Handling panic attacks
“Do not be afraid of sudden fear.” Pr 3:25 NAS
In the Bible panic attacks are referred to as “sudden fear.” You can’t breathe, your palms sweat, your chest gets tight, and you feel weak. If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you’ll recognize these symptoms. Doctors estimate that in our stress-filled world, about a third of us experience at least one panic attack a year. If you are one of them, here are some things you can do to help yourself: (1) Breathe deeply. Panic makes you breathe in short shallow bursts, whereas breathing deeply helps to calm and relax you. So when you start to feel overwhelmed, stop and breathe the name of Jesus. Try it; it works! (2) Talk to yourself. Say, “By God’s grace I can handle this” (See 2Co 12:9). If you respond with more panic you’ll just end up in double trouble. Allowing yourself to feel panic without reacting to it may sound difficult at first, but it helps you break the cycle and take control of your thinking. (3) Do something calming. This may be the last thing you feel like doing, because panic attacks make you instinctively think thoughts that feed your fear. So take a minute and whisper a prayer, quote a Scripture, listen to inspirational music, or talk to a friend. And if your panic attacks continue, there’s no shame in getting professional help. After all, it’s God who gives doctors the skills and abilities to intervene. Here’s a Scripture you should write down and keep handy: “You can go to bed without fear…and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster…for the Lord is your security” (Pr 3:24-26 NLT).