Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks

What are panic attacks?

Most people have normal fear and anxiety reactions to certain stressors or events in our lives. However, panic disorder takes these to a whole new level. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, intense feelings of fear, shaking, sweating, nausea, numbness, and a fear that you are about to die. Often times panic attacks happen in situations where there is little real danger. Additionally, panic attacks sometimes grow worse over time because the person is in constant fear of having another panic attack. 

Why Do I Get Panic Attacks? 

Panic attacks can be caused by a variety of factors, and it varies from person to person. Some common causes of panic attacks include: 

  1. Anxiety disorders: Panic attacks are a key symptom of various anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, or social anxiety disorder.

  2. Genetic factors: There may be a genetic predisposition to developing panic attacks, meaning that certain individuals may be more prone to experiencing them.

  3. Stress and traumatic events: High levels of stress, unresolved trauma, or significant life changes can trigger panic attacks.

  4. Phobias and specific triggers: Certain situations, objects, or activities that are associated with fear or phobias can provoke panic attacks. For example, someone with a fear of flying may experience a panic.

  5. At times simply the unknown will cause a panic attack. 

What Herbs May Be Used To Avoid Panic Attacks?

  1. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a range of herbs that can be used to support individuals experiencing panic attacks. Here are a few commonly used Chinese herbs for this purpose:

    Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes): Known for its ability to strengthen the spleen and reduce dampness, Bai Zhu is used in TCM to help calm the mind and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and panic.

  2. Gan Cao (Licorice Root): Gan Cao is often used in TCM formulas to harmonize other herbs and balance the body. It can help reduce stress, calm the mind, and support overall emotional well-being.

  3. He Huan Pi (Mimosa Tree Bark): He Huan Pi is traditionally used in TCM to soothe the spirit and calm the mind. It can help alleviate anxiety, irritability, and restlessness associated with panic attacks.

  4. Yuan Zhi (Polygala root): Yuan Zhi is commonly used in TCM for its calming effects on the mind. It can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, panic, and insomnia.

  5. Suan Zao Ren (Sour Jujube Seed): Suan Zao Ren is often used in TCM formulas to nourish the heart and calm the spirit. It can help promote relaxation, improve sleep quality, and reduce anxiety.
It's important to remember that TCM herbs should be prescribed by a qualified TCM practitioner who can assess your individual condition and customize a formula specifically for you. They will take into account your unique symptoms, constitution, and any other underlying health conditions to create an appropriate treatment plan. 

How do I prevent panic attacks?

There are some things you can do to help calm yourself down when you feel a panic attack coming on.

Write Down Your Thoughts: When you feel like you are about to have a panic attack, write down your negative thoughts. This switches you from being a victim to being an observer. Once you have written down your negative emotions, write down more rational and grounded statements like "I have a loving family" or "I am calm and in control."

Don't Believe Everything You Think: Sometimes our thoughts lead us astray, especially for those with panic disorder. Remember that not everything you think is true. You may feel an overwhelming sense of fear when the problem(s) at hand are small and inconsequential. Your thoughts are just a symptom of the panic attack and often are exaggerated. Take a deep breath and re-evaluate the situation.

Positive Self-Talk: Many people who have panic disorder feel ashamed and embarrassed. Remember that even though you cannot control the fact that you have panic disorder, you can control the way you react to it. Use positive statements like "I am going to be okay" and "I know I am in control." 

Ice Cubes: If you are having a particularly bad panic attack, place an ice cube wrapped in a paper towel and hold it in your hand for as long as you can stand the cold. This will help take your mind off of the panic attack and help to de-escalate your symptoms.

Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which help make you feel better. Even something as simple as taking a walk outside in fresh air can help lessen your symptoms.  


Speiser, Jeremy. "Chinese Herbal Medicine for Panic Attacks." News. Web. 12 Mar. 2015. <>.

Tartakovsky, Margarita. "How to Halt and Minimize Panic Attacks." Psych <>.