How to deal with a panic attack

A panic attack can come out of the blue and can be very frightening. You may have a sudden feeling of terror and experience panic attack symptoms like a fast heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness and a loss of control. If you have experienced a panic attack in the past, you know how scary it can feel. So how can you deal with a panic attack?


Managing a panic attack – self-help

There are ways you can help to manage and cope with your panic attack:

  • Don’t tell yourself ‘stop panicking’.
  • Do tell yourself that a panic attack isn’t life threatening and it will pass.
  • Try to slow your breathing – breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. If it helps, you can close your eyes and count to five on each in and out breath.
  • As the panic subsides, focus on your surroundings and try to get back to what you were doing before.

Once you allow the symptoms to pass, you will likely gain more confidence in your ability to cope.


Managing a panic attack – seeking professional help

If you are or think you are experiencing panic attacks, you should seek professional help. Your doctor will be able to give you some guidance and will also check to see if your symptoms are the result of an illness (e.g. asthma, heart complaints or diabetes).

A psychologist can also help you to manage the attacks using treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy. This type of therapy helps a person to identify and change thoughts and behaviours that lead to feelings of panic. Part of this therapy may also include self-monitoring and relaxation techniques.

For more on the symptoms of panic attacks, read our article on what it is and what it feels like.


If you need someone to talk to, you can call Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

If there is an emergency, dial 000.