Get panic easily

Panic disorder - NHS

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It's a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations.

But someone with panic disorder has feelings of anxiety, stress and panic regularly and at any time, often for no apparent reason.

Symptoms of panic disorder


Anxiety is a feeling of unease. It can range from mild to severe, and can include feelings of worry and fear. Panic is the most severe form of anxiety.

You may start to avoid certain situations because you fear they'll trigger another attack.

This can create a cycle of living "in fear of fear". It can add to your sense of panic and may cause you to have more attacks.

Panic attacks

During a panic attack you get a rush of intense mental and physical symptoms. It can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason.

A panic attack can be very frightening and distressing.

Symptoms include:

  • a racing heartbeat
  • feeling faint
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • trembling
  • hot flushes
  • chills
  • shaky limbs
  • a choking sensation
  • dizziness
  • numbness or pins and needles
  • dry mouth
  • a need to go to the toilet
  • ringing in your ears
  • a feeling of dread or a fear of dying
  • a churning stomach
  • a tingling in your fingers
  • feeling like you're not connected to your body

Most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes. Some have been reported to last up to an hour.

The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.

Although panic attacks are frightening, they're not dangerous. An attack will not cause you any physical harm, and it's unlikely you'll be admitted to hospital if you have one.

Be aware that most of these symptoms can also be symptoms of other conditions or problems, so you may not always be experiencing a panic attack.

For example, you may have a racing heartbeat if you have very low blood pressure.

When to get help

See a GP if you've been experiencing symptoms of panic disorder.

They'll ask you to describe your symptoms, how often you get them, and how long you have had them.

They may also carry out a physical examination to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

It can sometimes be difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life, but try not to feel anxious or embarrassed.

You may be diagnosed with panic disorder if you have regular and unexpected panic attacks followed by at least a month of continuous worry or concern about having further attacks.

Treatments for panic disorder

Treatment aims to reduce the number of panic attacks you have and ease your symptoms.

Talking therapies and medicine are the main treatments for panic disorder. Your treatment will depend on your symptoms.

Psychological therapies

You can refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service for treatment based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

If you prefer, you can see a GP and they can refer you.

Your therapist may discuss with you how you react when you have a panic attack and what you think about.

They can teach you ways of changing your behaviour to help you keep calm during an attack.

You may need to see your GP regularly while you're having CBT so they can assess your progress.


If you and your doctor think it might be helpful, you may be prescribed:

  • a type of antidepressant called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or, if SSRIs are not suitable, a tricyclic antidepressant (usually imipramine or clomipramine)
  • an anti-epilepsy medicine such as pregabalin or, if your anxiety is severe, clonazepam (these medicines are also beneficial for treating anxiety)

Antidepressants can take 2 to 4 weeks before they start to work, and up to 8 weeks to work fully.

Keep taking your medicines, even if you feel they're not working, and only stop taking them if your GP advises you to do so.

Referral to a specialist

If your symptoms do not improve after CBT, medicine and connecting with a support group, your GP may refer you to a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.

The specialist will carry out an assessment and devise a treatment plan to help you manage your symptoms.

Video: Psychological therapies for stress, anxiety and depression

Animated video explaining self-referral to psychological therapies services for stress, anxiety or depression.

Media last reviewed: 14 March 2022
Media review due: 14 March 2025

Things you can try yourself

What to do during a panic attack

The next time you feel a panic attack coming on:

  • do not fight it
  • stay where you are, if possible
  • breathe slowly and deeply
  • remind yourself that the attack will pass
  • focus on positive, peaceful and relaxing images
  • remember it's not life threatening

Preventing a further attack

It may help to:

  • read a self-help book for anxiety based on the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – ask your GP to recommend one
  • try complementary therapies such as massage and aromatherapy, or activities like yoga and pilates, to help you relax
  • learn breathing techniques to help ease symptoms
  • do regular physical exercise to reduce stress and tension
  • avoid sugary food and drinks, caffeine and alcohol, and stop smoking, as all they can all make attacks worse

For more help, read how to deal with panic attacks.

Support groups

Panic disorder can have a big impact on your life, but support is available. It might help to speak to other people with the same condition, or to connect with a charity.

You may find the following links useful:

  • Anxiety UK
  • Mind: understanding anxiety and panic attacks
  • No Panic
  • Triumph Over Phobia (TOP UK)

Ask your GP about support groups for panic disorder near you.

Find anxiety services in your area

Complications of panic disorder

Panic disorder is treatable and you can make a full recovery. But it's best to get medical help as soon as you can.

