“My Anxiety Is Killing Me”: How To Cope With Constant Panic Attacks

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Panic attacks, often defined as brief episodes of intense fear that may come with physical symptoms like chest pain and chills, can be frightening to experience and challenging to manage. You may gain more control over panic attacks by following the AWARE method, practicing grounding exercises, choosing not to react to the feelings of panic, getting to the root of your anxiety, building a support system, taking care of your physical health, meditating, and working with a licensed therapist that you trust. Online therapy platforms can be an excellent way to connect with a qualified therapist who can guide and support you in overcoming anxiety and panic attacks.

What is a panic attack?

panic attack is generally an episode of intense fear accompanied by intense physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, sweating, chills, and trembling or shaking. During a panic attack, it can be common for individuals to experience a sense of impending doom, like they are losing control or even dying. The physical symptoms can be intense and mimic the experience of a medical emergency; many people have mistaken panic attacks for heart attacks. If you are having constant panic attacks, please know that it can be normal to feel overwhelmed by what you are experiencing.

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Learn to take control of panic attacks

If you are experiencing frequent panic attacks, it may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. One of the best things to do may be to find a licensed therapist who can help you develop coping strategies and grounding methods for your specific situation. 


You may cope with a panic attack by being AWARE, which stands for:

  • A - Accept/Acknowledge
  • W - Wait
  • A - Act
  • R - Repeat
  • E - End

Each step can encourage you to focus on something other than the chaotic thoughts in your mind. By accepting and acknowledging that the attack is happening, you may regain control. When the panic attack occurs, you might choose to accept it rather than fight against it. 

Waiting before acting can refer to choosing not to act just for the sake of acting. This can involve allowing yourself time to formulate a successful plan before acting or reacting. Many calming methods require repetition to ground you so that the panic attack can reach a stopping point and end. This repetition could involve tapping your fingers a certain number of times or noticing 10 things in the room that you’re in. Panic attacks may all end whether you "help" them to do so or not, but having coping methods can shorten the duration and intensity of a panic attack. 


Grounding is generally defined as an anxiety technique that forces your mind to focus on a repetitive task, such as the 5-4-3-2-1 method. This uses the five senses and requires you to focus on the world outside your mind before repeating the action until your brain becomes distracted from the source of the panic attack. You may begin by focusing on five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. There are likely many grounding techniques that you may find beneficial when a panic attack hits.


Distract yourself

The key to stopping a panic attack is not to let things escalate in the first place. It's likely that you know the telltale signs as they start creeping in, so you may become more anxious as you notice these signs, which can serve to escalate the panic attack. As your adrenaline increases and you breathe faster, you may already be in panic mode, potentially making the attack more likely. You might find something to distract yourself until the panic has passed, like using the phone, cuddling a pet, doing mental exercises like grounding or deep belly breathing, or going outside for fresh air.

Seek help

"My anxiety is ruining my life. What should I do?" Everyone deserves help and support. Reaching out for help through professional therapy can go a long way toward stopping constant panic attacks. Therapy can equip you with tools to quiet your mind and thoughts so that you don't think as fast and don’t build up to a panic attack as easily.

Some individuals may seek help through therapy and other treatment options, such as medication. For all guidance regarding treatment options, please consult a licensed medical professional.

Get back in control

When a panic attack hits, you may quickly start to have a sense of being out of control. A panic attack may seem like it comes out of nowhere. One of the major components of managing panic attacks can be understanding that you have a certain amount of power over them. You can choose to dwell on anxious thoughts, or you can let those thoughts pass harmlessly through your mind as you learn to stay centered and aware of your surroundings. You can even use the breathing techniques mentioned earlier to slow down your rapid breathing and fast heartbeat. A therapist can guide you through a variety of breathing techniques to find the one that works best for you.

Do some problem-solving

Another way a therapist can treat your symptoms is by helping you examine the problems that are causing the anxiety in the first place. You can learn coping skills, of course, but you can also get to the root of the problem and work to eliminate or come to terms with the reason for your discomfort. For example, if you're in an unhealthy relationship, you can decide whether you want to continue it or not. Choosing to move on may be what you need to leave your anxiety behind. Even if you stay, considering the options and making a firm decision can remind you of the options that are within your control to exercise when you choose.

Build a support network

Because so many people can fail to grasp how hard it is to experience panic attacks, connecting with people who understand anxiety can provide an outlet for your feelings. Your therapist can be the center of this supportive network. They can also direct you to support groups for individuals who are living with anxiety disorders or other types of mental health challenges. You can also build your network by educating your friends and family about what you are experiencing. Your therapist might send you educational links or help you learn how to explain anxiety to others in ways they can understand.

Take care of your physical health

Increasing your physical activity may ease anxiety and panic attacks. Exercise can change your brain chemistry in a way that may relieve some of your symptoms. While panic attacks can be generated in your brain, the combination of physical exercise and improved coping techniques can reduce your panic attacks dramatically. This avenue may not work for everyone, especially for those who are already involved in a fitness program. People who live a more sedentary life are likely to see the most significant results. 

If you're unsure whether to begin exercising or get involved in a sport, you might talk to both your doctor and your therapist.

Other factors that can be helpful in reducing anxiety levels may include following a nutritious diet and getting adequate sleep. Research has also determined that the decision to quit smoking can lead to a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms as well.

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Learn to take control of panic attacks

Practice meditation

You may understandably have a hard time shifting into a deep meditative state during a bout of extreme anxiety. The key to using meditation for panic attacks can be to practice it when you aren’t in the middle of one. As you meditate, you may let go of anxious thoughts. It can take practice, and your therapist or meditation coach may have to go through the process with you step-by-step many times before you begin to see results. The important thing to remember may be that everything you can do to decrease your overall level of anxiety can also work to decrease the intensity of panic attacks when they do come.

Finding a therapist you can trust

Trust can be an important factor when it comes to choosing a therapist, particularly if you experience daily anxiety. You might start by learning about the professional's training, certification, and experience. Sometimes, even seeing a photo of them can put you at ease by giving you a glimpse at who they are. To know if a therapist is right for you, though, you may need to begin therapy and find out for yourself. Once you establish a trusting therapeutic alliance, the work of overcoming panic attacks may become much easier.

Establishing trust with online therapy

Recent research has pointed to internet-based counseling as a flexible, efficient, and useful alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry looked at the effectiveness of online therapy when addressing panic disorder and related issues. Specifically, the study examined the effects of internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help those living with anxiety to develop coping strategies. Participants generally reported significant decreases in the severity of anxiety symptoms, with 77% of patients no longer experiencing panic disorder at a nine-month follow-up.

As outlined above, online therapy can be highly beneficial for those experiencing anxiety and panic attacks. Anxiety can make it difficult to see a therapist face-to-face, and having to sit in traffic to get to an appointment can make seeing a licensed therapist even harder. This is where online therapy may come in and can allow you to attend sessions from the comfort and safety of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection). 


Panic attacks can be frightening to experience, considering the intense fear and physical symptoms that often come with them.

There may be many methods of working through and managing panic attacks, such as the following:
  • Following the AWARE method (Accept, Wait, Act, Repeat, End)
  • Practicing grounding exercises such as deep belly breathing
  • Choosing not to react to feelings of panic
  • Addressing the root of your anxiety
  • Building a strong support system
  • Taking care of your physical health
  • Meditating
  • Working with a licensed therapist

An effective way of being matched with a licensed therapist you can trust may be by joining an online therapy platform. Please don’t hesitate to get the help you deserve.

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