9 reasons why you shouldn’t fear panic attacks

Do you know what the main cause of panic attack is?

It’s the FEAR of having a panic attack.

In particular, the fear that having an attack will lead to something AWFUL.

That’s why the only way you can stop them is to stop fearing them. But how?

The trick is to prevent the symptoms of panic giving rise to catastrophic thoughts.

Like ‘I’m going to die’.

Or ‘I can’t handle this’.

This is CRITICAL if you want to beat your fear of flying.

Yes, the symptoms of panic are unpleasant – especially if you feel them while flying through turbulence or something else that’s scary.

But if you can view your symptoms objectively rather than through the prism of panic, they won’t cause you harm.

To prove this, here’s a description of the 9 main symptoms.

And why you should quit worrying about them now.

1. A pounding heart

When people have panic attacks, they often think they’re having a heart attack.

But they’re not.

Yet it’s easy to see why they might worry.

After all, your heart can pound so hard it feels like it’s going to explode.

And at the same time, you can get nasty chest pains.

But the reality is that panic attacks DO NOT cause heart attacks.

The rapid pumping of your heart is caused by your body priming itself to fight or flee.

In other words, it’s doing what it’s DESIGNED to do.

Just like it’s designed to pump hard when you go for a jog.

So why does it scare you when you’re having a panic attack?

Maybe because you’re not used to your heart rate rocketing when you’re not doing physical exercise.

Or maybe because you fear that your panic attack will go on forever – and your heart won’t last the distance.

On that note, you need to ask yourself how long your previous panic attacks have lasted.

I’ll bet they only lasted minutes.

Why?

Because your body’s hardwired to only allow them to last for a short time.

20 minutes is about the max.

Luckily, you heart can easily work hard for that long.

But even if you’re heart was forced to pump furiously for much longer, it could.

That’s what it’s designed to do.

Just think of all the people you see jogging.

Their hearts are pumping like CRAZY – often for much more than 20 minutes.

But what if you’re not super fit? Don’t worry – your heart can take it.

That said, if you have recurrent chest pain outside of your panic attacks, you should get a medical check-up.

2. Breathing problems

When having a panic attack, do you struggle to breath?

If so, do you fear suffocation?

You shouldn’t.

Because, in reality, your body won’t let you.

Don’t believe me? Try holding your breath indefinitely.

No, the reason you feel like you can’t breath is because when you have a panic attack, your breathing becomes fast and shallow.

This is called hyperventilating.

And it can make breathing seem hard. Why?

Because hyperventilating leads to an imbalance between oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your blood.

In particular, it results in too much oxygen and not enough carbon dioxide.

And without enough carbon dioxide, your body can’t absorb oxygen properly. The result?

Breathing seems much harder, even though your body is actually fine.

3. Dizziness, vertigo or feeling ‘outside’ of yourself.

These are also caused by hyperventilating.

And while they sure FEEL scary, they’re not actually dangerous.

In fact, when you were a kid, you probably used to create these symptoms deliberately. For example, by spinning around.

And while they made you feel weird, they didn’t panic you. Right?

So there’s no need for them to worry you now.

4. Tingling

Tingling, especially in your hands and feet, is another symptom caused by hyperventilating.

As with the other symptoms this causes, tingling is unpleasant but not dangerous.

5. Going crazy

When having a panic attack, have you worried about going crazy?

If so, did you actually go crazy?

Nope.

That’s because panic is an anxiety disorder, not a mental health one.

Put simply, panic attacks have nothing to do with mental illness.

That’s why they can’t make you go crazy – even if you feel light-headed. Or get that horrible ‘out of body’ feeling.

And even if you feel you’re going crazy, remember that as with everything else related to panic attacks, a feeling is not a fact.

6. Losing self-restraint

Similar to fears of going crazy, a panic attack can obviously make you feel like you’re going to lose self-restraint in some way.

For example, you might fear that you’ll jump out of your seat and run wildly around the cabin.

Or start shouting.

Or try yanking the doors open (which is impossible while flying).

Or something else that would be embarrassing.

But have you ever lost self-restraint during a previous panic attack?

I didn’t think so.

That’s because, despite what you might feel, your brain has a way of ensuring these thoughts don’t translate into action.

But what if it that system failed and you DID do something offbeat.

Would it matter?

Yes, it might be a bit embarrassing doing something weird in front of your fellow passengers.

But so what?

With their headphones on, I can almost guarantee they wouldn’t notice.

And if they did?

Who cares – you’re never going to see them again.

7. Fainting

Worried you’re going to faint?

Well, guess what?

It’s almost certain you won’t.

That’s because fainting is caused by a drop in blood pressure. Yet in a panic attack, your blood pressure goes UP.

But pretend for a moment that you COULD faint.

Given it wouldn’t be dangerous (unless, for example, you banged your head on something), how awful would it be?

Not bad enough to worry about.

So strike fainting off your list of panic-related worries.

8. Trembling

Yes, it’s unnerving. But trembling isn’t dangerous either.

It’s simply your muscles tensing up to prep your body to fight or flee.

If you don’t believe me, try holding yourself in a push-up position for as long as possible.

9. Losing control of your bladder or bowel

Another reason you might fear panic attacks is because you’re worried they might demand an immediate visit to the bathroom.

This fear is compounded by the worry that something might stop you getting there.

Like the fasten seat belts sign being on.

My take on this is that a panic attack is unlikely to cause a loss of control in the first place.

After all, has that happened to you in previous attacks?

But even if you suddenly felt the need to go, I’m sure you’d be able to hang on in the same way you’ve managed in other situations.

Like travelling in a car.

More help with in-flight nerves…

When you step inside a plane, do you get that horrible feeling that something bad is going to happen during the flight?

If so, does a part of you feel trapped because you just want to get off – but can’t?

If you know what I’m talking about, do yourself a favour and grab your FREE copy of my eGuide, Trapped: Why You Fear Being Stuck On A Plane – And What To Do About It.

It’s brimming with practical techniques you can start using TODAY (including the 3 vital steps to controlling a panic attack).

Here’s what people are saying about it…

Thank you for making this guide. I’m really glad I found it.” – Lauren.

Once I read what you had to say, I started to laugh in relief. Finally, someone understood.” – David.

Your base of information is awesome, thank you.” – Paul.

Thank you for putting such a valuable resource out there!” – Lisa.

To get your FREE copy instantly, click here.

Leave a comment

329 comments

  1. Sarah

    My panic attacks are so bad I can’t be on my own.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Yep – that’s a pain 🙁 To tackle this problem, the trick is to start off spending small amounts of time in the environment(s) where you feel panicky.

      You do this as often as possible until you no longer feel like you’re going to have a panic attack during that short period. When you reach that point, the next step is to start spending slightly longer periods of time in that environment.

      Then you rinse and repeat – always looking to stay a bit longer. Eventually, you’ll find that you could hang out there all day long without having a panic attack.

      Of course, you then want to practise doing this on your own.

      All this takes time and (major) effort. But, in my view, the rewards are worth it 🙂

      Good luck!

      1. Marc the Shark

        Not a bad solution Tim!

        I am a very severe attack sufferer – at least twice a day (really).

        I can offer some advice that helps (me at least, but bear with me, maybe it helps someone):

        Do something. Something small but distracting. The best thing to do? Play with your phone. Check the weather, read emails, visit a meme site, set up memos for all your appointments/ meetings/ todos.

        If you can become absorbed, the attack disappears. If you don’t use a phone, read a book, have a cigarette (the smokers), read the paper, focus on signboards… but debate them with yourself (i.e. just think about them and the reason behind them).

        The theme is to keep yourself busy, and stop over-thinking.

        Carry a ‘focus’ (or whatever you want to call it) with you. For me, it’s my phone. Some people pick their keys, a photo, a lucky coin. It’s something to help you focus on, and help ignore the crap that’s happening to you.

      2. Victoria

        That is really good Tim.

      3. Tim Benjamin

        Thanks Victoria – I hope they help.

    2. viviene

      I hear you Sarah – I can’t be on my own either 🙁

      1. viviene

        This article was a great help. Thumbs up to the author 🙂

      2. Shashu

        First panic attack i suffered during my divorce. I fainted. Since then, I am not myself anymore. But I got lucky. Doctor said that only combination of medications can relieve my panic attacks. So, he gave me paxil and Clonazepam. First week, it was a lot. i always slept. the second week he tapered it down to half dose. I slept. Third week he tapered it down to 1/4 dose. I started feeling so much better. Since then,I’ve been taking a miniscule amount of medicine just to avoid panic attacks for 19 years. Recently, i started having heart arrhythmia . Dr. said it was a panic attack. It mutates!!! the first advice is to get rid of what’s prompting these symptoms. First time it was my husband(I got rid of him) The other reason it is my job(I hate it).

    3. Janet

      My Anxiety is that bad, I also can’t be on my own…After you have a panic attack, within a few days does it still feel like you can’t breathe?

      I had one like 1-2 weeks ago and still feel like this.

      1. eryhk

        Yep, I’ve had panic attacks and am recovering from them for up to 3 weeks. Sucks.

      2. Justine

        You know I found I did a gal bladder cleanse and that helped with my breathing when it went on that long.

    4. Wesley reeves

      Mine feel like that but always have a fear something is wrong. Don’t really know, had heart test everything came back good, can someone tell me they have this fear.

      1. Naomi

        Oh my god. I always think I’m going to have a heart attack! I get breathless, pains in my arms, pains in my neck and jaw. I always think that’s it! This is the end! It’s really getting me down and because I’ve never actually had my heart checked out properly I can never really know I’m ok.

      2. gale

        I feel as though my heart stops and I get the weirdest sensations in my chest, head and neck. And very dizzy. Happens a lot through the night. And I get a heavy feeling in my arm and legs .

      3. Carley

        Yes – I have this fear too

      4. Lena

        I completely understand – I’m 19 years old and I have had a lot of tests and I always was fine. I completely understand how you feel, it’s like something is not right but I you don’t know exactly what it is, something is just not okay… and then you start to overthink and that is when I start to panic.

      5. jakes

        Yes – I also had that feeling. I also fear falling thru the floor.

      6. Eli samtacruz

        Wow!! I have these same feelings and I can really relate to everyone on here. I just think it’s a matter of being positive the whole time because if we let that fear consume us then we will never be able to leave that behind, it will haunt us. Having positive thoughts will help for sure! I know that sometimes we feel like we will die like this is the end but I promise it’s not, it’s just a fear that we need to overcome. Let’s not be beaten by something that only exists in our minds. DO NOT stay in a room just thinking about what will happen next. Go out and talk with people – and I promise things will be fine. Have control of your own life. Don’t let it be controlled by fear. FUCK fear.

    5. Michelle

      Does anyone else freeze during a panic attack? When I’m driving and get into a panicked state, I can’t move and have to pull over. I can’t make my foot press the gas. Or my arms turn the wheel…help! Does anyone else experience this?… I’m at the point where I can’t drive anywhere alone.

      1. Kia

        Michelle – I have the same kind of symptoms when I’m driving. I don’t know where these anxiety attacks come from because I’m not stressed and I have a normal lifestyle.

      2. lucy

        I know how you feel when i panic its not just while driving but also when i am a passenger in the car on a train , bus or any type of transport.Ihave been known to shout ,swear and throw things when i start to panic.Ihave had hypnosis ,cbt therapy and none have worked.My partner has booked our holiday and i am dreading the drive to and from the airport and the flying and i dont know what i am going to do .Ihave also been known to just put my foot down hard when travelling on the motorway luckily not causing any accident .I dont even know why or where these panic attacks have come from.I also am not stressed and also have a normal life.

      3. Joli Harrison

        I feel that way. I get better at times, but other times I can’t drive. I have to drive to work – so if anyone has any suggestions…

        If I’m driving in town I’m fine. Long distance and overpasses set me off. 🙁

      4. Lauren

        My comment is to Michelle, Joli, and Lucy. I thought I was the only person that felt that way! I get the exact same thing, just yesterday I was out running errands when the feeling overcame me. I panicked got chest pains could not breathe and I feel paralyzed with fear for no logical reason. I pulled over for more than 20 minutes had to stop twice actually. It is very scary and is ruling my life. I have to fly tomorrow and I am dreading it not sure how I will do this, I have gotten to the point where I can barely drive far from my house.

      5. Dakota

        When I panic I can feel an immediate sensation all over. My arms will tingle and go numb. Then I start looking frantically for a way to escape wherever I am.

        I’ve had them on elevators. So I took steps to not take elevators. Literally 20 floors to my apt.

        I’ve had one on a flight from Detroit to Chicago. I’ve alays flown with no problem.

        Its the PTSD that keeps us living in that past fear. I’m taking steps to overcome this fear. I’m looking at insides of planes I will be flying. I see the plane I experience what it will be like..(YOUTUBE) and this is helping.

      6. Tim Benjamin

        Hi Dakota – watching YouTube videos of aircraft interiors is a GREAT way to see how normal flying is.

      7. cody

        I feel the same way it makes me feel bad because I’m always nervous and have to ask my friend for a ride or make my wife drive and she also has a fear of driving and I feel like a bad father because I I want to be able to do things with my wife and kids and the rest of my family and friends but I have bad panic attacks and anxiety my arms and legs feel weak

      8. susie

        Omg – for the past 2 weeks I haven’t been able to drive without feeling that I will pass out. My mouth gets dry and I feel faint. I love driving – so why is this happening?

      9. melissa stouffer

        The body is meant to do one of three things. Fight, flight, or freeze. Our reptilian brains were programmed with this defense mechanism so that we could survive in the wild. Sometimes, freezing in your position would save you if you were an animal trying to survive in the wild. Maybe it would help you to seem invisible to your prey. Its a common response to fear.

      10. Lisa

        Yes! I can’t breath, I get lines in my vision, I shake uncontrollably, my blood pressure goes through the roof, I get really lightheaded, tired, my insides get all creepy, my heart races and I’m freezing. I usually have one after a stressful week when I’m relaxed and not doing anything. I can usually tell I’m going to have one because I get chest pains for a few days before.

      11. Rose

        When this happens put your hazards on get in the right lane drive slowly and hum or pray or talk out loud to yourself. To be this beast you have to get outside of yourself.

    6. tiny

      Can it make it feel like your heart beat is going to stop!!!!!!!because I’m worried,and scared

      1. Candy

        This is to Tiny! I been dealing with anxiety for awhile now and the way I deal with an attack is to tell myself everything will be okay. The mind is powerful. Your fear make things worse . Just know you are okay and your not crazy and carry on with life. The heart pounding is very uncomfortable. Just take deep breathes and think about something other than fear. Trust me it works!!!

      2. India

        I’ve had panic attacks since I was 16 years old. I’m now 25.

