by Natalie Engel

It has happened to almost everyone at some time in their lives. You start feeling lightheaded, you can actually feel your heart pounding, you may be short of breath or have chest pain. It feels like you may be having a heart attack!

However, chances are pretty good that you are having a panic attack unless you are someone with heart disease or a history of cardiovascular problems. 

How Do You Know You Are Having a Panic Attack? 

Of course, you should have it checked out by a doctor if you have never experienced this before. Panic attacks can certainly feel like heart attacks if you have never had one before. Sometimes they occur out of nowhere and for no obvious reason. Other times, you are in the middle of a crowded store or at work dealing with too many things at once. People with panic disorders can have several panic attacks per week and every time they have one, they actually believe they are going to die. The symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Fear that you are going crazy
  • Abdominal or digestive issues such as diarrhea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hot flashes
  • Sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling like you are going to die

Getting Through a Panic Attack

When you are having a panic attack, it is really difficult to get it under control. However, it is not impossible. It is best if you talk to a therapist to learn the best techniques to help your individual symptoms of panic attacks. However, in the meantime, there are some things you can do.

Deep Breathing

Getting a grasp on your breathing is the most important way to get your panic attack under control. Most people who are in the middle of an attack are breathing fast, which is what causes the rapid heartrate, dizziness, and can even cause you to faint. You may have seen people on television suffering from a panic attack and someone always gives them a paper bag or something to breathe into. You do not need the bag. That is just a way to trick your mind into thinking about your breathing rather than thinking about panicking. To do deep breathing, all you have to do is take a slow breath in through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, and then exhale and repeat. Make sure you pause for about three seconds between each breath so you do not end up hyperventilating. You can do this while standing, sitting, or laying down. 

Relax Your Muscles

Getting yourself to relax is done by relaxing your body, one muscle at a time. Progressive muscle relaxation is done in two steps. The first step is to tense your muscle groups one at a time. Then, release the tension of these muscle groups one at a time. Pay attention to each individual muscle as you tense and relax it. It also helps if you do your deep breathing during this exercise. 

Face Your Fears

The experts claim that the best way to get control of your panic disorder is to face your fears. To do this, you have to allow yourself to have panic attacks voluntarily so you can desensitize yourself from the symptoms. By bringing the symptoms on yourself, you will have a sense of control over the panic attacks and the feelings that occur during the attack. Eventually, you will get so used to these situations that set off the panic attacks that your body will not respond with these symptoms anymore. 

If you are having panic attacks more than once a month, you should talk to a therapist or counselor about it. You can talk to someone online without even needing an appointment.

About the Author

Natalie engel_0.jpegNatalie Engel graduated from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2017, and is now a member of the Community and Support team at BetterHelp. Her daily work includes supporting the counselors, clients and any potential clients on the BetterHelp platform. One of her favorite aspects of her position is getting to interview and onboard counselors to expand the platform, and allow every member to be matched with a counselor who best fits their needs.

I'm Manjunath, IT professional aged 50 lived in Bangalore. I had stevia raw leaf juice accidently in 2015, instantly mean after 5min, had a severe panic attack, fear, anxiety, heart palpitation. Dr diagnosed with anxiety after a blood test was done by pathologist were found serotonin reduction drastically. Psychiatric gave treatment to increase serotonin for 6 weeks, later I'm getting heart palpitation for no reason, also hypoglycimia occurs when I delay to take breakfast/lunch/dinner. Psychiatric Dr said anxiety causes all the brief and adviced to ignore when occurs. Now I have dizziness suddenly with no time, SYS/DIA increases to 185/92. Cardiologist gave tablets to reduce SYS/DIA, even though it increased today admited in ICU for 2 hours. Because of severe anxiety unable to accept the higher position, international travel & opportunities.