If you do not get medical help, panic disorder can escalate and become very difficult to cope with.

You're more at risk of developing other mental health conditions, such as agoraphobia or other phobias, or an alcohol or drug problem.

Having panic disorder may affect your ability to drive. The law requires you to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about a medical condition that could impact your driving ability.

Visit GOV.UK for further information about driving with a disability or health condition.


As with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of panic disorder is not fully understood.

But it's thought to be linked to a combination of things, including:

  • a traumatic or very stressful life experience, such as bereavement
  • having a close family member with panic disorder
  • an imbalance of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain

Panic disorder in children

Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.

Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.

If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.

After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.

They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.

Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child's panic attacks.

Read more about anxiety disorders in children or find out about mental health services for children and young people.

Get help with anxiety, fear or panic

Most people feel anxious or scared sometimes, but if it's affecting your life there are things you can try that may help.

Support is also available if you're finding it hard to cope with anxiety, fear or panic.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can cause many different symptoms. It might affect how you feel physically, mentally and how you behave.

It's not always easy to recognise when anxiety is the reason you're feeling or acting differently.

Physical symptoms
  • faster, irregular or more noticeable heartbeat
  • feeling lightheaded and dizzy
  • headaches
  • chest pains
  • loss of appetite
  • sweating
  • breathlessness
  • feeling hot
  • shaking
Mental symptoms
  • feeling tense or nervous
  • being unable to relax
  • worrying about the past or future
  • feeling tearful
  • not being able to sleep
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fear of the worst happening
  • intrusive traumatic memories
  • obsessive thoughts
Changes in behaviour
  • not being able to enjoy your leisure time
  • difficulty looking after yourself
  • struggling to form or maintain relationships
  • worried about trying new things
  • avoiding places and situations that create anxiety
  • compulsive behaviour, such as constantly checking things

Symptoms of a panic attack

If you experience sudden, intense anxiety and fear, it might be the symptoms of a panic attack. Other symptoms may include:

  • a racing heartbeat
  • feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded
  • feeling that you're losing control
  • sweating, trembling or shaking
  • shortness of breath or breathing very quickly
  • a tingling in your fingers or lips
  • feeling sick (nausea)

A panic attack usually lasts 5 to 30 minutes. They can be very frightening, but they're not dangerous and should not harm you.


If you're not sure how you feel, try our mood self-assessment.

Things you can try to help with anxiety, fear and panic


  • try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor. You could also contact Samaritans, call: 116 123 or email: [email protected] if you need someone to talk to

  • use calming breathing exercises

  • exercise – activities such as running, walking, swimming and yoga can help you relax

  • find out how to get to sleep if you're struggling to sleep

  • eat a healthy diet with regular meals to keep your energy levels stable

  • consider peer support, where people use their experiences to help each other. Find out more about peer support on the Mind website

  • listen to free mental wellbeing audio guides


  • do not try to do everything at once – set small targets that you can easily achieve

  • do not focus on the things you cannot change – focus your time and energy into helping yourself feel better

  • do not avoid situations that make you anxious – try slowly building up time spent in worrying situations to gradually reduce anxiety

  • try not to tell yourself that you're alone; most people experience anxiety or fear at some point in their life

  • try not to use alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or drugs to relieve anxiety as these can all contribute to poor mental health

Audio: Anxiety control training

In this audio guide, a doctor explains how you can take control of anxiety.

Media last reviewed: 2 March 2021
Media review due: 2 March 2024


Further information and support

  • Mind: anxiety and panic attacks – how can I help myself?
  • Mind: anxiety and panic attacks – what is a panic attack?
  • Every Mind Matters: self-help cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques – get help with anxiety and worries, improve your sleep and boost your mental wellbeing

Where to get NHS help for anxiety, fear and panic

Referring yourself for therapy

If you need more support, you can get free psychological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) on the NHS.

You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) without a referral from a GP.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you're struggling to cope with anxiety, fear or panic
  • things you're trying yourself are not helping
  • you would prefer to get a referral from a GP

Urgent advice: Ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if:

  • you need help urgently, but it's not an emergency

111 can tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone. Go to or call: 111.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E now if:

  • you or someone you know needs immediate help
  • you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose

A mental health emergency should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency.

Find your nearest A&E

Causes of anxiety, fear and panic

There are many different causes of anxiety, fear or panic and it's different for everyone.

When you're feeling anxious or scared, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

This can be helpful in some situations, but it might also cause physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating. In some people, it might cause a panic attack.

Regular anxiety, fear or panic can also be the main symptom of several health conditions. Do not self-diagnose – speak to a GP if you're worried about how you're feeling.