        I don’t get them all the time – but when I do, it’s bad. I can’t stand driving on highways as I worry about losing control. When that happens, I have to pull over and stop. But once I feel like I’m getting close to home, I’m okay.

        When I have a panic attack, I get muscle spasms along the sides of my body – along with headaches and a feeling of dizziness. Does anybody else get those symptoms?

    7. Pat gallagher

      Hello Tim,
      Great article. I have flown twice, both times on big commercial planes, both times the take off threw me into an anxiety attack, nothing I couldn’t fight off (though I did have take a clonazepam each time once the attack started). I’ll be flying to san francisco from pennsylvania in a few days, that isn’t worrying me nearly as much as when we are in san francisco, we are flying in a short ride, 30 min in a sea plane over san francisco. I’m worried about how I will feel on the small plane. When I get an attack my blood pressure goes very high (i now am on a daily beta blocker to help with this) and i have trouble breathing and tightness of muscles, breathing difficulty. I know flying is safe, i’m not worried about something malfunctioning, i think what scares me is not being able to leave the plane if an attack happens, which always makes me think i am having a heart attack). Thank you.

  2. charlie

    i have had CBT and my panic disorder is under control however i am extremely worried by flying because there would be no way that i could leave the situation??? and i would be mortified if i had one and everyone would be staring at me which would make me feel worse any advice .

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hi Charlie,

      Re your first point (not being able to escape), the trick is to get comfortable with the idea of being inside a cabin. To do that you need to (1) reduce your background anxiety and (2) spend as much time in cabins as possible. Over time, they should seem less and less scary (provided you focus your mind on WHY there’s no need to escape from them).

      Re your second point (embarassing yourself in public), I wouldn’t worry about what other people think. For a start, only the handful of people in your immediate area can see or hear you. And it’ll be obvious to them that your odd behaviour is caused by nerves. The result? They’re likely to feel sympathy for you – not think you’re a bad person. More importantly, as you’re never going to see these people again, who cares what they think anyway?

      1. wellman

        Hi Tim,

        When I go outside on a hot day I feel like I can’t breath properly. That makes me feel panicky. The same thing happens when it gets hot inside my house.

    2. Kaz

      Charlie, this exactly how I feel. I’m not scared of flying. I feel trapped after entering the airport. I can’t leave if I feel unwell.

    3. John

      Hi Charlie, I’m just back from flying.

      While on the plane, I checked out where the toilets where as I figured I’d nip into one if I felt panicky. But it occurred to me that locking myself in a toilet for an extended period would cause a queue of people to form outside. Seeing them all staring at me as I stepped out could trigger another attack.

      Then I noticeded the air hostess having a bite to eat where they prepare the in-flight meals. I decided that that’s where I’d head if I felt panicky – and I’d just be honest with the air hostesses and explain I have anxiety and can’t cope sitting in front of people.

      Having created all these plans, I ended up spending both flights sleeping and playing games on my phone. I never had a panic attack on the flight out or back.

      It’s just our minds playing tricks. I will beat this and so will you!

      DONT LET FEAR RUIN OUR LIFES.

      1. Sharon

        Thank you for sharing. I’m flying tomorrow from New York to Vegas and I’m so scared of panic. You made me feel so much better. Thank you And God bless you for sharing.

    4. Stacey

      Have you flown? I had a panic attack on the plane. Now I’m afraid to get back in one. I too am worried about being confined. Any words of wisdom?

  3. mary

    Hello. Yes I have fear of having a panic attack on a plane and this is because I can’t get out and I can’t do the things that prevent me to have a panic attack in everyday life (let’s say going for a walk). I hate it when I MUST BE somewhere when experiencing an unpleasant situation. I feel helpless because I can’t move and this is bad when having a panic attack.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Yep – I know what you mean. The way to deal with it is to start by spending small amounts of time in spaces that make you panicky. You’ll slowely find that you can handle these short bursts.

      When you get to that point, the next step is to start spending slightly longer periods of time in your feared environments. Again, you’ll start feeling less and less panicky in them each time you rinse and repeat.

      If you do this frequently (the more the better), you’ll eventually get to a point where you could spend all day there with fearing a panic attack 🙂

    2. Jolene

      Hi Mary! I understand what your saying. I had an anxiety attack today on a plane. The hardest part of a plane ride is that I can’t get up and out of the situation. Fresh air helps, and walks do too.. But when I’m in a confined space, and I can’t control how long I’m going to be in that confined space, I feel like I’m going to freak out, try n run away or yell, but how do you run and get out of a confined space such as a four hour plane ride?

  4. Crystal

    Wow! Thanks this helps me alot! My biggest fear is the breathing, but have almost all others too. The build up before the flight seems the worst. I am a week away to getting on plane. I can usually talk myself out of the panic attack before it escalates, Or even better if someone talks with me as a distraction. I know Im not gonna be a happy throughout the flight but with this info I will be more at ease. 🙂

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Something that will really help you is to get clear on EXACTLY what worries you about flying. Then learn that FACTS about that thing(s). For example, if turbulence is the thing that you hate, find out what turbulence actually is. And how it ACTUALLY affects an aircraft. When you discover the answer, you’ll realize it’s not something to worry about. And you’ll be able to use your new-found knowledge to challenge negative thoughts when they pop into your mind (e.g. while you’re actually flying in turbulent conditions).

  5. Chaz

    I’ve suffered from panic attacks for 3 years now and I’m finally recovering, I’ve learnt a lot. I want to start travelling but my fear is having a panic attack on the plane and not being able to get off. (I always go outside when I’m in a panic) and getting so worked up i can’t calm down so I end up having a heart attack.

    I already knew the stuff written on this page but it’s important to remind yourself, as sometimes it is really hard to truly believe it’s not dangerous. Chin up it gets better 🙂

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Yeah – the trick is to slowely build up your tolerance for being in situations that make you feel panicky. Start by regularly spending a small amount of time there. When you get to a point when you can handle that short amount of time without panicking, then try spending a bit longer there. Do this progressivly until you can stay in that space indefinately without having a panic attack.

      To apply that to flying, I suggest doing a few short flights (e.g. an hour or less). And then build up to longer flights.

      Good luck!

  6. Lizzy

    I always have panic attacks on my school bus so i always get scared when i have to ride them 🙁

    1. Tim Benjamin

      To cope with the school bus, maybe start by doing some really short journeys either in the school bus or another kind of bus. Do these as often as possible until you can handle these really short journeys. When you get to that point, start staying on the bus a bit longer. When you’re comfortable doing that, then stay onboard even longer. The idea is to slowely build your tolerance so that you eventually get to a point where you could stay on the bus all day without feeling panicky.

  7. Casey

    Hi Tim-
    I am flying in less than a week and I freak out that if something were to happen like I need to get up and walk around, or get fresh air, that I am not able to. I know in your previous comments you said spending time in the cabin will help, but I am flying in three days and don’t have time to just hang out in an airplane cabin. Suggestions?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Casey – given you’ve only got a few days, I suggest you spend a few minutes each day closing your eyes and visualizing yourself in the cabin. The goal is to try experiencing being in the cabin from the perspective of someone who sees it as a completely safe space.

      For example, try to imagine being sat in your seat and watching all the humdrum stuff that happens while the plane is in flight (people reading, sleeping, walking to the toilet, food trolleys being moved around, etc).

      You’ll probably find negative thoughts pop into your head while you’re doing it. But don’t let them frustrate you – just keep practising the excercise until your anxiety levels ease off a bit (even a 10% reduction in anxiety is worthwhile progress).

      Meanwhile, another trick you might find useful is to take stuff on the plane that helps anchor your brain in the real (i.e. safe) world rather than the world of panic.

      For example, in my day-to-day life, I often listen to a handful of favourite spoken word shows on BBC Radio. As I typically listen to these in places that feel safe and familiar (e.g. at home, on the subway heading to work, etc), my brain associates listening to them with feelings of safety and familiarity.

      As a result, when I listen to them on a plane, my brain picks up on those positive feelings. Wierdly, that can stop the cabin feeling like a foreign, scary place. And suddenly make it feel like a familiar and safe place.

      Listening to my favourite music can have a similar effect. Other people report that playing games on their phone, iPad, etc has a similar effect.

      Good luck with your upcoming flights 🙂

  8. Mitch

    Hi, great post, just wondering i too experienced a small panic attack once when flying i am due to fly again in 7 days 8 hours flight so im not looking forward to it, im on St Johns wort so i dont know it is going to help on the day.

    However, SAY you did want to prevent or smooth other your anxious fears, i have heard that having a few drinks on the flight or just before helps you smooth out the feelings so you do not immediately get uptight, is this true ?

    What about a valium, my doctor said that you could take a small dose of valium feel tired and sleep most of it, i know this may not be recommended but then again i don’t fly often so i really am looking for other ways than just breathing techniques or facing your fears.

    Thanks.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Personally, I don’t drink on planes as I find the hangover feelings I sometimes get later in the flight (if it’s a long flight) can make me feel somewhat anxious.

      And, in general, I think the best way to deal with a fear of flying is to deal with the underlying causes rather than apply band-aid solutions like sleeping tablets, etc.

  9. michelle hart

    hello!!

    I am due to fly in a couple of days. and i am absolutely crapping myself about it. I have two smaller children and everyone keeps saying focus on them and you won’t even think about it, but i do!

    I suffer from ectopic beats and have had one svt attack and these then kick off anxiety. I have these investigated and my cardiologist said theres nothing really there to treat and that i should try a beta blocker..like propanlol. I have this now in my cupboard however, my whole anxiety revolves around my general health so taking a tablet is scary! but in my head knowing I have them is reassuring just in case i freak out. But now I’m worried that my heart will go crazy up in the air trapped in a plane and theres no help!help!

    x

    1. Tim Benjamin

      I’d listen to the advice of your cardiologist.

    2. Irene

      Did you have an SVT from anxiety or were you diagnosed with svt prior to anxiety? I have panic attacks and I’m terrified of developing SVT even though I’ve never had anything wrong with my heart and never had an SVT EPISODE but I read that stress can cause one. So I’m just trying to figure out if anxiety is a risk factor for SVTB.

  10. Saoirse

    Hi there, I am in Cape Town having flown here from London. I am flying bk in a few days. On my flight out I had a panic attack and now I am dreading flying back. My fear is that I will feel terrified for 11 hours. I hate the feelings so much. Please help!

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Yes – I’ve been in your situation. It’s not fun. What’s the solution?

      For a start, you need to be clear as to what you’re worried about. If it’s something technical (e.g. you’re worried about the plane falling apart in turbulence), you need to research the technical systems that are in place that prevent your feared scenario occuring.

      Then keep reminding yourself about those systems whenever negative thoughts pop into your mind.

      Alternatively, if your fear is of having another panic attack, you need to reduce your fear of panic attacks. How?

      By first getting used to the feelings of panic (before you take your flight, obviously). The idea is that the more used to panicky feelings you become, the less scary they feel.

      Next, you want to practise how to manage those panicky feelings through deliberate breathing, etc.

      The big idea here is that the less scared you are of panic attacks, the less likely they are to occur.

      Given you don’t have a lot of time before your next flight, you might want to hook up with a registered psychologist specialising in anxiety management. You might be able to find someone in Cape Town. Or use Skype to talk with someone in the UK or elsewhere.

      One more thing: you can’t physically remain in a state of panic for 11 hours. Your body automatically stops a panic attack after a few minutes.

      So if you DO panic, just remember that it will end very soon.

      Good luck.

      Tim

  11. Emily

    Wow, I really can’t thank you enough for this article! I’ve had an extremely stressful year and the stress has manifested into panic attacks. I’ve flown all over the world– to India seven times, to Europe, you name it. But because of my panic attacks I’ve recently started to dread flying because of the fear of having a panic attack mid-flight. Everything you’ve said here has made me feel at peace and now I feel like I can handle my flight on Saturday! Thank you so much.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Thanks Emily – I’m glad it helped you 🙂

    2. Amber Criscone

      Hi Emily! How did you flight go? I’m in a situation very similar to yours, and am curious how you made out.

  12. Tristan Nevill

    I had my first panic attack whilst taking off on a plane for holiday.It started during take off and was then feeling very uncomfortable for the remainder of the flight. Before getting on the plane on the way home all I could think about was having another attack, and I then did during take off on the way home and felt the same for the rest of the flight. Since then I fear of getting on a plane in case the same thing happens.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hi Tristan – remember that a panic attack can only last a few minutes. Your brain won’t allow you to panic indefinately.

  13. kb

    After a stressful year and caffeine withdraws bc i was told to get off caffeine and.bad sugars my anxiety seems worse maybe bc i dont have much energy. I fear staying alone because i am afraid of having a panic attack by myself. What can I do?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      If you’re not already, it might be worth starting a regular physical excercise program. There’s lots of research to suggest that it’s a powerful way of reducing anxiety. Ditto relaxation techniques like meditation. Check Google for more details.

  14. Noah

    Hey I have a plane ride coming up. Iam scared of not being able to ecscape. Not being able to breathe anxiety attacks of course , death and fainting please help :(.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Noah – obviously the trick is spend a few minutes EVERY day doing things that will help you reduce your underlying anxiety levels. Unfortunately, there’s no instant cure. It takes time and effort – but the results are worth it. Good luck 🙂

  15. Jasmine

    Thank you for this article it helped. But I’m still scared to fly. I was suppose to go to France for Christmas but I was too scared, now I’m supposed to go in April for my bday. My problem is being locked in for 7 hours. I usually got over my panic attacks because I knew help (a hospital ) was just minutes away. But I don’t know what will happen if I can’t get out for that long. And I think the end result is I will die.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      The best way to tackle a fear of flying is to start with baby steps. If 7 hours seems like too much right now, I’d consider forgetting about HAVING to fly to France on a specific date – it sounds like WAY too much pressure.

      Instead, I’d focus on building confidence on shorter flights for now. For example, you could do a few one hour flights.

      Then when you get comfortable with those, you could do a few 1.5 hour flights. And then a few 2 hour flights.

      If you can manage all that flying in the space of a few months, your confidence levels will slowly (but surely) rise. And you’ll eventually get to a point where you won’t care how long a flight is.

      Unfortunately, this all takes time, money – and HUGE mental effort. But the results are TOTALLY worth it.

  16. Ann

    I fly tomorrow. And I’m scared this will be the time I lose control. And that I’ll start screaming ‘I got to get out of here’ – all while causing a huge scene. Please help.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      To be honest, there’s not a huge amount I can suggest if you’re flying tomorrow. Probably the best thing is to practise how to breath normally BEFORE you get on the plane. Then do the same breathing exercises while flying. Once you’ve completed the flight, I recommend that you start implementing the ideas I talk about on this website. It’ll take time and effort to achieve results – but the rewards are TOTALLY worth it.

