This is a frequent question that many can not wrap their head around. This is why many find it so difficult to realize it is a panic attack and not a life-threatening situation.  To clarify – you feel calm no anxiety no anxious thoughts and BAM!  A panic attack strikes! Therefore, it must be a medical emergency, a life-threatening situation.   Friends and family say just take control, just realize it is just another attack and stay calm.  Easier said than done! (I will give an example later)


I know it is hard to understand but for some unknown reason, panic attacks strike when you least expect them. In fact, the main thing that differentiates a panic attack from an anxiety attack is – anxiety attacks have a known cause, something you are experiencing something you are thinking about…  A panic attack just starts, anywhere any time.  Panic attacks NO KNOWN TRIGGER. Past blog panic attack vs anxiety attack

This is why many find it difficult to live a normal life. They keep adding things to the list of places or events they got an attack even though there were no real threats. These uneasy feelings can show up on the road, at a store, eating at a restaurant…  So you begin to fear places,situations, etc. and that fear can initiate another attack.  This is kinda simplified but true. You find yourself held in captivity.

When talking to many people, they tell me of their “panic attacks” when we discuss further, they are actually anxiety attacks. Neither one of them good but panic attacks are usually more severe.

[With an anxiety attack where you may discover a known cause, and that is a little easier to combat. Take away the fear that causes the anxiety, or learn how to take control and live in the positive, the attacks will cease.   Fear of being alone, fear of social gatherings, fear of public speaking, fear of failing finances, specific health concerns…… ]

With a panic attack this is important for you to understand.  If you do not know what the trigger is how do you know when the danger has passed?  You become held captive by ongoing fear for your life and well-being. This is what makes it difficult to live through and also to explain to anyone.

Dissecting a PANIC ATTACK:

Some unknown trigger sets off the release of the hormones for fight or flight. That causes the initial set of symptoms. However, those symptoms can cause real fear especially if you have health anxiety and that releases a second wave of hormones.  That is the reason people must react quickly to the first set of symptoms to prevent a second wave or the start of rolling attacks. (we have discussed the effect of the icy sled run and runaway thoughts review this page)

If you have had a complete physical and everything is ok. You must embrace that and learn how to retrain your brain to react to change your behavior.

Remember I always say that thrill-seekers live for that hormone release. It does not harm them in fact most of these athletes are in good shape.

The initial burst of adrenaline comes out of nowhere you must learn how to do damage control so you get on top of it immediately. Adrenaline in itself only lasts 10 mins or so unless it is re-triggered.

Examples of some obscure trigger: How a red plaid shirt become a trigger that you will never be aware of. You may see one out the corner of your eye at the mall on the road in a restaurant…. someone in a red plaid shirt. Maybe you were at the scene of a terrible accident, and there was a bystander wearing a red plaid shirt. This person was in NO way connected to the accident, but you felt fear and your body somehow connects the 2 together.  You may never lean what the trigger was, in a panic attack. If we compare to an anxiety attack it could be that as a child a parent, a loved one, walked out on you slammed the door and while wearing a red plaid shirt. So, the shirt could be the trigger as well as a loud noise such as the door slamming.  

Did you notice the difference the anxiety was a known cause to associate with the red plaid shirt but the panic attack was obscure and unknown to you. Trying to pick a few analogies that simplify it is difficult. I hope you get the main point.

Many times anxiety stems from being a victim of the orphan spirit we will cover that in another post in more detail.  This is how crazy triggers can be.

This is where therapy can be useful and can help you identify what you need to change in your thought patterns to change your reactions to fear when there is nothing present to actually cause bodily harm.  Try this one you are racing down a hill on your bike and loose control, your body goes into fight or flight, as you lost control you passed a person in a red plaid shirt…. We can not change the past but we can change our behaviors.

Our bodies are made to protect us, but sometimes things go a miss.  So, our bodies try to protect us by storing things around an event that caused fear so it will be prepared for it the next time.   You have no control over these things, but you can learn to change the way you respond to situations.

Panic attacks are fueled by fear. Fear is fueled by speculation. Speculation creates harmful negative thoughts. Stop the negative thoughts, and harmful speculation will begin to fizzle out. Remove the fuel for fear and you will remove the fuel for panic attacks.


No matter if it is panic or anxiety you need to learn how to rethink and respond differently by overcoming fear.  

Her is a closing example to share with those that do not understand.

If you take and hold someone’s head underwater panic and terror would ensue, try and tell them to relax and control those feelings it can’t be done.  You let them come up and after they regain correct breathing the fear would subside … slowly…… it would take some time and they would be uncomfortable around a pool of water.  What if someone had their head held under water, they start to panic but they had learned to control the way they previously thought. Now they realize that they are amphibians and can breathe on land or in water  so everything is OK!   Knowledge would be the key to their overcoming the fear and anxiety.

Whether you are just more sensitive to adrenaline, an over thinker someone who lives on speculation, realize many have overcome panic and anxiety.