All these problems started after consuming stevia leaf and don't have the history of anxiety in the past or in the family. How to get rid of anxiety without medicine or without consuming liver animal meat. Please drop me a suggestion to

Believe it or not, you can develop anxiety or panic disorder at any point in your life, and for almost any reason known to man. Genetics, stress, personality, even brain chemistry. And while the ways listed above can help many cope others have to rely on medication. I am a 23 year old woman, and up until about 2 months ago I was diagnosed with severe anxiety. This was only found out because I was hospitalized 3 different occasions for chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate (about 180 bpm), dizziness, and feeling like I was dying. Felt like an honest to god heart attack. And now it happens at random multiple times a day all the time. I am on Vistaril an anti anxiety med and antihistamine for my allergies. What I'm trying to say and I'm not invalidating your claim, I highly doubt stevia did this. As mentioned anxiety or panic disorder can develope at any age for any reason whether known or not. Panic disorder differing in the fact that you're so fearful of having another attack it can worsen and you may even avoid activities you think may cause it. If none of the coping mechanisms such as focusing on breathing, talking to someone, or even trying to just get through them work. Your only option would be medication to get a handle on it or to generally alleviate the symptoms, and that's something you have to come to terms with. Up until this year, I wouldn't have believed it myself but here I am. And I am trying to help

I am suffering what you have suffered. Can you help me?? It very difficult to deal this situation. I cant sleep, i am irritable.. What should i do?? Help me pls.....

I have suffer with anxiety since I was a small child. However, anxiety attacks surfaced by the tie I was 18 and in college. I was a complete mess. I actually did not go on Medication until I was 32. I should have been on it sooner. I was living in agony dealing with overwhelming feelings of death and dying. I also had OCD thought disorder. Had thoughts of suicide, and this is when I got help. With Medication and therapy I can not live my life with less worry that doesn't paralyze me with worry. I am 52, now, married with 2 kids. I refuse to let my anxiety get in my way of raising healthy children. Bless you and good luck

I’ve been diagnosed with panic attacks but I don’t believe it not a second. What kind of panic attacks make you sick all day long and make you weak my heart won’t let me exercise because it goes to fast and won’t stop. The sickness really gets to me Day by day. Then I really do have a panic attack at the end of day. As each day progresses it gets worse like I get weaker the longer I’m awake. I basically turned into a hypochondriac because I’m just worried about my health now

Hi Jared, Sounds like you have health anxiety. It can be really difficult to treat, especially if you have an illness to begin with. Treatment with medication in combination with counselling is reported to be most effective. I have this issue. No-one can understand how you feel, I personally am able to identify when I am being irrational/panicking however I just can not stop it from escalating. I really hope you can get the help you need. I have been through a lot in my life but this condition is the worst I have ever felt. I wish I could tell you there is a magic solution but in my experience it is just working at it every day and accepting the disruption to your life.

I also feel like I have turned into a Hypochondriac because of the way that I feel..... I think it's the sickness or whatever it is that causes the panic attacks and not the other way around!

What consumes me most is the terrible fear of dying daily.... It is crippling to say the least.

I get funny sensations in my chest and my heart skips beats at random accompanied by a stranger feeling in my stomach, chest and neck.... Sometimes it comes so fast after each other that I think I am about to pass out and feel very weak and tired for the rest of the day.

Pls email me, maybe we can help each other?

All the Best!

Im a disabled veteran from the gulf war who went through two cases of military sexual trauma and was sexually abused by a female babysitter for two years while in middle school in the 80s. I had my panic and anxiety under control for years until just recently it all came back after my new psychologist started EMDR therapy. Now what worked for me before Clonazepam .05mg twice a day i cant get because my primary care doctor wants to try everything else which i have severe reactions too. If anyone else is going through this im open to talking too.

Thats what i take clonzepam 0.5 two times a day. When u have panic attacks does your face get really red? And disoriented

I had my first ever panick attack over a week ago and have been having almost what I call mini ones since almost daily I have searched and searched the internet for my Simptoms and ur comment is the first thing I’ve found that mentions the funny feeling in ur chest ,stomach etc that is exactly what I’ve been getting almost daily since my panick attack I am currently under investigation for several medical conditions and I think this is where it stemmed from but reading your description has eased me slightly

I’m going through the same exact thing and I wake up in the middle of the night trembling with fear thinking I’m going to die in the next few seconds I can barely get sleep with out being so scared . I understand. Have you had any luck with trying to over come it?

I’m happy to hear that you are feeling much better. I too just started experiencing panic attacks at 33. Along with the panic attacks I’ve experienced numbing and tingling and the song stuck syndrome , body aches, clogged ears. The Song stuck syndrome I can say has caused me an tremendous amount of anxiety more than anything. I will be tested very soon. I believe I have OCD. Can’t seem to move past it. Music keeps looping. It has caused me a great amount of anxiety in itself. Very exhausting. Have you had this experience (Earworms)

I have smoked sativa leaf for 18 years and one day I just had a panic attack out of the blue. Shaking uncontrollably, my head was buzzing, felt like I was going to die, nauseous, same things you were describing. I went over a year in a panic state until I read the book panic switch you can find on amazon. I have finally accepted my aniexty and the panic finally stopped. I still get sensations of panic I just trained my body not to respond to them. I hope this helps. You are not alone. The only reason I recommend this book is because if finally made me understand aniexty and panic and not be afraid of them. That is truly the only way out. Face your fear but Iike many needed encouragement and understanding from which I received from this book.