  17. Tammy

    I just wanted to thank you for impacting my life positively and helping me see things from a different perspective .
    Thank you 🙂

    1. Tim Benjamin

      No probs – glad I’ve been able to help 🙂

  18. Angie

    Amazing that almost everyone’s story is the same.

    I flew but then had panic attacks and could not fly. My husband and his dad went to Hawaii without me because I felt I “just couldn’t”.

    I then saw a psychologist that specialized in fear of flying and he taught me breathing techniques! I thought to myself “breathing won’t get me to the other side of the world”. Well… it did and have now been to America 7 times in the last 7 years.

    I might have still felt anxious but I did my breathing and it worked within a few minutes! It’s hard to concentrate but I just had to keep doing it because I KNEW that the breathing would tell my body it was calm.

    Last year I was going through a very stressful time at work and I didn’t prepare. I had a terrible panic attack both there and back.

    My breathing got me through it. But that awful feeling is beyond words! I was crying and I asked one of the cabin crew if I could get off the plane and try again tomorrow.

    It’s tough but we all know they don’t last. Yes it’s terrifying, but no one has ever died from a panic attack.

    I am going to America in 4 weeks time and I am VERY anxious because we base this on our last experience (which was bad)! I have images of me not being able to get on the plane. Or crying again. Or trying to get out. But that won’t happen!!! We KNOW all of this.

    I breathe in for 3, hold for 3, out for 6. I count this out to 5 and instead of saying ‘6’ in my head, I say “relaxxxx” and just keep doing it, even though mid count I freak out and say “I can’t so this”. I just keep going and it works.

    I wish you all luck and think of me in 4 weeks, it’s a 13 hour flight! I will be thinking of all of you all and how reading your stories have helped. We have all panicked and all survived.

    Thank you for sharing this article.

    1. Danielle

      Angie thank u for posting your comment. Just reading about panicking is making me panic ha! Your breathing advice has already made me feel like I might be able to get through my flight next week. 🙂

  19. soha

    Thankyou so much. It’s such a relief as it explains each symptom I get. I’ll read it whenever I feel a panic attack coming on.

  20. Avraham

    Great article! Thanks for taking the time to write it. I am sure it is and was of help to many people, like me.

  21. MK

    Thanks for the article.. I read it everytime am having a panic attack and it calms me down bcoz everything I go through during an episode is written here which makes me feel safe that it is just a panic attack and I know it is a panic attack but when it hits you !!! You just forget everything and go crazy.. so Thanks again

    1. Tim Benjamin

      No probs – glad you find it useful.

  22. Travis

    Hi Tim,

    Fantastic article – thank you so much for posting.

    I suffer from panic disorder and I constantly feel on edge and anxious. My anxiety basically runs my life.

    Before I make any decision (whether it be going on a camping trip with my friends for the weekend or choosing a fast food meal to eat), I always think “but what happens if I have a panic attack there? Well, I can’t go then”.

    Or in the case of food, I think “I’m going to get food poisoning and that’s going to bring on panic attacks or the food poisoning will just kill me”.

    Im 22 years old, I feel like I’m missing out on life. I’m terrified of the thought that we only get one crack at life and I’m never going to be able to travel or live the life I want to live because I’m an anxious wreck!

    Any tips?

    Cheers from Australia!

    1. Sean

      Not sure how long ago you wrote this, but I was bummed that you didn’t get a response. I’ve been dealing with panic disorder all of my life and to me, it seems that I will have one really horrible year followed by two or so good years with no anxiety. I ultimately get to a point of fear about the most insane things (ballpoint pen ink fumes killing me when writing notes, the consistency of my spit being irregular, who touched this candy bar before I’m eating it? Was it poisoned? Is there LSD on it???) and eventually I get so mad at how much it holds me back that I think to myself “this is not living-if I’m scared of eating a candy bar, what’s the point of being alive?” From there it automatically goes to “frack it. Worst case scenario; I die and I won’t have panic attacks anymore. I eat the candy bar. Know what happens? Nothing. Not a dang thing. I find myself laughing at myself and feeling proud that I moved past it.
      One small step at a time and when you have a tough day, understand that there’s nothing you could have done better and you will try again tomorrow.
      Best

  23. Umar

    I’ve been having panic attacks for 1-2 months. Initially, I thought my life would stay like that forever. But all you need is to be strong in mind and heart. Trust me – it’ll work. If you have a panic attack, stand up and move around for a few mins. Or go out and take a walk with someone (family or friends). It’ll work.

  24. kapoor

    I fear going mad if no escape route is there – although I never actually do.

  25. elizabeth

    I hate my panic attacks. Especially not knowing what caused them. And the fear of not knowing when they’re gonna pop up… it’s a very scary thing to deal with. And most of my family don’t know how to comfort me – except my sister and husband. Reading this, I feel much better that other people go thru it – and I ain’t going crazy.

  26. karen

    I’m due to fly down to London in a couple of weeks and I’m worried in case I have a panic attack. If I feel one coming on, how should I deal with it without drawing attention.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Karen,

      If you have a panic attack on a plane, virtually no one will notice (few people have a view of your seat – and they’ll be too busy listening to music, watching videos, etc to notice). And if they do, so what? You’re never going to see them again.

      And don’t worry about cabin crew noticing you looking panicky – they see it every day.

      Have fun in here in London 🙂

      1. sadique

        Tim – thank you for your inspiration. I’m only 19 and suffering from anxiety disorder panic attacks combined with palpitations.

  27. Amanda

    I’m flying in a couple of weeks from Adelaide to Singapore and then Singapore to Turkey. It’s 18 hours all together – I’m freaking out.

    Last time I went on a plane, it was only 1 hour and a half. Before even getting on the plane I was shaking un-controlably. I felt feverish. And I just felt I couldn’t breathe. About 30 minutes into the flight I was okay.

    But when we were about to land in Sydney, the airplane just shut-off. The only thing I could see was the emergancy exit lights. Then the lights came back on after a couple of minutes and the captain informed us that it was due to the bad weather.

    After that day I never wanted to step foot on a plane again. I’m petrified of planes, especially the turbulence.

    Any advice?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Amanda – My advice is to clarify in your own mind what SPECIFIC things worry you about flying (obviously turbulence is one of them). Then learn as much as possible about the REALITY of those things.

      What you’ll discover is that the things that happened on the last flight were most likely quite normal and safe – although obviously new to you and, therefore, scary.

      For info on turbulence, have a listen to my interviews with turbulence experts. You’ll find one here and another here.

      Meanwhile, start doing relaxation exercises TODAY to reduce your overall anxiety levels. I know it’s a hassle – but the more time you invest in these now, the better you’ll feel on the plane.

      And if you can squeeze a short flight or two in BEFORE you head to Turkey, that’d be great, too.

      Good luck 🙂

  28. Edona

    I’ve had panic attacks ever since i was 14 and now i am 20 years old. At first i ignored them because i didn’t actually know what they really where then i started getting scared after i realized that they aren’t going away. I was very scared to be alone. When i turned 16 me and my family moved to Germany from Chicago. I stopped fearing the panic attacks i mean i would think about them often but i didn’t get that “feeling” anymore. A year ago i was on my way to the gym with my boyfriend and then i got that weird feeling again. Ever since that day everything went downhill. i’m so scared to be alone i don’t even go across the street from my house alone. I lay in my room all day to prevent anything from happening to me. I rarely go out with friends or my boyfriend and they just don’t understand the fact that im scared!! they always tell me to try it but when i do i get a panic attack and i just cant handle the feeling. It feels like Im going crazy i just run around and scream. i dont have any problems with breathing but i feel like im the only person in the world who feels this way:( it sucks and its ruining my life… i lost a job and i feel like im not even going to be able to finish school like this. Sometimes i wake up and dont go to school but i have a “feeling” that something will happen to me :(..

    1. Rhianna

      I’m 14 and I have pretty much the same thing you had, I also stay in my room and avoid doing things because I’m scared to. I totally know what you mean by the ‘feeling’ and it’s terrible. Its so hard being in a classroom full of people and experiencing a panic attack. I’m just glad I’ve found a site where other people can relate.

      1. M

        I’ve had panic attacks since I was about 10. I’m 21 now. And yes, it’s very lonely… until you talk to people and find it’s a lot more common than it seems. But everyone keeps it bottled up, trying to fake being well… Even when they’re not.
        But there’s no shame in this. Nowadays I just warn my teachers in advance I may have a panic attack and need to leave for a bit. I have done it for a few years and they’ve always been very understanding. And those times people aren’t suret a panic attack feels like, I just tell them to imagine being in a lift when suddenly the lights in off and it starts to plummet to the ground… That’s how it feels, but you’re not in a lift, just sitting in the bus, or walking down the street, or trying to sleep.
        I’ve found what really helps *me* is a combination of trying to stop fearing the symptoms of a panic attack (as soon as I have any my anxiety shoots through the roof, creating positive
        feedback), exposure therapy (short bus trip->longer bus trip) and trying to decrease my day-to-day anxiety through medication and psychotherapy.
        It may seem like a lot, but always remember you don’t have to get better NOW and do everything NOW. Try to make an effort today. If it goes well, awesome! And if not, there’s always tomorrow. Keep your head up.

  29. David

    It started with me experiencing heart palpitations where I thought I was going to collapse. Since then the problem has got worse. I still get the palpitations but I also sweat now and experience dry mouth. I feel like everything is getting out of control. These symptoms prevent me from going out and working because I am scared that my heart will beat so fast I’ll collapse. To be honest, now I think I provoke my panic attacks myself for no reason.

    1. ammy

      My position is the same. I just keep on touching my wrist to check my pulse rate. Sometimes, I feel like I’ll collapse. And when that happens, my heart rate starts increasing. As a result, I fear travelling alone on a bus in case something bad happens and there isn’t anyone around to help me. That’s despite the fact that, realistically, I know nothing bad is going to happen 🙁

  30. Joe

    Tim, thanks for the article and you are so right. I have been to the ER about 4 times for this with full cardiac work up to rule out other things. Everytime it ruled as acute panic attack. The flying thing bothers me because I used to fly a lot in the military and have been around the world. But it seemed as though one day…bazinga! i started to get these out of the blue. In my 50’s now so I was wondering is if when we age does the flight or fight syndrome become more common for some reason? Thanks

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Joe,

      I’ve also wondered whether age plays any role – but I’ve got no idea.

      Tim

  31. Kara

    My fear is breathing. I was a heavy smoker and the last few months I had a constant cough and extremely out of breath even just walking up the road at a normal pace. I lost my grandad to COPD which was horrific and this scared me so much I just quit smoking, it’s been 3 months now. I’m a big girl and since quitting smoking I’ve put on weight 🙁 I had a spirometry at the docs and it says modererate COPD which has intensified my panic attacks. At 34 the nurses say it’s extremely rare for me to have COPD so I’m being treated for asthama but I can’t get it out of my head, I’m convinced I do!! 🙁 I want to exercise without feeling like I’m going to stop breathing. Advice would be much appreciated as my children suffer CIA we tend to stay home instead of enjoying time in the parks

  32. Rhianna

    I’m 14 years old and I have been experiencing panic attacks lately. I had one in my science lesson about 3 weeks ago and today in the same lesson doing the same thing it happened again. I know that nobody has ever died from a panic attack and it’s not dangerous but if you haven’t experienced it you really don’t understand. Anyway I have science yet again tomorrow and I am honestly terrified, I really don’t want it to happen again especially because everyone always looks at me funny and then ask tons of questions after and I feel like absolute rubbish. I wish I could avoid the situation but I can’t, does anybody have any tips?

    1. Alice

      Hi Rhianna, I’m 26 and not wiser at all – I had my first panic attack at work 1 month ago during a training with my boss and 10 colleagues, and now am terrified that I would get another one every meeting I go to.

      I felt shortness of breath so often lately, I had my heart checked. I’m healthy in every way, just realized my worst fear was losing my job, and I haven’t taken myself seriously enough to realize that health comes first.

      I put myself last, don’t get enough sleep, stress out a lot, my diet isn’t probably the best either.

      It’s something that we do to ourselves, and it’s pointless, really. But what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger! And asking questions and doing research is really better than anything else!!

  33. Robin

    Everytime I have twinge or a small pain anywhere in my body, it triggers a panic attack. Especially if the twinge is in my left arm or chest. I’ve learned to not give into the panic somewhat, but I haven’t been able to stop that dread feeling from happening altogether. Why does this happen??

    1. Kirstie

      Hi Robin – I get the same feeling. I’ve been having panic attacks for the last 2 weeks. Every twinge or pain (mainly in my chest or arm) makes me panic. I’ve been tested for ECG, blood pressure and oxygen levels – all results came back fine. It reassured me and my panic attacks became less. It’s now Wednesday and I haven’t had one since last Saturday. All I take is calm tablets 3 times a day. Hope you find something to help you 🙂

  34. Maddie

    I suffer from awful panic attacks. It’s really bad in cars because when I get bad panic attacks, I have an overwhelming urge to throw up. And I usually do. Anyone else suffer with vomiting during panic attacks?

    1. Holley

      Maddie, yes – I am 30 years old and had my first panic attack at the age of 8. They are terrifying.

      I still suffer today. But I have years where I have no problem. And years where I can’t escape.

      I vomit with every single attack. Best thing that helps me overcome this is slow, deep, breaths!

  35. Xena

    Wow – this article really helped me to realize I’m actually OK. I’m only 17 years old and for the past 2 months I’ve had weird panic attacks. They are horrible and scary! But after reading this I feel more in control of them. And now I know I’m not alone and a lot of other people get panics. I feel relieved and happy that I’m in control of my panics rather than my panics being in control of me. It’s basically mind over matter. Hope everyone gets better soon. Things don’t last forever especially this!!! GREAT JOB AUTHOR!!!!

  36. cruz gutierrez

    What can I DO to stop these attacks other than having to take meds?

  37. Luis Saldana

    I’ve been having these panic attacks when i’m at rest i feel like i might get a heart attack, the more i think about it the worse it gets. It is really irritating and messing with my life and relationships. I quit drinking alcohol but it has left me with this bad anxiety i don’t know what to do to help me with this problem i need help. 🙁 what can i do to make this problem go away?

  38. Jack

    My panic attacks have gotten so bad I cannot move outside my room nor go the bath room, My biggest fear is the heart pounding. I wake up with a panic attack everyday, then I keep checking my heart every 20 minutes or so. HELP 🙁

  39. Jasmine

    Hi I also suffer really bad with panic and anxiety that I cant be alone. I read that the attacks should only last 20 max?? Sometimes mine can go for hours! I was told I had anxiety when I really had a over active thyroid, so after getting sicker for the next six months I seen someone new and they pin pointed it straight away I had Graves’ disease! Unfortunately the damage was done and I have never find back to feeling normal. I only take relaxents I find take any anti depressants as I’m not depressed at all. I just wanted to see if anyone finds there meds are helping them?

