What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a rush of intense physical and mental symptoms.  They can be very scary and come on quickly for no apparent reason.  There are many signs of an attack, which may include:

  • A Sense that something bad is going to happen
  • Your heartbeat quickening
  • Your breath becoming shorter and faster

What can you do when you feel an attack coming?

A typical panic attack can last between five and thirty minutes, but some have been known to last up to an hour.  They can happen very occasionally or a few times a week.

  • If you feel able to let a colleague/friend know (you may find it useful to let them know you have panic attacks before you have one so you can let them know what does or doesn’t help when they happen)
  • Breathing techniques, slow calm breathing can help to steady your nervous system.
  • Don’t fight the attack, remember the attack will pass.
  • Try a grounding technique such as the 54321 method.

How can you prevent further attacks?

  • Exercising regularly helps to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Try relaxing therapies such as yoga or aromatherapy
  • Daily breathing exercises
  • A healthy diet avoiding alcohol and caffeine, as they are known to increase feelings of anxiety
  • Talking to a counsellor about your feelings

Try to be kind and patient towards yourself, this is a struggle and it’s not your fault.


Helen Lyon is a qualified counsellor, offering one to one counselling sessions with individuals aged 18 + in South Bristol.