Do you need to speak to someone about your emotional wellbeing?
Feeling panicked or having a panic attacks can be scary – both for the person having one and anyone who sees it happen.
Though feeling panicked can be really intense and overwhelming, it is not dangerous. There are ways to stay in control and help you feel better.
How do panic attacks make you feel?
Some people have panic attacks – this is an extreme version of panic and anxiety. It might feel more intense than normal worry, last for longer or happen out of nowhere.
Panic attacks may feel like:
- Your heartbeat is racing
- You’re dizzy, wobbly or might faint
- You’re hot and sweaty, or cold and shivery
- You’re disconnected from your body
- You want to escape
- You have a pounding headache
- Your ears are ringing
- You feel like you can’t breathe enough or can’t catch your breath
Most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes, but they can last up to an hour.
Some people will have them very regularly (several times a week) but they can also be a one off.
If you have physical symptoms that persist or get worse with time, we strongly recommend that you speak to a doctor. They can help to rule out any other causes of these symptoms and make a referral to Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health if it’s necessary.
Panic attacks are scary but they are not dangerous – they will not cause you any physical harm and it’s unlikely that you would need to go to hospital if you have one. The symptoms will pass, though you may feel tired afterwards.
What can I do?
Panic attacks are scary but its important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you.
Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are caused by anxiety – you are not in any danger. While you may feel ill or worried you might have a heart attack, it is very uncommon that these things will happen.
During a panic attack
- Focus on your breathing – don’t hold your breath!
- Close your eyes
- Breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five. Then breathe slowly out of your mouth as you count down to 1
- Do this as long as you need to
- Childline have other breathing exercises here
How to prevent future panic attacks
- Daily breathing exervises prevent panic attacks and help you control them
- Look after yourself – eat regular meals and try to do some exercise every day
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking – these can make panic attacks worse!
- Collect a box of things that make you feel calm and relaxed if you need to
Panic is not a sign that you have a serious mental or physical illness.
You may still find it useful to talk to someone you trust, like a family member, friend or a professional like a school nurse or GP.
If panic is causing challenges in your daily life or the physical symptoms that accompany it persist or get worse with time, we strongly recommend that you speak to a doctor. They can help to rule out any other causes of these symptoms and make a referral to Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health if it’s necessary.