  40. Sadie

    I have panic attacks at night. Usually they happen after I fall asleep. I can feel it coming on and I try to control it. Recently I had one so severe I started throwing up and could not calm down until I went to ER. I take Zoloft in the morning and a Adivan at night is the only thing that controls it somewhat . My mother also suffered from this and I didn’t until she passed away two years ago. I would give anything to get off meds and be normal.

  41. Lisa Marie

    You really broke it down. I’ve traveled around the world but since having a panic attack 3 years ago I’ve been to anxious to get on. Plane. Want to visit a friend and I’m afraid I will have a panic attack on the plane, even though it’s been a year since I’ve had one. I’m hoping this will help me to see how irrational my fear is.

  42. Siobhan

    Mine isn’t from a fear of flying, it’s a fear of dying. I have always been afraid to die, not that it may hurt.

    But where do I go? Will I know? Sometimes I think it’s not real and that I’ll always be here. Then I remember again it WILL happen one day.

    That gives me an attack big time – usually all the symptoms of a heart attack which makes me worse!

    I’m now worse since having a baby. I want to see her grow up. And am worried I won’t.

    I’m also losing weight, as I am a little overweight.

    If I get the slightest twinge in the chest I think I’m going to have a heart attack and I get an attack. It’s even worse if I have had something naughty to eat, I visualise the bad food clogging my heart giving me a heart attack and – biff – another panick attack.

    Will this ever end?!! My husband tries to be as supportive as poss but he just doesn’t understand. Great article, though. I relaxed a teeny bit! Good luck all x

    1. Georgina O'Doherty

      I’m the exact same. I’ve managed to convince myself there’s something underlying the panic attacks. And that I’m going to die any minute. I’ve always had a huge fear of dying too. x

    2. jakes

      I know how you feel and I have been looking all over the world for someone to know how I feel about dying and where do I go and the chest pains.

  43. Georgina O'Doherty

    Great article! I was diagnosed with panic disorder a week ago after having one every night for 3 weeks running.

    I’m still struggling to control them. And have managed to convince myself that there’s something underlying them. And that I’m dying.

    I start CBT shortly, and I’m on anti depressants as well as beta blockers.

    I’ve always had a huge fear of flying and everytime I’ve been on a plane I have been frantic, crying, shaking, and screaming, but never gone to the extent of having a panic attack. Now, I’ve started having them, I’m really worried about having one on my flight that is coming up in September.

    When I have a panic attack, my immediate reaction is to jump up and run out of the house and walk around, which I won’t be able to do on a plane.

  44. Austin

    Being a veteran of thousand attacks, I must say I haven`t seen things simplified on any other websites. Keep up the good work…

  45. Sarah

    I can’t be on my own because of a nasty panic attack I had 8 months ago. I feel like an absolute prisoner in my own head.

    I get in such a state, my partner has given up work for a bit. If he goes out for 10 minutes, it’s OK – as long as he can get to me if I need help. My biggest problem is I panic on top of panic.

    Can you advise me on what to do? I’m having CBT – but it’s not enough. xxxxx

  46. Keith

    Hello everyone.

    I would like to first tell you how brave and awesome all of you are. I used to be a sufferer of anxiety/panic attacks.

    I have figured out how to avoid them. I have also figured out how to stop them from happening when I can feel one coming.

    Friends, I have seen it all. I thought I had a heart condition, brain tumor, liver disease. stomach cancer. soft tissue sarcoma (cancer), esophageal cancer and 100 different disorders.

    One day I decided that it was enough. Friends, it’s as simple as this…Acceptance. You need to accept that this is happening to you and know that it cannot harm you.

    You need to accept that you have an anxiety disorder and that its not your fault. You need to accept that whatever you are feeling cannot harm you and that its just your head.

    This takes time and practice but I have gotten very good at it. There are some days where you can’t do anything about it. Where your body is acting strange and you have chest pain, or a headache, or stomach cramps. But you need to accept that its ok!

    Just let it be.

    Your body is an organic anagram. Some days are different then others.

    Today I had chest pain all day. But i said NOPE! and i went to the gym, worked through my cardio workout and came home.

    Actually, about half an hour ago, I was about to have a panic attack. So i sat down, breathed deeply, and it passed.

    I was a little upset because that hasn’t happened in months. I thought I had it beat. But its ok!

    I accept that some times, I feel anxious for no apparent reason and I do my best to control it and I am getting better at it every day.

    So friends, please, take control of your lives. It’s your body and it’s your mind. Be in control.

    There is a wonderful poem that helped be realize and grow through my anxiety disorder. It is entitled “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. I suggest you all read it.

    – Keith

    1. ntobza

      Oh Keith. Thank you so much. I needed to hear those word. I will do what u r telling me.

    2. Jasmine

      You’re so strong!
      My panic/anxiety attacks have been overcoming me.

      1. Lauren

        Jasmine, I totally agree with you. I have been trying to fight it and rationalize this attack feeling that it is nothing its all in my head. But it saddens and depresses me I have let it rule my life and it has overcome my mind completely. I do not know how to fix it and cope. I have a fear of being trapped or not able to get out of a situation, think that is where it is triggered from. Also being in cars for a long period of time sets me off bad it has to be a control factor that I do not feel in control

    3. Lisa

      Thank you Keith! I have copied your words in my phone. I will read them next time I feel one coming on.

  47. carlie

    Hi. I’m 30 years old and suffer panic attacks. Lately, it’s really taken a toll on my life. For example, I’m scared of being at home alone in case I have a heart attack. This constant worry is restricting my life. It’s making me feel depressed. What can I do?

    1. Jasmine

      Try breathing exercises. They have apps for that. It really really helps me. Otherwise, I have trouble going anywhere (it’s like it’s taking me over).

  48. Jastene Jabagat

    I have panic attacks on airplanes and elsewhere – simply because I’m thinking negative thoughts. I really hate that.

    I don’t want it to happen again – especially when nothing is actually going wrong.

  49. Alexis

    I’m scared of not being able to get off the plane if an emergency happens. Or if I start to hyperbentilate. Also, I’m deathly scared of heights.

  50. Paulie Lopez

    It’s been a few months since I’ve had panic attacks. I haven’t taken any medication or used a therapist. What do you think – is it just how you handle yourself?

    1. Jasmine

      Do you do a lot of stuff that distracts you? They say that helps!

  51. AK

    I’ve had all 9 of these symptoms and now know why I shouldn’t worry.

    I started having these attacks 6 months ago. After I drank a whole bottle of cough syrup. I am not a drug abuser though.

    After I had that syrup, I felt like I was being electrocuted. And I vomited and slept the whole next day.

    Ever since then, I have had fears of dying in my sleep. I’ve also been feeling like I may faint. And I’ve had vertigo. Meanwhile, I almost haven’t socialized with people for over 6 months.

    Once I fell asleep in the evening suddenly felt my heart pounding and I immediately went to a near by clinic and had my BP checked. They said My BP has gone up. But since then, I’ve had my BP checked twice and they said it’s normal.

    I am only 22 (male). But I still feel like my BP can go up at anytime or I may die in sleep. And feel light headed.

    I Google my symptoms every time and feel like I have all the diseases mentioned on the internet.

    I wanna go jog in the morning but I feel like I may fall and nobody will see me if I faint and I may die. This is a very scary feeling. I have always been a confident person and never felt this way before.

    Can you PLEASE tell me how can I overcome these feeling of dying in sleep or fainting while jogging? PLEASE! PLEASE PLEASE!

  52. CrazyCoder

    It is very hard to stop, even though I know nothing bad will happen. After reading your post, I’ve got more confidence. Next time, I won’t let that panic attack win.

  53. Katie

    Hi, I’ve just about managed to control my fear of flying. I’ve flown twice this year (short flights: 1 hr and 2hr). However, I’m now facing an 8 hr flight but am feeling quite positive about it. The fear I have now is being in a hot, humid climate!! We are going to Florida for 14 days and I’m terrified I won’t be able to breathe and will have numerous panic attacks for the duration of the holiday. Is there anyone who lives in a hot country/city who has panic disorder but isn’t affected by the heat/humidity??

    1. Shona

      I live in Queensland, Australia where it’s hot hot hot! If I get overheated, I can feel a bit panicky. So I carry wet wipes and wipe my hands and face with them. I don’t find the humidity makes much difference but you do need to drink lots of water.

  54. Christalileneth

    When I was younger I used to get panic attacks. Then – thank God – they stopped. I used to get them randomly, but now I take medicine.

    But, it’s been more then 10 years since I got on a plane – until today. As the plane was going up, I had a panic attack. And I felt like I was gonna go crazy. I thought I wouldn’t be able to last 6 hours on the plane. But luckily, my panic attacks went away once the plane was cruising.

    Now, I’m worrying about having to fly home.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Inflight panic attacks are horrible. But, as you discovered, they don’t last forever. That’s because your brain CANNOT stay in panic mode indefinately. Most panic attacks will have stopped within about 20 minutes – often much less.

  55. Carley

    I had a panic attack yesterday – only it was very different from my normal attacks.

    I remember feeling very tired. So I lay down on my couch and tried to just focus on something. And that’s when I noticed the walls looked almost like an optical illusion. They were moving and twisting.

    Then my brother came home and asked me what was wrong. And I couldn’t answer him! Then I realized I couldn’t move!

    My brother was freaking out because I wasn’t responding to him and I was trying so hard to just tell him that it’s okay. But inside I was panicking and he called an ambulance.

    It took about an hour and a half for this to pass. And then I started hyperventilating in the hospital.

    Later, I was able to move and talk normally again. I was extremely tired and everything that happened felt like a huge blur.

    Has this happened to anyone before? Is there a way I can work on making sure this doesn’t happen again?

  56. ntobza

    I first had a panic attack in 2013 and I didn’t know what was happening to me. Reading what Tim wrote – wow – I’m learning new things about panic attacks. And reading people’s stories made me realise that I was not the only one who was going through this – but other people too.

  57. mary

    One time I hyperventilated 3 times in one day. When i was younger, I would wake up in the middle of the night and get a fear of not being able to leave my room and feelings of being unreal. I call them nightmares – but I’m fully awake during them. I’ve had one panic attack befkrs, and hyperventilated 5-6 times in all. My anxiety’s getting worse. I’m 14 and my mom tld me this is normal (she’s a nurse) but this bothers me everyday.

  58. shasha

    I’m a 35 year old female. I’ve had panic attacks for 12 years now – almost daily.

    I hate them and try to not think about them. But I have a fear of dying – and I don’t know why I’m so afraid as we all have to go one day.

    But my point is I feel all alone – and my heart skips. Sometimes, I think it’s just going to give up. This problem I have took me away from everything!!! 🙁

    The bad part is that none of my family or friends know how I feel inside. If they did, they’d say it’s all in my head!!!!

  59. Jasmine

    My panic attacks are really bad..

    If someone invites me to go somewhere I start getting really nervous. Most of the time I’m at home because I’m scared to get one in public. I wouldn’t know what to do or where to go.

    Most of the time I cry when I get them. It’s the worst feeling in the world.

    Although it’s true that nothing’s likely to happen to you, you don’t really think about that while you’re actually having the panic/anxiety attack because of how it feels. You feel like you’re dying.

    One thing that does distract me is my phone. I start playing some type of game or I have this app called “Relax,” it focuses on breathing exercises.

    I’ve gone to my doctor for suggestions and she says therapy.. but I don’t think that’ll help. She also said pills, BUT I have problems swallowing pills. I’m 15 yrs old. Yeah I know. It’s odd.

    So I don’t really know what to do to be able to go out with no worries or to do ANYTHING.

    And I don’t know how to calm myself down. I just let it pass but it’s horrible.

    Hopefully in the long run I won’t be like this anymore.

  60. emma

    I always have a panic attack before school – and I end up crying so bad that I can’t go to school 🙁

  61. jack

    My biggest fear in a plane is knowing that I’m trapped inside and can’t get out. When I panic I need fresh air and a bathroom close by. Otherwise, I feel like I’ll go crazy. I panic when there are a lot of people. Or if I don’t see a bathroom. I don’t know why I panic about the bathroom because I’ve never had an accident that affected me.

  62. Chris

    Most of the time my panic attacks are triggered when I feel my stomach hurting. If I feel like I have to go to the bathroom or feel that I may throw up, panic immediately sets in.

    Any suggestions on overcoming this?

    By the way this is a great article and I keep it saved on my phone so that I can reference it whenever needed. So thank you for this.

  63. Necee

    I’ve been having panic attacks for 3 years now. But recently, they’ve been really bad.

    In fact, I don’t want to be alone. Nor do I don’t want to go out because I’m scared I will have one.

    I’m 27 years old and I have 4 kids. I can’t even take them to the park.

    It’s holding me back from so much. I was never like this before. In fact, I once loved being out – but now I’m constantly afraid of having an attack.

    I went to the doc. And all they did was prescribe me meds which I don’t like because they make me feel like a zombie.

    Meanwhile, I can’t do anything but sleep. I don’t know what else to do to stop my attacks and be normal again.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Sorry to hear that. Have you tried physical excercise? Research suggests that it can make a BIG difference. More info from the National Health Service in the UK here (watch the videos).

    2. Sam

      I’ve been having them since I was 7 (now 21), you either learn to live with it and get used to it, or get over them completely. You’ll be fine, many people experience it at least once in their lifetime so don’t panic about having them I’m public, go out like you used to I’m almost sure nothing will happen to you, good luck and get well soon, your babies need you strong!

  64. Andy (uk)

    Hi I’m 29 and have suffered from anxiety for 4 years now. I had my first panick attack in 2010. And to this day, I don’t know what brought it on. One minute I was fine watching TV, the next I’m on my knees thinking I was dieing.

    I suffered with bad depression for a few weeks after and slowly came out of that state. But the anxiety remains.

    Never suffered with anxiety prior to the attack tho. But since the attack I’m always worried something is wrong with me. For example: every time I feel an ache or pain, I immediately jump to the worse case scenario.

    I don’t talk about it as I feel people would think I’m strange or something. I also seem to have some type of social anxiety since the attacks often start in really busy places. And worrying a hell of lot doesn’t help.

    Anyway the last couple of months a lot of this seems to be fading out. And I’m starting to feel a tad better. No idea why, tho. But I ain’t gonna complain about it.

    Just thought I’d share my experience with you all. Because if there’s one thing I learnt through it all, talking and expressing how you feel really does help.

  65. Ahmed Salama

    I have a flight in 17 days time. It’s a 4 hour flight. Although I’ve travelled on a plane about 30 times, I can’t stop worrying 🙁 !!

    I’m 20 years old. When I was young (about 4 years old), I was in love with flying. This was because I didn’t have any idea about how it works – it just did.

