Panic Disorder & Recommendations to Stop Panic Attacks

Do you experience attacks that occur suddenly when you least expect it and cause you to feel fear and panic along with physical symptoms such as chest tightness, shortness of breath, palpitations for a few minutes that seem like eternity, and are you constantly worried about the possibility of these attacks recurring? If so, you may have a type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder.


Panic attacks are sudden, recurrent bouts of fear and dread lasting a few minutes (average 10 minutes). Panic attacks are characterized by the fear of experiencing a disaster or losing control when there is no real danger.During a panic attack, people may think they are having a heart attack or stroke, are losing their minds, or are on the brink of death. People with panic disorder do not know when panic attacks will occur. Most of the time they worry about when and where the next attack might occur. The anxiety of having a panic attack again can be so strong that it prevents people from driving and, in extreme cases, even leaving their homes. People may not be able to perform daily routines such as going to school, work or the market, or driving a car. If left untreated, panic disorder greatly reduces the quality of life.


People with panic disorder experience strong physical symptoms during panic attacks. The frequency and severity of panic attacks can vary from person to person.

– Sudden and recurrent panic attacks

– Fear of losing control and dying during a panic attack

Physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, tremors, shortness of breath, weakness, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the hands, chest pain, stomach pain or nausea during a panic attack

– Intense and persistent worry about when the next panic attack will occur

– Avoiding places where panic attacks have occurred in the past


Panic attacks are based on the brain going into fight or flight mode when there is no dangerous situation. In situations of real danger, the fight-and-flight response is a necessary response to our survival. People with panic disorder interpret harmless sensations in their bodies as dangerous. Thereupon, the brain goes into survival mode in response to the perceived danger, and some changes occur in the body (such as palpitations, sweating, inability to breathe). For example, the acceleration of the heartbeat while doing sports may cause the person to think that they are having an attack. Because during a panic attack, the heartbeat accelerates in a similar way. As thoughts such as “Something is wrong with my body” dominate, anxiety gradually rises and peaks. After a few minutes of peak anxiety, the body gradually returns to normal. However, since people do not want to experience this experience again, they become more sensitive to changes in their bodies. In order to avoid re-experiencing panic attacks, they can take precautions such as staying away from situations, people and actions they have experienced before, not using public transportation, and not leaving the house at the expense of disrupting their lives. Panic attacks themselves are very intense and traumatic experiences.

Panic disorder is seen in 3-4% of the society. Although genetic and biological factors predispose some people to anxiety and panic reactions, it is the environmental factors and traumatic experiences of the people who cause panic disorder from the past to the present. When we look at the past history of panic disorder cases, it is seen that it is frequently encountered in individuals who grow up in an overly oppressive, prescriptive, perfectionist environment where tension can arise at any time. Individuals who are prone to anxiety disorder due to biological and/or environmental factors may begin to experience panic attacks in their adult lives after a triggering stressful event such as loss, separation, accident, injury. Although the attacks may occur out of the blue at first, the person may become hypersensitive to the symptoms in the body and cause new attacks.


If you have experiences similar to the panic attacks described above and your doctor says that no physical problem is causing your symptoms and your condition is psychological, psychological support is required.


EMDR is a safe and proven psychotherapy in the treatment of panic attacks. According to EMDR, as in many psychological disorders, behind the panic disorder are memories that are dysfunctional, traumatic, and stored without being processed in the memory. Negative beliefs such as “I am not in control, I am in danger” related to panic attacks that people are experiencing, disturbing bodily reactions such as chest tightness, not being able to breathe, feelings of panic and fear are the present manifestations of past traumatic experiences. Panic attacks occur when stressful factors in the current situation trigger past traumatic memories and dysfunctional beliefs. Traumatic experiences and stressful life events experienced in the early period and locked in the nervous system come together and cause panic disorder.

EMDR has special protocols used in anxiety disorders and panic disorder. EMDR work is planned in three phases: past, present and future. . Early period traumatic experiences that cause panic attacks, current triggering situations, panic attack experiences are detected, desensitized and reprocessed with EMDR, and preparations are made for the goals that are desired to be achieved in the future. EMDR processes the disturbing thoughts, feelings and body sensations of traumatic experiences, allowing memories to be stored in a more functional way. Thus, the client can look at traumatic memories more calmly, and panic attack symptoms disappear. Clients develop more positive and functional beliefs about themselves, others, the world, and the future.


The best way to stop panic attacks is to get good psychological support. The following suggestions may be useful for a short time for attacks before starting this treatment or during the treatment process.

1. Know and remind yourself that your panic attacks are a stress response. If you can achieve this, you may be able to stop the panic attack.

2. Use relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation.

3. When the panic attack starts, the increasing negative thoughts make the panic attack worse. Focus on the negative thoughts that this will pass in minutes. Reducing negative thinking is an effective way to stop panic attacks.

4. Move. Movements such as going for a walk, swinging your arms and legs and dancing both release the excess energy accumulated in your body and distract you.

5. Get your life in order. Try to make stressful situations in your life calmer. Factors that seem simple, such as regular sleep, healthy eating, rest, and taking care of your self-care, make a big difference.

6. Panic attacks and panic disorder are indications that something is not right in your life. Find out what triggers your panic attack and what actually triggered your panic attacks. The important question to ask yourself is: Are the panic attacks an outcome of the stressors in your life, or are they an outcome of stress from past traumas? For some people, panic attacks are a lifelong affliction because they avoid dealing with painful memories of the past and finding a way to pass the discomfort. Panic attacks are not something you have to deal with forever. Get the psychological support you need from a trusted expert to work through the past experiences that are causing your current panic.

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