The reality behind panic attacks

All in all, today has been quite an up and down day for me. Even though my mind is now the happiest, calmest and most positive it’s ever been, my anxiety still manages to linger- both social and general anxiety.

I go through different spells when it comes to my anxiety. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Sometimes my ‘every day’ anxiety will be worse, and sometimes my social anxiety will be worse. And today? My social anxiety has really hit me hard.

Like many people, I normally get panic attacks when I feel the most anxious or on edge. I am not one to let my anxiety to stop me doing things, so I was perfectly happy going shopping on my own today and just having a browse. However, whilst in one particular shop, I suddenly started feeling really sick and had trouble breathing.

Even though panic attacks can sometimes be caused by a ‘trigger thought,’ they can come without warning. Sometimes you don’t feel uncomfortable or on edge until the panic attack actually happens.

As I also created this blog to help understand mental illnesses more and to decrease the stigma, I have put together a step by step guide to help someone having a panic attack. Whether you’re a sufferer of panic attacks yourself, or you’re with someone who’s having one, here is a short guide of the best things you can do to help someone in that anxious position:

1. Stay with the person and stay calm: If someone is having a panic attack, the best thing you can do is to also stay calm. Remember, this person isn’t dying even though it may be a scary experience. Make sure you comfort them and just stay with them until their panic attack passes.

2. Move the person to a private place: Take this from me, if a person is having a panic attack, the last thing they need is to be in a public place. Take them somewhere quiet and calm to help them feel more comfortable. If they are having a panic attack due to social anxiety, then they probably don’t want to be around a crowd of people.

3. Don’t be too pushy: If a person you love and care about, you naturally will be concerned. However, try not to be too pushy and talk to them too much. I find that when I have a panic attack, I like to have someone there, but I also like to have my own space. Offer supportive words such as, “I’m proud of you,” “You’re okay,” “Concentrate on your breathing.” Trust me when I say that just being there is enough.

4. Don’t be judgmental: I understand it’s hard to help someone through a panic attack if you’re not even 100% sure as to what’s going on. Regardless though, don’t be judgmental and claim things such as, “You’re being stupid and irrational.” Remember: whatever caused the panic attack was probably rational to whoever experiences it. Don’t jump to conclusions and make the person feel a thousand times worse than they already do.

5. Don’t pressure yourself: I have been in positions where people have been with me when I’ve had a panic attack, and they didn’t know what to do which is totally fine. It’s a natural human reaction to be shocked and not know how to deal with something that is new to you. Just do what you think is best- and be as supportive as possible. I never expect for anyone to know what to do when I’m having a panic attack, but I find that someone just being there and comforting me is enough as it helps to calm me naturally. Don’t feel like you’re going to say the wrong thing, if you care, then you’ll never say the wrong thing.

Panic attacks are genuinely one of the worst things going, especially when there is a lack of knowledge about them and a lot of people jump to conclusions and assume that you’re ‘overreacting’ or ‘in a bad mood.’ With that being said, if you’re ever experiencing a panic attack, I’ve also included a step by step guide with what you can do (especially if you’re on your own):

1. Ring / text friends: I find that when I’m experiencing a panic attack, I feel so consumed by feelings of loneliness and just feeling hopeless. It’s important that you remember that you’re not alone. Ask a friend to try to distract you, maybe ask them to talk to you about why peacocks are such underrated animals… trust me, I’ve had this conversation in the middle of a panic attack and it seemed to work.

2. Put in your earphones and listen to some music: Panic attacks seem to be at it’s worst when I’m in a public place and around a bunch of strangers who I feel are watching me or judging my every mood. In order to distract your mind from thinking this, put on some music. Concentrate on every little detail, the beat, the production, the lyrics. Distracting yourself is the best thing you can do.

3. Breathe: This one may be the most obvious point, but breathing is so incredibly important when it comes to having panic attacks. It helps concentrate your mind on each breath you take, and helps bring you back to earth. There are so many breathing techniques out there, but my counselor told me to count each breath on my arm in accordance to my fingers, or hold onto my stomach and breathe in and out 10 seconds at a time. If you’re walking around in a public place and experiencing a panic attack, sit down and take yourself away from everything for a moment to allow yourself to breathe.

4. Only resume what you’re doing when you’re ready: You have all the time in the world, don’t feel like you need to resume life without being 100% ready to do so. Make sure you’re breathing properly, and that your heart has stopped racing. Consider if going out in public is the best thing to do yet, and look after yourself. Don’t force yourself to go back into the situation that made you feel uncomfortable without being ready, you’ll just go back to square one again.

I have also found with panic attacks that are caused by social anxiety, it is just better to let them happen. Okay, better may not be the best word, but definitely easier. Panic attacks are like an uncontrollable fire, and sometimes you need to just let the fire burn because, believe it or not, a panic attack can help you let go of all your uncontrollable stress and emotions.

And the reality behind panic attacks? They happen. They’re a natural human ‘flight or fight’ response. They can occur to some, and not to others. I tend to find that with my social anxiety, I can go months without hardly having panic attacks, and then have a spell of even having 3 per day.

When I experience a panic attack, I tend to want to be alone. I try to separate myself from the world around me, and just take some time to myself. Whether that’s sitting in my room, or sitting on a bench in public, taking time away from hectic life seems to work for me.

