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Advice and Counselling Service

Panic attacks

What are panic attacks? 

Someone having a panic attack experiences a sudden and intense sensation of fear. They may feel they have lost control and feel desperate to get out of the situation that has triggered their anxiety. Symptoms of panic attack include: 

  • rapid breathing 
  • feeling breathless 
  • sweating 
  • feeling sick, faint or dizzy 
  • racing heart or irregular heartbeat (palpitations) 

The symptoms of a severe panic attack can feel quite similar to a heart attack and so our response is understandably intense.

Ways to support yourself 

During a panic attack, the NHS advises the following: 

  • do not fight it 
  • stay where you are, if possible 
  • breathe slowly and deeply 
  • remind yourself that the attack will pass 
  • focus on positive, peaceful and relaxing images 
  • remember it's not life threatening

Ongoing support: 

  • Learn about breathing and grounding techniques to help you manage your anxiety and panic attacks if they happen again 
  • Think about reducing things which tend to exacerbate feelings of panic including sugar, caffeine and alcohol 
  • Reach out for support - it may be helpful to contact your GP if your level of stress feels unmanageable and you are concerned about your mental health. You can also contact us to speak to someone one-to-one for support with exam stress. 

Specialist organisations 

No Panic UK offers advice and support for people managing anxiety disorders including those who experience panic attacks  


For more detailed information about the symptoms of panic attacks and ways to respond to them. 


Read more about the advice from the NHS on how to manage panic. 

Further Resource

There are a number of books addressing anxiety issues available in the library through our Bibliotherapyscheme including the following: 

  • Manage your Mind 
  • Panic attacks, what they are, why they happen and what you can do about them 
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