving as you learn and work at the skill of ending panic attacks. With practice and time, however, you’ll be an expert at it, and eventually, panic attacks will become a non-issue, for you, too!

No matter where you are when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice. Becoming unafraid of panic and its symptoms, and effectively stopping them at will, should be your goal. You will succeed by working at it as you would any new skill you want to learn and become proficient at.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent panic attacks when alone, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop panic attacks at night?

Stopping panic attacks at night is no different than stopping a panic attack alone, or any panic attack no matter where it occurs. You can stop them by reframing anxious thinking so that you stop voluntary panic attacks, and reducing stress so that you stop involuntary panic attacks – both of which you can do by yourself anywhere and at any time, including at night.

Once you learn how to stop panic attacks using the strategies we mentioned previously, you can stop them any time, even if they occur at night. For instance, the moment you feel panic coming on, you can use any of the strategies to stop it, such as acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything or anyone else to calm yourself and end a panic attack.

Some people find it helpful to make a “cheat sheet” of reminders to help them stop panic attacks, such as itemizing a list of all of the things you can do to calm yourself and stop a panic attack.

You might find it also helpful to have an audio track handy that walks you through the process of calming yourself.

You might also want to call a loved one to help you calm down. You can employ any strategy you find helpful in ending a panic attack. As your confidence builds, you will be able to recall everything on your own without the assistance of “cheat notes” or “aids.”

As you become successful at calming yourself and ending panic attacks, you should be able to stop them anytime and anywhere, including at night. I (Jim Folk) had a great many panic attacks at night. When I was in the final stages of overcoming panic and its symptoms, I was so confident in my ability to stop them, I could do it within a moment or two any time, even during the evening hours.

For instance, when I felt panic and its symptoms coming on, I would say to myself, “Here’s another panic attack starting. I’ve had thousands of them so I don’t care anymore. I’m going to ignore it, and it will go away. There’s no need to worry.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already dissipating. After a while, I didn’t even pay attention to panic attacks or their symptoms. Over time, panic attacks and their symptoms eventually stopped altogether.

Having a panic attack at night can be unsettling as you learn and work at the skill of ending them. With practice and time, however, you’ll be an expert at it, and eventually, panic attacks will become a non-issue, for you, too, even if they occur at night!

No matter when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice. Becoming unafraid of panic and its symptoms, and effectively stopping them at will, should be your goal. You will succeed by working at it as you would any new skill you want to develop proficiency.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent panic attacks at night, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop panic attacks while sleeping

Chronic stress, which causes involuntary panic attacks, is the leading cause of having panic attacks while sleeping. To stop panic attacks while sleeping, you have to address the cause – chronic stress.

You can accomplish that by reducing your body’s overall level of stress and persisting at that until your stress is back within a healthy range. As your body’s stress diminishes, you should see the cessation of panic attacks while sleeping.

This is not to say you’ll never be woken up feeling anxious again, as most people are occasionally woken up with bad dreams (which are often caused by stress). But that the frequency of being woken feeling anxious will return to what is considered “normal.”

In addition to reducing stress overall, anxious people also need to address their anxiety issues, since having issues with anxiety is the most common cause of their chronic stress. Accessing good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, and one who understands the many underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety, is the most effective way of overcoming issues with anxiety and the chronic stress it so often causes.

Once an involuntary panic attack has started while sleeping, you can stop it by using the many strategies we mentioned in the “How to stop an anxiety attack and panic attacks” section. As the panic attack subsides, you can calm yourself and go back to sleep once your body has used up the stress hormones from the panic attack.

As you become successful at calming yourself and ending panic attacks, you should be able to stop them anytime, including those that occur while sleeping. I (Jim Folk) had a great many panic attacks while asleep. When I was in the final stages of overcoming panic and its symptoms, I was so confident in my ability to shut them off and stop them, I could do it within a moment or two any time, even after being woken up in the midst of a panic attack.

