Mental Health

How to Handle a Panic Attack at Work

how to handle a panic attack at work

“I am having a panic attack at work. What should I do?” If you have ever experienced panic attacks at work, or have dealt with anxiety for some time, you will be familiar with the suddenness of these panic attacks. It happens when you are at work and doing your job, suddenly a feeling of panic strikes. You feel your heart beat faster, your sweat is thicker, and it’s hard to breathe. What can you do? Here are some tips to help you deal with panic attacks at work.

Panic Attacks at Work: Causes

Panic attacks are a sudden, overwhelming feeling of fear and anxiety that happens without any obvious cause. Although panic attacks are not dangerous, they can cause serious problems in your life.

Not only is there a lot of work, but also panic attacks from stress-related events like conflict or public speaking.

You might feel the following symptoms during a panic attack:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Chest pains or choking
  • Trembling, shaking
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hot flashes and sudden chills
  • Toe and finger tingling, or pins-and-needles sensations
  • Fear of death

Most panic attacks are a single event. Many people experience only one or two of these in their lives. If you have frequent panic attacks at work or elsewhere, you should seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment. Our Massachusetts treatment center can provide mental health treatment including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that will help you to manage your symptoms.

Tips to Handle a Panic Attack at work

A panic attack at work can be triggered by stress. Your boss keeps adding more items to your to-do list and you have already worked overtime three times this week. It can be worse because you are at work, not at home where it is possible to lie on the couch or in bed.

It is important to find somewhere quiet and comfortable to rest when you are experiencing panic attacks. You can take a break from a meeting, or other stressful situation by going outside and taking a breather.

You can text your colleague to let them that you are not feeling well. They will be able to tell you when you will return. These tips will help you deal with a panic attack at work if you are alone and in a calm place.

1. Take control of your breathing

To avoid stimulation, close your eyes and focus on slow, deep breaths. For four seconds, breathe in through your nose and then exhale through the mouth. This will slow down your heart rate and help you relax. Continue doing this until you feel calmer.

Rapid breathing can also contribute to panic attacks and fear. It’s important that you work on your breathing first. Sit down and hold your head between your legs until you feel dizzy.

2. Practice Mindfulness

Panic attacks can cause anxiety and make you feel anxious. It’s important that you take deep breaths and challenge yourself. Anxiety and panic often result from worrying about the future or the past, which can distract you from the present. Mindfulness is the opposite.

You may feel panicky at work if you suddenly panic. Take control of your breathing and think about why. Is there something that caused it? Is it really the end of the world? Is there any danger to you?

You can stop panic attacks by challenging thoughts that are based on fear. Mindfulness can be both physical and visual. Focusing on the sensations and other things that you feel or hear can bring you back into the present.

3. Imagine a peaceful and happy place

Let’s face it, we all have our limits. We don’t often think of work as a peaceful and happy place. To help you cope with panic attacks at work, visualize a relaxing place such as the beach or a hike, a lake or mountains. Imagine yourself in that place and take note of as many details as you can. How would it smell? What would it feel like to be blown by the wind? Is it hot or cold?

Another option is to be with someone who makes you happy. Imagine hugging your spouse and children. Imagine sharing laughter with a friend.

4. Take a break

Tell your boss if you feel unwell and ask for a 10- to 15-minute break. Do not look at your phone, get a cup or go outside. You can’t get out of the situation, or take 15 minutes to step away. Close your eyes and take five minutes at your desk.

You can also go to the toilet and rest there. If you are struggling to feel better, you could go home and take a rest for the rest of the day.

5. Make a call to a loved one

Sometimes all we need is a familiar voice to help us deal with panic attacks at work. If you have the time, tell them how you feel and ask them about their day. You’ll feel calmer by the end of the conversation.

How to Avoid a Panic Attack at work

There are some things you can do to avoid panic attacks at work if you suffer from panic disorder.

  • To avoid feeling overwhelmed, keep your life organized
  • You should wake up early so that you have enough time to prepare for the day.
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Get lots of water
  • Don’t skip meals
  • If you are able, take regular breaks
  • Light exercise can be done, such as pacing or moving your arms upward and downward.
  • You can try a muscle relaxation technique. Hold the tension for five second, then relax for 10 seconds.
  • Find out your triggers
  • Don’t skip your medication

Assistance for Panic Disorders and Anxiety

The Anxiety and Depression Society of America estimates that 6.7 million Americans have panic disorder. This group includes women twice as likely as men to have a panic disorder.

Anxiety and panic disorders can also be more common in those with a history of anxiety. You can get help for occasional panic attacks or more frequent panic attacks. All In Solutions Massachusetts provides residential mental health services for all types of mental disorders.

To ensure patients receive the best possible treatment, our team uses evidence-based modalities. You or your loved one can learn how best to manage their mental illness and live a full life.

Call All In Solutions Treatment Centers at 855-762-3796 for more information on our addiction treatment and mental health services.


  1. ADAA – Understanding Anxiety And Depression

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