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First time panic attack

About 8 weeks ago i quit my high pressure job in the travel industry, due to becoming very stressed. Just hating the day to day stuff and really wanting more happiness.  I wanted more from my life and really feeling like i was wasting it by going to a job i hated every single day. So since then ive been living off my savings, i have a very supportive partner that i live with so my personal life is great.  

About 2 weeks ago i noticed that i was becoming edgy at strange times, like lining up at the shops i would feel a bit light headed and would tap my feet to distract myself. In heavy traffic, i would feel a bit tight in my chest and would turn up the air con.  I figured that it was my diet, or i hadnt eaten enough that day.  


The daunting fact has been in the back of my mind that i will have to get a job again soon, that i am running out of money, and then bam, something went wrong with my car and it was going to zap up my whole savings. i felt really bummed about it and it was stressful, but i knew it was something i could handle and that it would all work out okay.


So after i picked up my car yesterday, i felt fine, was stopped at the lights and suddenly felt really dizzy, and i was sure i was going to pass out.  I had to swerve into a nearby parking lot, my heat was beating out of my chest, i was panting like id just run a marathon, my hands were shaking and felt numb at the same time and i felt so dizzy. i could swear that i was about to pass out.  I had to call my partner to come and rescue me as after 20 mins i still couldnt drive and kept crying and saying Why is this happening?? I went home, slept for 2 hours, woke up and i was so lethargic, i couldnt do anything but try to breathe properly and slump on the couch.  

I woke up this morning and still feel horrible.  I forced myself to walk across the road to the supermarket to buy washing powder, and while staring into shelves the panic feeling returned, i felt dizzy and practically ran home.  


When i explained this to my mum, she said it was a panic attack. She has been medicated for anxiety attacks for around 15 years, and my grandmother also.  I am so petrified i will end up like my mum.  I am around the same age that she was when she had a full blown nervous breakdown and i dont know what to do.  I feel like im never going to be able to go in public again or drive a car again - and im a totally normal person who was so independant and capable before this!!

Am i supposed to see a doctor?  i really dont want to be medicated like my mum but at the same time, i NEVER want this to happen to me again


Re: First time panic attack

Hi Miss J, welcome to Reach Out!


I just wanted to say good on you for recognising that something's not right and reaching out for help here on RO. That can be a pretty difficult thing to do when you're stressed and unsure about what to do, so I just wanted to say good on you for that Smiley Happy


I suffer from panic attacks myself, so I could relate to a lot of what you said in your post. I've experienced all the symptoms you mentioned and had panic attacks in similar places, so you're definitely not alone there! I can understand your worries about your life changing as a result of your panic attacks or ending up like your Mum. It can be really scary. The fact that you've asked for help is definitely a step in the right direction though! Smiley Happy


I can also understand your concern of not wanting to be medicated like your Mum and Grandma, I had the same concerns when I first sought help, despite having no family history of anxiety disorders. If this is something that you feel strongly about, as I did, then you can simply say to your doctor that you don't wish to try medication - my experience is that they won't force the issue if you say you don't want to try medication.


As for whether you should see a doctor, that is your decision, but I went to see mine about my anxiety and found it extremely helpful. However there are also plenty of ways that you can access support, help and ideas about beating anxiety online, including here on Reach Out, Kids HelplineHeadspaceBeyond Blue (and Youth Beyond Blue). Kids Helpline and Headspace offer counselling (Online, Telephone and Email), and Headspace and the 2 Beyond Blue sites have a lot of information available about anxiety. Personally I have used all 4 and found them all useful in helping me to deal with my anxiety. Some strategies that I use to deal with my anxiety in the moment are slowing down and focusing my breathing, using grounding techniques (I especially like the second one on that list), mindfulness practice, reframing my thoughts/ reminding myself that what I'm feeling is just anxiety and will pass, and moving around/ tapping/ fiddling to use up the extra energy. I also thought you might like to check out the All about panic attacks fact sheet if you haven't seen it already.


All the best,


DD Smiley Happy

Re: First time panic attack

Hey Miss J 


Welcome to the forums and Its terrible that this happened to you, it must have been such a scary experience but I admire your courage because you are looking for ways to get better and you are looking for help and that is so important. 


DD has given you so much awesome information on how to help you through this which is amazing. All I can say to you is that something horrible happened to you but as you said you are independent and capable. You are also strong and do not let this stop you from being the person you are. Building coping strategies are important so IF  it were to happen again you are prepared. I know its hard to be positive because it's so overwhelming but we have faith in you and you should have faith in yourself. 


Self care is really important and doing things everyday to make you happy can really make you more positive. 


Be strong and take care 

**Believe in the power of you because you are your own hero**

Re: First time panic attack

Following on from delictedreamer's response, it would be a good idea to see a GP just so you can rule out any other possible medical issues. Dizziness can be a symptom of a few things, but your doctor should be able to confirm it for you.


Panic attacks suck, I've had them too, but there are techniques you can learn to manage them and they don't necessarily require medication. Just acknowledging that you're having one is incredibly powerful, so over time you can recognise them at the onset and calm yourself down to avoid them.

Re: First time panic attack

Hi Miss J,


I wonder how you are going with your panic attacks (if any)  since writing your letter?


I agree with the other contributors, that definitely see a GP about this- to rule out any other problems, and a general check up is good for everyone.


I too, have suffered panic attacks, and while I thought they occurred out of the blue and for no reason, looking back at those periods of my life, I was not coping emotionally with many things.


If panic attacks are left untreated, they may occur repetitively for months or even years- so the idea is to seek help immediately.


Panic attacks are the body's normal "alarm system" (the set of mental and physical mechanisms that allows a person to respond to a threat) triggering unnecessarily, when there is NO danger. Scientists don't know exactly why this happens or why some people are more susceptible to the problem than others.


You mention family heredity- Panic attacks can run in families, however many people who have no family history of the disorder develop it.


You also mention leaving your last job due to not coping with the everyday things- Some people who develop panic attacks  have a history of what is known as 'anxiety sensitivity', so try to work on general coping techniques.



What you can do-


-Seek a doctor's opinion

-There are plenty of medications available these days - discuss this with your GP for what is appropriate (if anything) for you

-Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and illicit drugs which can worsen panic attacks.

- Eat well, take vitamin supplements (some studies have shown zinc and magnesium deficiency may lead to panic attacks, however always seek advice from your GP when taking nutritional supplements).

-Engage in aerobic exercise and stress-management techniques like deep breathing, massage therapy, and yoga.

-Seek a counsellor that suits you ,and new ideas on coping mechanisms (websites, forums)


Delicate dreamer has some great advice about grounding and reframing.



While it is great that you have a supportive partner, remember to keep a balance in your life - go out for a coffee or see a movie with a friend. If you are worried about having a panic attack, tell your friend, I am sure they will be supportive.


Reunhonx mentioned self care, and Relax- if you can't afford a holiday, go to the beach, read a book, grab a DVD.


Also setting a specific time to write out your worries may be helpful. But once you have set the time (e.g journal-twenty minutes- one afternoon) that is it for the day. This may help you confront any fears that are lingering in the back of your mind, while not overthinking things.



Best of luck, hope this was helpful, and hope to read how you are going.



Binki Smiley Happy