I always have panic attacks in the same places and around the same person its almost like it triggers. Although I also have theme at random....those arent so bad but when i'm in a certain place those are worse because they trigger thoughts and memories of bad situations. Is this a normal thing that goes with anxiety?

I struggle with the same thing. I'm 13 and have been diagnosed with a few different types of anxiety, apparently I was born with anxiety. Yes Id assume it's normal. Has the person ever abused you? If they have or their all around scary that could be th reason why. x

Dear reader I'm truly in a debarkle with regards to my attacks which I have everyday for the past few weeks and over the years it has progressed into me being some what of a neurotic I really need help please

Mine started in my early 20's when I would have to get up and speak to large crowds for work. By my late 20's they started to become uncontrollable. I still remember in 1998 sitting quietly on the sofa when my heart rate went from 60 to 200 bpm in the blink of an eye. From there it was at least 2 years of every doctor and every test and procedure available. In or around 2001 after finding nothing physically wrong, my doctor put me on a Beta-Blocker to keep the heart rate down and Celexa for anxiety. It worked fairly well all the way until 2018, when they resurfaced with a fury. A-Fib, palpitations, SVT, severe chest pains and weakness, etc. After 5 trips via ambulance to the ER only to find nothing wrong, I went to an electrophysiologist. He performed an ablation on me, ~ 12 burns that have corrected the SVT, palps, and A-Fib. But that only fixed the heart, not the panic attacks. I've tried Sea Bands, Epley Maneuver, Rolling a tennis ball on my feet, compression socks, messages, probiotics, Music, Rain, Smelling Salts, Stretching, Exercise, Hot Showers, Cold Showers, Ice Packs, Shoe inserts, diet changes, gallons of water, etc. and none of it works 100% of the time, they still keep coming. Since Dec 2018 when I had the surgery, the longest I've gone without one is 1 week, but since Feb 2019 I have several per week every week. Even though my heart rate and beat consistency stays perfect, I still have all of the other systems and each time my BP spikes very high. I gave up, I literally did, so my Doctor prescribed Klonopin, 0.5 MG 2 daily as needed. All I can say is that it works. I'm 49 now and don't like the prospects of taking it, but it works and as long as I keep one with me at all times and take only as a last resort, I will stay on it. Within minutes, every symptom disappears and at least until the next one hits I feel perfectly normal. There is no euphoric feeling and it does not make me drowsy, it just alleviates the nausea, weakness, shakiness, heavy breathing, sweating, chest pains, and thoughts of dying or losing control. But I believe it should always be a last resort rescue item. Some of the aforementioned items work too, they just don't work 100% of the time, so far Klonopin has. Best wishes to all of that suffer with these awful panic attacks, I pray for you all. Find your peace any way you can, because life is already too short, so if even a brief period of piece is all you get, to me it's better than a lifetime of misery. Good luck on your journey and God Bless.

We need more kind honest people like you in the world 14 days straight i thought i was dying had insomnia nosleep atall struggled eating and drinking everything 5mg diazepam 10mg cetralopram and 120mg propranalol and all ihave to say is meds do help thanks for your kind words hope people are at ease

I was in the shower a couple days ago and, my heart started racing, and chest was feeling a little tight, my legs felt like there where going to give out, I was shaking, I honestly felt like I was going to collapse or something, but I ran out of the bathroom because I was so scared I didn't know what was happening, and just sat on the floor, shaking and in so much pain

Ms. Jessica Smith

December 5, 2019

Your article is absolutely not true. It’s hard to even begin to write about how wrong you are. It’s a blatant shame you have the job you do “helping” people with anxiety. Whoever came up with the insane opinion you should “face your fears” scenario is a complete failure at what they do. This would never work for a person who has anxiety disorder (panic disorder) it’s completely ludicrous. It infuriates me people give advice on something you obviously have no experience with. I was simply looking up a phrase for someone to comfort them when I came across your article. I’ve had panic disorder with agoraphobia for 37 years. What you wrote is unfortunately so untrue and an absolutely ridiculous form of helping someone who is looking for help about anxiety or panic disorder. I sincerely hope no one takes this advice on this “study”

