Living and Coping with Panic Disorder – Guest Post

I remember my first panic attack vividly. I was 15 years old and I thought I was going to die.

It came out of nowhere. I couldn’t catch my breath and it felt like I’d swallowed a golf ball. My heart was palpitating, and an invisible iron weight crushed my chest. The walls closed in and my vision blurred.

I had no idea what caused it and I was terrified of it happening again; a vicious cycle of fear and panic was born. My panic attacks increased at an alarming rate until I was having several a week. It was exhausting.

One of the hardest parts was not knowing when panic would strike. I’d be out enjoying myself or drifting off to sleep and then – BAM! – panic attack.

When I was diagnosed with panic disorder my doctor assured me that panic attacks (whilst scary) aren’t dangerous.

I’ve learnt many coping strategies over the last 13 years and I no longer fear panic attacks.

My tips for coping with panic disorder are:


  1. Don’t fight panic attacks

I used to try and fight my panic attacks, which made them more intense and more physically draining. Acceptance is key. Acknowledge that you’re having a panic attack, breathe as deeply as you can and tell yourself you’ll get through it – just like you got through all the others.


  1. Don’t run from panic attacks

Avoiding situations where you think you might have a panic attack gives the disorder control over your life. At age 20 I had a panic attack in a crowded nightclub. I wanted to run, but I knew it wasn’t the answer. Instead, I rode it out. After it passed, I stood up tall, threw my shoulders back and marched straight over to the dance floor. And I started to dance.

Panic disorder doesn’t have the power to dictate which places I can go to.


  1. Talk about it

When I was younger, I tried to hide my anxiety from other people. Which is why the first time I had a panic attack at work my colleague shouted: ‘Call 999 – she’s having a heart attack!’ …Not ideal.

I get it – telling people about your panic disorder isn’t easy. But if people know about it, they’re less likely to overreact when you have a panic attack. Plus, you can tell them how they can help in advance.

My husband knows the best thing to do when I have a panic attack is to talk to me. About anything. He tells me about something funny our dog did that day or about a place we should visit. Listening to his voice gives me something to focus on.


  1. Get support

Seeking support takes courage, but seeing a Counsellor was one of the best decisions I made. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) helped to reduce the number of panic attacks I had and equipped me with coping strategies.


Living with panic disorder isn’t easy – but it doesn’t have to hold you back.

Author Bio:

Francesca Edwards is a freelance writer from Staffordshire. When she’s not at home typing away, you’ll find her relaxing at the nearest beach.


If you are going through a similar experience to Francesca, please call our infoline on 03444 775 774 or email to find out how to access our national therapy service where you can access Counselling, CBT or Clinical Hypnotherapy at a discounted rate. Alternatively, follow this link to find our more: