The Good Part of a Panic Attack

I hate horror movies.

I have never been able to understand why someone would find it entertaining to tease their mind with panic and fear.

There is far too much anxiety and fear toying with me on a daily basis to add any extra in for “fun.”
(Well – except for roller coasters. After a lifetime of being too afraid to get on one, I discovered that they ARE fun!)

Anxiety attacks have been a part of Susan’s life and my life for as long as we can remember, only no one had named them as “panic attacks”. We didn’t even really know that it wasn’t normal to throw up before tests or have our minds spin out of control with catastrophic thoughts.

It wasn’t until we were adults, diagnosed with depression and anxiety, that we could look back and see that anxiety had been with us all along. And we weren’t the only ones. Our other two siblings, our older brother and sister, suffer with them too.

When I got pregnant with my first child, my history with anxiety morphed into full blown, life consuming antenatal depression and anxiety. I discovered what it was like to not have control over my mind, to feel like I could no longer hold on.

In this last decade, I have had my share of panic attacks. And while they are not nearly as severe and terrifying as my twin sister Susan’s anxiety attacks, they are debilitating enough!

But a conversation I had with my older brother, when I had my first baby in my arms and my mind was a tornado of fears, has always stuck with me, promising me that I would make it through:

A panic attack is ultimately just fear of fear. It won’t kill us, even though we are often sure it will.

The panic attack WILL end.

Sure, we may pass out, throw up, etc., during it. But, as long as we can ensure that we are in a safe place and not able to harm ourselves, we WILL survive it. The tornado will not actually rip us apart.

And when it passes through, we will still be shaken, trembling. Our pain will still be real, our fears still plaguing us. But it won’t be as bad as it was in that horrible climax, the center of the attack.

For me, the most terrifying thing in life is fear. The whole, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” concept does nothing to encourage me because I am AFRAID OF FEAR!

What trips me into a panic attack is the fear that I will not be able to handle the pain of the future. Those fears are unbearable to me.

But even so, I force myself to remember, that the panic WILL end. The center of the anxiety attack will pass through and I will no longer be as afraid as I was during it. It won’t kill me. The good part of a panic attack is that it will end eventually.

PLEASE NOTE: If you suffer from anxiety and depression please talk to your doctor and get help! If you had a lump in your breast, you would go to the doctor and get help. So don’t deny yourself the medical attention you need for mental illness.

Also, just so you know, in order for Susan and me to be able to endure our panic attacks and live happy lives, we do NEED medication. We are both on medication for our depression and anxiety. Please do not feel ashamed or weak if you need medication. Cause really — who cares if your body requires medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc., or for mental illness?!? It is all just taking care of your body with the gifts of modern medicine.

Written by Janice Croze, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom.

Find me at: @5minutesformom, @janicecroze and


  1. says

    A therapist told me once that the natural course of panic is a quick burst of adrenaline that fades–if you don’t feed it with more adrenaline. I started thinking of this every time I’d have an attack: I’m in the worst of it now, in two minutes it will end. And it helped so much.

    It’s a little like labor that way. You talk yourself through a contraction and remind yourself it will be over soon. And that helps you bear it.

    Great post!

  2. says

    Thank you for talking openly and honestly about yours and your sister’s anxiety and depression. Women need to hear that it’s okay to seek medical attention and medication if the need arises. I was once on medication, but have been off for a few years now. So far, so good.

  3. says

    I too have learned to manage my panic attacks for the most part, but every once in a while I will have one with totally different symptoms from any I have had before. I usually end up with an expensive trip to the ER-wish they would just stay with the symptoms I know and can handle.

  4. says

    I’ve been working on posts regarding my panic attacks – telling my story and reflecting on them with some clarity.

    talking about it is always the best thing – and sadly, so many of us hide in shame over these sorts of things…

    love to you both!

  5. says

    Thanks so very much for bringing attention to this very real problem. Every time I hear someone jokingly say, “I nearly had a panic attack!” or something similar, I cringe. If only these people knew how the paralyzing fear actually feels.

    I have PTSD, severe anxiety and depression (courtesy of the trauma of my injury), and have had multiple panic attacks since. You really DO feel like you’re losing your mind. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Okay, I have no enemies, but ykwim.

    My latest panic attack was just yesterday — I blogged about it, in fact. I was very gratified to be told that actually what I was experiencing wasn’t all that uncommon in cases like mine.

    So, all of that to say, please, if you have these feelings, know that you are NOT alone, and that there is help out there.

  6. says

    As someone who has had to face and begin treatment for anxiety over the past year, I’m always grateful when people share their experiences. My feeling that the more of us who share, then less stigma (even self-imposed stigmas) will be attached to mental illness!!

    Needing medication is not a sign of weakness!!!

  7. says

    I also take medication for anxiety & panic attacks & it has helped me a lot. I have figured out for me one of the best things I can do when I think I feel one coming around is to “start walking”. I mean right then on the spot no matter what else I’m doing. Count your steps as you walk as it will help keep your mind focused on something else and can help prevent the attacks. It seems to help me anyway. If I’m already inside a panic attack I also make myself walk briskly I don’t care if it’s walking a circle it helps for some strange reason. I also find being in a well lit place place helps me a lot. I’m talking light up the room with flashlights or whatever you have on hand make it bright it will soothe you somehow.

  8. says

    Great approach! You’re right, Panic attacks will not kill or hurt you. Stop feeding them and they’ll lessen and then end much sooner.Thanks for sharing your experience with us.


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