    But when I got older things went bad. I started feeling fearful when the plane took-off. And during landing.

    Then it got worse when I had a really bad flight during which an older man got severe hypertension and my father (who was a doctor) tried to help him. When I saw him faint, I panicked. I felt I couldn’t remain in my seat.

    So I went walking randomly around the plane – I just wanted to escape and tell the staff to land the plane anywhere. Luckily, I regained some control of my emotions and got back to my seat.

    After this experience, my problem with flying developed to include all phases of flight – especially while cruising. Now, the landing phase is the best for me – especially when the seat belt sign is switched on. Why?

    Because I know we’re about to land in a short period of time.

    This fear of flying has left me feeling disabled. That’s because it has deprived me from continuing my university education in Egypt as studying there was going to require flying alone – something I had never done before.

    So, I transferred my studies to where my parents live here in Oman. That means I have them to accompany me whenever I fly.

    Thanks to my fear of flying, I’ve been forced to leave my friends, my girlfriend – all of my life.

    I think things have gotten worse because it’s been a while since my last flight. So being on a plane no longer feels normal.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Yep – it’s REALLY important to fly often (the more the better) so that being inside a plane feels routine. If a 4 hour flight seems like too much, I suggest doing lots of shorter flights in quick succession (e.g. a 1-hour flight like Muscat to Dubai).

    2. Ali Desroches

      Have you ever tried taking xanax while flying? That will calm you down. Or having something to keep you occupied will stop you from over thinking. Working out helps too as being tired, your mind tends not to over think .

      1. Tim Benjamin

        Hey Ali – personally I’m not a fan of taking drugs as it simply masks the underlying problem. In other words, it doesn’t solve one’s fear of flying. But I’m a BIG fan of working out as there is loads of research to show that regular exercise is a powerful way of reducing anxiety. For more info on this, check out the UK’s National Health Service website. If you don’t have time to work out, research suggests that a few minutes per day of High Intensity Training (HIT) has HUGE health benefits too.

  66. Erica

    My question is I’m new to this I have only had 3 but according to the er they were really bad one was to the point I couldn’t move my had and fingers. But my question is y after having an attack do I still feel it days later light headed, chest hurting , legs feel real sore and really sleepy and advice would be great thanks ..

  67. Jennifer

    I am flying in a few weeks. I can usually handle a short flight (up to an hour), I still sometimes get panic attacks during that short time but I know the flight will be over soon so I just survive until then. However this time I am flying to New York and I live in the Bay Area CA, so that is a much longer flight. I, like so many other people who have commented, hate the feeling of not being able to leave the situation, and that really intensifies the panic attack. The hyperventilation that occurs and the disoriented feeling that comes, launches my otherwise manageable anxiety into a full blown attack. I am so worried that I will have this happen on the plane and I won’t be able to stop it. Usually when this happens I can handle it for a while then I just burst into tears. Honestly, I am just scared to death of having those sensations and having to deal with them for 5 or more hours on the flight. How do I keep myself from getting to that point?

    1. Sam

      I have sever panic attacks, LIKE SEVERE. I’ve always traveled a lot by plane and I always think I’ll have a panic attack but it never happens (just nervousness) , it’s as if your mind is programmed to become stronger those few hours. I’ve flown to Spain which is a 12 hr flight from Cali. If I can do it I’m sure you can! And I’ll be doing it again next month.

  68. iris Lopez

    I’m so thankful for this artical it surely helped me alot. It actually made me laugh ’cause you really think you’re going crazy.

  69. Whitney

    Tim,

    This is by far one of the greatest and most encouraging articles I have ever read about panic attacks. My fear of flying has held me back from doing so many fun things in life. You were spot on throughout the whole article. Thank you for helping me to finally realize that panic attacks do not control me.

  70. ann

    I got my panic attacks under control over the past three years. But now they’re back. And it seems like they’re now worse.

    It seems like I can’t fight them off. I think about how scared I am – which then triggers one. Or I can just be sitting there and start feeling like I can’t breath. That makes me feel like I’m dying. And it scares me because I’m a stay at home mother of 3 little ones.

    I don’t know what caused them. Or how to get rid of them.

    Sometimes I really feel like I can’t breath – nor can I get my brain to understand that I can.

    Please don’t laugh at me. I really want help to get my life back. And I have no one to talk to about this because no one understands.

    So if anyone can help – or has advice – then thanks!

  71. Lauren

    I go on holiday in 2 weeks and was starting to back out as i have been panicking about having a panic attack! This article has made me view what’s actually going on in a different perspective and now instead of dreading my flight, I’m getting excited for the first time in years!

    I feel like this article connects with anxiety in General which is great, I’ve written all of this down just as a reminder during the flight. I’ve been receiving CBT for the past few months and it’s made me feel worse, however I can’t get out of it. I feel like this on the other hand, will help me with every situation I face and props go to you for that – incredible.

    I have finally come to realise that panic attacks do not control me; I control panic attacks and as a 14 year old it’s taken away so many opportunities I will never be able to face again. It’s time to start enjoying everything thrown at me instead of overthinking and letting something like this control me. Thank you so much.

  72. Jessica

    Thank you so much! Over time I have come to realize a few of the items on your list. They all apply to me and its a relief to read….

  73. Carlos

    I honestly feel like I’m gonna die. My heart pumps insanely and I can’t breathe. I feel like I can’t handle it. But I always fear that I’m gonna have a heart attack. Afterwards I feel the pain in my heart and chest for a week or 2.

  74. Abbie

    This page has helped me so much! I’m only 18 and just reading this I feel a bit more positive. My fear is that I’ve got something wrong with me health-wise. But just had blood tests and am waiting on results. If they come back fine, this page and those results will sure help me so much!!!

  75. Jaime warden

    The thing I’m most scared about when going on a plane is knowing I have no way of getting off. I’d love to go abroad but having to tell others I don’t like planes is embarrassing! Knowing I want to get off but physically can’t is a horrible thought, where as a car journey you could easily pull over for some fresh air.

    1. zara

      Exactly the same as me. I need too get out when I have a panic attack for fresh air, away from everyone 🙁

  76. zara

    I have never been on a plane because I’m scared of having a panic attack. I hate being trapped as it causes me to panic. Especially the thought that I cannot get out until I land.

    Any way of over coming this? Please help as I would love to travel 🙁

  77. Cody

    Tim, great article. Ive read it multiple times already. The source of my panic is the fear of passing out and dying, while also fearing that my panic will lead to heart problems and high blood pressure later in life. Im only 23 and i mainly get rapid heartbeat, shaking and some dizziness. Its worst when and at work, (i sit at a desk and work on a computer) but if im talking to someone or im with friends or family im totally fine. Im actually camping in a tent in gettysburg right now and couldnt sleep for the longest time about panic at the campsite and i was so cold and wrapped in blankets i shook uncontrollably. Im flying from philly to indy in a month, wondering how im going to get through that as well.

  78. bryan

    Hi I’m a 16 year old one day i started worrying about somthing and felt those symptoms and i feel like i have to take a couple of deep breathes before i can get a good breathe that makes me feel comfortable has anyone else felt like this and have recovered please i need to know

  79. Joanna

    I got my first panic attack on last Wednesday and then again last Friday. Everyday since, I’ve felt different pains and discomfort. And like the attack is trying to come back. Now that I know I’m not dying it’s been easier to keep calm and just relax. But ever since my second attack, I wake up every morning feeling pain in my chest, shoulders, arms, ankles, etc. Is it normal for this to happen after an attack and how long does it last?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Joanna – take a look at the really useful info on the UK’s National Health Service website.

  80. Candice

    The best advice I could give anyone about flying (which I absolutely hate) would be to watch a YouTube video on what turbulence actually is. It’s literally the plane moving 10mm or more (from what I’ve watched) which is nothing but feels much worse. I HATE flying and have a major fear of heights. Every time I have to fly more than an hour, my hands sweat so much during the flight. And my heart races every time the plane moves. But knowing it’s literally moving just millimetres reassures me that I’ll be OK.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Candice – you’re right. The plane hardly moves during most episodes of turbulence. For more on this, don’t miss my flying through turbulence interview with the guys from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

  81. Kristopher

    Hi Tim,

    I used to be a regular flyer and I loved flying. There was a spate of 2-3 years where I didn’t fly and since then this is how I feel when I fly…

    It’s like I can’t swallow, it feels like I’m going to swallow my tongue and I always have to have a bottle of water at the ready, because if I don’t my mouth becomes so dry, my palms sweat and my heart pounds.

    I haven’t flew since February, but I have to fly again early in October.

    What can I do and how did I go from loving flying to dreading it?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Kristopher,

      Unfortunately, I can’t say why you went from loving it to dreading it. That said, having gone through the same thing myself, I’d argue that mulling over what happened in the past is not the best way forward. Why?

      Because you could spend a long time thinking it through without actually solving your current problem.

      Instead, I’d focus your time on the stuff that I outline here.

      Good luck 🙂

  82. Emma

    Hi there,

    I have been under a lot of stress and have started having panic attacks. Due to fly in a month, my problem is I’m afraid of the panic attack. I also have panic attacks every time I go over the harbour bridge. Even if someone else is driving, the panic takes over. And I feel like I’m gonna get out of the car and jump off the bridge! Haha stupid I know! I feel it’s because there is no safe place to escape – you can’t pull over on the bridge!!

  83. kathleen

    I have panic attacks and they can last for days. As a result, I’m really tired. I try to sleep, but there’s always that feeling that keeps me awake. I don’t know what to do.

  84. B

    My problem is I’m in flight school with a fear of flying. I’m a veteran who has flown on planes and helicopters in combat with no issue. I actually enjoyed them but never liked civilian flights. Now I have flown a couple times already but just so scared. I’m not sure if I’m scared bc I am worried the plane will crash, or bc I’m not going to learn everything I should to help me survive flying. I want this to go away but don’t know what to do and rather not talk to my instructor about this. What type of combat veteran is afraid to fly in a little cessna.

  85. natalie

    I suffer with major anxiety and panic attacks – plus agoraphobia. But most of all I suffer from food anxiety. After a few hours of not eating, I get anxious. I shake as if I need sugar or something. Once I eat something I feel fine. I bet you haven’t heard of that before. x

  86. Corey

    My panic attacks started on a long drive about 15 years ago. I kept feeling like I had a sudden bowel movement, but couldn’t go. The trip took twice as long as it should have. That eventually developed into a problem with flying when the seat belt sign came on because I knew I couldn’t have access to the bathroom if I needed to. It has since become a problem anywhere that I don’t have immediate access to a bathroom which has made traveling very difficult (I do better at night because I know I can pull over and go if I need to.) The other problem is that sometimes when it hits I actually do need a bathroom immediately or it would be a huge embarrassment. So knowing that the attack can not trigger the sensation, but also a true response how do I put myself in those situations? Last time I flew we were stuck on the tarmac for an hour. I tried meds to make me sleepy, but they didn’t work. I tried playing games on my phone, reading a book, breathing techniques… nothing worked. It would last for a while (maybe the 20 minutes) then it would go away, only to come back shortly after. Any suggestions… outside of depends? (pun intended)

  87. Mel

    This was so much help! Thank you for writing this. Really well said and relatable.

  88. Nuria Lena

    I’m 19 and I study in Barcelona. But as my family lives in Mallorca, I have to take a plane a lot. But I’m afraid something will happen to me while flying and I won’t make it.

    I’m afraid to be in a place I know I can’t escape from (e.g. planes, long distance trains, ships…). And it’s embarassing because I start to sweat.

    Also, I breath loudly and feel I haven’t any control over what’s happening. I even feel sick long after the panic attack has finished. I’m a mess.

  89. Harvey

    Hi Tim,

    My first ever panic attack was 4 days ago and I have had at least one or two throughout each day since. I’m on a beta blocker and it’s not really doing much for me. Surprisingly, I seem to get these attacks in bed, which seems strange to me, any ideas on what I could do?
    Thankyou

  90. Nick

    Dear Tim,

    Thank you for such an incredible article! It genuinely has helped me feel much better about flying. Thank you for writing this article!

    Kind regards,
    Nick

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Nick – glad I could help 🙂

  91. T

    A few weeks ago, I was taking a test (I’m in nursing school). I was feeling a lot of anxiety that morning and I could tell it wasn’t my normal test anxiety. About halfway through the test, my vision got blurry, I had tunnel vision and I thought for sure I was going to pass out. I ended up in the ER because I had fears that it was a heart attack or stroke. After an EKG, cat scan, heart echo, X-ray and blood work, I was diagnosed with a panic attack. I was told to follow up with my primary care. I did and was put on a daily anxiolytic. A few days later, after a test, I had that same familiar blurry vision and felt like passing out. I went straight to my dr office and it happened again while I was there. My dr thinks it’s still panic attacks but instead of having a rapid heart beat and heavy breathing, I’m doing the opposite. My heartbeat stays a little low anyway normally. I’m having chest tightness with other strange feelings like I can’t breathe, a lump in my throat, blurry vision and a feeling that I can’t get under control. It’s awful and it’s starting to ruin my life. I have fears to leave my house and I’m just trying to get through an hour at a time. It’s terrifying. I cry on a daily basis because I’m so overwhelmed by this problem. I don’t know what to do. No one can seem to relate to me and my friends are really worried about me. The other problem is that these “attacks” are lasting for hours. I have multiple attacks a day. The medicine has helped the frequency but I feel like I can’t take much more of this. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      A good place to start researching panic attacks is here.

  92. sunny

    I’ve been having frequent panic attacks over the last three months. My primary cause of panic attack is the fear of having another panic attack.

    I’m unable to move alone anywhere… I always try to be accompanied by my family or friends.

    I had all my heart tests done. But I still worry if my heart races and I fear suffering a heart attack.

    I haven’t been into my office for three months as it’s far from the nearest hospital in case of emergency.

  93. Mariana

    You say the symptoms of anxiety/panic attack are gone after minutes but I recently had an experience that lasted for hours. Shortness of breath, heart pounding, overwhelming fear, trembling, out-of-body, everything… and it went on from 7pm up until 22pm when I decided to return to a place where i felt safe, even if it meant having to make a 4 hour journey by car, having to drive in panic because I didn’t trust anyone else to drive me at that point. is it not a panic attack if it lasts for hours?

  94. Ram

    Sometimes I feel I’m going to go mad and be admitted to mental hospital.

  95. Ram

    Will this feeling of panic and anxiety go away forever if we face it boldly?

  96. pleasehelpme

    This would be my first time to share my story. Even my family doesn’t know what I’m going through.. 🙁 I’m 20+ years of age, Male from the Philippines..