Identifying the cause

If you know what's causing anxiety, fear or panic, it might be easier to find ways to manage it.

Some examples of possible causes include:

  • work – feeling pressure at work, unemployment or retirement
  • family – relationship difficulties, divorce or caring for someone
  • financial problems – unexpected bills or borrowing money
  • health – illness, injury or losing someone (bereavement)
  • difficult past experiences – bullying, abuse or neglect

Even significant life events such as buying a house, having a baby or planning a wedding could lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.

You might find it hard to explain to people why you feel this way, but talking to someone could help you find a solution.

Find out more about the 5 steps to mental wellbeing.

Conditions related to anxiety, fear and panic

A table showing some of the conditions related to anxiety, fear and panic
Symptoms Possible cause
feelings of anxiety that will not go away, anxiety is affecting your life generalised anxiety disorder
overwhelming fear of something specific like an object, place or animal phobias
regularly experiencing panic attacks panic disorder
often reliving traumatic past experiences, nightmares and flashbacks post-traumatic stress disorder

7 tips from a psychologist on how to stop panicking during the coronavirus epidemic


BEAUTY • Healthy lifestyle

Text: Olga Strakhovskaya

Every day brings us more and more reasons to worry. Closed borders, the fall of the ruble, an increase in the number of cases. It's scary to die, it's scary for your loved ones, it's scary to completely lose control over the situation. Each of these issues may require several years of work with a psychologist, and no advice guarantees a quick result. But we still asked Alena Prikhidko, a psychologist and professor at Florida International University, to help us find support in a world where everything is incomprehensible.

1. I can't stop reading the news, but it only makes it worse for me. What to do?

2. What if I have coronavirus? How can I calm down?

3. But what if we all die?

4. I am very worried about my parents and acquaintances who do not comply with the quarantine. How can I influence them?

5. All right, but how to support a person who is very worried?

6. Because of this virus, my important plans were thwarted. How to stop biting your elbows?

7. And how do you go on living? How long will the pandemic last? Will it get worse? Nothing is clear!

I can't stop reading the news, but it only makes me feel worse. What to do?

Stop reading the news is an unrealistic task. You will still read them. But think about why exactly you read them, what is their function for you? What exactly does this information give you? Will this reading change your life for the better?

If your task is to keep abreast of events and the most up-to-date information, make yourself a news reading schedule and select sources that you trust completely. Don't read everything. Think and observe what kind of news makes you feel worse. Maybe it's a whole publication - or a specific person on social networks who posts only things that disturb and disorientate you. In this case, try to hide it, subscribe to other people who give balanced information (for example, Denis Protsenko, the head physician of hospital No. 40 in Kommunarka, where patients with suspected coronavirus are being treated and examined. He publishes the latest data several times a day and does it without unnecessary emotions. - Approx. The Blueprint).

read also

Really helpful articles about the coronavirus that aren't harmful to share on social media

What if I have the coronavirus? How can I calm down?

If you suspect that you may have contracted the virus, or if you already have symptoms of SARS, you should follow the official recommendations. With mild symptoms, stay at home, with more severe ones, call a doctor at home or an ambulance (read more about how to behave during a coronavirus pandemic in our checklist and instructions. - Approx. The Blueprint).

If your health is not in danger right now, but you can not cope with panic, you need to deal with it. Observe what exactly causes panic attacks in you, what happened before and after, learn to catch their approach. During a panic attack - breathe (exhalation should be longer than inhalation), if there is water nearby - wash your face, hold your hands under it. We must learn not to be afraid of an attack, because this only strengthens it. Know and remind yourself that it will pass.

The fear that we will all die is not really fear, but anxiety, that is, an emotion associated with the imagination. The thought comes to your mind that the pandemic is the end, and you believe in it. In fact, it is the brain that bombards you with such thoughts, and it is completely optional to believe them.

Use the defusion technique (cognitive disengagement) - disconnect yourself from your thoughts. Look at them from the side, take the position of an observer. Say to yourself, “Hmm, what an interesting thought. Of course, it comes to mind when there is so much scary information. Thank you, the thought that came, but for now I want to do other things. The main thing is not to try to drive terrible thoughts away from yourself, to try "not to think of them." It will only make them stronger. We must accept the fact that they will fall on you during an epidemic, and kindly redirect them.

But what if we all die?

