Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are a psychological and physiological “bomb” that are intense, very distressing  and highly uncomfortable.  Once you’ve had a panic attack, you’ll never forget it and you likely won’t be wondering if your symptoms “qualify.”  You’ll know they do.  While some people report having panic attacks lasting one or more days, a panic attack’s acute phase typically lasts about 20 minutes.

You may have experienced the following symptoms, which vary from person to person:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness/feeling faint
  • Sweating
  • Racing thoughts
  • Fear of dying
  • Terror
  • Choking  or smothering sensations
  • The sensation that one is having a heart attack (chest pain/discomfort)
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Tingling sensations in the arms, legs or fingers
  • Feeling as if one is “going crazy.”
  • Feelings of unreality, or feeling outside of one’s body (not to be confused with psychosis, which is a loss of contact with reality)

Panic attacks can occur after particular “triggers” in one’s environment, or seemingly out of the blue.  They tend to be experienced more often during times of stress.  Some sufferers experience panic attacks along with agoraphobia, or a fear of having a panic attack in a public space where the person has little control and where escape is difficult.  A common response is to avoid such settings entirely out of fear of having another panic attack.  Sufferers may coordinate entire lives around avoiding panic attacks, and in extreme circumstances, the individual will not leave their home at all.  Obviously, this has devastating effects on the person’s relationships, work life and recreation. Call or email me to get started.

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Recommended Books

The book links on this page are Amazon Associate links; if you choose to make a purchase through them, I may earn a small commission which I use to fund my low-cost counselling resource lists. Your support is greatly appreciated.

How To Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by KC Davis (2022)

While Marie Kondo taught me to let go of a lot, KC Davis helped me to forgive myself, no matter the state of my home. A boon to neurodivergent folks, those struggling with mental health issues, or anyone else who is overwhelmed by life, therapist KC Davis, offers practical, forgiving strategies and care tasks that we can all use. Highly recommended.

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund Bourne (2010)

A best-selling self-help workbook using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help with generalized anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety and other anxiety-related conditions. Best for those with an interest in CBT.

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt (2006)

Children’s book with excellent adult appeal. The story about how a squirrel inadvertently faces his fears, with positive results.


Crisis Services and Hotlines in Vancouver

Resource list, updated quarterly.

Relaxation Audio Download

From the people at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA). Scroll down for link.

Canadian Mental Health Association

National organization promoting mental health for all.

Vancouver Access and Assessment Centre (AAC)

604-675-3700 – Joseph and Rosalie Segal Centre, Vancouver Hospital, Level 1, East Entrance

7 days a week: 7:30am-11pm. Phone, walk-in and outreach support for urgent, non life-threatening mental health and addictions issues. Response times vary. Serves residents of Vancouver.

Anxiety Canada

National organization providing information and extensive online resources for managing anxiety.