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How To Eliminate the Fear of Panic Attacks—A Concise Guide

How To Eliminate the Fear of Panic Attacks—A Concise Guide

If you’ve been grappling with occasional or constant panic attacks, you’re not alone. Statistics show that about 2.7% of adults in the U.S. had panic disorder in the past 12 months.

While panic attacks can be unsettling, often appearing out of the blue and filling you with overwhelming fear, there are numerous ways to manage them and mitigate their impact. 

This article will describe what causes the fear of panic attacks, what its symptoms may be, and how to deal with it in the short and long term. 

What Causes Fear of Panic Attacks?

The fear of panic attacks can be linked to the body’s natural fight-or-flight response. When faced with stress or danger, the body releases adrenaline, a natural chemical that triggers physical changes in the body, including:

  • Relaxing the muscles in the lungs, widening the air passages, and leading to increased oxygen flow to the muscles necessary for confronting or fleeing danger
  • Causing the blood vessels to contract, redirecting blood towards major muscle groups like the heart and lungs
  • Stimulating heart cells to beat faster, increasing the heart rate and the force of heart contractions
  • Signaling the liver to break down glycogen, a stored form of glucose, providing extra energy to the body

While these responses can be helpful when facing real threats, they may also create a sense of fear or terror when the danger isn’t life-threatening. For example, a rapid heart rate or shortness of breath can be mistaken for a heart attack, leading to increased fear and anxiety, which can then trigger further panic attacks, creating a cycle of fear and panic.

Factors That May Trigger Panic Attacks

Beyond the body’s natural response to stress, factors that can predispose you to the fear of panic attacks include:

  • Genetic factorsSeveral studies reveal that panic disorders tend to run in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition
  • Major life stress—Stressful events and disruptive life changes, such as the loss of a loved one, can trigger attacks
  • Temperament—Individuals who are more sensitive to stress or prone to negative emotions may be more likely to experience panic attacks
  • Brain function—The amygdala (the fear center of the brain) and parts of the midbrain that control our experience of pain can become hyperactive in stressful situations, contributing to anxiety attacks

Common Signs and Symptoms of a Panic Attack

Panic attack symptoms can vary among individuals. They typically last from a few minutes to half an hour, though repeated attacks can go on for hours or days. Check out the table below for a detailed breakdown of the common symptoms of panic attacks:

Physical Symptoms

Psychological Symptoms

  • Rapid heartbeat 

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Sweating

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chills or hot flashes

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Nausea or abdominal distress

  • Numbness or tingling sensations

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Fear of losing control or going crazy

  • Fear of dying

  • Feeling detached from oneself or reality

  • Feeling like one is choking or suffocating

  • Feeling like one is having a heart attack or dying

  • Extreme distress or anxiety

  • Feeling overwhelmed

Short-Term Self-Help Techniques for Fear of Panic Attacks

Source: Oleksandr P

When faced with a panic attack, having a set of immediate strategies to cope can be incredibly helpful. Some of the short-term strategies you can use to deal with the fear of panic attacks are:

  1. Breathing exercises
  2. Grounding technique
  3. Visualization technique
  4. Progressive muscle relaxation

Breathing Exercises

During a panic attack, your breathing often becomes quick and shallow, exacerbating feelings of fear and anxiety. To alleviate it, you can use breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing.

This technique involves taking slow, deep breaths into your diaphragm rather than shallow breaths into your chest. To mitigate the effects of a panic attack this way, follow these five steps:

  1. Find a spot where you can sit or recline comfortably, such as a chair, cushion, or bed
  2. Place one hand on your belly and the other over your heart
  3. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, feeling your belly rise as your lungs expand
  4. Gently breathe out through your mouth and feel your belly fall as you release the air from your lungs
  5. Repeat this cycle until you feel calm

Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are strategies that help you stay connected to the present moment, which is particularly useful during a panic attack when you might feel like you’re losing control or getting detached from reality. Some tips for making the most of this method include: 

  1. Find a comfortable seat and place your feet firmly on the ground
  2. Identify five things you can see around you
  3. Touch four different objects near you
  4. Listen for three distinct sounds you can hear
  5. Detect two different scents you can smell
  6. Recognize one thing you can taste

These techniques can help divert your focus from your internal anxiety and anchor you in the present. You can also employ them if you have performance anxiety during interviews, exams, or even when speaking in front of an audience.

Visualization Techniques

Visualization, or guided imagery, involves creating a mental image of a calming scene, such as a tranquil beach with gentle waves, sand glowing in the sun, and a soft breeze carrying the scent of the ocean. This can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, distracting your mind from negative feelings. 