The state of uncertainty, anxiety is often associated with the fear of death. Yes, death can happen to anyone, it is very close. It is very difficult, but it is important to accept - and from this, paradoxically, it will be much calmer. At the same time, the death rate from coronavirus, according to WHO, is 3.4% - and even in the highest risk group, over 80 years old, this figure does not exceed 14.8%. In 80% of cases in infected people, the disease is mild or asymptomatic. Therefore, there is no need to fear imminent death due to the coronavirus.

If this information does not make you feel any better and you have severe generalized anxiety that you are unable to cope with, I would recommend seeing a psychotherapist. You probably need more specialized support than what friends and family can give you right now. In general, I would recommend that all anxious people now communicate with those who share their excitement - but they themselves behave calmly. Such people understand that they cannot control everything in the world - and just do what is in their power.

I am very worried about my parents and acquaintances who do not observe the quarantine. How can I influence them?

You need to understand where your control zone ends: what you can influence and what you cannot. The only thing you can do now for the people you love is to provide them with the most reliable, convincing and understandable information. But to make a choice for them how to behave, and even more so to lock them up at home, is not. This will have to be accepted.

Well, well, how to support a person who is very worried?

As a rule, people in this state mainly need to be understood. Therefore, to support means to listen (by phone or video link), to enable a person to express his feelings, to accept them as they are. Do not argue and do not try to prove something to him. Answer questions and give advice only if the person asks for it. Verbally and non-verbally reflect his feelings, that is, show that they are important and understandable. Thus, we tell a person that we understand the normality of his experiences, that they are valid and absolutely adequate. It is very important. Such an example can be the phrases “Of course you are worried, this is an epidemic and there are deaths”, “Yes, the situation is really very serious, and everyone is worried.”

In general, the main thing is to listen more than talk about yourself. If you feel like sharing your experience in response, you can also do so with a supportive intent: tell that something similar is happening to you. It's another matter if you worry as much as your friend. Then, most likely, you will emotionally infect him - and both of you will only start to get more nervous. There is such a thing as the "pressure cooker effect": when two people are equally worried, they only feed each other's anxiety. Therefore, it is important that you be calm. By sharing the feelings of a person, you give him support, but rationally, soberly realize what is happening, what needs to be done. In such a situation, a person can, on the contrary, “infect” with your calmness.

see also

How can you tell if you are prone to anxiety and what can you do about it?

Because of this virus, my important plans were thwarted. How to stop biting your elbows?

You cannot change what happened, but you can change how you feel about it. With any choice, there are pros and cons: imagine that you have two scales, on one of which are your plans, and on the other - the risk of getting sick and infecting other people. All plans can be postponed, and the epidemic must be experienced now. If you can't deal with regrets about missed vacations or lost money, try making a list like this and you'll see for yourself.

It is important to develop not self-pity, but compassion. There is a scientifically proven fact that talking to ourselves out loud helps us cope with sad feelings. You can just sit down when no one is watching and say to yourself: "Honey, how hard it all is, how I sympathize with you. " It will get easier.

And how do you go on living? How long will the pandemic last? Won't it get worse? Nothing is clear!

Life is by nature unpredictable, and there is always a chance that something will happen that we have not considered. No matter how hard we try to instill predictability. For people who are now suffering from unanswered questions, I would recommend looking back and remembering situations of great uncertainty in which they have already found themselves - and how they coped with them, what helped them. Rely on your own resources. Talk to your friends and those whom you respect, whom you trust. Find out what methods they have. And of course, if it's hard for you, don't be afraid to contact a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. This is absolutely normal - and even more so in a situation like now.

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tags: Healthy lifestyle, coronavirus

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Putting aside panic: how to cope with the team in the most difficult situations

A true leader must be able to manage not only his own emotions, but also the emotions of his subordinates. To do this, you have to mobilize all internal resources - up to facial expressions

A good leader knows how to transform negative events in the external environment into positive activity within the organization. This is one of the forms of manifestation of managerial courage, which is spoken about today at the most advanced enterprises.

Finished reading here

In 2017, the demand for managing communications in a changing environment has grown strongly. The reason is that in a crisis, companies need to make the most of the competencies of their employees in order to compete in the market, which means growing leaders at all levels. This is possible only with the boss who knows how to deal with emotions in difficult situations.

Situation 1: General panic over the uncertain future of the company

When a company finds itself in conditions of uncertainty (for example, under restructuring, bankruptcy, repurchase), it is difficult for a leader not to succumb to general panic. If the leader, who in fact is the bearer of the corporate standard, complains to subordinates and seeks support, he declares weakness. When the leader does not accept changes, feels hostility towards the new order, he unconsciously transmits anxiety to employees. As a result, departments and functions will show serious resistance because people receive such a message from above. In this case, the boss turns into a passive-aggressive character who slows down the process and infects the team with negative emotions. A true leader is responsible for those who believe in him. He should help subordinates adapt, and not escalate anxiety.