For instance, once I got woken up, I would say to myself, “Well, I’ve had a panic attack that woke me up. No big deal. I’m going to ignore it and work at calming my body down. Once my body uses up those stress hormones, I'll be able to get back to sleep. There’s nothing to worry about. I'll just ride this out.” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already subsiding. Over time, panic attacks and their symptoms eventually stopped altogether, even those that occurred while sleeping.

Yes, it takes effort and practice to become confident in your ability to end panic attacks. But as you work at it, your confidence will grow and you, too, will see that you can overcome any panic attack no matter where or when it starts, even while asleep.

Being woken up in a panic attack can be startling initially. But with practice, you’ll be an expert at it stopping them and going back to sleep. As you reduce your body’s stress, you’ll eliminate panic attacks that start while sleeping.

No matter when a panic attack starts, you can stop it with practice. Becoming unafraid of panic and its symptoms, and effectively stopping them at will, should be your goal. You will succeed by working at it as you would any new skill you want to develop proficiency.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to overcome a fear of panic attacks and how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms. The Recovery Support area also has an entire chapter on how to deal with anxiety and sleep-related issues and symptoms, such as insomnia, a fear of not being able to sleep (sleep phobia and sleep dread), not being able to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep, and so on. If you are having problems with sleep, you could find the information in chapter 18 helpful.

How to stop anxiety attacks in the morning?

You can stop anxiety attacks in the morning just as you can stop anxiety attacks anywhere and at any time, by applying the “How to stop an anxiety attack and panic attacks” stopping strategies we mentioned previously.

For instance, you can stop them by acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything or anyone else to calm yourself and end an anxiety attack.

I (Jim Folk) had a great many anxiety attacks in the morning. As my anxiety attack stopping skills improved, I was able to stop them quickly, within a moment or two.

For example, when I felt an attack and its symptoms coming on, I would say to myself, “Calm down, it’s just another anxiety attack. I’ve been through thousands of them so I don’t care anymore. I’m going to ignore it and get busy with my morning. There’s no need to worry. It will pass in time. They always pass!” By the time I had finished that thought, the attack was already dissipating. After a while, I stopped paying attention to anxiety attacks or their symptoms. Over time, anxiety attacks and their symptoms stopped altogether.

Having an anxiety attack in the morning can be disconcerting, especially since they can be more intense as the body’s cortisol level is generally higher in the morning. But as you work at learning to stop the attacks, you can be successful with practice and time. Eventually, your anxiety attacks will become a non-issue, too, as they have for so many people before you!

No matter when an anxiety attack starts, you can stop it with practice. Becoming unafraid of the attacks and its symptoms, and effectively stopping them at will, should be your goal. You will succeed by working at it as you would any new skill you want to develop proficiency.

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent panic attacks at night, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to stop an anxiety attack when you feel it coming on

Just as you can stop an anxiety attack anywhere and at any time using the “How to stop an anxiety attack and panic attacks” strategies we mentioned earlier, you can stop an anxiety attack when you feel one coming on. As you apply the anxiety attack stopping strategies, you should see the attack stall and eventually fizzle out.

Some of the strategies to apply include acknowledging an attack is starting, remaining calm, recognizing you don’t have to be afraid, diaphragmatic breathing, reframing thinking to calm and soothing thoughts, relaxing your body, envisioning your happy and safe place, and so on. Since all of these strategies are within you and go everywhere you go, you don’t need anything or anyone else to calm yourself and end an anxiety attack.

The more successful you are at keeping yourself calm and not reacting to the anxiety attack or its symptoms, the more quickly the attack will end. Keep in mind that once stress hormones enter the bloodstream, they will have an effect until the body uses them up or expels them. This means you need to apply your stopping strategies first before they can have an effect. But as your strategies guide your body back toward calm, your body will use up the remaining stress hormones, and the anxiety attack and its symptoms will diminish and gradually subside.

Depending on the degree of the attack, it may take anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes or more for the stress hormones to be used up. Until then, keep yourself calm and let your body do the rest.

Remember, ALL panic attacks end. We can end them sooner when we stop reacting to them.