    My panic attack is so bad that it makes me impossible to go on my own. I can’t leave the house without being accompanied by one of my family members… I can’t go out with my friends since its impossible that my sister/brother to tag along.. I can’t stay home alone even if im with the maids. I can’t go to work since im only with my workmates. I don’t want to learn how to drive since it will push me to drive alone.. The only thing that relaxes me at times is that of the thought that “a hospital is just near”.. But makes me think how about if im inside a plane or a ship, there are no access of hospital, im in hours of travel and im in a middle of nowhere.. These thoughts started to bother me last March 2014 until now. I want to get my life back guys.. Please help me.. I badly need it… God bless us all

    1. Seth

      The Buteyko Technique helps slow down your breathing when you feel this way of being alone. Its a type of therapy that has been helping me. You should check it out.

  97. Carlos Hernandez

    I can’t do anything more because of the fear of having a panic attack. I just close my self in my room, and so I can stop thinking about negative things. Sometimes it gets so bad that I lose touch with reality.

  98. Tony Najera

    Do panic attacks last forever?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Tony,

      No – they don’t last forever.

      For more info, check out my series of panic attack articles.

      Good luck.

  99. Amanda

    Hi! I’m a 19 year old female who suffers with anxiety and panic attacks that I get sometimes twice a day. I weigh 107 lbs and I am 5’3 inches tall.

    Before a couple months ago, I use to never get panic attacks, for I have only gotten one a few years ago while I was working at my job. Everything was smooth sailing from then, and I haven’t gotten a single one during the following years.

    There was this one day, though, when I had a full blown attack. My heart was pumping and racing, almost feeling like I was having a heart attack.

    I was constantly pacing back and forth in horror, with a bottle of water in my hand literally taking huge gulps in a panic.

    What triggered this attack, I’m quite sure was this energy drink called a “spike shooter” I drank it down pretty fast, when I was gaming.

    Then it hit me all at once, and I felt like I was going to die. I tried my beat to stay calm but that’s all I had and all I could even do. But even with trying to calm myself and not think about it, it only got worse.

    Days and days after that occurrence had took place, I keep getting the same anxious feeling if I take even the smallest sip of soda or coffee.

    Funny thing is, I used to be able to drink and guzzle down caffeine like t was nothing, but now I’m scared of even tasting a drop of it.

    What should I do? :/

  100. jakes

    Hi my name is jaco I’m 22 and from jeffreys bay south africa. I have had my first panic attack when I was 18, always with the fear of death and falling thru the floor. I have been in 3 situations where there was an armed robbery. Last time they attacked me with their guns and tried to rape my friend. All I want to know is this: is post traumatic stress curable?

  101. Galaxee

    I find it interesting that panic attack sufferers always feel fear of something going wrong with their health, even when we have had countless panic attacks, and we always end up fine, we still fear our body turning on us and we are just so certain that we won’t make it our alive… but we always do! I have been suffering from panic attacks for the past 8 months. It came out of nowhere, there mostly always at night. I am prescribed 1mg xanax 2 times a day but only take half (.5) every other night and I’ve been just fine. I really want to stop taking my medication though because I fear long term effects, also I just don’t want to be dependent on medication. I’m 22. I also believe that I am a hypochypochondriac. Lately, I’ve been able to talk myself out of unrealistic thoughts about my health, considering I am still so young, the likely hood of having a serious illness is very low. But I’m curious, could my panic attacks have been created from my hypochondria?? Mine and lots of others? I know hypochondria is a very real thing and actually often leads to severe anxiety and panic attacks.
    P.S. I love this article 🙂

  102. Linnea

    I hate the feeling of being so far off the ground, stuffed into a small, crowded space, where there doesn’t seem to be enough air, or exit.

  103. Andrea

    I have this phobia in cars. Any journey further from home I have what my DR says are not typical panic attacks. I get the pounding heart and then feel so terrified of the feeling of fear, I think I am going to open the car door and jump out. It stops me going to many places. I feel as I am going insane and will never return back to normal. I can’t cope with the feeling and then end up depressed for days after.

    I know this is about flying but I wouldn’t even consider getting on a plane ever.

  104. Ang

    My fear of flying actually is from the thought of a terrorist attack. I notice people doing odd things and convince myself that this is it. I live in DC, which probably is a big factor. The past few flights I’ve been on I nearly got right off the plane when I saw people I thought might be suspicious. I don’t want to live in fear, but it affects me so much. I used to have it on the metro too, which has subsided with practice. But the plane thing is new and even harder to manage.

  105. Isaac

    My panic gets out of control. I love 4WDing but find I struggle to do it in case I get stranded or wreck my 4×4.

    I’m 26 and for some reason (I know it sounds stupid) I don’t trust my health. So I worry when I’m out in the bush that I’ll need medical attention and won’t be able to get it.

    I’ve always wanted to scuba dive. I did a course and love seeing underwater. But when I finish a dive, my panic tricks my body into getting symptoms of the bends…. So now I can’t dive because the panic attack isn’t worth it…..

    I feel like I’ve gone crazy having tried everything to control it… I want it gone!

  106. Leaman

    Panic attacks are a breathing disorder, pure and simple. It’s the imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide that causes the other symptoms, which then freak you out. Once I learned to deeply breathe in and breathe out once I felt a panic attack coming on, I conquered them. Then you need to deal with the underlying issues in your life that caused you to have them in the first place (depression, persistent worry, general malaise, etc.).

  107. kerry

    I kept having nightmares about death. Then woke up with a panic attack freaking out.

    1. Lisa

      That’s exactly how mine first started.

  108. mike

    hi tim, during takeoff i tend to feel lightheaded while the plane is stabilizing in mid air which in turn makes me feel even more anxious for about an hour of the flight after takeoff. i then tend to stay anxious and panicked and feel anxiety symptoms. any suggestions on how to calm my nerves during take off and the light headedness? thanks

  109. gretch

    I had two flights today. I was chit chatting on take off, leaning forward and got dizzy feelings. Same thing on second flight, but when descending. Maybe that’s motion sickness. I was panicked, shakey but made it!

  110. emily

    I’ve had my first panic attack on a plane. And I fear I’m going to have another one – and that something bad is going to happen. I have to fly back home and I’m in such fear about getting on and having a melt down again.

  111. Umesh

    Many thanks for enlightening me of facts of flight panic attacks. My last flight was of duration of 4 hours from Singapore to India in year 1998 where I was pretty much afraid. Recently I was offered travel on by plane within country for about 2+ hours of flight duration, which I denied due to my experience 14 years ago. Like you mentioned, my legs start trembling, I feel that I’ve lost all my weight and heart races. Apart from this, it feels like traveling in a boat where we need to balance our upper body to sitting or standing where as the mind states that there is nothing like this on flight. This feeling leads to black out like situation, thought I did not fell off. Can you suggest remedies / exercises to over come this situation please

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Umesh – check out the links at the bottom of this page.

  112. Christiaan

    I used to be a flight attendant for over 6 years. Eventually I had to quit because of anxiety and panic related to personal reasons not flying. However having said that I used to get anxious/panic onboard a few times when it was very busy and stressful and I’ve helped many pax onboard with anxiety & panic of flying.

    Best advice I can give you. Mindfulness, practising mindfulness and bringing your mind to the present moment helps a lot. Open the in flight magazine and focus on the letters the pictures but without judgement or reading the sentences. Pay attention to the different shapes and sizes of the letters in the magazine.

    Focus on how smooth the pages feel on your fingers opposed to how rough the texture might be of the seat cover in front of you. Take a few moments to focus on the present. Practise abdominal breathing as that helps to calm your nervous system down as well.

    Remember you can’t control your thoughts howver you can control how they affect you. It’s ok to be nervous or scared or anxious or scared of having a panic attack. It’s perfectly normal. Just remember to allow these feelings to come and pass through and not to control them because then you could just make it worse.

    If these fail I swould suggest seeing your local dr and perhaps discussing some medication options that could work as a shortm term solution such as Xanax or Valium. xanax has a short effect whoever it’s quick and fast acting and makes you sleep. Valium lasts longer and just takes that edge off.

    Hope this helps

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Christiaan – these are GREAT ideas 🙂

  113. mira

    I realized I had panic disorder about two years ago.

    But lately my panic attacks have happened whenever I eat. I’m afraid that my food is spoiled or poisoned. Or has something that would make me choke or vomit.

    Or cause breathing problems. It’s so hard to eat nowadays…

    I’ve tried meditation and hypnotherapy.. If you have any other suggestions please tell me…

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Mira – check out the links at the bottom of this page.

    2. Christiaan

      Hi Mira, I used to be the same as you. But what you have to remember these are all just ideas & thoughts. And they can’t harm you.. The only thing harming you are your thoughts and allowing them to control you. Be strong and live in the present moment.. Not in your thoughts. Read a book called “the worry trap” its very helpful and engaging. hope this helps x

      1. mira

        Thank you, christian..
        I will surely find that book and read it..
        Thank you for replying my massage..

  114. Miz Irene

    That’s actually how I felt. So disturbing – like I’m having a nightmare. When I have a panic attack, I tell myself to think positive. And I breath in and out. Then my heart rate starts to slow down. But sometimes I still feel faint, dizzy and have problems breathing.

  115. Kaiti

    My first panic attack happened going down the interstate on my way to the beach. I felt stuck – like I couldn’t turn around. So now I avoid going to far-off places. Does anyone have any advice?

  116. Danielle

    I’m afraid of going out in case I have an anxiety/panic attack. Thank you for the advice! Finally somebody knows what it’s like to feel like you’re dying. Glad I’m not the only one suffering. Real good post, thanks once again 🙂

  117. jordan

    Hello. I’m terrified of driving on my own. I had my first panic attack when I was on the motorway – in the dark. And alone. I didn’t know what was happening. I had to get my mom to pick me up. Since then I feel scared to be on my own. I’ve driven a few times with a passenger. But I get this numbness in my feet and that panics me.

  118. Nikki

    A year ago I suffered a panic attack on a plane. It gave me a seriously bad feeling that I was going to suffer diarrea. I had to rush to the loo a few times and each time my bowels were extremely loose.

    I was panicking that I would not make it to the toilet in time.

    Since then I have had these attacks on and off over the past year. I could be in a que at the supermarket, on a plane, anywhere I may struggle to get to the toilet in time.

    I’m flying on my own soon and I’m seriously considering cancelling my trip away. I don’t want these attacks to beat me but they are so scary. What could be more embarrassing than not making the toilet in time!?!?!?

    I’ve read this has happened to others and now I’m even more worried than before. Help!

  119. susan

    I get headaches from stressing about anxiety all day….Also get heart palpatations that make me feel like my heart is going to stop, it makes me sick to my stomach..

  120. Mike

    Last year, I started to have panic attacks. When they happen, my vision feels weird as if what I’m looking at is through a mirror.

    I get a tingling feeling in my chest. And then the fear comes out of nowhere!

    It’s so bad that all I can do is get up and run.

    This was a 24/7 thing for a couple of weeks. Soon all I could do was sit in my room all day every day for fear of the feeling coming back.

    I now get these up and down feelings. One minute I’m scared and feel hopeless. The next, I’m happy and looking forward to something.

    But the happy feeling is very short, then I’m right back to the “damn life sucks and I’m scared”.

    I also feel as if I’m constantly on the edge of having one. I’ve felt that way all day every day for the past year.

    I’ve been trying to hold them back. But some will slip in here and there.

    It’s the hardest thing to explain, so I don’t expect any of this to make much sense lol.

    One last thing: when I detect certain smells – or the heat from the sun touches my skin – I get scared as these sensations remind me of last summer when I was having these panic attacks non-stop.

    Please someone explain this to me. I feel like I’m the only one like this. I need help. I feel like nothing will help and I’m stuck in this situation. I’m desperate.

  121. Cory

    Thank you! I don’t understand why am having these panic attacks but thy started after my CANCER diagnosis last year.

  122. Christiaan

    I was a flight attendant for 6 years. I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and eventually quit my job. But now I’m struggling to be on a plane. I don’t have any fear of flying or the plane crashing. My anxiety and panic attacks have dissapeared. But I have this immense fear of having a panic attack onboard. I have a flight next week and I’m petrified of having a panic attack onboard. No idea what to do.

  123. Evelyn

    My blood pressure tends to be on high side…and I am very nervous about flying because when the plane takes off I feel very strange and dizzy. I dont’ take pharmaceuticals, but I do take herbs to help with this. I guess I will just bring my herbs along….hawthorne, magnesium, coq10 and a few other things. Cayenne helps with a feeling of impeded circulation, and I have a formula from a Chinese doctor to help relax. THis, and of course deep breathing, i hope will get me through. My blood pressure issue seems to be largely structural tension, it is lower when I lie down and relax, so it feels sort of stressful to know I will be stuck sitting up on the plane. I almost wish I had some giant hands to massage my neck to help with the problem of impeded circulation.
    I don’t know if this is anything you can help with….but this is definitely my issue.

  124. jw

    When I’m scared, I tend to not be able to breathe properly. Can someone tell me what is happening?

  125. Bobby

    I used to get a paralyzed feeling while driving. Fear can do a number on your body. I was driving with my friend when I started to panic and I froze. So I pulled over, only to have my friend tell me that if I really was paralyzed I wouldn’t have been able to pull over. That changed my life. Now I don’t panic. But I do have anxiety when flying, only because all I ever hear or read these days is pilot error or pilot mental illness causing a plane to go down. Ughhh! I need help.

  126. Alice

    I usually end up crying and not knowing why!! It really sucks when my anxiety gets high!

  127. Caroline

    Thanks for the advice. Hopefully this will work on Wednesday when I go on a plane. I have to go to the bathroom uncontrollably and feel nausea.

  128. Austin

    On my first flight, I wasn’t a bit scared. Every single flight after my first one, I’ve had at least ONE panic attack. It made me hate flying. Problem is, the longest flight I’ve ever been on was only 3 hours. In about 3 months I’m going to Germany, which will at least be 11 hours. Scares me shitless.

  129. sid

    Hello everyone – I may be late on this post but hopefully anyone who sees this will know my story.

    I am a panic disorder recoverer LOL.

    I have been through everything you guys have been through. The constant fear, the dread or whatever you want to call it when it first hits. The trouble breathing, chest pains, rapid heartbeat and fear of losing your mind.

    My first attack was in a car: it took me two weeks to leave the house afterwards. Then I had them all the time for months.

    I was put on paxil, xanax, klonopin, you name it. They helped. Yet I was in constant fear of having another panic attack. I gained 40 pounds in almost 6 months.

    I decided one day to taper off the meds and face my problem on my own.

    Slowly, I used breathing techniques to master my panic attacks. It’s so simple that it blew my mind.

    I know it feels like the attacks will be a lifelong problem. They aren’t. You are literally in control of them.

    When I feel one coming on, I just tell myself to stop and it goes away. I don’t know if I’ve been much help – but the fear goes away. And it isn’t a lifelong problem as long as you don’t let it.

