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Panic attacks at work: what should you do?

Thoroughly unpleasant and hard to deal with at the best of times, panic attacks at work are even worse. We consider the causes, signs and triggers of a panic attack and advise on how to help.

Anxiety about work, the need to appear professional and a sense of obligation to an employer can magnify the symptoms, worsening the attack.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a sudden, unexpected wave of debilitating fear. It often strikes with no warning whatsoever and doesn’t always have a clear trigger. This abrupt onset is accompanied by physical symptoms that tend to mimic those of heart disease or breathing disorders, causing even more distress. Sufferers can feel as though they are choking, having a heart attack and about to die. Afterwards, they are left feeling drained and tired.

What causes a panic attack?

The attack could be a one-off, and never happen again — but it is common to experience recurrent attacks. They are often triggered by stressful situations — being exposed to heights, anxiety about important deadlines, social situations — anything which makes the individual feel unable to escape. This is because a panic attack is a triggering of the body’s fight-or-flight response.

The triggers are different for everyone. And some don’t have triggers at all — they can happen anywhere, at any time.


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