You can use every anxiety attack as an opportunity to practice your stopping skills. As your skills improve, you can end anxiety attacks more quickly. Success builds on success. As you become more successful, your confidence grows. As your confidence grows, it becomes easier and easier to end anxiety attacks.

Don’t be dismayed if you have a few setbacks. Setbacks will happen. Treat each setback as an opportunity to discover what was working and what wasn't. Then, make the necessary changes until you are successful every time. Becoming successful at your new skill of stopping anxiety attacks should be your long-term goal. Every stop along the way, whether positive or negative, builds toward attaining the goal of successfully stopping any anxiety attack no matter when, where, or why it occurred.

A great many people have successfully overcome anxiety attacks. You can, too, with practice. Success is within your ability if you are willing to work at it!

Chapter 6 in the Recovery Support area explains how to prevent panic attacks, how to overcome a fear of panic attacks, as well as how to extinguish the many fears associated with anxiety disorder, including panic attacks and their symptoms.

How to prevent anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and symptoms?

There are many ways to stop and prevent anxiety attacks, panic attack, and their symptoms. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

1. Keep stress in a healthy range

Chronic stress is a major contributor to anxiety and anxiety attacks. Keeping stress within a healthy range can remove this as a factor.

Reducing workload, increasing rest, having fun, increasing time with your hobbies, increasing time in nature, and spending more time enjoying life are all good ways of keeping stress within a healthy range.

Furthermore, many women notice an increase in anxiety and anxiety attacks just prior to, during, and shortly after their menstruation cycle. This is caused by the fluctuation of hormones during this time. Keeping stress in a healthy range can minimize hormone fluctuations and the havoc they can cause on stress hormones since hormones affect each other.

Also, using less dramatic internal language can also make a difference. While these strategies may not eliminate hormonal fluctuations and the symptoms they cause, a less reactive approach can keep stress hormones to a minimum lessening the potential for adverse hormone interactions.

2. Get regular good sleep

Sleep deprivation can aggravate anxiety, including anxiety attacks. Getting regular good sleep can eliminate this factor. Research has shown that getting 6.5 – 8 hours per night of restful sleep can prevent sleep deprivation and its adverse effects on the body, mind, and mood.

3. Get regular exercise

Regular exercise can help regulate hormones. Regular exercise can also help reduce stress and improve overall mood, all of which can help reduce stress and anxiety, including anxiety attacks.

4. Eat a healthy diet

A busy and stressful lifestyle often includes ingesting high sugar and fast foods, which stress the body. A poor diet can also cause the depletion of important nutrients required for good physical and mental health.

Eating a healthy diet of natural and whole foods can reduce stress as well as keep your body supplied with the nutrients required for good health, including mental health.

5. Learn and practice a deep relaxation technique

Regularly relaxing the body via regular deep relaxation is a great way to keep stress within a healthy range, since regular deep relaxation can prevent the buildup of the unhealthy stress that often leads to issues with chronic stress, anxiety, and involuntary anxiety attacks.

Regular deep relaxation is also a great way to maintain positive attitudes and emotions both important for reducing anxiety, including anxiety attacks.

6. Develop and enjoy healthy relationships

Research has shown that healthy relationships and social support networks have a positive impact on mood and overall mental and physical health. It’s not surprising since humans thrive on relationships.

Spending time with loved ones and those that support you can significantly reduce stress, anxiety, and anxiety attacks.

7. Have a plan, then work your plan

As you learn about anxiety and anxiety attacks, make a plan to deal with an anxiety attack should it occur. For example, if you feel one coming on, you may want to leave the room and go for a quick walk to settle yourself. Once you feel better, you can return to what you were doing.

Or, you might want to call a friend for reassurance as you are learning to overcome anxiety attacks.

Or, you might want to listen to an MP3 that helps you calm down or music you find helpful in feeling calm.

You could also come up with a mantra to recite, such as, “Fear (or worry) activates the stress response and its changes but calming myself shuts them off.” Or, “Relax, I’m going to be ok. This is just a stress response, it will end, and I'll feel better once the hormones have been used up.” Or, for short, “Keep calm. I'll be ok.”

