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Learn About Panic: Frequently Asked Questions About Panic Attacks

panic attack

Panic attacks are no joke. They are extremely uncomfortable, can come on with little warning, and leave you with a host of worrying questions. In this blog, we will try to answer many of the frequently asked questions that people have after experiencing a panic attack.


What exactly is a panic attack?

A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. Your heart pounds, and you may feel like you’re having a heart attack or even dying. You may also experience chest pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, or abdominal distress during an attack. Panic attacks do not usually pose an immediate risk to your health, but they should be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent worsening of symptoms. Read on to learn what you can do to prevent panic attacks.


What are the after effects of a panic attack?

After a panic attack, it’s common to feel drained and fatigued, a state sometimes referred to as a “panic hangover.” You might experience lingering anxiety, confusion, and physical tension. Some people also report feeling shaky or having a headache following an attack.


How to ground someone having a panic attack?

If you’re with someone who is having a panic attack, help them by grounding them in the present. Encourage them to focus on something tangible, like holding a rock or touching a piece of fabric. Guide them through slow, deep breaths and ask them to describe their immediate environment in detail, which can help divert attention from panic to the present moment.


How to ground yourself during a panic attack?

Grounding yourself during a panic attack can be crucial. Focus on your senses – what you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. A more structured version of this is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique, where you identify five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell, and one you can taste. Another technique some people use is breathing into a paper bag, to regulate levels of CO2 and Oxygen in the body. A therapist can help you decide which of these techniques is best suited to your circumstances.


deep breathing for panic attacks


Can panic attacks cause seizures?

While panic attacks are intensely stressful events, they do not directly cause seizures. However, the hyperventilation that sometimes occurs during a panic attack can lead to symptoms that mimic seizures, such as muscle twitching or blacking out.


Can panic attacks make you pass out?

It is rare for someone to pass out from a panic attack. However, the hyperventilation that often accompanies panic attacks can lead to feelings of lightheadedness or dizziness, which can make a person feel as though they might faint.


Can low blood sugar cause panic attacks?

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can indeed trigger panic attacks. Symptoms of hypoglycemia, such as shaking, heart palpitations, and anxiety, can mimic those of a panic attack, causing someone to react with panic.


Can panic attacks cause you to throw up?

Yes, in some cases, panic attacks can lead to nausea and even vomiting. This is generally due to extreme anxiety and the body’s acute stress response.


Can you have a panic attack without knowing?

It’s possible to have a panic attack without realizing it, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the symptoms. Sometimes people mistake them for heart attacks or other physical illnesses.


Can weed, alcohol, or Adderall cause panic attacks?

Yes, substances like weed, alcohol, and Adderall can trigger panic attacks in some individuals. Marijuana and Adderall can cause changes in heart rate and heightened anxiety, while alcohol withdrawal can also produce similar symptoms.


Can PTSD cause panic attacks?

Yes, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common cause of panic attacks. Traumatic experiences can trigger panic attacks when certain memories or emotions related to the trauma are stirred.


Can acid reflux cause panic attacks?

While acid reflux doesn’t cause panic attacks directly, the discomfort and pain it causes can certainly exacerbate anxiety and lead to a panic attack, especially if you’re already prone to anxiety.


How long does it take to recover from a panic attack?

Recovery time from a panic attack varies from person to person. Some may feel better within minutes, while others might feel fatigued or anxious for hours following the attack. Taking time to rest and process emotions can aid in recovery. Check out our blog on how to calm your anxiety for a couple good techniques to bring your nervous system back to equilibrium.


How long does a panic attack hangover last?

The aftermath of a panic attack, often called a panic hangover, can last for hours or even a full day. You might feel physically drained, mentally foggy, and emotionally sensitive.


How do I calm a panic attack at night?

To prevent nighttime panic attacks, try to create a peaceful bedtime routine that promotes relaxation, such as reading, light stretching, or listening to soothing music. If you start feeling a panic attack come one, keep your breathing slow and deep. It can also help to focus on positive, calming thoughts. You can try putting your attention on feeling your hands and feet, or practice the 5-4-3-2-1 technique described above.


How do I stop my panic attacks?

Stopping a panic attack involves both short-term and long-term strategies. In the short term, practice deep breathing, recognize that you are having a panic attack and that it will pass, and ground yourself using sensory objects or the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Long-term strategies include regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and professional therapy to manage symptoms. 

Our team of counselors at The Truism Center can help you get to the bottom of why you’re having panic attacks—just schedule a free consultation to get started. With locations in Grand Rapids, Grandville, Commerce Township, Troy, and an online “virtual office” we can help you anywhere in Michigan, even from the comfort of your own home. Counseling for Anxiety can help reduce your panic attacks.

Understanding more about panic attacks can significantly lessen their impact on your life. Knowledge empowers us to cope more effectively and helps us support others experiencing similar challenges. Always remember, you are not alone, and help is available.


Robb Kornoelje is the owner of The Truism Center, a relationship enthusiast, and the creator of the “30-Day Relationship Challenge.” This 30-day, fully online email course offers gentle guidance to identify behaviors causing trouble, find ease with emotions, and enhance self-awareness. With a focus on stress-free communication, the challenge encourages a stronger connection with others, nurturing compassion, and fostering forgiveness. Join Robb on this journey to improve the fabric of your relationships—one day at a time.