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Tips for Coping with a Panic Disorder

By: Guest Blogger Rachel  Gribling 

anxiety panic DBTOne of the most common misconceptions about patients suffering from anxiety and panic disorder is that a “trigger” – the thing or person that is the source of that individual’s anxiety – must be present in order to cause him or her to experience a panic disorder. In reality, many patients actually suffer from the fear of having a panic attack. They fear experiencing “fear”.

Understanding the nature of your symptoms and how to cope with them are the two best ways to prevent the onset of a panic attack. The following coping strategies below were given to me by a former counsellor, and I found them beneficial in my struggle to put my “disorder” into perspective. I hope others suffering from anxiety and panic disorder will find these tips encouraging and beneficial as well.

Coping Strategies


To Cope

Racing thoughts: Feeling unreal or depersonalized is due to “racing thoughts”. Brain waves can cycle very rapidly in situations that require “quick thinking.” When thinking is converted into action people have a sense of being in charge. If the source of danger in unclear, thinking has no place to go and people feel “trapped “ in their heads. Think: Racing fearful thoughts will not “drive you crazy.”

Act: Refocusing on your surroundings or even on troubling sensations will help you feel more real and connected to yourself.

Re-label unreal feelings as a natural consequence of brooding.

     Physical symptoms of panic: Poor memory, indecision and loss of confidence come from a mind over crowded with brooding. Little energy is available for making decisions or remembering routine details. These symptoms can be worse in the morning when blood sugar is low. You may have gone to bed the night before hoping to wake up a new person and then despair at being your same old self. People begin to wonder, “Will I ever be normal again?” Think: “I am not losing my mind.” As you learn to manage symptoms, thinking will become clearer and confidence will return. Be easy on yourself and appreciate little accomplishments.

Act: You may need anti-depressant medication to “jump start” your system if you have become with-drawn and have little motivation to do anything,

Re-label symptoms as the natural consequence of brooding and early morning blues.


It’s important to remember that panic attacks and anxiety do not make you a “crazy person”. You are not defined by your disorder. Instead, see your disorder as part of a long road – the learning process – and view these tips as sign posts, guiding you to a place of balance. We all need helpful tips, whether that be for exam studying or career counselling. Anxiety disorder is no different. When we start to view anxiety as a learning process, rather than a hindrance to daily life, we then can begin to see improvement.

My name is Rachel and This is Where I Stand.

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