What to Do When a Panic Attack Hits

by Jason on May 12, 2009

what to do when a panic attack hits

Most often a Panic Attack will hit you at the most inconvenient moment possible.

It’s just the nature of the beast.

Maybe the Panic Attack will creep up on you slowly through a stessful day or maybe it will come out of nowhere and hit you like a ton of bricks.

No matter what the scenario, it’s rarely going to happen when you’re in a calm and soothing environment.

In my experience with Panic Attacks, I’d usually be in the middle of some arbitrary, moderately stessful activity.

Phone calls became huge anxiety triggers for me.

There were times when I would have the attacks in the middle of work while I was on hold with a vendor or a client and I would just immediately have to hang up.

Sometimes I would be sound asleep and wake in the night with a pounding chest and numbness of the extremities. That’s called a nocturnal Panic Attack.

On other occasions I would venture out of my apartment and in those few hours an attack would strike in the middle of a grocery store or while I was crossing the street.

Also, as you probably already know, the embarrassment from having the Panic Attack in front of others can heighten the symptoms of the attack.

Panic Attacks, especially for those who are new to them, are EXTREMELY frightening. To put it simply, it can feel like you’re going to die. Of course that’s not what’s really happening to your body, but many first time Panic Attack sufferers will describe the event saying:

“It felt like I was dying…”

You literally feel that you don’t have control over your body. Your extremities go numb, your adrenaline is racing, your head spins — Really there’s a whole host of symptoms that you begin to experience.

Let’s just quickly list some of them below. What I’m about to teach you will make a whole lot more sense when you see the symptoms laid out.

Panic Attack Symptoms


  • Hyperventilation
  • Dizziness
  • An uncontrollable, rising sense of panic (terror, fear, anxiety)
  • Light Headiness
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Chest Pains
  • Dry Mouth
  • Clammy Hands
  • Numbness of the extremities
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Urgent need to go to the bathroom

So up until now I’ve just told you about the chaos of an attack. It’ll happen when you don’t expect it at an inconvenient moment. You won’t understand immediately what’s happening to your body. It’s extremely frightening and there’s a whole bunch of other uncomfortable stuff you’ll be experiencing after the panic sets it. Sound like fun so far?

Yeah, I’m not too satisfied with that scenario either…So let’s fight back with techniques that WORK!

For all the reasons listed above, you’ll need to know the Panic Attack self defense techniques I’m about to show you. They’re easy to apply during an attack and they work like a charm in ANY Panic Attack situation.

Trust me, I speak from personal experience.

Step 1 : Recognizing the Attack

The first trick is the hardest for some. You must recognize the attack. Sounds easy enough, but when your anxiety was as bad as mine was, I was telling myself:

“Oh no, not this one. This one is for real. My heart is finally going to pop from all these attacks. My body can’t take anymore. I feel myself dying. I love you mom. I love you dad…” and so on.

It was devastating. And it’s that negative thought process and depressive attitude that feeds and escalates the attack.

So step 1 is recognize the attack. Know that it IS a panic attack and people don’t die from panic attacks. It’s that simple. Believe it. The utmost belief of this fact is where the power lies.

It may take you a minute or two to convince yourself. However, if it’s not your first Panic Attack, then you should be confident in identifying what’s happening to your body and mind.

Step 2 : Breath and Count


Next your going to start counting. Ignore everything around you. Nothing else matters. Get through this. That’s ALL that matters.

After you’ve recognized the attack, begin to count in your head. Count 1,2,3,4 — 1,2,3,4 — 1,2,3,4 pausing on the dashes and so on. Now you might be thinking:

“Hey, that’s easier said than done. When I’m having an attack I can’t even think.”

That’s why you’re not going to say or even think the numbers. You’re going to breath the numbers.

Take a deep breath in through your nose for the 1 and 2. Then take a deep breath out through your mouth for the 3 and 4. Practice this routine for a few minutes a day until it becomes an automated exercise for you.

Practicing really helps a lot. If you practice in a controlled environment, when a Panic Attack hits, this self-defense mechanism will seem routine.

If you are truly hyperventilating out of control when the Panic Attack hits, breathing into a paper bag will help you get to the point where you can begin this exercise. Once you have regained some control of your breathing, remove the paper bag and begin the Counting Technique.

When you go into these breathing exercises you immediately shift your brain’s focus from fear to action. You take control of your body and all the symptoms with this one important step.

Here’s why this Step is so important…

Remember above when I said it was important to list out the Panic Attack symptoms?