    It’s all in your head!!!!!!!

    1. Gre - like the color, without the y.

      You’re absolutely right – you can control them. And it IS all in your head!! Congrats on being panic free!!

  130. shaunak

    Please help me guys.

    I am a 17 year old based in India who’s an above-average student.

    Until recently, I was preparing to apply for IIT (the most prestigious engineering college in India).

    But for a year now, whenever I go to my coaching classes I have a panic attack and I just storm out.

    As a result, I haven’t gotten into any good colleges so far.

    Now I’m very afraid to stay alone as I feel like I’m going to get another panic attack…I can’t even go out for a walk alone.

    My question is: how can I get over this situation so that next year, I can have another go at getting into college?

  131. kieran Murphy

    Not really sure why I have panic attacks. But I can’t stop them. Dr told me to shout at myself (in my head) to calm down. But it doesn’t work unless it’s someone else shouting at me. Feel like I start sweating from the inside out. And it’s terrifying me.

  132. Jasmine

    I have terrible attacks. They are so bad and last for about 20 minutes. I feel crazy and I claw things around me and sometimes scream. I get these like 1-4 times a month. I had one yesterday. I’m experiencing squeezing chest pain and I’m confused on what to do about it. I also have tingling in my hands. Advice?

  133. Siyabonga

    Hi guys, I’m 19 years old and from South Africa. I get panic attacks. I fear that one day I’ll die in class. But I always remind myself that it’s just an act in my mind – nothing is gonna happen to me.

  134. Stacey

    Hi there,
    I really loved this article! It helped me logically view each symptom. Unfortunately, the one symptom that doesn’t come up on here is nausea and vomiting. I have never been sick to my stomach while nervous. I have a panic disorder and have gone through some pretty epic panic attacks. I have never once thrown up from one. The part for me on a plane that is diffucilt is the butterflies and knots in my stomach to the point that i cannot eat before i get on a plane because im afraid to throw up. The physical stomach pain from my anxiety is rough, and it lasts HOURS. I was on a 5 hours flight once and got off the plane so exhausted i fell asleep in a restaurant while eating. My body had been tense, anxious and going through cycles of panic for the full 5 hours. THIS is the experience I am terrified of while being on a plane. Sadly, I have to fly in a few months and I am already not happy.

  135. Kyra seaman

    Hi, a few months ago now I found out that I have got social anxiety disorder and its leading to me having frequent panic attacks that I can’t control. When I’m not having a panic attack I’m constantly scared of having to face one again. My breathing is the worst part, how can I learn to manage it??

  136. Anton

    I’ve managed 5 years without a panic attack. And 3 trips abroad. The longest was a 4hr flight. But I still fear having a panic attack at 30000ft and not being able to go outside as I would do on the ground. VERY ANNOYING. Honeymoon next year.

  137. Rosalie Hobbs

    My fear is the take-off; the thrust, the things speeding by me. I also fear being up sooooo high!

  138. rose

    Hi I’m Rose. My friend invited me to go on a trip to South Africa with him. I would love to as I love travelling. But my panic attacks keep me from it. It’s even hard for me to get on trains and going to Africa would mean I’d have to go on a flight for 11 hours or more. I’m terrified. Absolutely terrified.

    I’m not scared of my plane crashing. But I am scared of the fact I can’t get out once I’m in.

    The only way to relieve my panic attacks is to go outside and breathe fresh air. So not being able to go outside for 11 hours scares me to the bone.

    I don’t know what to do. I’m almost tempted not to go because of this.

  139. kendall

    This is a good article but I just want to point out that my panoc attacks last much MUCH longer than twenty minutes. As a matter of fact just this past friday I experienced the longest one ever. 8 HOURS! it peeked after the 1st hour but did not completely go away until 8 hours from the time it started and because I was so worked up my meds did not work either. I ended up taking 8 pills before I was able to relax and sleep it off. Scary? Yeah you have no idea.

  140. shell

    I’m petrified of getting up in the air and not being able to cope!!! The last thing I want is to get hysterical all the way up there and not being able to deal with it

  141. Gre - like the color, without the y.

    Thank you Tim and Marc the Shark!! Tim, this article was exactly what I needed. I have suffered from random panic attacks since age 14. I am now 37 and only certain situations will jumpstart them. I get on a plane tomorrow evening and of course my nerves are rattled. But this article eased my mind – I may have to read it during the flight. Marc the Shark – you are ABSOLUTELY correct: all it takes is a focus on something briefly and the panic leaves. I’m an over thinker, so I know first hand how my imagination just runs. Thank you BOTH. I encourage all panic sufferers out there, YOU CAN MAKE IT!!

  142. Sherry

    Thank you so much for great information .
    It also helps me to control my fear and anxiety .
    I’m really grateful and thankful to you.
    May G-d bless you and your family.
    Thanks again.

  143. Aja Gamble

    I always have this tiny fear that I’m going to have a panic attack somewhere. When it’s super hot, or it gets even slightly harder to breathe (Other than exercise), I fear I might have another panic attack, and it’s hard to tell myself to calm down.

  144. stacey

    My boyfriend wants to take me to Spain. However, I suffer from panic attacks. And I’ve never been on a plane before. I’m worried that if I have a panic attack on the plane, other people will think I’m crazy. Any good advice on what to do? and how to cope if I did get a panic attack on a plane?

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hey Stacey – these are great questions 🙂 Check out my new fear of flying guide for detailed information. Meanwhile, if you haven’t flown on a plane before, I’d start with baby steps by taking the shortest jet flight you can find.

      1. stacey

        I was reading all the info it was very helpful 🙂 I don’t know what to expect for my first time flying iv been watching planes taking off and landing and inside a plane which did help but coming to doing it is a different story.

  145. Joe

    I struggle with panic attacks on planes and definitely have the difficulty breathing issues, sometimes the trembles / shakes, and some tingling sensation. Mine are set off during the planes ascent. I feel like I can’t swallow as well and I drink lots of water to reassure me that I can. I think it has something to do with my ears popping and freaking out that it’s somehow impacting my ability to breath and swallow.

  146. Larraine

    I am also a panic sufferer, self diagnosed claustrophobia I had due to childhood trauma (locked in a cr with small window for minutes but it felt like I was gonna die) that’s how it started. Since then, I wouldn’t lock my room or the cr and when I am in a house, I always check the nearest door to exit. I’ve slowly overcome those through frequent exposure. Now, I am struggling and trying to overcome elevators, crowded places, narrow rooms/spaces. I am currently on meds (xanor and anti-depressant) which my Doctor prescribed. I will be flying 2 weeks from now on a 2 hour flight and I am already preparing my mind but often times, I lose it and I’m thinking of backing out but I don’t want to. I was thinking of printing all stuffs about overcoming claustrophobia and maybe writing during the flight so I could distract my mind. argh. this is so stressful, I feel like I am preparing for my doom. Help me. Thank you.

  147. Andrew

    Thanks. this was reassuring and helpful

  148. Cathy

    I’ve had anxiety a good portion of my life but have managed with medication and knowing my triggers. My 1st panic attack was on a train so those are challenging. I have done well on planes until just recently. I got on a 4 hr. flight to visit family and had a major attack right before flying a normally I can work through it but not this time. I got off the plane which I regret. I thought to myself “if those doors close, I am going to freak out.” I’ve come such a long way and now I feel like I am starting over. I am so incredibly sad and keep crying.

  149. SARA

    Reading this really helped me. Not just about flying – but in general. I tend to have some of these symptoms once in a while. But sometimes I also have palpitations. I guess that comes along with a panic attack as well. Thank you.

  150. Johanne

    I’m worried that I might fall asleep and not wake up or that I will faint and not wake up.

  151. Matt

    My worst anxiety attack to date was in a movie theater. I’ve always had a fear of heart attacks. I didn’t know this prior to going to the movie with a friend that in the movie the main character was young with a bad heart and was getting a heart transplant. During his surgery the anaesthetic only made him unable to move….yet he could hear and feel everything. When the surgery began in his inner monologue he was in great pain and was begging them to stop. Anxiety took complete control over me, could not breathe, I got up and headed out the theater to the lobby. I passed out and woke up in an ambulance. Apparently when I take anxiety attacks I can and will pass out, I know cause it’s happened. Now imagine me on a plane freaked out of my mind, feeling the abnormal sensations of flight as I haven’t flown in 16 years. I get anxiety attacks doing nothing at all, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a full blown anxiety attack already with me in it’s grasp. Flying is something I can’t handle and would probably be the death of me.

  152. khushi

    I offen get panic attack that makes me crazy i feel like to escape from that place ….but i dont. I try to calm my self……i just want to get rid of dis panic attacks……
    ?

  153. Jewel

    I found the article and comments from others very helpful. Mostly, because it made me realize that I am not alone and there are so many others out there that are battling the same difficulties that I am. I actually did not get on my scheduled flight this morning due to the fear of having a panic attack in the air. I thought if I had more time to calm my nerves I could catch the next flight and the same thing happened again. I couldn’t get on the plane.
    I was able to fly a month ago to visit a dear friend in New York but this was a business trip. Different pressures, concerns, worries, and fears that surfaced themselves by panic and anxiety. It’s extremely frustrating to have the debilitating issue and embarrassing that once again I find myself unable to conquer this fear while others have no issue flying at all.
    I have many of the thoughts that others here have mentioned; feelings of impending doom, terrified that once we take off I will want to get off the plane and begin to panic because I can’t, making a fool of myself by acting like a lunatic, having a heart attack, going insane etc etc etc.. It’s just awful! I wish there was something I could do that would alleviate this stress for me. I’m sick of this getting in the way of me enjoying my life.
    Does anyone have any suggestions…maybe a fear of flying course at an actual airport?

  154. Suly

    It sucks living with panic disorder. I’m 22 and I’ve had panic disorder for about 5 years, since I was (17). When I was 17 I went through a tough couple of months and boom! I had my first panic attack. Like most people I thought i was dying of a heart attack!! after my first panic attack I continued getting them every 2 hours until I seeked professional help. They put me on medication (klonopin 0.5) and for the first time in weeks , I actually slept the whole night. I didn’t want to depend on meds but at that point in my life it was the only thing I feel really helped. As the years passed by I’ve learned to control them and live with panic disorder. Sometimes I’m able to fully control the anxiety attack alone, others I need to take my meds. I’ve gone about 7 months without a panic attack or drinking my meds . But recently I’ve been having nocturnal panic attAcks because of stress and work and I’ve to go back to taking my medication. Breathing exercises, reading and quite calms me down the most. One thing I know I won’t let them control me.

  155. Carlos

    Man this is crazy. I read that list and some of those things are me!!!

    I love flying and my panic attacks aren’t really part of my everyday life. But they do appear now and then.

    The things that cause me to panic are confined spaces and heat. 3 weeks ago I got on a plane in Denver and the cabin was hot. And immediately – without warning – I panicked about not being able to leave the plane once it took off. And what they would do to me if I freaked out and ran through the airplane screaming.

    It was the worst 20-30 minutes. But somehow I calmed down.

    What do you guys suggest?

    1. Linda

      I feel exactly the same way you do. You are not alone.

    2. Hesham

      I think the best thing that helped me overcome such attacks, is the belief that when your on a plane, and feel you can have any of those attacks, The plane captain can easily land to the closest airport in his route to save me. Which means 30mins to one hour only trip till he finds the neares airport. Keeping this in mind , made me very much comfortable of not having the thought of being forced to stay on a flight inside a closed cabin.
      The other thought, is the fact that the air inside the cabin is fresh air, coming directly to the air conditioning system of the plane from the air outside the plane. Which makes you feel as if you are in the best intensive care unit in any hospital.
      Hope this helps 🙂

      1. Tim Benjamin

        Forcing oneself to focus on these ACCURATE thoughts is the key to success. Nice work 🙂

  156. John

    Does anyone here have chronic states of tension and IBS etc, in which THIS is the thing that triggers attacks? (Or what a counsellor of mine believes is just my reaction to the symptoms). I agree, but I feel like it’s turned into an attack long before my mind gets to it, rationally) For example, when anxiety is at it’s worst, I can just do something like bending over, which must trigger my digestive system, and I get this wave of adrenaline rush and panic. I know its a trigger specific to me, but I’m absolutely desperate to see if anyone can remotely relate. Thanks so much all 🙂

  157. chris

    I fly a lot for work. Yesterday, before the plane took off, I went to the bathroom and got hit with a major panic attack. I wanted to get off the plane. I sat back down, played a game on my tablet and calmed down a bit. Then it came back. Tried to distract myself some more but I thought I was gonna die. I’ve always been scared of turbulence, but this was before takeoff. And it was only a 50 min flight. Now I gotta fly to Paris in two days… that’s an 8 hour flight! The thing that bothers me was it happened before takeoff. Now I’m worried I’ll bug out before my France flight. I’ve been flying internationally 1-2 times a month for years. Why now? Why before takeoff? What the Hell am I gonna do in 2 days?

  158. gretchen

    I have to fly today. The last flight I took back in November to see my grandmother. She died and I had to fly back home with major panic. Now I am off to see my family. 3 hr flight. My worry is on what of plane goes down? What if turbulence knocks us out of sky? why is there a wind advisory. I am too the point I want to cancel the flight 🙁

  159. DeAnn

    I am not afraid of crashing in a plane or even claustrophobic. My issue is the fact that if I wanted to get off the plane I couldn’t. I am at their mercy until we land. That is when the panic attack occurs. When we are ascending and I know can’t get out. It has changed the way I feel about travel, which upsets me greatly.

  160. Amy

    I have recently started getting attacks and excess anxiety post-partum (along with trauma involving my dad).

    When I first started having panic attacks, I couldn’t be alone. But then I got medication, went to therapy and started working out and eating right.

    6 months later I am at the point where I know I can beat them.

    My advice for when you’re having a panic attack is to run on the spot – and acknowledge that it’s just your thoughts. It’s not real.

    Acknowledge that if you do have an attack, it will soon be over. So just breathe through it.

    I think exercise is a HUGE help. If you can do a 10 minute walk … or get down on the floor and do 10 sit ups, jump rope, jumping jacks … Something 🙂 stay strong.

    We can do this.

  161. Gabriel

    Hi Tim,

    I would like to ask if panic attacks are curable? I have been having panic attacks for 4 months now – roughly once a week or more.

    Stress is usually the trigger: the first panic attack felt like a blood vessel my head was about to burst.

    Is there a way to tell yourself that your OK? I have tried CBT, relaxation techniques and breathing techniques. But sometimes they don’t work for me.

    I don’t want to rely on medication as it makes my anxiety worse.

