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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How do I control my panic attacks?

    I'm being treated for depression, anxiety and panic attacks. Last week or so having trouble controlling panic attacks. Under quite a bit of stress lately, job, money. Panic attacks manifest themselves with any ache pain, nausea - I'm convinced I have some form of cancer!!!

    Really getting fed up. Taking Zoloft which has been working well up till now. Have had counselling, but the problem never arises when I have help.
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 2


    My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease … View Profile

    Often panic attacks have a purely physiological basis (and I am not meaning to invalidate you here).

    They can arise from hyperventilation (= breathing too shallowly so the CO2 levels in your blood get messed up).

    A breathing exercise can help:

    (1) Sit quietly, with your hands around your navel, fingers just touching.

    (2) Breathe in deeply so your stomach expands and your fingers move apart.

    (3) Count to three.

    (4) Breathe out deeply so your stomach contracts and your fingers touch again.

    (5) Count to three.

    (6) Repeat (2) - (5) for about ten minutes.

    It usually works.

  • Susan Wolf


    My aim is to listen and understand. Specialising in LGBTQI/GLBT and all other atypical lifestyles. Other areas include depression, anxiety and communication within families and … View Profile

    Panic attacks are very scary! However they are made worse by what thoughts you allow to keep going through your mind the same way a roundabout never stops. 

    When you get a panic attack, definately, as Dr Simon above has suggested, focus on your breathing. Also, whatever negative thoughts (such as cancer, death) tell them off! Start repeating to yourself the opposite of what they are telling you. 

    Instead of “I must have cancer” say instead, over and over “I am very healthy and fine”
    or instead of “I'm dying” change it to “I'm fine, everything's ok” or some variation of that. Keep saying it over and over, out loud if you can, and make sure they are louder than the negative thoughts. It can be a bit confusing at first and bit of a battlefield, but experience shows it can cut down on a panic attacks effects quite well.

    Good luck.

  • 1


    I am a psychologist in private practice.I also lecture and supervise psychologists/psychology students at University.I work with clients who suffer from depression and anxiety. I … View Profile

    I think you could benefit from psychological counselling. It is relatively common for people with these kind of health fears to have panic attacks. Counselling will help you get at the underlying cause of your anxiety. This needs to occur so that you can resolve what is triggering your anxiety. In the meanwhile , you could try doing some relaxation exercises, like meditation, yoga, or creative visualisation. If you can manage to reduce your general stress and anxiety levels, you will be less likely to have panic attacks.

  • 3


    Dr Clive Jones

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sport Psychologist

    Dr Clive Jones is a registered psychologist specialising in the assessment and treatment of mental health issues and disorders and High Performance Sport psychology. He … View Profile

    Panic attacks can actually feel very normal and healthy in context. For example, if you were about to bungy jump or if you were being chased by a lion or if you were standing at the egde of an exit door of a plane with a parachute ready to jump out when a few kilometres in the sky for the first time, then the panic attack would feel very normal. In these instances it is the situation, rather than our response to the situation, that stands out as the concern. In all these examples we would most likely be feeling panicy… but it would make sense and seem reasonable enough to feel that way under the circumstances.

    So a key issue when having a panic attack is that we usually don't know why we are having it. Because of this, it will most likely seem out of context to what we are facing at the time and so therefore will usually feel quite weird and freaky. We wil start worrying what is wrong with us and why we are feeling so incredibly freaked out for no apparent reason. 

    But the amazing thing about the human mind is that it doesn't have to be faced by something as obvious as a bungy jump, parachute drop or hungry lion to get in to a state of panic. As humans we have so many things a lot less obvious than that to concern us and worry us whereby we can end up feeling threatened or scared by it. 

    We can end up with lots of fears. For example, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of worthlessness, insignificance,… fear of not being able to cope or manage under the stressors that pile up… These are just some examples of lot's of different things that can evoke within us a panic response.

    So one aspect of treatment is to come to understand and reassess those things (fears) that can trigger a panic response and deal with them accordingly through the therapeutic process.

    Another aspect of treatment is to learn how to bring the panic response back down toward a more relaxed state. Body and mind calming/relaxation exercises that can be applied when the panic response kicks in is one aspect of this.

    Another aspect is to build awareness of associated avoidance behaviours related to panic responses in order to nip in the bud any snowballing of avoidance. This is because when ever we feel panicy we also then want to avoid or stear clear of the thing(s) that have us feeling that way. But because we are not 100% sure of what those things are that make us feel panicy, we often will just make them up as we go along. So we can start avoiding people and places in an attempt to try and keep away from what ever it is that makes us feel that way. So curbing this avoidance behaviour is also very important. 

    These are just some brief introductory overviews of key concepts that should be worked through in more detail in therapy. 

  • Ralph Graham


    Ralph Graham, Counsellor, Psychotherapist, helping those who are affected by:grief, loss, anxiety, phobias, panic attack.And those who have been traumatised by:crime, assault, sexual abuse and … View Profile

    Getting panic attacks under control might well be accomplished by following the steps above.

    Getting rid of them altogether will take some kind of intervention as they don't usually go away unaided. If an earlier traumatic event is found to be the thing that kicked these off then this can often be resolved fairly quickly, sometimes in one session. It is a matter of using a therapy that addresses the actual problem. I favour a rapid therapy like TIR as much time can be consumed “learning” to keep these dreadful attacks at bay and much time can be consumed in unlearning negative thoughts if these are to be blamed.
    Others have asked about panic attacks here. You can see answers from me and others below.

    To ask a question in private or to have me recommend someone in your area
    click Make an Enquiry

    My very best to you,
    Ralph Graham

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