Well by now I’m sure you’re familiar with many of the symptoms. That’s not why I laid them out above.

I listed the symptoms above to illustrate a very important point. Panic Attack symptoms occur as a chain reaction to the offset of breathing that happens in the body.

When a Panic Attack hits, shortness of breath or hyperventilation kicks in. The change in oxygen intake is what causes the dizziness and light headiness.

When those symptoms kick in, your fear escalates. Your body goes into “emergency mode” and begins conserving blood flow and the circulation of oxygen. This leads to the numbness in your extremities.

All this time, further panic has been setting in and your heart beats have become stronger as your brain reaches a higher sense of urgency.

The symptoms go on and on but my main point here is that it all starts with controlled breathing.

Do NOT overlook your breathing in the fight against Panic Attacks. It is an absolutely essential tool.

Step 3 : Finding the Root Cause

This step is perhaps just as important as Step 2. Panic Attacks are traumatic. Soon after an attack, your mind catches up to what has just happened and a real emotional rollercoaster sets in.

You begin to question your stability and how capable you are of handling the world around you.

If you’ve had an attack, it’s important to contact a therapist or doctor shortly after.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not telling you to commit yourself to years of therapy for one panic attack.

However, let’s be honest with eachother.

Panic Attacks don’t happen without reason. Something triggered the attack. It could be stress at work. It could be stress in a relationship. It could be a General Anxiety Disorder. Whatever the cause is…don’t ignore it.

Find a therapist or doctor you are comfortable with and begin exploring why your attack occured. Don’t be afraid of the answers you might find.

Life is far too precious to spend worrying and panicking. Take the time and make the effort to resolve your Panic Attacks. Don’t put it off. Do it today.

The Panic Away Step-by-Step Program on the next page goes FAR beyond the strategies discussed here. Their proven system has helped thousands of individuals, just like yourself, end their Panic Attacks PERMANENTLY and diminish their anxiety to manageable levels.

As you can tell by now, I’m a tremendous advocate of their system — Primarily because it’s freed me from the bounds of my own anxiety and panic. I am a Panic Away success story.

I know you’ll find the same success with their program. You can start right now. Today can be the last day that your crippling anxiety and panic keeps its grips on you.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lanie Bataller September 27, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Thank you for the tips and advice..i actually experienced that and the first time was 2 years ago.

I felt like I had a heart attck I felt numbness and almost passed out but when they checked on my blood pressure its normal. and then they recommended me to be checked by a psychiatrist and helped me alot. But just like what you said and my own opinion as well, I dont want to be dependent on drugs, its actually ONLY US who can treat us by doing some of your tips and it really works. Especially inhaling and holding uour breath for few seconds and relase it, I usually do it 3x am it works, then ill divert my attention into something interesting maybe like playing.

Another tip is, atleast go for a walk every morning.like for atleast 30mins, it helps you cope with stress and depression aside from losing weight.

I hope people will have the chance to visit this site and practice.

Thank you..


Corina April 1, 2012 at 9:46 pm

First thank you for the tips.it’s 5am and I come across this site because I’ve just had a panic attack and I googled how to stop panic attacks on my iPad.I’ve been getting them for 4years now and I am really really sick of them.I used to have them almost every few days in the first year.Then when I was pregnant with my second child who is now 2,and perfect by the way,they went away completely.Then i breast fed for 1 year and still only had very few attacks.Once my periods returned afterwards,I figured that they are connected to the time of my periods.
The reflexology points really helped me overcome this attack this morning and also took my focus away from the attack by concentrating on doing the pressure points.When I used to work,I felt hugely embarrassed if I felt an attack strike when I was in a meeting with clients(had a managerial job with lots of networking and meetings).
I usually carray around the supplement 5 Htp which I found helps a lot to even prevent a full blown attack if I take it at the first warning signs.
Overtime they have gotten shorter and less frequent and intense as I’m able to recognise them,but they are still scary and a real nuisance.Going to the gym helps also by reinforcing to myself the belief that if I am fit,plus it keeps me at a healthy weight and balances out my body.
Well by the time of writing here,my attack has gone completely and I shall go and brew some decaf green tea(I stay away from triggers like caffeine).Best of light and love to you and if you’re a sufferer please stay strong and know you are not alone, I wish you real healing very soon.

Jason April 12, 2012 at 5:49 am

Thank you kindly Corna! I love hearing great feedback like this. Wishing you all the best!

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