To use guided imagery for mitigating a panic attack, follow four easy steps:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
  3. Imagine a peaceful place or situation
  4. Try to use all your senses—what do you see, hear, smell, and feel in this calming place?
  5. Stay in this relaxed state for a few minutes, continuing to breathe deeply

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) entails tensing and then releasing different muscle groups in the body. As you relax your muscles, you counter anxiety symptoms, promoting a sense of calm. To use PMR to alleviate the symptoms of an anxiety attack, follow these steps:

  1. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down
  2. Starting with your feet, tense the muscles as tightly as you can, then relax
  3. Move up to your calves, then your thighs, and so on, working your way up to your head
  4. Inhale for 5–10 seconds each time you tense the muscles and exhale as you suddenly release the tension
  5. As you tense and release each muscle group, concentrate on the difference between tension and relaxation

Long-Term Strategies for Coping With Non-Stop Panic Attacks

Source: cottonbro studio

For people with repeated panic attacks or a panic disorder, the best course of action is to visit a specialist. They may recommend treatment that includes these three therapeutic methods:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  2. Exposure therapy
  3. Mindfulness and meditation

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a psychological method that can help you identify and change thought patterns or behaviors that trigger panic attacks. It’s encompassing and includes other strategies like exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring. CBT entails several steps, but the key ones to follow are:

  1. Identify situations or conditions in your life that may trigger panic attacks
  2. Focus on your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs about these situations
  3. Identify any negative or irrational thinking that may contribute to your panic attacks
  4. Work to reshape this negative or inaccurate thinking, replacing it with more balanced and positive thoughts

Exposure Therapy

Exposure therapy can be particularly effective for those dealing with panic attacks. It involves gradually and repeatedly exposing yourself to stress in a controlled environment. To practice it, follow these steps:

  1. Make a list of situations that trigger your panic attacks
  2. Rate these situations from least to most scary
  3. Start facing these situations, beginning with the least scary
  4. Once your fear becomes more manageable, move on to the next situation

Mindfulness and Meditation

Source: Andrea Piacquadio

Mindfulness and meditation can be effective in managing constant anxiety and panic attacks. These practices involve focusing your mind on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Some guidelines to help you make the most of this technique include:

  • Choose a calm and quiet place where you won’t be disturbed when meditating—It could be a room in your house, a garden, or even a quiet spot in a park
  • Set aside a specific time each day for your practice—Most people find early morning or late evening to be the most convenient times
  • Start with a few minutes each day—You can gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable with the practice
  • Pay attention to your breath as it goes in and out—If your mind starts to wander, bring your focus back to your breathing

These strategies can be extensive and require consistency to achieve lasting results. They can also be effective for coping with chronic social or generalized anxiety disorder.

If you only experience occasional panic attacks or need to calm nerves during specific events like job interviews, tests, or public speaking, gentle medications meant for short-term use like beta-blockers may help.

Using Medications To Cope With Panic Attacks

Medications can be a crucial part of a comprehensive treatment plan for panic disorders. They can help alleviate the symptoms of panic attacks, improving daily life. The drugs typically prescribed to patients with panic or anxiety disorders fall into three categories: 

  1. Antidepressants 
  2. Benzodiazepines 
  3. Beta-blockers 

Check out the table below for more details on these medications:



Treatment Horizon

When Your Doctor May Recommend Them


  • Fluoxetine

  • Sertraline

  • Paroxetine

  • Venlafaxine

Long term

You have repeated panic attacks or a panic disorder


  • Alprazolam

  • Clonazepam

Short term

You need immediate relief from acute symptoms of a panic disorder


  • Propranolol

  • Atenolol

Short term

You only experience occasional panic attacks or situational anxiety

These medications carry the risk of side effects and can interact with specific medical conditions and substances. To avoid unwanted reactions, you should only use them under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

How To Get Medications for Occasional Anxiety

If you only experience occasional panic attacks or situational anxiety, such as when performing on a stage, beta-blockers can be a safe and effective option. These medications block the effects of adrenaline, alleviating the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, such as rapid heart rate, shaking, and blushing. You can only get beta-blockers with your doctor’s prescription.

The biggest challenge is that the use of beta-blockers for situational anxiety has encountered social prejudice, so most people shy away from telling their doctors the exact reasons they need these medications. 

The fantastic news is that telemedicine platforms can provide a safe and comfortable space for you to seek help for your panic attacks or situational anxiety. Kick, an online performance medicine clinic, lets you discreetly discuss your symptoms and treatment options with healthcare providers from the comfort of your home.

Source: Polina Zimmerman

Kick— A Quick Solution for Occasional Anxiety

Kick’s performance anxiety program is centered around your needs, making coping with anxiety or occasional panic attacks more easily manageable. Specific benefits of joining our program include:

  • Quick online consultations—Kick allows you to consult healthcare providers via chat, eliminating the need for time-consuming in-person appointments
  • Tailored treatment—Treatment is customized to your needs and health status and entails safe and gentle medications like propranolol and atenolol
  • Discreet delivery—Kick protects your privacy by delivering your medication in packaging that doesn’t reveal its contents, so you can take the medication inconspicuously
  • Continuous support—If you have any queries while using the medicines, you can reach out to our doctors anytime

Getting Started With Kick

Starting your journey with Kick involves these easy steps:

  1. Navigate to the signup page to initiate your 10-minute consultation
  2. Complete the questionnaire with details about your health status
  3. Add your delivery and payment details

Our team will evaluate your case and get back to you within a day. If Kick isn’t the best solution for your needs, you won’t pay for the initial consultation, according to our Doctor Guarantee.

Fantastic reviews on Trustpilot are a testament to how Kick has helped many patients overcome situational anxiety and panic attacks.

Featured image source: Yan Krukau