You could also recall how relaxed you feel during your deep relaxation experiences and then use that feeling to override the anxious feelings. Remember, making yourself feel calm will shut off the stress response and its changes.

There are many ways to develop a plan. Then, use it when you need to.

8. Avoid stimulants

Stimulants stress the body. Avoiding, or at least reducing them, can keep unhealthy stress from being a factor. Avoiding stimulants will also prevent them from contributing to the start or continuation of an anxiety attack.

9. Avoid recreational drugs

Many recreational drugs can cause anxiety attacks. Avoiding recreational drugs will remove that contributing factor.

10. Change medications

If your medication is contributing to your anxiety attacks, you might want to talk with your doctor and pharmacist about making a change to a medication that doesn’t cause anxiety attacks as a side effect.

11. Reframe dramatic thinking

The most important strategy overall is learning to stop scaring yourself with worry and the dramatic words you use to describe your life experience.

Worry is the number one cause of anxiety attacks. Containing your worry – which we explain in the Recovery Support area – is a great way to eliminate problematic worry and anxiety attacks.

12. Therapy

Research has found that the most effective way to overcome anxiety disorder, including all categories, such as anxiety attacks, is with the combination of good self-help information and therapy.[19][20][21][22] This is especially effective when the therapist has personally experienced and has successfully overcome anxiety disorder in his or her own life.

Therapy can help you learn the important skill of containment and help you extinguish fears that often trigger and associate with anxiety attacks. Therapy can also help you identify and successfully address the underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety disorder and anxiety attacks, as well as help you recover from a dysregulated nervous system that has become hyperstimulated (hyper or hypo-aroused).

A therapist can also help you with deep relaxation training, mindfulness, self-esteem issues, boundaries, and a host of other important work often required to overcome anxiety disorder.

13. Don't do nothing

Anxiety disorder doesn’t disappear on its own. Successfully overcoming anxiety disorder requires help, effort, practice, patience, and time. If left untreated, anxiety disorder often grows more complex over time, and therefore, more stubborn to resolve. The earlier you address anxiety disorder, the better. And, the rest of your life experience will benefit.

Anxiety Attacks statistics and more information:

The National Institute of Mental Health categorizes anxiety attacks under the classification Panic Disorder. Anxiety attacks are often also referred to as Panic Attack Disorder or Anxiety Attack Disorder, which is included in the overarching category of Anxiety Disorder.

Those who experience panic disorder are not alone. It’s estimated that 19 percent of the North American adult population (ages 18 to 54) experiences an anxiety disorder, and 2.7 percent of the North American adult population experiences anxiety attack disorder.[18] We believe that number is much higher since many conditions go undiagnosed and unreported.

While everyone experiences brief episodes of intense anxiety from time to time, and a great many people experience one or two anxiety attacks over the course of their lifetime, panic attack disorder occurs when anxiety attacks become frequent or persistent, begin interfering with or restricting normal lifestyle, or when the individual becomes afraid of them. Once established, panic attack disorder can be extremely debilitating.

Anxiety attack disorder often starts with one or a few unexplained attacks that are accompanied by distressing symptoms. The profound nature of these “episodes” can cause a person to become concerned. As other attacks occur, fear of having anxiety attacks can increase. The escalation of fear about having another anxiety attack is often the catalyst that brings on the attacks. This can set up a vicious cycle where the fear of having an anxiety attack causes a panic attack, which increases a fear of having another anxiety attack, which causes another anxiety attack, and so on. For some people, the fear of having an anxiety attack can bring on many anxiety attacks each day.

The highest incidence of the onset of anxiety attack disorder occurs in the 17 to 25 years of age group. But people from all age groups can experience anxiety attacks. Many people remember having them as children (anxiety attacks that occur in childhood are often misunderstood as feeling “sick” or the onset of the flu).

Women are thought to experience a higher prevalence of anxiety attacks than men, however, the statistics may be misleading because men are more reluctant to seek professional help.

