Panic Attack – What it Is and What to Do

A panic attack is a form of fear with symptoms like hyperventilation etc. What do you do when you experience a panic attack?

When the Lord gives Gideon the directive, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand” (Judges 6:14), He is not giving Gideon a pep talk or a lesson in positive thinking. Rather, He is referring to His own strength operating inside Gideon. This becomes clear with His promise, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites together” (Judges 6:16). Nevertheless, Gideon wants proof that both the message and the messenger are truly from God – and he indeed receives it.

Gideon presents an offering of meat and unleavened bread, and the moment the angel touches the offering with his staff, fire flames from the rock, the offering is incinerated, and the angel disappears without a trace! “When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the Lord, he exclaimed, ‘Ah, Sovereign Lord! I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face!’ ” (Judges 6:22). Now Gideon realises his encounter is with the angel of the Lord – meaning he saw a manifestation of the Lord God Himself – not merely an angel. Gideon knew this could mean sudden death! God had told Moses, “No one may see me and live,” (meaning seeing God in His essential glory). “But the Lord said to him, ‘Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die’ ” (Judges 6:23). Fortunately, the words of the Lord prevent Gideon from experiencing profound panic. However, many do, in far less dramatic a situation, feel overwhelmed with fright—attacked with fear—and some even tremble with terror. They feel the sense of panic expressed in this Scripture …“Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.”(Psalm 55:5)

What are Panic Attacks?

  • Panic attacks are sudden, brief episodes of intense fear with multiple physical symptoms (such as heart palpitations and dizziness) but without any external threat.
  • Panic attacks are typically unexpected “out of the blue” experiences. The first time they occur, people are usually involved in normal activities such as walking outside. Suddenly a barrage of frightening sensations strikes them, lasting just a few seconds to a few minutes.
  • Panic attacks can occur again at any time. Sufferers know that just the fear of having another attack can trigger one—and so these episodes take on a life of their own.
  • Panic attacks can be considered fear out of control.

What you can do to stop a panic attack:

When you first begin to experience shallow, rapid breathing, recognise these symptoms as the initiation of hyperventilation, which reduces the carbon dioxide in the blood. Such a condition produces classic symptoms of a panic attack: light-headedness, dizziness, tingling of the extremities, palpitations of the heart, feelings of faintness, and respiratory distress. However, let the onset of the rapid breathing serve as a warning signal.

These symptoms can be stopped by using the following techniques:

  • Take slow deep, deep breaths and hold the air in your lungs for a number of seconds. Then slowly release the air;
  • Place the open end of a paper bag around your nose and mouth. Breathe normally into the bag, being sure to breathe in the same air being expelled;
  • Place a blanket or sheet over your head (you should still be able to breathe). Doing so will increase the amount of carbon dioxide being taken into your lungs and ward off the frightening symptoms produced by too little carbon dioxide in your blood.

When experiencing a panic attack, you can feel as if you will die! But that feeling is not based on fact. The truth is: You will not die. Whatever your perceived “enemy,” claim this truth as you go to war against your panic attacks. The Lord says, “Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:3–4)