- A pounding or racing heartbeat
- Feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
- Feeling very hot or very cold
- Sweating, trembling or shaking
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Pain in your chest or abdomen
- Shortness of breath or breathing very quickly
- Feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
- Feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings, which are types of dissociation
During a panic attack you might feel that you’re:
- Losing control
- Going to faint
- Having a heart attack
- Going to die.
WHEN COULD I HAVE A PANIC ATTACK?
Panic attacks happen at different times for everyone. Some people only ever have one panic attack then do not ever experience another. Other people might find that you have them regularly, or several in a short space of time. You might start to notice that particular situations, places or activities act as a trigger to your panic attacks. (For example, they might happen before a stressful appointment.)
COPING WITH PANIC ATTACKS
Panic attacks can be frightening, but there are things you can do to help yourself cope. It could help to print off these tips, or write them down, and keep them somewhere easy to find.
During a panic attack:
- Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five
- Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.
- Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft
- Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques, (such as 5 4 3 2 1) can help you feel more in control. They are especially useful if you experience dissociation during panic attacks.
After a panic attack:
- Think about self-care. It’s important to pay attention to what your body needs after you’ve had a panic attack. For example, you might need to rest somewhere quietly, or eat or drink something.
- Tell someone you trust. If you feel able to, it could help to let someone know you’ve had a panic attack. It could be particularly helpful to mention how they might notice if you’re having another one, and how you’d like them to help you.