Anyone who has experienced an anxiety attack can tell you that they can be frightening and debilitating. But anxiety attacks, including anxiety attack disorder, can be successfully resolved. Anxiety attack disorder (panic attack disorder) is highly treatable. Getting the right information, help, and therapeutic support is vital.

Similar to anxiety disorder, Panic Attack Disorder is best treated early. Conditions that are allowed to persist often become more complicated, and consequently, require more time and effort to resolve.

Nevertheless, anxiety attack disorder (Panic Disorder) at ANY stage can be successfully addressed.

How to overcome anxiety attacks and symptoms naturally

As mentioned, research has shown that the most effective treatment for anxiety attacks and anxiety attack symptoms is the combination of good self-help information and therapy.[19][20][21][22][23] Since the underlying factors that cause issues with anxiety are learned, a professional anxiety disorder therapist is required to help uncover, identify, and successfully address them. Working with a professional therapist ensures that these underlying factors are effectively treated.

Because the underlying factors associated with anxiety disorders, including anxiety attacks, are learned, there are no ‘quick-fix remedies or cures.’ Treatments that claim “miracle or secret cures” are deliberately misleading and should be avoided.

That said, we want to encourage you. Anxiety attacks can be effectively treated. There’s no reason to suffer needlessly.[24]

All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced anxiety disorder, with many of us having experienced intense panic attacks and debilitating panic disorder. We understand the hardship and challenges of overcoming it. But we also know you can be successful, as we have. When you do the right work, you get the right results.[24]

If you are experiencing anxiety attacks, you can regain control of your health...naturally. You can live a normal life again...and medication free!

Anxietycentre.com was established to help anxiety sufferers succeed. Because of our own experiences with anxiety disorder, we are passionate about helping others regain their health and normal lives.

Again, don’t suffer needlessly. Anxiety disorder and anxiety attacks can be treated successfully.[24]

Anxiety attack symptoms in females

Anxiety attacks affect all humans similarly. However, since each body is somewhat chemically unique, symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person. While one person might have only a few symptoms during an anxiety attack, another person might have many or all of the symptoms during an anxiety attack.

The intensity of an anxiety attack often determines the type, number, duration, and intensity of symptoms, as well as the level of stress the person is under, as higher levels of stress typically produce more symptoms than lower levels of stress when in an anxiety attack. This is because an increase in stress hormones can affect other hormones. As the body’s overall level of stress increases, it has more of an effect on other hormones.

Moreover, the person’s overall hormonal makeup can also have an influence. For instance, women who are nearing, in, or just finishing their monthly cycle can experience more symptoms during an anxiety attack than those aren’t. Furthermore, women who are nearing, in, or just completing menopause can also experience more symptoms during an anxiety attack than women who aren’t.

Nevertheless, the stress hormones of an anxiety attack affect the body similarly. Any differences in symptoms can be attributed to the unique chemical and behavioral makeup of each person, and how that person reacts to the anxiety attack (women who react more dramatically to an anxiety attack can experience more symptoms than those who are less reactive).

Anxiety attack symptoms in men

Since each person is somewhat chemically unique, signs and symptoms of an anxiety attack can vary from person to person, and even from men to women. That said, anxiety and the accompanying stress responses affect everyone in a similar manner. If there are differences in symptoms, that is due solely to the behaviors of each person and how each body responds to stress.

Anxiety attack symptoms in teenagers

People of all ages can experience anxiety and panic attacks, including children, teenagers, and the elderly.

Anxiety attack symptoms vs heart attack

Anxiety attacks symptoms and heart attack symptoms can seem similar because their signs and symptoms can be similar. But most medical professionals can quickly tell the difference as heart attacks have distinct symptoms that aren’t anxiety-like. If you are unsure of which is an anxiety attack symptom and which is a heart attack symptom, seek immediate medical advice. If the doctor diagnoses your symptoms as anxiety attack symptoms, you can feel confident the doctor’s diagnosis is correct. Therefore, there is no need to worry about a heart attack.

Here’s more information about having an anxiety attack or heart attack.