Another key sign that I’m having a panic attack is suddenly feeling so drained and sick. Even though this occurs more in a general anxiety attack than a social anxiety panic attack (oh yes, I find there’s a difference in the levels of panic!), I sometimes find that retreating to the nearest toilet also helps. I mean, you know you’re definitely on your own there and no one will walk in on you (hopefully!)

The scariest thing about panic attacks is that I also become scared about having them. What do I do if I have an anxiety attack in public? What do I do if I have an anxiety attack in work? In fact, I have panic attacks in work all the time which makes it a thousand times harder to serve teas and coffees to customers when you’re scared of… well… people in that moment in time. Seriously anxiety, can’t you leave me alone to work in a comfortable environment?

Above everything else, remember to be kind to yourself. The world may seem like it’s closing in on you, but it’s not. You’re not dying. And you know what, you are okay. It will pass in time. I find that I get more panic attacks when I’m around people who I’m uncomfortable with- and have since cut those people from my life. Put yourself first, and never think that having a panic attack is your fault.

Do you suffer from panic attacks and what works best for you when it comes to calming your mind? Feel free to leave your responses in the comment box below!

Need advice on anything? Whether it’s needing some motivation, relationship advice, or just advice in general; feel free to inbox me on Tumblr! I am so excited to start dedicating one day a week on my blog to start responding to your questions on needing advice- and spread a bit of love and positivity! (Please note: You will remain completely anonymous).

Love and happiness always,

xo, Becca


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32 thoughts on “The reality behind panic attacks

  1. This is such a helpful and honest post, I have a few friends who struggle with anxiety and this is very helpful in understanding it and knowing how you can be helpful to them xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic post! I have had problems with anxiety for years and have particularly had problems with putting pressure on myself to ‘snap out of it.’ Listening to music does help, but I find watching something helps to distract me even further. The best combination is to knit and watch something (like a silly cartoon or anything that cheers you up) as this occupies me in multiple ways – this is the besy way I have found to overcome attacks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As a couple food/lifestyle blog, this isn’t something I would usually share and not a lot of people know that I suffer from panic attacks.

    This is an amazing post and something I and my other half really needed to read today – I had a panick attack on the train earlier, due to some thoughts and it didn’t help I was in an closed space with people watching but the other half kept calm and did what he can. This is very helpful to everyone involved. Thank you for sharing!


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a great post, I myself suffer with anxiety and it’s hard to explain to others sometimes what it’s like! Breathing is such a good technique and I think it’s important not to force yourself into situations where your anxiety may be triggered xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such a good and informative post! You seem to come across as so caring!! I had panic attacks when I was younger with mocks and exams in Y9,10&11. Was horrible but lucky to have some wonderful people around me! Keep writing lovely xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post was very personal and I commend and respect you for that. It’s so hard to go online and tell the world what you are experiencing. Even though I may have not had a panic attack before (I’m not really sure if I’ve had one or not) I think this will help so many people who either find themselves in a panic attack or see someone having a panic attack. Great job Becca! Keep up the great work! -Isabelle

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely post..
    I’ve never had a panic attack as such. I can get anxious about things and situations, but I wouldn’t say they’re panic attacks. As you say, I generally just try to stay calm and breathe slowly. Neither have I been around anyone who has, but I’ll take great note from this post for any future situations. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love this post! I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and I think the first time I had a panic attack I was about 13.
    My therapist says the best thing to do is not to try and fight the panic/anxiety attack but to ride it out because it is proven that it will hit a peak and then slowly fade so if we can all just grin and bare it we should be just fine… I am yet to be able to do this but I thought I would share it LOL.

    Emmie xo

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I, personally, don’t suffer from panic attacks, but someone very close to me does. When I first witnessed it, I was so confused and didn’t know what I could do to help. I felt helpless. After reading this, I understand a little bit more about what she was going through at the time. And it’s helped me figure out what I can do next time to help her. Thank you for shining light on this subject Becca! xx

    Kathlyn | Kathlyn’s Korner

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. I believe this post will help soooo many people.

    I, too, suffer from Anxiety and I could relate to a lot of what you said. You are so honest, open & helpful. I hope that you will continue to share tips like these as they were really wonderful.

    Charlene McElhinney

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I never suffered from anxiety attacks but I just felt at one point some months ago I was going to depression or I was really sad about my looks an show I feel about myself. But this looks really helpful to those with anxiety and how to help others with anxiety attacks.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This was so lovely to read, as someone who has witnessed friends and myself in panic attacks, it’s never easy to know or explain how to act in such situation – I feel you couldn’t have put it better! Beautiful blog x

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I took my first panic attack in February 2016… and to this day I still don’t understand what set me off, but I was really grateful that my boyfriend knew what was happening and managed to get me out of the shopping centre pretty swiftly. It was his first time seeing this, but even at that he knew exactly what to say and do, I’m still with him today 🙂 and he’s managed to get me through more hurdles than enough x


  14. Reading this post has actually helped me understand my own panic attacks even more!! This is such an amazing post and is definately one to be shared around for people who suffer or don’t suffer with panic attacks as this will help many others try to understand them! Xxx


  15. I have panic attacks on almost a regular basis due to my Post Traumatic Stress, I find that using the coping strategies my counsellor and I have come up with is extremely helpful along with remind yourself that you are not crazy for feeling this way. (I use to think like that during the times where I felt detached from my surroundings.)


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