In the company where one of my clients worked, new owners appeared, and everyone, including the manager himself, began to expect some negative innovations from them. His task was to cope with the anxiety in the team and inform people about the changes. Despite internal resistance to what was happening, he trained a positive attitude in order to calm the team. I had to work on everything, down to facial expressions. He learned to turn the corners of his lips up at the end of a speech, and not down - which betrayed his true attitude to the situation, but was unacceptable for communication with subordinates.

Situation 2. During a personnel reshuffle, you and your employees are laid off

In a situation where a leader loses status and power, it is easy to fall into apathy and withdraw into oneself. This happens with sudden personnel changes. Just yesterday, a person had influence in the company, he devoted himself to the cause, processed, and now he has been demoted and he is spending his last days in the same place. I want to drop everything and leave. If a person shows managerial courage and continues to be responsible for his team, such leadership behavior generates not only respect, but also professional trust from top management.

The top manager of an international corporation was laid off because it was necessary to put a foreigner in a managerial position. It was hard for him to stay in the company for another three months and transfer cases. However, instead of getting upset when transferring cases, he took a different path - he showed friendliness, supported a new person who came from another country to take his place. The receiver was very surprised, he expected a completely different contact. Thanks to the correct line of conduct, the top manager increased his reputation in the eyes of senior management.

The first step is to stabilize your emotional state. They say: if you want to deprive a person of success, deprive him of his balance. As soon as we lose calmness and emotional stability, we become reactive, that is, we do not perform actions ourselves, but react emotionally to the actions of other people. Such activities can often be inefficient in terms of process and relationship building.

Situation 3. The new subordinate is your old sworn enemy

If the new leader's team includes a person with whom there is already a not very good history of interaction, this will inevitably affect the workflow. Omissions and unspoken claims, attempts to drag the past relationship scenario to a new place will entail speculation and hostility. An employee can sabotage work. The situation of confrontation pulls people out of a resource that should be spent on business development.

One of my clients was promoted to a new location, and there was a person with whom he had conflicts at his previous job, where he held a lower position. As a consequence, his leadership role was not accepted. The employee preferred to see him as the same simpleton who traveled with papers from one place to another, and told everyone in a row that this appointment was an accident. The boss tried to praise, inspire the employee, but he only got annoyed. Then he invited him to a conversation and said: “I can solve the problem based on my formal status, but let's discuss what does not suit you. In order for us to develop, we need to agree. You may not accept my decisions, I may not accept your work, this is unlikely to help the common cause. In the conversation, it turned out that the employee believed that he was underestimated, but instead of showing himself, he sabotaged the achievements of others. The leader offered him a new functionality, and the situation was resolved.

The leader in this case must overcome his personal attitude, as if to "rise" above it. On the one hand, it is necessary to help the employee to look at the situation systematically, on the other hand, to give him the opportunity to save face.

Situation 4. Management in manual mode has led the company to a dead end

A leader today is not only one who shows his abilities, he is, first of all, one who is able to create new leaders. There is nothing worse when the boss says that everyone should develop and make sales, but does not tolerate a single person who disagrees with him and gives out interesting ideas. If the boss wants his subordinates to confirm the idea of ​​​​his greatness, he will get people-leaders in his team, not leaders who will rely on the fact that he was pleased, and not make independent decisions. This is the sin of home-type management: the leader selects people who are convenient for him. And all companies are closed on the boss, who is not so easy to carry the entire burden of responsibility.

In large companies, this happens at the departmental level, when managers behave small-town and are afraid that their subordinates will be noticed by superiors and will communicate bypassing them. It turns out that if subordinates show themselves, they are pulled up. In such companies, the development of leaders is difficult, because the resource of people is spent on survival, and not on business development.

The first thing that a real leader must create in a company in order to turn the tide is to create psychological security for people. They must clearly understand what is possible and what is not. They must feel that if they try and comply, they are protected from the emotional outbursts of management. The leader encourages when people show themselves in the correct form, because this is development. It is often easier to start changing behavior not from work, but from personal life, since in the family we repeat our behavioral patterns.

  • Ladder of success. Why Money Doesn't Make Us Happy

Situation 5: A Priority Project Failed

Many managers have a hard time admitting they're doing something wrong. It happens that the project was conceived wonderfully, but over time it became clear that it does not give the desired result. The manager cannot admit that the project is unsuccessful, and begins to blame the employees for their poor performance.

Learn more