Can you have anxiety attack symptoms at night?

Yes, anxiety attack symptoms can occur anytime, even at night.

Yes, anxiety attacks signs and symptoms can feel awful, intense, and threatening. But they aren’t harmful. They pass when the anxiety attack subsides. Getting the right information, help, and support is the best way to treat anxiety attacks and their signs and symptoms. We provide more detailed information in the Recovery Support area of our website, such as how to extinguish fear, what “containment” is and why it’s vital for lasting success, and why anxiety symptoms can take such a long time to subside.

How to help someone who is having an anxiety attack

It can be unsettling to watch someone having a panic attack, as well as to feel helpless about what to do. While you can’t stop the for her, here are some things you can do to help her get through it:

  • Remain calm and patient.
  • Encourage her to calm down.
  • Remind her that relaxed breathing can help off the emergency response and quiet symptoms.
  • Remind her that even though symptoms and feelings can feel powerful, they aren’t harmful or the harbingers of danger. They are just the strong feelings associated with the body’s survival mechanism working to protect her.
  • Remind her that panic attacks always end.
  • Encourage her to be patient as her body calms down.
  • If she wants to go for a walk, go along with to keep her company.
  • Sometimes a neck or shoulder massage can help distract and lessen the severity of the episode.
  • Sometimes a hug can also be reassuring.
  • If she wants to be left alone, or can’t focus on what you are saying while having the strong feelings, tell her that’s ok and you’ll just be near if she needs you.
  • As the episode is ending, reassure her that she’s done a great job getting through it, and that it’s only a matter of time until she’ll feel much better.
  • Don’t criticize, judge, or belittle.
  • Don’t dismiss the episode as being all in her head.
  • Don’t tell her, “Just get over it. Everyone has panic attacks. It’s no big deal.”
  • Be there and listen if she just wants to share or debrief. Even though you may not have the answers, just listening can make a difference.
  • Above all, be supportive and understanding. Also, encourage her to seek the help of a professional therapist, and then encourage her as she get help and does the work of recovery.
  • You can also help her find an appropriate therapist and good self-help materials. You can also help her internalize the information by reading it with her or by discussing what’s she’s learned. Role playing with her can also help process the information.

Being a good friend in time of need can be extremely valuable even though you might not know that much about anxiety or its attacks. Love, compassion, understanding, and patience can go a long way to helping her overcome anxiety disorder, including panic.

Anxiety is adaptive

Anxiety and fear have a purpose in the brain. They alert us to a potential threat to our internal and external states. Therefore, anxiety is a normal and adaptive response that has lifesaving qualities. It can warn us of threats of bodily damage, pain, helplessness, possible punishment, safety, and separation from a loved one.[25]

Anxiety helps us by preparing us to take steps to manage and deal with the threat. For example, dodging balls thrown at our head, preparing for final exams, missing the last train to go home. In short, anxiety is a preventative measure to manage danger.

So, anxiety isn’t something “bad” or unwanted. It’s an essential part of keeping us alive and well. Anxiety turns into a disorder, however, when apprehensive behavior becomes the general way we interact in life. That’s the anxiety we want to address so that it doesn’t cause problems with a normal lifestyle.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


TRUSTED REFERENCES:

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6. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017

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19. Hofmann, Stefan G., et al. “The Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Review of Meta-Analyses.” Cognitive Therapy and Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Oct. 2012.

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24. DISCLAIMER: Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, and because each person will have a unique mix of symptoms and underlying factors, recovery results may vary. Variances can occur for many reasons, including due to the severity of the condition, the ability of the person to apply the recovery concepts, and the commitment to making behavioral change.

25. Sadock, B. J., & Sadock, V. A. (2011). Kaplan and Sadock's synopsis of psychiatry: Behavioral sciences/clinical psychiatry. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Yes, anxiety attack symptoms can feel awful, intense, and threatening. But they aren’t harmful and generally pass when the body calms down. And yes, they can range in number, intensity, and frequency, with each person experiencing a unique set of anxiety attack signs and symptoms.