​Panic attacks can occur during extreme anxiety when a feeling of fear suddenly takes over.  

1 in 3 people have them at some point in their lives. 

Symptoms can include 

  • rapid breathing 
  • breathlessness 
  • going hot or cold 
  • feeling dizzy or sick 
  • shivering or shaking 
  • racing or irregular heartbeat (palpitations) 
  • sweating 
  • a strong desire to get out, and anger if this is impossible. 


A panic attack can be frightening and can make a person feel as if they are having a heart attack or ‘going mad’. This can make anxiety worse and cause hyperventilation (over-breathing). In turn this makes symptoms worse.  

  • Try to slow down your breathing 
  • Breathe into cupped hands or a paper bag (this helps to restore the balance of gases in your bloodstream) – not too deeply. 
  • If possible remove yourself to a private space to calm down 
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Tell yourself that you are having a panic attack and you’re going to be OK. 
  • Think positive, assertive thoughts 


Panic attacks can be very unpleasant and cause a person to avoid certain situations to try to prevent them happening again.  However avoiding situations can make fear worse and turn into a phobia.

Panic Attacks

Getting help

• Make an appointment with your GP who will be able to rule out medical causes or look at treatment options and referral to specialist services if appropriate

Useful websites

MIND, the mental health charity.

The 
Mental Health Foundation.

Visit Anxiety UK, the national charity helping people who experience anxiety disorders.

Wikihow have a webpage on how to calm yourself during a panic attack.

HelpGuide's webpage on panic attacks.

Top tips during a panic attack

University of Lincoln Health Service ​​