  162. Leah

    I have had panic attacks that have caused a fear of traveling by myself. I am fine if I am with my family (safety behavior) but alone is a struggle. I have even gotten off a plane just before take off because of it. I am about to leave on a business trip which is new to me, and I have anticipatory anxiety about it. I know that continuing to challenge myself over time will help (I have done a few challenges so far leading up to this) but I can’t afford to fly frequently to get used to it. I feel that once I go somewhere unfamiliar alone, that it’s an endurance test/I track how long until I can leave. I look forward to being comfortable again in any scenario. I also wish I was that friend who can go on trips and not avoid them.

  163. Luna

    I’ve flown ever since I was three and I’ve never been remotely scared of being on the plane, I’ve always enjoyed traveling and flying. But last year when I came back from visiting my family, I touched down in Atlanta I experienced my first panic attack. I felt nauseous first, then I felt like I couldn’t breathe, then I started hyperventilating, then I started trembling and sweating, and finally I started crying all at the same time. I’m traveling to Mexico soon and I’m afraid it will happen again, what should I do? Will it happen again?

  164. Sam

    That tingling sensation, ugh! I thought it only happened to me.

  165. rebecca

    i dont feel like anything bad is going to happen when i am flying.
    it is the fact that if i want to get off then i cant! like i cant handle waiting until we land safely, when i feel like i need to get off i cant control my panic.
    i try to distract myself by watching a movie or listening to music but it doesnt really work.
    any advice?

  166. Patty

    I fly in July and I am seriously scared. Reading these tips will help, and the Dr. said they can give me something a little stronger to help. I just recently started having panic attacks and it sucks! My husband thinks it is something I can control, he doesn’t realize I don’t want to feel this way. He’s flying with me, so it should be an adventure!

  167. Lynn

    I am terrified of flying but try continue flying as I don’t want it to take control I flew home from Spain last nigh and the turbulence was so server I took a bad panic attack it was first ever one and I thought I was going to die I am now terrified I will never get on another plane and I have a holiday booked for July but I’m thinking of cancelling it

  168. janette

    This site is amazing. I had agoraphobia for many years. Life was,very hard but I kept pushing myself with behavioral therapy and somewhat conquered it. Finally Paxil can along and helped me reclaim my life. 25 years ago I felt so alone with my panic disorder!
    I am flying in a few weeks for the first time in 25 years! Going good to keep using this site and prayer and am determined to do it. Hang tough you are stronger than your fear.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Well done Janette – that’s awesome 🙂

  169. Kira

    It’s coming close to my holiday, and I am terrified of planes. Every night I feel that my heart is going to come out my chest! My panic attacks are insane – I can’t control myself! I would love to have some ideas to try and change that?…

  170. Laura Pearce

    I am not afraid of flying. I enjoy it. I am afraid of panicking while flying. My head can sometimes feel extremely heavy and then that’s when I know I am starting to get the anxieties. It can be hard to breath and it does feel like I will not be able to breath. My breaths aren’t rapid I slow them down. I find distractions like music and looking out the window can help calm the symptoms but I cannot concentrate enough to read a book, magazine or generally move my head as I feel extremely (heavy headed) and reading or sitting forward makes the symptoms a lot worse.

  171. Danielle

    I have a fear of being trapped, confined and not in control. I panic over the silliest of things. For example, what if the doors fail to open and I’m stuck waiting…

  172. Houssein

    I tell myself I can’t breath and I get this weird feeling in my nose feels like I can’t inhale any oxygen and I also keep thinking about my breathing and Its gets so scared that my chest starts to hurt and panic

  173. Florence Martos

    Hi I thought I had beaten my panic attacks while flying. But last June they came back. I have been putting off flying since then! We have just booked flights to Lanzarote with family for my husbands 50th and I feel myself getting scared as it is less than 2 weeks away. Do you have any advice for me I am scared I will lose control on the flight!

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hi Florence – my advice would be to read (and action) the stuff in this article.

  174. Olga H.

    I start feeling nervous when they close the doors and thinking about how long is the flight is gonna be, like if the flight is more than 3 hours im gonna be very restless all the time and like you said im gonna need to visit the restroom very often.

  175. Ilario

    My name is Ilario, I’m italian, and I live in Caserta, near Naples.
    Usually, when I go at the University, especially when I’m in the class, looks like that everything is moving, and my fear it becomes very strong. But now I feel much better, I won against panic attacks without using Drugs.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Bravo Ilario 🙂

  176. md.tanbir mohsin

    sir! I am tanbir from India,I am suffering from panic attack for 2 years ,I read in bsc 2nd year,in rkmvu. I fear to give speech,seminars etc.at first I avoid to participate in cultural programs, I fear about audience. because of panic attack.please help me.

  177. Caroline

    This has helped me enormously, although I am still nervous about flying on Saturday! I know it’s all in my head just like I know it’ll only last a short time but it doesn’t stop me worrying! Thank you.

  178. Veronica

    Thank you so much for this article!! It is so accurate!! All of these points listed are exactly what I feel on the plane. I have a flight tomorrow morning and this has helped me a little! I am so scared I am crying, I hate flying! Thankfully I have been prescribed some pills to help me get through this.

  179. Mitul

    When I start to think the windows are closed, I feel suffocated and I feel like I can’t breathe in. For that reason, I got off from the bus couple of times before the destination. But in the plane I can’t do that, it’s a sealed place, that’s why I’m scared of my next trip.

  180. eileen mackey

    Excellent practical advice. I think you covered everything except the sobbing, lol.

    I had my first panic attack at the age of 25 and now 30 years later I still have them occasionally. Mostly I tell myself, “Cut it out, you know this is just a stupid panic attack.” I also get up and move around, which seems to help, but hard to do on a plane.

  181. Kathryn

    I am so terrified of flying. At least in a vehicle traveling on ground it could easily be pulled over. My fear of flying is having a panic attack because a plane cannot “just pull over”.

    1. Vincent

      These are the same thoughts I have.

  182. Shruti Banka

    What do I do when I suffer a panic attack in flight?

  183. Michelle O'Lary

    Literally ran off a plane this morning in a full on anxiety attack. I am missing my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding because of this. I’m a very rational person. Yet I still didn’t sleep at all last night. Made it to the airport, through check in, on to the plane, in to my seat and then lost it completely. I was crying, sweating, shaking, short of breath. Had to escape. I am completely embarrassed. I don’t know why this happened other than everyone I think about being in a plane I’m overwhelmed by crushing fear.

  184. Michele kaiser

    My attacks are so bad the thought of flying gets me tingling jittery and I start to cry.

  185. Natalie

    Hi there
    I am currently in holiday and I had my first panic attack 6 days ago while here.
    I’ve suffered with anxiety for a while now but never had a full blown panic attack before.
    It has really scared me, I felt like I was going to die. The one comfort was knowing a hospital was there if I needed it.
    Now I’m due to fly back home tomorrow night and Im getting so worried about having a panic attack on the plane, not being able to get off the plane and the fact that no medical help is available.
    I’m a nervous flyer anyway so always have cbt workbook with me and things to help that but I’m worried it won’t be enough to stop another panic attack.

  186. Sardar

    I have fear of long flight and I’m travling end of this month, last year I had panic attack in plane and after that I’m not able to travel in plane.
    I need my family member to come with me to keep my mind busy, make conversation, giving me courage but honestly it’s v hard difficult to request them they all are Bzy in their own lifes.
    Can anyone advice plz

  187. Kay

    Great article!

    I’ve had panic disorder for 10 years now. I went through CBT and it got my life back on track. I haven’t been on meds for 3 years now and hardly have anxiety. BUT! I am not immune to it. My mind still goes off and I fear having another panic attack. You know what always helps me 100% of the time? Reading articles on panic disorder. It reminds me that I’m not alone and that everything I’m feeling is fine to feel. I embrace the fear and in time it goes away.
    Good luck everyone.

  188. Loria Ann Thomas

    Twice I’ve had a severe panic attack on a bus. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My breath became short ‘n wispy. I sweated profusely. the a/c was not working properly. I wanted to get off the bus immediately and just get fresh air. Does that classify as a panic attack?

  189. Hanna

    Hi. I need booze to calm my attacks. I know it is not the solution. But what can I do?

  190. Danielle

    I really need your help getting over my fear of flying. I have panic attacks bad and I dont know if I can get on an airplane and fly for hours.

  191. Vincent

    I’ll be taking my first plane ride ever this December. I’ve been dealing with panic attacks and been on medication since I was 16, I’m 27 now. I think what worries me the most about flying is not being in control of the situation and knowing that if something happened to me that we’re in the air with nothing around. Anyone have any tips for me? Thanks

  192. Jacob Flaherty

    I am 34 years old and have been offered a free trip to join a church group from the U.S. to Israel and am scared stiff. I really want to go, but I really worry about take-off. I don’t love heights, but I think I worry more about falling than heights. I also don’t like feeling trapped on a plane; I can never eat on a plane because I worry – what if I choke? Nobody could help me and I’d die. (So irrational, but real to me…) Anyway, my mind’s been racing since I’ve been given this offer. I’ve watched tons of Youtube videos of planes taking off, and I keep thinking that this might help, but it doesn’t seem to be.

    What can I do?

  193. vijay

    Hi Tim

    Just want to know do panic attacks cause heart disease when i am old? I am 30 now. I suffer from panic attacks but i also excercise regularly.

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Good question Vijay – you might find this info helpful.

  194. anastasia

    Love this website. I’m sooooooooo happy I found it.

  195. Maria

    This article read my mind pretty much word for word! You covered all aspects of what I fear on planes, especially the not being able to access the toilet during the ‘seatbelt signal’ or not to mention the air hostesses blocking it with their trolly! It gave me so much ease knowing I’m not the only one! And you know what? I’ve traveled so many times at this stage, even on long haul flights and ya know what? I never had a panic attack *Touches wood. But it’s completely the idea of having one (because I do suffer from them) on a plane that freaks me out! The worry, the build up – driving me crazy! But I know it’ll be chill as ever when I fly next week 🙂 Thanks for your article it really really helped!

  196. Meg

    Hi there! My panic attacks began in my first year of uni and began whilst taking the tram (here in Bordeaux it’s a busy one to get to school – you’re talking 25 mins of being crammed against the door or another person)! Anyway at worst I couldn’t go out and over the years I’ve gradually learned to live with it (typically avoiding trams trains and planes – buses aren’t a problem oddly) and lately realised that I no longer notice if I have my anti stress meds with me when I go out and haven’t had a panic attacks in ages (naturally avoiding the things that make me panic helps a lot.. buuut I don’t want to live like that anymore. Therefore I recently decided to take the train as it was least scary being quite quiet, took the first one with my sister was scary at first but then okay and the second one on my own which lead to an initial little panic sensation but I was able to phone my sister who calms me and then was just fine. Now my biggest aim (given that I am actually aspiring to a life of travelling and seeing as much of the world as I can before settling down – unfortunate as it is in the circumstances) I’m planning on getting a plane. It would be a shortish one lasting an hour all in all going to Paris but I’m terrified and pretty convinced I’ll fail. I’ve read your post and it’s reassuring but unfortunately up there i know I can’t think rationally. My biggest fear is not having oxygen and feeling like I can’t breathe.. and quite frankly feeling like I’m dying. Any tips? Sorry for the long message !!

    1. Tim Benjamin

      Hi Meg – you’ll be glad to know there is LOADS of oxygen in a plane. In fact the air is completely changed about every 3 minutes or so. Meanwhile, the crew also have oxygen tanks and masks which they can use to help a passenger who’s having breathing problems.

  197. Sarah

    I think that my panic attacks stem from knowing that if something did happen on the plane, especially if it was happening to me, that I can’t get out of it. They can’t just land a plane in the ocean. I am also claustrophobic and just being in that tiny, condensed space for too long freaks me out.

  198. Vesna

    I feel l am losing my mind and that l will end in a mental hospital, l tremble, vormit and think l wil die-actually l do want to die just so l don’t lose my mind … l used to fly with plane for 24 hours now l cannot imagine 5 minutes in a plane…l will probably run and scream in the plane until they stop the plane so l can GET OUT. So embarrassing. PLEASE someone who has been through this HELP ME. I have not been anywhere with plane for 20 years… l want to fly again but l’m too scared of my fobya and panic attacks. 😢😢😢

  199. Dawn

    I am totally loving this information. It makes me feel so much more empowered! Thank you for this article!

  200. Pao

    Every time I think about getting on a plane my heart rate picks up and I start freaking out, after a minute or two I realize there is nothing to be afraid of but when I actually get on the plane I start freaking out mentally and overthinking everything

  201. Charlotte

    My panic attack start when I need air and can’t open window on airaplane as there is none what can I do to control this

  202. Jodie

    I’m going to Benidorm in 3 weeks and I’m panicking about having a panic attack on the plane…because we will be thousands of feet up in the air and we will be in a small space…if I did have a panic attack…would the air hostesses know what to do??

  203. Mirene

    I pretty much fear to have a panic attack where it gets so hard to breath that I stop breathing and there wouldn’t be anyone able to help in a long fly. Another one is when I was younger my anxiety disorder get me to think that I wasn’t able to swallow anything (even my own saliva) without havingested a sip of water for a whole week and I did acted on my irrational fear actions, that was the first time I got my anxiety disorder and I wasn’t able to control it. So when I think on expending so much time in a plane where the right medical aid can’t arrive, just by thinking on it, I got worried that I am going to have a major panic attack and then I am going to die.

  204. Amber orozco

    Hello! I have severe anxiety and panic attacks I’m 32 and have been in xanax for 12 years. I have to fly tomorrow and do a 3 hour drive before the flight and traveling is what gives me the worst anxiety but mine is different I get worked up to the point my hands and feet get stuck so the best way to describe this is I can’t move my limbs are actually stuck and I feel like I’m having a heart attack. I was rushed to the ER all 3xs this has happened to me (these were my severe cases) and they had to give me oxygen and told me to calm down or I would pass out but then my body would reset but I NEVER PASS OUT so I’m stuck like that for over an hour each time and it comes so quick 1 min I’m fine and within 20 seconds I’m physically paralyzed and I’m not exaggerating the doctors say my limbs cramp up and stop working because they don’t get oxygen which is dangerous HELP WHAT DO I DO. My father in law is dieing and my husband hasn’t seen him in 13 years because of my fear to fly or be alone with the kids and my kids have never met my husbands family in Mexico PLEASE HELP I have to get in the car and do this long drive tomorrow and 8 hour flight total with a 2 hour overlay

  205. Poppy

    My panic attack will start as soon as the plane leaves as I can’t get off the plane, I am scared if something happens to me I am stuck on the plane.

  206. Michael smith

    When I get on a plane I feel trapped knowing I can’t get off feel clostaphobic then panick

  207. Corey Coley

    One of my biggest fears is closed spaces and the inability to move freely for things such as fresh air. A small confined (packed) plane is a little nerve racking

Leave a Comment

By commenting I agree with the terms of use.