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What do I do when I have panic attacks at work?

17 Answers
Last Updated: 09/21/2020 at 5:44pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
Moderated by

Jui Shankar, Ph.D


My worldview offers a systems perspective that values diverse clients and their struggles. I believe supportive and nonjudgmental therapeutic relationships empower clients.

Top Rated Answers
September 1st, 2015 12:53pm
It's not your job to bring the panic attack to an end; that will happen no matter what you do. Your job now is to see if you can make yourself a little more comfortable, while you wait for the attack to end.Here are a few techniques that I have researched that people have said are effective. Belly Breathing Regardless of what else you do, do belly breathing. It's also known as diaphragmatic breathing, but I think "belly breathing" is more descriptive. Many people think they know how to do deep breathing, but don't do it correctly, so they don't get good results. A good belly breathing technique is a very powerful tool in the work of overcoming panic attacks! How to Talk to Yourself Talk to yourself (silently!) about what is happening, and what you need to do. One question my patients find very helpful is this: is it Danger or Discomfort?. Some of the other responses my patients like include the following: 1. Fine, let's have an attack! It's a good chance to practice my coping techniques. 2. Answer your "what if...?" fears by saying "So what? I'll get afraid, then calm down again." 3. It's okay to be afraid. Get Involved in the Present People don't panic in the present. People panic when they imagine something bad happening to them in the future or in the past. This is why your panic attacks are almost always accompanied by some "what if...?" thought. If a dog just bit my leg, I don't say "what if a dogbite?". The reason you say "what if...?" is because what you fear is not actually happening! Get back into the activity you were engaged in prior to the attack, and become involved with the people and objects around you. If you're in a store, resume shopping, reading labels, comparing prices, asking questions, etc. It will move you closer to your goal of overcoming panic attacks when you bring your focus and energy back to the present environment. By this I mean, work with what is around you. Work with Your Body Identify, and relax, the parts of your body that get most tense during a panic attack. This typically involves first tensing, and then relaxing, the muscles of your jaw, neck, shoulders, back and legs. Do not allow yourself to stand rigid, muscles tensed, and holding your breath. That just makes you feel worse! If you feel like you "can't move a muscle", start with just one finger! That's "Actions (to make myself more comfortable)". How does that compare with what you usually do during a panic attack? Repeat This step is here because you might start feeling better, then feel another wave of panic. Your first reaction might then be to think "Oh No, it didn't work!". The Repeat step is here to remind you that it's OK if that happens. Just take it from the top again. It's not unusual or dangerous. You may go through several cycles, and you just need to repeat the AWARE steps again, as often as you need.
September 15th, 2015 2:59am
When I have panic attacks at school or at work, what I do at first is hold it back until I get to a place where I can be alone until it passes. If such a place is not attainable or is not the best solution given the circumstances, I either meditate and take deep and drawn out breaths or I confront the source of the thing that is causing me distress head on. Just remember that a panic attack is just a moment and it will pass.
March 22nd, 2016 9:00pm
4,6,8 method. breathe(through your nose) in for 4 sec. hold for 6 sec. breath out of mouth for 8 sec
March 18th, 2015 2:33am
Try to take yourself out of the siutation you are currently in. try to make it to a seperate room or even a bathroom. Through experience I like to lay on the ground so I would find a space I could do that. Also try breathing into your hands to breath in the CO2. Hope that helps!
June 21st, 2016 4:04pm
I have had experience with panic attacks at work. Generally for me I will try to remove myself from the "public" work area or wherever the situation happened, and go somewhere I can be alone for a few minutes. Somewhere like a bathroom or a filing room, for example. I can then breathe, try to relax, and calm myself down. In my mind, I go through what caused the panic attack and try to figure out how I can address the situation so that I can calm down. I also find it extremely helpful to call someone close to me and tell them what happened. This is a way to work out the situation out loud while also getting support from a loved one.
March 6th, 2015 6:30pm
I go to the bathroom at my school and just breathe, if it lasts to long id consider taking the day off. Good luck.
May 12th, 2015 11:01pm
Take deep breathes get some water and get to a area you can sit down get some air. If this happens often seek some professional help about this issue to see why you are having panic attacks at work.
June 2nd, 2015 4:10am
Just take deep breaths, find a place to be alone, somewhere away from commotion. Take 5-10 minutes for yourself, if you can ask someone to take your place, but if you can't, don't worry about it, your health comes first. Think positive relaxing thoughts, maybe even carry a stress ball in your bag or a notepad to write down your feelings on.
June 4th, 2015 6:44pm
panic attacks are very serious, perhaps have someone that can calm you down or make you feel safe. if not step away from whatever you are doing and take deep breaths, try to do things that make you feel safe and relaxed. don't worry about anything and just try to make yourself feel better, you are the most important thing!
June 14th, 2015 9:37pm
I've been dealing with panic attacks for a long time now. Even though I'm a student, I had panic attacks at class various times. If I can collect myself, I usually excuse myself and someone I trust, stating that I think I have a panic attack and there's no reason to worry. I find that fresh air helps. I sit down in the grass, try to feel the grass, the plants, the earth under my palms, and try to do some breath exercises. It's important to me that someone's there, beside me, and I like it when someone talks to me, even if I can't quite piece the words together. I know that panic attacks come and go, but certainly don't last forever, so my tactic is to just wait it out. :)
June 29th, 2015 7:35pm
If you have someone you can trust, let them know that you're having one. It's so much easier when there's someone around to help you out. Try breathing exercises, and take the rest of the day easy
August 24th, 2015 8:31am
There are various things you could do, but it's mostly about what you feel would be most helpful. You could try deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, distractions, daydreaming about relaxing imagery, etc. If you fear that your coworkers might notice you having a panic attack then you could go into a bathroom stall and stay there until the panic attack goes away. If the panic attacks are very severe to the point that nothing helps then there's also professional therapy or medication.
January 5th, 2016 5:56pm
If you are someone who suffers from panic attacks at work it is a very good idea to notify your boss that this happens, this goes for students at school too. If the right people are aware of this, then you can leave the situation and go to the bathroom or somewhere you find safe to calm down. In terms of just calming down itself, it all comes down to acceptance . Be aware that you can't control the rush of adrenaline, accept it is there, try and come to terms with the fact that the feeling itself cannot cause you physical pain.
July 26th, 2016 6:12pm
Just sit somewhere peaceful and try to relax. Remember - Ignoring your panic attack never helps. If relaxing doesn't help then try to someone you trust.
February 20th, 2018 12:35pm
Take some time out to breathe - take a step back from work for a few minutes and pace yourself. Drink some water, sit down and just breathe. :)
March 19th, 2018 12:42am
If you had a panic attack at work, you can excuse yourself from the work your doing and seeking a quiet place to help calm you down, going to get some water as well as walk around a little.
September 21st, 2020 5:44pm
You can play on of your favorite songs in your head. This makes you focus on the song instead of the panic attack. You could also try focusing on your breathing. You could use the 4-7-4 method. Breathe in for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds and breathe out for eight seconds. You do this until you feel that you are through your panic attack. I know that during these we do not think about what to do and it can be scary. Just remember that we are here for you if you ever need to talk. I hoped this has helped.