Its one thing to troll and flame a article, anyone can do that , another entirely to provide proof and sources as to what isn't true and why. "Facing fears"(exposure therapy) is a well known studied and established way to treat panic and anxiety, PTSD ect. No It doesnt work for and isnt for everyone.. just as meds dont-but to sit here and rant a diatribe away saying the author has no experience with the subject -?? RME.. apparently you didnt take the time to read about the author. "It would never work?" I have news it worked for me when nothing else did, and I had severe anxiety many years as well, as well as PTSD from military service. BTW I dont even know if your read the article as this was simply informative information not a "study". Clearly you have more issues than anxiety , anger management and poor social skills comes to mind the way your angry response reads. You have to know that being this angry and ready to insult people and lash out in in appropriate ways is likely contributing to your overall issues that are leading to anxiety. SMH

I’m 20 years old and I get panic attacks In the middle of sleeping and I wake up trembling with fear has anyone been able to over come that I’m on medication as well but sometimes they just get so over whelming I’m scared to fall asleep, if so email me @!

Hi, I've been going through a lot recently. Job and financial insecurity, home insecurity, and many other things I was dealing with. Although I had the support of my family and friends through it all, and to an extent I felt like I had everything under control, I guess in the back of my mind the pressure of things were still there. I also attended UCSC and from my college experience I was always under pressure, but it always felt like a good pressure, and a good level of stress and anxiety. However, I always felt like I was in control of all my emotions. There was always a reason I could point to for how I felt. I could handle my academics, and my multiple jobs as a student, as well as all the stress and anxiety that came with it. That's why when I had my first panic attack at the beginning of the year I really thought I was about to die. I thought I was having a heart attack. It came suddenly, I was watching TV, we were getting ready to go out with family, and suddenly I just felt my heart racing and my muscles so weak. I went to the hospital and all was good. My heart was good, my lungs were good, my blood was good, but in the back of my head I still felt uneasy. I thought, well, maybe the doctor missed something. I also have acid reflux, and I guess this also exuberated the feeling. However, like I said, I was always in control of all my feelings even when the acid would build up. This also happened when I already had job security, and home security, just not financial security.. to an extent because my parents always help me financially, but I guess it still bothered me. Then last week, on Friday, it happened again during my first week at work. I have my own office so I just got up and went for a walk, to see if I felt better. It was so random too. In the back of my head I still felt uneasy, I thought the doctors hadn't check me well and I walked myself to the clinic. They performed an EKG, and a blood test and all was well. I knew I wanted to get a general check-up done but I still don't have medical insurance, so I think this just added to it as well. This weekend I went home and even though I was with family and friends and even while knowing that all is well, I still find myself feeling anxious. However, after reading this article and going through the comments I learned that I'm not alone and this gave me strength. I will face my fears. Although this had never happened to me before, I will focus on the positives in my life, will practice my breathing, will exercise more, and will practice only good thoughts. I will no longer spend my days looking up my symptoms on WebMD and although I will still go get a general check-up once my insurance kicks in on February, I will only focus on the positive thoughts and positive vibes in my life. I attribute the panic attack to all the changes I experienced recently, but from now on, I know that everything will be alright. Accept that this is a life process, and although I was comfortable in my life as a student as well as my former job, I've now got to enjoy the life I have in the present. This article really did help a lot!

Can staying home alone and just sitting on the sofa for days cause your blood pressure to go up if you have GAD and are worrying and anxious also? I've been feeling depressed and worrying obsessively about many things in general and my blood pressure is considerably higher since 2 weeks ago.

Ok so basically there are times in my life where no matter my mood everything in my body feels like it’s stressed. I lose my breath and I start to hear my heart beat rapidly. I then have the sudden urge to like shake or hit or like- i don’t have a word for it because i can’t explain it. It feels like everything in my body is moving at a way faster rate causing my head to hurt and sometimes i collapse. I’m not sure if this is a panic attack or not. I never fear them happening nor do i fear death when it occurs. At night i also have trouble sleeping because i end out hearing my heart beat loudly and it’s followed up by shortness of breath. If someone can help that would be great..

I was having a pounding heartbeat, so I happened to come across this article. I noticed that sweating is in the symptome list twice hihi. Good thing im feeling better already